Shortcomings of German Holocaust Memorialization and "The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe"
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This paper will examine one memorial, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin, and assess whether or not the memorial does an adequate job of portraying a clear message to the observer. This will be done through the utilization of a variety of sources, the most important being both the designer's and official description of the memorial, and a visitor's account of a visit to the site. Newspaper articles, architectural reviews, and the design and construction process also were utilized in the evaluation of the memorial. The memorial will be evaluated in several different ways. The first will be how the memorial came to be constructed initially, and the groups involved in that process. Then, the designer's reasoning for its iconography will be evaluated, followed by the iconography itself. Most importantly, the ability of the memorial's design to effectively capture the designer's intended message, and in tum convey that to the observer, will be evaluated, as well as how clear the intended message is. Finally, the place of the memorial in the larger discussion of anti-Semitism in Europe will be examined, with its effectiveness in deterring people from bigoted activities being taken into account. Ultimately, due to its unorthodox design, tumultuous design process, and massive scope, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe fails to portray a concrete message, causing the observer to grapple with what the memorial is supposed to be or why it is there, as opposed to their own experience with the memorial. The examination of controversies surrounding memorialization an event like the Holocaust is historically significant for multiple reasons. The first is that an event as evil as the Holocaust is not typically thought of as being controversial, other than with fringe white supremacist groups. A deeper dive into the memorialization of the Holocaust, with things like the large number and diversity of victims, purpose of the memorial and its design, helping to provide some context as to why this process is shrouded in controversy. The second reason is that as the world becomes more generations removed from the Holocaust, the memory of the Holocaust is more susceptible to being forgotten. As this happens, it becomes increasingly likely that the Holocaust is repeated. It also increases the likelihood that the memory is changed by different groups to fit their own memory, leaving other groups' memory in danger of being seen as less significant by others. The examination of controversial Holocaust memorialization can also help shed light on the relationship between various victim groups, as well as which Holocaust victim groups society sees as most affected or most significant in the memorialization process.
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