As the survivor generation ages, it is important that their personal accounts of the Holocaust are collected and preserved in order to share and educate future generations. ‘Remember Their Stories’ is a forum for children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors to voice and document their family’s history.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Memorial

In preparation for my upcoming trip to Germany, I began reviewing our itinerary. We are scheduled to visit the Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe on Saturday, March 19th, the same day as the Jewish holiday of Purim. I am unsure of whether this was intentional or pure coincidence--but as the Pesach seder reminds us, in every generation there are those who rise up to destroy us, but G-d saves us from their hand. In the time of the Book of Esther, where the story of Purim unfolds, Haman was the one who tried to destroy us. And now, all I can think is that we will be visiting a contemporary memorial to remind us of another group who tried to destroy the Jews.



The Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe opened May 10, 2005, having marked 60 years since the end of the World War II. Located in central Berlin, the Memorial is a field of 2,700 concrete slabs near the Brandenburg Gate, designed by Jewish architect, Peter Eisenman. Eisenman constructed tilting featureless stones, each unique in shape and size, in an undulating labyrinth that spans a 204,000+ square foot field. While other memorials often include plaques or inscriptions, Eisenman said "[he] fought to keep names off the stones, because having names on them would turn it into a graveyard."



The Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, visited the Memorial and wrote that "[it] does two things and that there are two kinds of memory. There is the immemorable, that which is unable to be portrayed in memory in any form. The Memorial comes close to the immemorable, the possibility of something that you cannot memorialize because it is so horrific or extensive that anything representational would reduce its own significance. The Memorial also allows for the other part of memory, the archival. The field is the immemorable, and the exhibition below is the archival memory. The Memorial does as no other memorial has, which is to bring these two together simultaneously."



As much as I am looking forward to the program in Germany, I know that the Holocaust-related portions of the itinerary will be physically and mentally confronting. Unfortunately, there is no amount of preparation that could possibly steel me from the affects and emotions that will stem from seeing these memorials up close, in the country where it all started. Nor can I predict how I will categorize or memorilize these events in my mind, but only hope that it will provide me with a better, more concrete recognition of what occurred.

The Holocaust Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe
in Berlin, Germany

1 comment:

  1. Safe trip Jess! I'm sure it will be a memorable and overall great experience.

    XO,
    A

    ReplyDelete