Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas e.V.

Chronology of Events

January 1989
In August of 1988, journalist Lea Rosh takes part in a panel discussion where she suggests establishing a “memorial as a visible commitment to action” on the grounds of the former Gestapo compound in Berlin-Kreuzberg. In January of 1989, Lea Rosh and the historian Eberhard Jäckel publish the first appeal of the citizens’ initiative “Perspective Berlin”, promoting the establishment of a memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe. Willy Brandt was the first to sign the appeal.

February 1990
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the “Association for the Establishment of a Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe”, the successor of the citizens’ initiative, suggests an area north of the former Chancellery, near the former ministry gardens, as the new location for the memorial.

April 1992
The Federal Government led by Chancellor Helmut Kohl supports the initiative to establish a memorial and declares its willingness to allocate part of the grounds of the former ministry gardens to the project.

Spring of 1995
The Berlin Senate’s Construction and Housing Administration holds an open artistic competition for the memorial, receiving 528 entries. After the examining all entries, the jury, chaired by Walter Jens, recommends awarding two first prizes, one to Christine Jackob-Marks and Hella Rolfes, Hans Scheib and Reinhard Stangl (Berlin) and one to Simon Ungers (Cologne/New York).

June 1995
Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl opposes the recommendation of the Senate to implement the design by Jackob-Marks, Rolfes, Scheib and Stangl. The project is plunged into a serious crisis.

June 1997

After holding a three-part symposium where international experts discuss the project and the location very controversially, the three sponsors of the competition (the Association, Federal Government and State of Berlin) agree to adhere to the concept of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the agreed-upon location in the former ministry gardens. They decide to hold a new and more restricted competition and to establish a five-person commission. 25 architects and sculptors of international renown are invited to participate in this competition.

November 1997

The commission recommends the designs by Peter Eisenman/Richard Serra (New York) and Gesine Weinmiller (Berlin). The sponsors adopt this recommendation and also support the designs by Jochen Gerz (Paris) and Daniel Libeskind (Berlin).

January/ February 1998

An intensive public debate about the project and the designs exhibited reveals the Eisenman/Serra design to be the favorite. Following the suggestions of Chancellor Kohl, the design by Eisenman/Serra is revised.

Summer of 1998
The revised design (“Eisenman II) is presented by Peter Eisenman after sculptor Richard Serra’s withdrawal from the project due to the revisions demanded by Chancellor Dr. H. Kohl. Because of the imminent parliamentary election campaigns, no further decisions are made.

October 1998

The newly elected government, constituted by the SPD and Green Party, resolves in its coalition agreement to have the German Parliament decide upon the Memorial.

December 1998/ January 1999
The new Minister of State for Culture and Media, Michael Naumann, suggests the establishment of a library and research enter, a “house of memory”, instead of the Memorial. Together with architect Peter Eisenman, he presents a newly revised design (“Eisenman III”) to the SPD faction, but fails to win its support.

June 25, 1999

After several hearings and exhibits, the German Parliament holds a lengthy debate and decides by a great majority to establish a “Memorial to the Murdered Jews” based on Peter Eisenman’s design of a field of steles (“Eisenman II”) at the selected location. It is to be supplemented by an “Information Center” honoring the victims and providing information about the original memorial sites. A Foundation is established to implement the Parliament’s decision.

January 27, 2000

A symbolic ground-breaking ceremony takes place at the site of the Memorial.

March 2000

The board of the newly founded “Foundation for the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe”, chaired by Wolfgang Thierse, President of the German Parliament, elects the political scientist Dr. Sibylle Quack as its executive director. At the same time, a commissioned is formed among the board members to decide upon a basic concept for the Information Center. (Among its members are Prof. Dr. Eberhard Jäckel, Dr. Andreas Nachama, Prof. Dr. Reinhard Rürup and the Executive Director Dr. Sibylle Quack.)

May 2000

The board commissions a feasibility study for an underground Information Center from architect Professor Peter Eisenman.

November 2000

On the basis of the cost estimate submitted by the architect and the Foundation, the German Parliament approves a sum of 26.3 million Euros for the construction of the Memorial (Field of Steles and Information Center) as well as 2.3 million Euros for the construction of the exhibits and the basic equipment of the Information Center.

January 2001
After a selection process the Foundation commissions the exhibition designer Dagmar von Wilcken from Berlin to draft a design concept for the Information Center.

May 2001
On the construction site, the first trial steles are erected.

November 2001

The Foundation hosts an international symposium on the Memorial and the Information Center, inviting historians, museum educators, art historians and architecture theorists.

November 2002 onwards
Preparatory construction work on the memorial site.

March 2003

After the termination of all essential calls for tenders and evaluation of offers, contracts are awarded for the greatest part of the construction work, including the steles, the structural work for the Information Center and the paving.

April 2003
In the spring of 2003, construction on the Memorial begins. At the same time, an information platform is erected at the construction fence surrounding the site.

September 2003
The concrete for the floor slab of the Information Center is laid.

October/ November 2003

After the first steles have been installed, public discussion about the use of products made by Degussa in the production of the steles leads to a decision by the board to examine the use of these products as well as possible alternatives. After compiling a detailed report, the board decides in November that the Memorial should be built including Degussa products.

November 2003

The Foundation’s website for young people, “Children and Teenagers as Victims of Nazi Persecution”, goes online.

July 12, 2004
On the occasion of the completion of the coffered ceiling of the underground Information Center and the successful installation of half of the 2,711 steles, a ceremony is held in the presence of the architect.

May 10, 2005
The opening ceremony of the Memorial, with 1,200 guests from Germany and abroad, is broadcast live on TV stations ARD, ZDF and Phoenix.

May 12, 2005

The Memorial is opened to the public; by the end of 2005, about 350,000 guests have visited the Information Center.

February 15, 2006
Peter Eisenman’s “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” wins the renowned award for “Cultural Buildings/Cultural Spaces” of the US-American magazine “Travel and Leisure”.

May 2006
On the occasion of the first anniversary of the opening of the Memorial to the public, the Foundation presents a positive report: an estimated 3.5 million have visited the field of steles, and more than 500,000 the Information Center.

September 13, 2006
For her initiative “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe”, Lea Rosh receives the Cross of Merit with Ribbon of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

May 3, 2007

The Holocaust Memorial receives the renowned “Honor Award for Architecture” of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). This award is considered the highest honor for architecture in the USA and is among the most important prizes in this area.

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