Built in 2005, the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin serves as a reminder of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It’s not something you would instantly recognise as a memorial, but definitely worth a visit.
I arrived in the busy Potsdamer Platz in time to grab a bite for breakfast, then made my way towards Brandenburg Gate. Having done a bit of research the night before, I found that the Holocaust Memorial was between the two places, and it’d be ideal to be able to see it while walking between the two. Not quite sure what to expect, I was looking for something like a large plaque, or maybe some sort of monument.
About halfway between Potsdamer Platz and Brandenburg Gate, hundreds of concrete blocks loomed into view. Intrigued, I crossed over to find out what kind of art installation it was that I probably wouldn’t get, and it turned out to actually be the memorial I had been keeping an eye out for. I couldn’t believe just how big it was – this definitely was something more than just a large plaque!
2,711 concrete pillars of heights ranging from 0.2m to 4.8m cover the area in a grid layout. You can walk among the pillars – most people do – and by doing this you get a real understanding of what they were trying to achieve when they built it. Walking along the paths between the pillars, the noise of the surrounding area slowly fades until you can’t hear anything but yourself and any people who may be close by. The light dims as the pillars get higher, and the floor is purposely built so that it slopes up, down, up, down. It feels very disorientating, and more than once I bumped into people as they were walking the path adjacent to mine.
It’s supposed to give you a feel and symbolise the loneliness and disorientation felt by Jewish people during the Holocaust. It’s not a maze, so you’ll have no problems finding your way around it, and when you decide you want to leave, just walk straight to follow your path out. The only problem is if you are with someone and they take a turning or 2, as happened with my boyfriend – it is very difficult to try and find them! I just kept walking until I was out of the pillars, and waited for him to reappear! There is also a museum under the memorial offering more information about the victims of the Holocaust, which is really interesting and eye-opening.
I would definitely recommend a visit here, even if you don’t want to visit the museum. There are no entrance fees or opening times, so you are free to visit whenever and for however long you like. Plus, it’s really interesting to experience the eeriness of the memorial, even when the nearby road is loud and lively.
Have you visited the Holocaust Memorial? What did you think?