Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas e.V.

The most frequently asked questions and answers

Why is the Memorial dedicated only to the murdered Jews?

During the ten years in which the erection of this Memorial was discussed, this was the most frequently voiced objection: it should not only be dedicated to the Jews, but all the Nazis’ victims. The initiators have both historical and practical reasons for their objections.

The murder of the European Jews was unique. Never before had a state decided to kill a group of people that it declared were Jews, including the infirm, women, children and infants, by deporting them in many cases to institutions designed expressly for the purpose of killing. Moreover, this murder was the core of Nazism and Hitler’s central and constantly repeated motivation. Even in the first political writing of his life in 1919, he wrote that the ultimate goal of anti-Semitism must be the “removal of all Jews”, and at the end, in 1945, he said that “the world would be eternally grateful to National Socialism because I exterminated the Jews from Germany and Central Europe”. Thus, the historical reason was the uniqueness and centrality. This justified a special memorial of their own. In addition, there were practical reasons. There has already been a general memorial inscribed “To the Victims of National Socialism” since 1953 (located on Steinplatz in Berlin), and since 1993, there has been another one at the Neue Wache Unter den Linden, also dedicated to all victims of violent regimes. It would not make sense to add a third one now.

Moreover, one memorial does not exclude the possibility of others. There are many in Germany and elsewhere, both for the murdered Jews and for other groups of victims, and where they are missing, they should and can be erected. In Berlin, there will soon be a memorial for the Sinti and Roma murdered as “gypsies” and a memorial for the homosexuals persecuted by the Nazis. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe does not prevent these. One should also consider that a memorial for all the groups of victims would not be specific and would say nothing concrete about the suffering and death of the specific groups of victims. While in Israel, the land of the victims and their heirs, the memorial Yad Vashem has existed in Jerusalem since 1953, the land of the perpetrators and their heirs had no similar memorial until a few years ago. Contrary to a wide-spread opinion, it is dedicated not just to the murdered German Jews, but the murdered Jews of Europe. Many people are not aware that most of them, about 98%, were not German.

The oldest and most common form of memorial is the gravesite, commemorating one or more dead people, especially if they died together. Innumerable memorials to fallen soldiers spring to mind. These are either graves in military cemeteries or empty memorials (cenotaphs). Most of the murdered Jews have no grave. The Memorial in Berlin also has the function of a cenotaph. Thus, it is very important that the adjacent “Information Center” chronicles the names of the victims. Yad Vashem’s long-standing collection of names has been shared with Berlin and is being added to here. Occasionally, one also hears that a memorial (only) for the Jews emphasizes the latter and slights the other victims. But this is not a hierarchy of victims – it is a hierarchy of historic events. The murder of the Jews stands out among the other Nazi crimes, and that is why it deserves a special memorial.

Why is there an „Information Center“ in addition to the Memorial?

Both elements, the field of steles and the “Information Center” form the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. They do not compete with each other, but they complement each other. The field of steles designed by Eisenman is a radical rethinking of what a memorial is commonly considered to be, and it tries to “develop a new idea of commemoration”. In this memorial, as Eisenman himself has said, there is “no goal, no end, no way into or out of it”.

The “Information Center”, on the other hand, wishes to provide in-depth information and documentation about the fate of the Jews. It contains four different rooms which throw both a historical and personal light on the issue. The field of steles and the “Information Center” are therefore the heart and the mind of the Memorial.

Why is the Memorial located in the middle of Berlin, of all places?

The Association made efforts to secure the area near Tiergarten, because the largest crime in German history demanded that a central place of commemoration be found in the heart of the capital. The Memorial is located very close to Hitler’s Chancellery, Joseph Goebbels’ air-raid shelter and to many central buildings of the Nazi regime. Thus, the location is a historic area in many aspects. However, the Memorial is also a symbol of reconciliation. Where could such a symbol be better located than directly near the death strip that separated East and West for almost 40 years?

Why does the Association solicit donations even though the Memorial has been open since 2005?

The Memorial was erected with money supplied by the Federal Government. However, the funds available were not sufficient to cover the research into and depiction of all the 3.2 million names and fates which the Israeli Remembrance Authority Yad Vashem provided to us as the only institution outside of Israel.
Together with the Foundation, the Association aims to ensure the depiction of ALL names and fates. The funds raised so far by the Association is a good foundation, but insufficient by far to attain this goal.

Great financial efforts must be made throughout the coming years, and this requires the help of many citizens.

Please help us to advance this important project by becoming a member and/or by making a donation.

Auch Sie können unsere Arbeit unterstützen. Vielen Dank!

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