If you can #tbt a picture on Instagram or Facebook, you can definitely #tbt a blog post, right? I’m going with that and starting a new thing. Now, on Thursdays, I’m going to share my own throwback of some sort, be it a photo, a memory, story, song…whatever feels right on that day! On board with me? Good.
My first #tbt post comes from a more recent experience in Berlin a few weeks ago. On our walking tour during our full day there, our awesome guide Lana took us to Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial. Designed by German architect Peter Eisenman, the memorial consists of 2,711 rectangular concrete structures laid out in a 4.7-acre sloping grid. The slabs are all the same width and length, but vary in height. Construction of the memorial finished in December of 2004, and was opened to the public in May of 2005, 60 years after the end of World War II.
I don’t think I would have known what this was if I’d walked up to it on my own. It definitely didn’t look like other memorials I’d seen, for the Holocaust or other historical events. There is no sign at the memorial saying what it is or announcing it to the world; you just walk up to this arrangement of stone blocks on the backside of the city, about a block behind the Brandenburg Gate.
At first, I was puzzled as to why there was no sign; how else are people supposed to know that it’s a memorial, let alone one for the most atrocious event in human history? I guessed that the designers and builders didn’t want to call attention to it or make it flashy and risk it becoming more of a tourist attraction than a serious memorial. And that made sense.
After speaking on it for a few minutes, Lana gave us time to walk through the memorial and observe the blocks up close. She said we could touch the blocks, but we could not sit on them, especially with our feet on top. I wandered through the blocks and eventually made my way to the other side, following Lana’s instructions. My group met up on the other side to discuss how we felt walking through the blocks, and to share our interpretations of the memorial.
We stayed by the memorial for another minute or two, and then continued to our next stop. As we walked away, I couldn’t help but keep thinking of the lady sitting on the concrete block and wondering how often that happens. But just that once is too often.