Commemorating the Jews in Berlin 對歷史負責負責的德國柏林

Germany will forever be infamously associated with the holocaust. This dark period will be ingrained in it’s history and you can’t change history.  However, Germany has faced this with remorse and courage, not sweeping the atrocities they inflicted on the millions of innocent under the carpet. This is the reason why I admire Germany as a nation. During my visit to Berlin the other year, I could see how the Germans accepted their predecessors’ wrong doing and erected various memorials around the city to commemorate this.
德國人跟猶太人有一段糾纏不清的歷史。 但他們不會逃避過去, 忘記當年怎樣對待猶太人。 在栢林市內有不少紀念猶太人的地方。 今次會帶大家到猶太人紀念碑和柏林猶太博物館。 兩個地方都是從建築和藝術角度去表達當年猶太人受害的狀況,讓遊客能夠感受他們當時的傷痛和絕望。

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL

One of this is the Holocaust Memorial which was directly in front of our holiday apartment. Everyone morning we would look out of the window and try to count how many blocks and rows there were. We never got a definitive answer whilst we were there (there are 2711 if you really want to know),  and maybe that’s part of the concept behind the memorial, at least that’s how I interepreted it. When you walk around the memorial, there’s something about the dark grey slabs that gives out an air of melancholy, making one think why the memorial was erected and what it represents.

 

 

THE JEWISH MUSEUM

Another nod to the Jews, is The Jewish Museum set up in 2001 to exhibit Jewish culture and history, it is the largest of its kind in Europe.  The front entrance is this baroque style building which is the original Jewish Museum established in 1933.    As you enter this building, there is an underground passage which leads you to the new building.
The Jewish Museum, Berlin

The new building doesn’t have its own entrance, and if you didn’t know, you’d think it has nothing to do with the entrance building as the styles are distinctively different.  This building design is based on a Jewish Star of David concept with zig zag lines cutting through the building.  That’s why some call it the Blitz or the Lightning.

As I come up the stairs from the underground passage into the new building, the ‘lightning’ beams overhang the stair case.  The concrete interior gives a cold empty feeling to express how the Jews felt during the holocaust and the only light in is through a narrow window at the top. Having visited Auschwitz in Poland previously (yes that’s another post I have yet to write about) and seen the living conditions of the Jews there, I can understand why they did this.  A shimmer of light and hope, so near yet so far away.

 

HOLOCAUST TOWER

The concept of void spaces is another distinct concept in the design of the musuem.  The void spaces represents the lack of Jews in the German society.  A group of human beings no different from you and I, that a particular individual took in his hands to eradicat from society just because he thought they were not fit for this world.  Madness. Void spaces and light runs throughout the building in particular the Holucaust Tower.  This is a cold concrete space that is entirely dark, save for a sliver of light from a  24 meter tall slit above.

 

MEMORY VOID

On the ground floor of the Holocaust Tower is an exhibition called the Shalekhet, or Fallen Leaves.  More than ten thousand faces cut out from iron plates cover the floor of this void space. Each face represents a Jew who lost their life in the Holocaust. If you look closely at them, what expression do you see?  This is an interactive exhibition, and visitors are allowed to walk on them.  I tread carefully and slowly.  Some of the faces slid as I stepped on them, others clanked as they touched one another.  It sounded painful and was a weird eerie feeling, bordering uncomfortable.  This wasn’t just an exhibition or the artist making a statement, it was an experience for visitors, both physically and psychologically.  One that I still remember this day.

 

 

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