|Contribution to the Competition for a Holocaust Memorial in Berlin (1995)
together with Alexander Richter und Michael Kammertöns
Our memorial is on the one hand a place of sadness and reflection about the 6 million murdered European Jews,
Our Memorial attempts
* to further reflection on the dimension of the crime,
A Warped Star of David: The outer shape of the memorial is a warped Star of David, formed by two triangles.
|The higher triangle symbolises Jewish Life in Europe before, during and after the National Socialist genocide.
The lower triangle mirrors the development and implementation of the annihilation of Jewish life by the National Socialists.
The brutal intrusion of National Socialism into Jewish life in Europe and the subsequent annihilation of 6 million Jews is reflected in the wedge of the two triangles. The forceful penetration of the Triangle of Death into the Triangle of Jewish Life bent the Triangle of Jewish Life and completely warped the Star of David.
The difference between the two triangles is emphasised:
* through the different construction materials used. Old bricks for the lower, concrete and glass for the higher triangle,
* by the fact that the Triangle of Jewish Life towers above the Triangle of Destruction, and thus underlines the continuation of Jewish life in Europe in spite of the National Socialist genocide,
* by the glass construction in the centre of the Triangle of Jewish Life, which from above shows both the past -the Triangle of Destruction- as well as the future symbolised by an olive tree,
* by the constant height of the Triangle of Destruction compared to the rising height of the Triangle of Jewish Life,
* by the lack of windows in the Triangle of Destruction and
* by the fact that at night the Triangle of Jewish Life through the inner illumination and the glass walls strongly protrudes over the (dark) Triangle of Destruction.
|The Direction of the Warped Star of David according to its Position on the Site
The corners of the memoriale point to places of present day Jewish life in Berlin as well as to places and buildings relating to the National Socialist policy of genocide.
The Direction of the Triangle of Destruction
1. The Northern Corner points to the Brandenburg Gate where on the night of January 30th, 1933 the National Socialists held a rally to celebrate Hitler's nomination as Chancellor.
The Direction of the Triangle of Jewish Life
1. The North Eastern Corner points to the Oranienburgerstraße, an area of former and present day Jewish life in downtown Berlin.
|The Rooms in the Memorial
|A glass sarcophagus with 6 million stones stands at the intersection of the two triangles. It has the shape of the hexagon within the Star of David. It stands in the centre of the memorial and is both below and above ground level. It defines the dimension of the genocide of the 6 million European Jews. The use of 6 million stones has a context to Jewish traditions.
1. When visiting a cemetery Jews bring stones to place on the graves of their friends or relatives. The stones are placed on the grave to say: "Someone was here and thought of you."
2. By Jewish tradition at least a stone should remember a dead person should he or she not have a grave.
|An olive tree with its roots in the 6 million stones grows on top of the sarcophagus. It stands for Palastine. By growing above the Triangle of Destruction the tree symbolises the further existence of Jewish life in Europe in spite of the attempt to end it.
The tree itself acts as the transition from the past towards the present and the future. It makes clear:
1. that the attempt to annihilate Jewish life in Europe did not -and will not- ever succeed, and
2. that Jewish life in Europe has a present and a future
|On the wall above the sarcophagus is a sentence in German, French, English, Russian and Hebrew:
"They were part of us -
They are part of us."
It has a double meaning which is intended to incite the visitor to remember and to reflect. At the same time the sentence has a different context for a Jewish and a non-Jewish visitor.
|The open room facing the sarcophagus in the Triangle of Destruction is to be used for documenting the development of the National Socialist regime between January 30th, 1933 and its surrender on May 8th, 1945. The room will also offer changing exhibitions and be used for public events such as debates, meetings, film presentations, lectures, concerts and official events.
At the lower end of the Triangle of Jewish Life is a room which offers the visitor the possibility of searching -with the aid of computers and documents- for a specific victim, thus helping to individualise the figure of 6 million dead. The two walls will carry maps showing the Jewish communities in Europe before 1933 and since 1945. The latter map will be a continual 'work in progress'.