University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Berlin Memorials

Christian Boltanski, "The Missing House," 1990 on Grosshamburger Strasse, Berlin

This apartment house in central Berlin was destroyed by aerial bombardment in February, 1945. In 1990, French artist Christian Boltanski and his students did research on the site, found that all the former residents were Jews, and constructed a memorial space dedicated to "absence." The signs indicate the names of the residents and approximate place where they lived in the building, their dates of birth and death, and occupations, which went across class lines.

Plaques indicate the approximate space occupied by Jewish and non-Jewish residents, testifying to a diversity that was lost with Nazi decrees against the Jews and removal of the Jewish population from Berlin.

Site of the Rosenstrasse Protest, March 1, 1943

The Nazis exempted Berlin Jews in mixed marriages from deportation until February 28, 1943. On that day, the Fabrik-Aktion took place, where between 1,500 and 2,500 Jewish men were rounded up and held in the Jewish community building on Rosenstrasse. The next day, a series of demonstration by non-Jewish wives and relatives took place at the site and continued for five days. Strangely, the men were released. This unexpected response is usually cited as linked to several causes: (1) the demonstrators, mostly women, were not protesting against the Nazi regime, but the Nazi violation of their own directives not to deport intermarried Jews and mischlinge (half-Jews); (2) some respect for women; (3) The regime's wish to avoid a larger demonstration and avoding a bloodbath in the center of Berlin.

The kiosk on the Rosenstrasse documents the events that took place there in 1943. The building where the men were held was destroyed later in the war.

The monument in a nearby park is entitled "Block der Frauen" ("Block of Women"), dedicated in 1995 and carved by sculptor Ingeborg Hunzinger. The imagery is of protesting and mourning women. The inscription on the rear reads: "The strength of civil disobedience, the vigor of love overcomes the violence of dictatorship; Give us our men back; Women were standing here, defeating death; Jewish men were free."

Kiosk dedicated to the Women's Demonstration on Rosenstrasse (original building was destroyed in Allied bombing)

Block Der Frauen (Block of Women). Architect: Ingeborg Hunzinger. 1995.

Bebelplatz, Humboldt University, site of the Burning of Books, May 10, 1933

Monument, "The Empty Library" by Israeli artist Mischa Ullman is an underground room with empty white bookcases. It is difficult to see, especially during the day. The room sits in the middle of the square and is covered with a unraised glass roof. Plaques on either side of the glass indicate: "Where one burns books, it is only a prelude; in the end one also burns people."

Monument Site for the Roma/Sinti (Gypsies) on the Tiergarten, currently under construction

Berlin Tiergarten

Site of the Memorial to the Destruction of the Roma and Sinti/Gypsies by the Nazis, photographed Summer, 2002. Ground has been broken for the memorial, which is in the Tiergarden next to the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate.

Berlin Tiergarten 2007

Updated sign about the still unbuilt memorial to the Roma and Sinti, taken in 2007, courtesy of Cologne, Germany artist Veit Landwehr.

Münchener Strasse

To destroyed Münchener Strasse Synagogue 1963. Arch. Gerson Fehrenbach

"Here stood the Synagogue of the Jewish Community built in 1909." The synagogue survived Kristallnacht but was destroyed in 1956.

Wittenberg Platz Memorial

Wittenberg Platz Monument erected by League for Human Rights 1967 "Places of Terror We Must Never Forget"

"Places of Terror We Must Never Forget" 1967 - League for Human Rights 1967.

German Reichstag

The German Reichstag in Berlin. Restored during the 1990s as the center of government of the German Federal Republic, with the capital being moved from Bonn back to Berlin, the Reichstag is the symbol of the new Germany. The restoration left graffiti from Soviet soldiers exposed on the lower levels, as a reminder of the past.  The new glass dome by Sir Norman Foster speaks of the idea of "transparency" in government.  From the roof of the Reichstag, a short distance away is the Brandenburg Gate, symbol of division of the city between 1961 and 1989, as well as the site for the Monument (Denkmal) to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  Interior scenes show Christian Boltanski's memorial to the German parliamentarians. Outside is a monument to those killed in concentration camps during the Nazi era.

New Dome by Sir Norman Foster

Norman Foster Dome on Berlin Reichstag

Reichstag Entrance " The German People". Natun Meaning Nation State in a National-Racial Sense.

Hans Haacke Inscription in Reichstag Der Bevolkerung as Memorial. Bevolkerung Means New German Population (implying mixture)

Russian Graffiti. View From Balcony.

Russian Graffiti.

Grafitti left by Soviet Occupation Troops 1945

Archive of German Parliamentarians. Installation by French Artist Christian Boltanksi.

Memorial to Murdered Parliament Members 1933-1945

Memorial to East Germans killed fleeing over Berlin Wall

Memorial to those killed fleeing the West

For other monuments see: