Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas e.V.

Visitors’ Responses

Since the opening of the Holocaust Memorial, we have received many letters from visitors to the site. We would like to present some excerpts from these letters.

First Letter - Stockholm, 2006
Letter of the Chief Rabbi Emeritus of Stockholm, Sweden, after his visit to the Memorial: Stockholm, October 30, 2006

My wife and I want to thank you, not only for taking of your time to guide us through the Holocaust Museum, but, even more, for your having introduced us to this unique memorial. Our response was stronger than we had ever imagined it would be. The huge stones on the surface evoked sensations of shock. The exhibitions and activities underground produced greater understanding of the crime of the Holocaust and also for the tragedy. It was obvious that the quality of human life stolen from the victims was infinitely superior to the life of the perpetrators, so inferior in moral quality.
While it is easy to express our formal thanks, it is much more difficult to formulate the emotions that we will, throughout the rest of our lives, associate with our hours in the museum. You will recall that not the least of all my overwhelming reactions to the numerous (and tastefully presented) displays and activities was the opportunity to sign in to the Yad Vashem archives and almost immediately receive a long list of names. These were victims of the Nazis, who must have been the descendents of relatives of my maternal grandmother …
Please convey to those responsible for the existence of this museum my deep appreciation for the greatness of this tribute to those who fell for Kiddush Hashem in the dark days of the Nazi persecution. This dignified memorial obviously meant most to me, but I want to also note with appreciation how that which they saw and heard affected the numerous non-Jewish visitors with much weaker ties to those events than I have. You have, indeed, found a way to make this history live. Thank you for being so successful.
Most sincerely, and respectfully,
Morton H. Narrowe
Chief Rabbi Emeritus of Stockholm, Sweden

Second Letter - Hamburg, July 6, 2006

Dear Ms. Rosh!
All my life as a teacher, I have tried to find answers to the two most pressing questions of our unfortunate history together with my students: how was it possible that Germany began the war of destruction and committed genocide against the Jews. Every year, I went to the synagogue with them for conversations with the cantor there – from which a real friendship developed with Günter Singer, who has since unfortunately died of leukemia.
And now I visited the Holocaust Memorial while staying in Berlin. It was the documentation that touched the deepest part of my soul. The same evening, I found the words that I assembled in the enclosed poem.
My friends were so impressed by these lines that they recommended that I send them to you – as a form of gratitude for your untiring work; and to show you that we are willing to confront our past time and again, in order to proceed towards a better future, “cleansed”.
It is good to see the resonance the Memorial, so controversial for so long, has found in the meantime. I believe it is like a stone that has fallen into the water, creating larger and larger ripples.
Best regards,
Horst Eichler

Third Letter – Wiesbaden, May 12, 2005

I feel the urge to express my highest esteem for you, Ms. Rosh. You have won against an overwhelming bureaucracy and especially against those who wish to forget, and have created something great. I thank you, also on behalf of my many relatives from Berlin and Breslau who now have a place of remembrance.
Unfortunately – as Paul Spiegel and yourself predicted – we are already hearing the “critical” voices, disparaging the 24 million spent on the memorial. I have replied – and it is a shame that one is driven to calculate the monetary worth of human lives – that for six million brutally slaughtered men, women and children, this comes to a total of a mere 4 Euros for each murdered person and their memory. From the wealth stolen from Jewish owners alone […] one could build a memorial that would cover all of Berlin and beyond. […] Again, my highest regard.

Fourth Letter – Frankfurt, May 10, 2005

Without pretense, I would like to express the regard, admiration and gratitude that I feel for you today. Thanks to you and your colleagues for mustering the courage and endurance to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, hostility and calumny and to implement the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
I followed the TV documentation that you mentioned during the opening ceremony, I have seen Claude Lanzmann’s movie about the shoah and many other documentations. I have been to Israel, I know Yad Vashem and only recently visited the impressive Jewish Museum in Berlin. But every time, I was struck by a deep feeling of shame – also in direct contact with Jews in America whose families were murdered. To me, you have materialized this shame in this Memorial and made it concrete. The multiple murder of Jewish people by the Germans can never be understood – as much as we try. The guilt cannot be removed. With these murders, Germany has also murdered part of itself, of its soul.
With this project, you and your colleagues have created a place where – hopefully – a part of the lost soul can be recovered through deeply felt sorrow. This possibility is your achievement. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Fifth Letter – Bremen, May 16, 2005

… I am truly grateful to you for enabling my daughter and me to attend the inauguration of the Holocaust Memorial. It will take continued efforts to make people understand the meaning and the importance of the Memorial.
Many questions are unanswered: “How could it happen?” “Why?” “Who did this?” “Who did what to whom?”
While I was waiting for the ceremony to begin and also during the speeches, I pondered these questions, and my mind went back to the Old Testament and the story of Cain and Abel. We Germans are also asked the question: “Cain, where is your brother Abel?” Cain squirmed at the question, and we Germans do the same. For his deed, he was marked. We Germans too carry this mark of Cain now, with justification and for a long time yet, perhaps forever. I think that Mr. Spiegel is right: let us behold the perpetrators – the individual Cains, and the Germans as a whole. After holidays in countries formerly occupied by Germans and also in Israel, I know that Germans of my age (80 years) are viewed with great distrust (Cain?).
From Jewish friends emigrated to America I have had to hear that Jews who escaped the German Nazis are ashamed to reveal that they were Germans. With the help of the Memorial, we should try to propagate the thought that we Germans must bear this mark of Cain. And that means all of us – the distinction between Nazis and others must stop.

In our neighborhood, “Stolpersteine” (Memorial Stones) are going to be incorporated into the pavement in September in front of the house of a doctor’s family murdered on November 9, 1938. My wife and I have sponsored these stones, and I will make all possible efforts to eradicate the term “German citizens of the Jewish faith” from public speeches. (Who would call Ratzinger a “German citizen of the Catholic faith”?)

What happened here was murder. An honorable German was murdered by a German! For the rest of my life, I will not be swayed from this opinion.

Auch Sie können unsere Arbeit unterstützen. Vielen Dank!

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