Thursday, May 10, 2012

Jewish Museum, Berlin

 Bill and I approached the entrance of Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum this morning
 mindful of the angular structure beside it.
The only way in to the angular structure is through the Baroque building next door.
 Stairs lead us down to corridors where the floors are slanted.
Vitrines line the hallways with artifacts and stories from the Holocaust
 like this story about the recovery of these silver candlesticks.
 Bill and I followed the map toward the "Axis of the Holocaust".
At the end of this hall is a heavy metal door. An attendant opened it for us
and closed it behind us as we entered a concrete silo that is 66 ft high and lit only by a slit at the top. We felt the cold earth around us through the concrete walls. The space is powerfully claustrophobic. When new visitors arrived and the door was once more opened we slipped quickly out.
 After we recovered we followed another corridor to the Garden of Exile.
Again the cobbled ground under our feet was slanted as were the concrete planters that rose over our heads. Getting our balance was difficult in the space.
The feeling of disorientation was extreme.
 At last we followed the "Axis of Connection" to the "Memory Void"
 which leads to Shalekhet (Fallen Leaves) an incredible installation by Israeli artist Menashe Kadishman.
 Bill and I walked over the steel faces.

The clinking sound is unforgettable.
The Axis of Connection continues up a long staircase. It was comforting to get a glimpse of the spring foliage in the outside world. The stairs lead to a more traditional museum collection describing the last thousand years of Jewish culture. The narrative leads inexorably back to the Second World War and the Holocaust.
 I was interested by a video installation of Hanna Arendt being interviewed by Günter Grass.
"This never should have happened...None of us can come to terms with that." That said it for us!
The museum makes its unforgettable, indelible points through the experience of walking through the architecture. The physical memory of those sloping floors and those impossible spaces has stayed with us.
 As we left the site we had a look at the sloping planters of the Garden of Exile and the flowering tree we had glimpsed from inside.


  1. An exceptional blog entry and story. Thank you. An important and extraordinary place. O That flowering tree in the Garden of Exile. Thank you.

  2. Thanks, Rick -- an extraordinary memorial! The architect really put us through an unforgettable experience. Thanks for coming along!