The Construction of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.
A competition for the design of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin was held in April of 1994. Twelve artists were invited to submit a design and a stipend of 50, 000 German Marks was provided to each candidate. The proposals would be reviewed by a jury with representatives from architecture, urban design, art, history, administration, and politics. Interest in the project grew and at the end of the competitive period, 528 proposals had been submitted. Rounds of reviews commenced and 13 proposals were selected. But during the interim period between meetings, the jurors -- who ostensibly were then able to review the critiques of their fellow jurors -- asked that 11 proposals be put back in the running. Two proposals were finally recommended to the foundation for feasibility study. One proposal was designed by Simon Ungers architectural group from Hamburg, and one proposal was designed by Christine Jackob-Marks. Jackob-Marks' work included names of murdered Jews engraved in a large concrete plate, with empty spaces signifying Jews who could not be identified by name. Her proposal also included debris from Massada where the Jewish inhabitants avoided capture by invading Romans by killing themselves. Chancellor Helmut Kohl vetoed this proposal. It was considered too "German" and too similar to the Nazi death rosters. The controversy continued under many different guises.
In June of 1998, Peter Eisenman's design was chosen, but it was scaled down to 2,711 blocks, or stelae, after considerable controversy.[footnoteRef:22] Daniel Liebeskind, who was pupil of Eisenman's, claimed that Eisenman stole his design from the Berlin Jewish Museum's Garden of Exile. In July of 2001, billboards reflecting Holocaust denial sentiments appeared in Berlin triggering a funding controversy. [footnoteRef:23] In October of 2003, there was a major disruption to the project. Degesch, a subsidiary of the German company Degussa, was revealed by a Swiss newspaper to be the same firm that made Zyklon-B, the gas used in the gas chambers to murder Jews in the extermination camps. Degussa had been hired to coat the concrete slabs with an anti-graffiti substance. In fact, many stelae had already been coated and the anti-graffiti substance had been discounted as in-kind sponsorship of the memorial. Degussa had National-Socialist leanings during the war and this fact was ostensibly known to the construction management company and to Lea Rosh. Rosh declared that she had no prior knowledge of the connection, and she is reported to have said that, "Zylon-B is obviously the limit."[footnoteRef:24] Another subsidiary of Degussa had, but this time, already poured the concrete foundation for the stelae. Members of the Jewish community were outraged at Degussa's involvement and wanted them out of the project. Politicians on the Board of the foundation did not want to impose further expense on the project by stopping construction, or worse, destroying any construction that Degasse had already accomplished. The cost of this action was estimated at €2.34 million. One Board member, Wolfgang Thierse, was reported to say, "[T]he past intrudes into our society."[footnoteRef:25] The Zentrairat der Juden in Germany was outspoken about not continuing the work with Degrasse. Hezryk Broder emphasized that, "The Jews don't need this memorial, and they are not prepared to declare a pig sty kosher." [footnoteRef:26] Peter Eisenberg, perhaps in a bid to see his work finished, supported continuing the project with Degrasse. In November 2003, work restarted with Degrasse. In May of 2005, the Das Denkmal fur Die Ermordeten Juden Europas was completed. At the opening ceremony, Peter Eisenberg spoke about the significance of the Mahnmal, saying that, "It is clear that we won't have solved all the problems -- architecture is not a panacea for evil -- nor will we have satisfied all those present today, but this cannot have been our intention."[footnoteRef:27] [22: Historic Sites -- Berlin, Op. Cit. ] [23: Ibid. ] [24: Translated from "Die Grenze ist ganz klar Zyklon B." Leggewie / Meyer, 2005, p. 294. ] [25: Translated from "Die Vergangenheit ragt in unsere Gesellschaft hinein." Claus Leggewie and Erik Meyer (2005) "Ein Ort, an den man gerne geht." Das Holocaust-Mahnmal und die deutsche Geschichtspolitik nach 1989. Munich, DE: Carl Hanser Verlag Publisher. Munich. p. 294.] [26: Translated from "Di Juden brauchen dieses Mahnmal nicht, und sind nicht beriet, eine Schweinerei als koscher zu erklaren." Leggewie / Meyer, 2005, p. 294] [27: Berstein, Richard. (2005, May 11) Holocaust Museum opens in Berlin, The New York Times. Retrieved http://www.nytimes.com/2005/0511/international/europe/11germany. ]