Rising up out of the ground in Berlin 2711 concrete shafts. Together they make up the “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” which opens later today. It has taken 20 years of debate over the whole purpose of the design of the memorial to get to this stage.
The president of Germany’s parliament, Wolfgang Thierse said, “I am hopeful that it will be an effective memorial but not in the sense that it’s a pleasant place where it’s nice to hang out but a place where people visit which proves that this country accepts its history and doesn’t shirk responsibility”
The memorial has been designed by US architect Peter Eisenman after an earlier drift from a German-American consortium was rejected. Eisenman told a press conference, “I think people should be allowed. . . if it looks like gravestones to them or it looks like foundations of a building or it looks like a rocket ship. . . I think people should be allowed to say whatever they think it looks like. IT really looks like what it is: a memorial”.
Beneath the concrete shafts lies an underground information centre. Filled with photographs and texts explaining the course of events leading up to the holocaust, it is designed to provide practical information to back up the abstract art above. The project cost almost 30 million euros and has taken five years to build.