Some people are not disturbed by the cracks in the concrete blocks of Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial. They see the decay as part of a natural process that does not detract from the memorial’s powerful impact on millions of visitors. But how does the structural damage affect the visitor’s effort to find meaning in the 2,710 concrete slabs designed and built to memorialize the murdered Jews of Europe?
An argument could be made that the cracks blend in with the otherwise plain concrete columns, but the steel braces around the most damaged slabs are another story. My impression is that they make the blocks look more like coffins and divert the mind from its real and imaginary journey through this cold and sterile expanse. As the decay continues and more steel collars are secured to hundreds of slabs, the memorial and its hefty maintenance costs are becoming an increasing embarrassment for the City of Berlin.
The memorial won’t crumble any time soon and experts insist there is no threat to visitor safety. Whether the construction company or natural forces are to blame for the decay is an open question that is being investigated by a Berlin court. Its findings will comprise yet another chapter in the history of a landmark with an already troubled past. If you have not yet been to the memorial, it’s still well worth a visit. But you might want to come sooner rather than later.
Check out this article for a little more background information on Berlin’s cracked up Holocaust Memorial: Berlin’s Holocaust memorial is falling apart