01 Introduction

The Holocaust Memorial, in the centre of Berlin, is dedicated to the memory of the six million European Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It was designed by the architect Peter Eisenman and opened to the public in 2005. The memorial covers an area of 19,000 m2. Eisenman designed the memorial as an abstract labyrinth of 2,711 concrete slabs that vary in size, laid out on a grid pattern. Beneath the memorial, on an underground level, is an information centre that exhibits documents and stories of the Jews who were tortured and killed by the Nazis in the holocaust.

Context:

 
Lea Rosh, a German journalist, initiated the proposal to create a Holocaust Memorial which caused mounting criticism and a lot of controversies.  There were debates about the design of the monument, the location, the cost and even the idea to build a memorial.

From the very beginning the suggestion of a Memorial caused arguments by some journalists and representatives of the Jewish Community who claimed that it was unnecessary, since World War II ended 60 years ago.

After the approval of the proposal, the Eisenman’s winning design raised even more arguments, since he intended to make an abstract design with no symbolism, leaving the interpretation of the memorial open to the visitors.  This was also opposed by the fact that it does not show any signage relating it to the murdered Jews of the Holocaust and this led to the addition of the Information Centre underneath.

However, the addition of the information centre caused the initial budget to be exceeded which created an economic argument.

There were also arguments about the area it occupied, criticizing it for extending on a very large space in the centre of Berlin.  Its central location was also criticised by some dignitaries and reporters believing that the memorial should be situated on an authentic site of the Holocaust.

The main controversy, more of a scandal, was the fact that Degussa one of the companies involved in the construction of the Memorial, owns Degesch which produced the Zyklon-B gas that was used to poison people in the gas chambers in the concentrations camps.

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