Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas e.V.

How the Association Began

The original idea for the memorial came from historian Eberhard Jäckel, journalist Lea Rosh, chairwoman of the citizens’ initiative “Perspective Berlin”, took it up and publicized

From the Idea to the Holocaust Memorial
The original idea for the memorial came from historian Eberhard Jäckel, journalist Lea Rosh, chairwoman of the citizens’ initiative “Perspective Berlin”, took it up and publicized it: we wanted to erect a memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe in the land of the perpetrators, to remember the millions of murders, to honor the victims and restore their names to them.

The Association in 1999 – on the left, Chairwoman Prof. Lea Rosh

The Initiative had neither money nor political power.
We had to convince others of the idea, to find allies and colleagues. The first to sign the appeal was Willy Brandt. He was the one to formulate what was to become our motto: “Our dignity demands an expression of commemoration of the murdered Jews that cannot be overlooked.”

Tireless activity in any weather
We placed ads announcing our idea, demonstrating in the streets in any weather, collecting signatures and donations.
Soon, we had 100,000 marks and almost 10,000 signatures.

The discussion became increasingly adversarial,
our position had to be clarified again and again: Why a memorial only for the murdered Jews?
Why not for other groups of victims too? Our argumentation was that “the core of Nazi extermination policy was the destruction of the Jewish people, this was Hitler’s foremost goal. The mere number of six million Jewish victims demands that they have a memorial to themselves.“

1994: First Competition for the Holocaust Memorial
In 1994, a first artistic competition was held for a “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe”.
The first prize was awarded to Christine Jackob-Marcks, Hela Rolfes, Hans Scheib and Reinhard Stangl (Berlin) for their design, a slab with all the first and last names of the victims. The Chancellor at the time, Dr. Helmut Kohl, decided that this design should not be carried out.

A second competition in 1996
Thereupon, in 1996 a second competition was open to 25 invited artists.

In October of 1997, the results were clear: sculptor Richard Serra and architect Peter Eisenman were the winners of the competition. Their idea convinced the jury: a field of about 4,000 concrete steles. “Our memorial has no goal, no end, no path to enter or leave by,” Richard Serra and Peter Eisenman describe the basic concept of their design. “The steles oppress the visitor and confuse him. He decides for himself how far he wants to enter this field, these memories. On an unstable foundation, deep in the field of steles, the visitor can only see a small portion of it. He knows the size of the area, perhaps he knows the number of steles, but he cannot get an overview of the entire field – a metaphor for the impossibility of grasping the million-fold murder of the Jews.”

Opening the construction site in 2003: architect Peter Eisenman, President of the German Parliament Wolfgang Thierse and Association Chairwoman Prof. Lea Rosh

Decision of the German Parliament
“Eisenman II” was the name of the design that the German Parliament approved on June 25, 1999: 2,711 steles arranged on an area that dipped down irregularly and covered about 19,000 square meters. The field, entirely open to the public from all four directions, is perceived differently in its wavy shape from any angle the observer chooses. On January 27, 2000 construction began and the construction sign was unveiled.

The Association’s Chairwoman Prof. Lea Rosh laying the cornerstone for the Holocaust Memorial in 2003 in Berlin

The most important step is accomplished: the Memorial is erected and making headlines.
We had done it: “The State” had taken up the citizens’ initiative and had committed to honoring the victims murdered in the name of the Nazi state. After the decision of the German Parliament, the Citizens’ Initiative wanted to maintain the concept of the citizens’ involvement. Numerous activities of the Association, such as readings, lectures, panel discussions, benefit concerts and fundraising campaigns for the “Room of Names” keep the interest in the Memorial alive.

Help us to keep expanding the “Room of Names“.

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Room of Names

The purpose of the “Room of Names” in the “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” in Berlin is to provide a space for these victims.


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