The Berlin Series: The Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Memorial

All Erin and I have done in Berlin is walked… Long and far, and often incorrect, ways. It leads to great pictures and stories. As you walk down these streets, you don’t have to enter a museum to see history, and it’s true all over Europe. Here are just a few snapshots of what’s been seen and learned.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
The Holocaust Memorial was completed in 2005. From the edge, it just looks like a series of blocks you could sit on. As you venture in, you realize the ground slopes downward and the top of the blocks are high overhead. The entire memorial is unmarked and relatively undefined- open to interpretation. Personally, the trip back at night gave me anxiety. It was a long walk in the dark through those tunnels when you couldn’t tell what was around any corner.

A few minutes walk away from the memorial is the location Hitler shot himself (the ground above where his underground bunker was). When you stand there, there is no memorial, no area that could be turned into a shrine… It’s a basic sign, located at the edge of a parking lot.

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The Jewish Museum
Erin and I could have spent all day here. Serious, somber, extremely bare on the bottom floors, it had some of the most engaging, real exhibits I’ve ever been in. In one room, ten televisions played as ten different people sang ten different, hopeful sounding songs. I caught a minute on tape. It was sensory overload, but it was beautiful. Assume any serious exhibit, I spent one minute taking pictures for five soaking it in and staring. I know to experience it before I work on sharing it.

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The Holocaust Tower
Unheated, lit only by a diagonal strip of natural light from the outdoors, you walk in here and can hear the traffic and sounds of the outside world. It was so cold in there. It echoed, everything was chilling about the minutes spent in here.

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The Garden of Exile
49 earth-filled vertical columns on slanted ground, with olive willows growing out of them. The walk through is physically dizzying.

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The Memory Void
The museum is built to have a lot of empty space, symbolizing voids. In The Memory Void, a massive area, is a piece named Fallen Leaves.

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“Please write your wish.”
I hung mine as high as I could reach.

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