American Views Abroad

Saturday, October 01, 2005
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was opened in Berlin on May 10, 2005. It covers 19,000 square meters in the heart of the city very close to the Brandenburg Gate and just across the street from the US Embassy whose new building is now under construction. The photos here were taken on May 15th, a Sunday. This memorial has drawn a huge number of visitors and it was intriguing to watch how so many various groups of people reacted to this memorial. I distinctly remember groups standing around one stone or another stone talking at length and it reminded me of families gathered at a cemetery, not on the day of the funeral but long afterwards. Actually, I recalled how the Mexicans gather together once a year to remember their departed ones. There were the children who took to the stones, jumping from one to the other and, at times, parents trying to prevent them from doing this. How people react to this memorial has created some controversy in the press here. Should it only be with silence and respect? Is it correct that a stand selling sausages and drinks be opened so close by? The architect has publicly come out in favor of people reacting to this memorial and not having it 'fenced off' in any way.

In the October 6th issue of The New York Review of Books Tony Judt's From the House of the Dead: On Modern European Memory is available to subscribers only online. It is well worth reading in its entirety at

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