Thursday's Child: Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Holocaust Memorial, also called The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, is a collection of  2711 concrete slabs built in honour of the Jewish people slaughtered during the Second World War. Located on a five-acre plot near Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, it resembles a field of tombs when seen from a distance. But as we entered the memorial, the unmarked stones gradually grew from a height of several inches, to towering over our heads. The architect has explained that he hoped to create a sense of imbalance and disorientation for visitors. He chose the number 2711 at random, to help depict the senselessness of the killings. As Andrew and I walked quietly through the paths created by these stones, it was difficult not to feel overwhelmed, even claustrophobic at times.

The adjacent Place of Information contains the names of all known Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Over 3 million victims are named.

The following poem was written about the loss of innocence brought on by the First World War. I can't help but imagine there was a similar loss of innocence when the extent of the horrors of the Second World War were revealed.

"Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;

"And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoas and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day;

"And the countryside not caring:
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat's restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;

"Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word - the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again."

- "MCMXIV" by Philip Larkin


Gloria Baker said...

Really touching Beth. Always make me sad think in that, the other day I saw a movie the other day about this, so sad. Thanks for sharing!

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

Wow. I've never been to Berlin, so I haven't seen this memorial. It looks really moving, really powerful. Things like that can be so hard to visit, but so worth it in the end.

Valerie Gamine said...

There's a haunting beauty to those towering grey stones.
Powerful poem, too.

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Haunting is right. One couldn't come away unmoved from the experience...hope to get to Berlin one day.

Daniela Grimburg said...

To watch the pictures of the monument and to read the poem is really moving.
For sure an impression one never will forget.
Would love to visit Berlin one day.

Cheri Savory Spoon said...

What a moving post Beth! would love to view this memorial someday.

Mary @ The World Is A Book said...

That was such a powerful and emotional poem. It's amazing how simple they grey stones look but speaks volumes in meaning, history and emotion.Thanks for sharing this with us.

Barbara said...

Amazing post. Thank you, Beth.

Catherine said...

I don't think there are words to describe the emotion of such suffering and loss. Very touching. . Catherine

Marcela said...

Your post is so moving. Poem is incredibly emotional. Thank you for this post. It is extremely important to know that life is not all about internet and joy.

I wish you a nice day.

grace said...

i've always been fascinated by holocaust and find myself actually seeking out information about it, which is unusual for me and anything regarding something from the past. i loved your post.

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

I remember reading All Quiet on the Western Front. And then seeing the Battlefields of Verdun. And all the existentialist literature coming out of the WW II period that seemed incomprehensible--until I thought about what such an experience must do to a thinking mind... Although a cliche, it really is important to remember.

Claudia said...

"Never such innocence, never before or since..." - that also fits for all of us that were born after the wars. Some innocence was gone even before birth.

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