Berlin can’t be separated from Second World War and the Holocaust tragedy: to visit Berlin means to retrace some of the saddest moments of human history, and this cannot leave us indifferent. In any case, recalling the past help us not to forget. This is a trip through the Memorial sites of Berlin: it’ll not be easy, but it’s necessary.
The Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
According to Eisenman’s project, the stelae are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent an ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.
However, some observers have noted the memorial’s resemblance to a cemetery, cause of the field of grey slabs that resemble rows of coffins. While each stone slab is approximately the size and width of a coffin, Eisenman has denied any intention to resemble any form of a burial site.
The memorial’s grid can be read as both an extension of the streets that surround the site and an unnerving evocation of the rigid discipline applied. Walking in the middle of the pillars, higher towards the center, you can really feel what loneliness, powerlessness and despair mean. Suddenly, You’re totally isolated from street noise and sights of Berlin, wrapped in an unnatural silence.
The space in between the concrete pillars offers a brief encounter with the sunlight. As visitors wander through the slabs the sun disappears and reappears. One is constantly tormented with the possibility of a warmer, brighter life. Some have interpreted this use of the space as a symbolic remembrance of the history of European Jews whose political and social rights constantly dropped.
I read so many hypothesis of symbolism about the different height of the pillars: some claim that the downward slope that directs You away from the outside symbolically depicts the gradual escalation of the Third Reich’s persecution of the Jewish community, first forced into ghettos and removed from society, separated from family and finally, “removed” from existence.
Some have interpreted the shape and color of the grey slabs to represent the loss of identity during the Nazi regime.
And finally, some of the blocks appear to be unfinished. Many see this unfinished appearance as asserting that the task of remembering the Holocaust is never over.
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is in Mühlenstrasse, to the Sprea riverside, in Friedrichshain neighborhood. Walking in the strip of land between the two wall -nowadays You can see some sections of the west wall- You can admire the famous Oberbaumbrücke over the Sprea.
East Side Gallery, like the name says, was the part of the wall facing east. At the moment of the fall of the wall, the future East Side Gallery was immaculate white: it became a huge palette for mural artists of the period. Thanks to this, the only piece of remaining wall survived.
Memorial of the Berlin Wall
This monument celebrates the division of the city and the death resulting from this sad situation. Built in 1998, it’s situated between Bernauer Straße and Ackerstraße, it extends along 1.4 kilometers. It consists in a Visitor Center and the Documentation Center, but the grounds also include the Chapel of Reconciliation and the excavated foundations of a former apartment building whose façade functioned as the border wall until the early eighties.
It was an important checkpoint located between the Soviet and the US sectors. Located in Friedrichstraße.
Created in 1961 after the construction of the wall, it was the only passage for allied military forces, visitors and diplomatic staff.
After riunification, the checkpoint was removed and nowadays the original guardhouse is inside the Alliierten Museum. In 2000 was inaugurated a faithful reconstruction of the first american control cabin, today a touristic “meeting point”.
to be continued…