Berlin, Germany, 1997
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a Book of Torn Pages, which can never be read again. The missing pages of the Book create by their absence the memorial. These are pages torn out of the book of Jewish history, a thousand year old culture brutally torn, communities destroyed and vanished from the heart of Europe.
The missing pages leave their imprint on the ground: rows of foundations, benches overgrown by high grass, a desert graveyard.
The remaining pages become walls, passages, gates. Each page is also a facade with doors through which communities were deported.
Passages between walls become passages of text; walking the deserted streets becomes reading.
The pages of the book are the walls of the memorial. The walls are 11 meters high and 60 cm thick. Concrete is chosen for its modesty. The building of the memorial is a process to which the public might voluntarily contribute by laying a stone or a brick onto the walls. There are 18 existing walls / pages and foundations of the missing ones. The foundations are used as benches for seating and gathering. 48 gates measuring 6 meters in height and 5 meters in width are opened in the walls / pages.
By night only the gates are illuminated, transforming the memorial into a series of isolated openings against a dark background.
Each of the gates is to be allocated to a destroyed community.
Shoa as an historic fact is incomprehensible and no amount of information helps to change this situation. We who have survived the holocaust have a real difficulty to understand how such a crime, of such a scale and of such a duration was possible.
In Israel where many of the holocaust survivors found refuge, Shoa was for a long time considered a personal experience, a personal wound. It is only in the last years that Israel looks back collectively to the history of the Jewish people beyond the War of Independence of 1948. The experience of Shoa, instead of being suppressed, becomes gradually absorbed into our collective consciousness.
It is impossible to come to terms with Shoa, but it is possible and necessary for us to reflect on how to preserve the memory of the holocaust for future generations.
There are those who claim that nothing can be done because of the magnitude of the crime. There are also those who would like to preserve the memory of Shoa through documents of the holocaust and their proliferation.
But there are also those, and I am one of them, who believe that the survival of the Jewish people is manifest not only through a physical existence, but also by a new creativity. It is the task of our generation to translate and give new dimensions to the experience and memory which words can no longer express.
This translation, this creative process of converting the unimaginable into a new form, a form which will live its own life, will be lasting evidence that we have survived the Shoa.
- Federal Republic of Germany
-"Förderkreis zur Errichtung eines Denkmals für die ermordeten Juden Europas e. V."
- Land Berlin
Inken Baller, Berlin
Gerhard Pichler, Berlin
Carsten Sievers, Artist