Information Centre under the Field of Stelae

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print
  • Cora-Berliner-Straße 1, 10117 Berlin

Opening hours

April-Sept: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm
Oct-March: Tue-Sun 10am-7pm
Last admission 45 minutes before closing time

Holidays and closing days

Closed on Mondays (except Easter and Whit Monday)
24-26 Dec. and 31 Dec. closed from 4 p.m.

Waiting times

There may be waiting times. The length depends on the day’s events. You can find out about the waiting times on site.

CONTACT

For questions:
+49 30 26 39 43 – 36
besucherservice@stiftung-denkmal.de

Exhibition tour

The exhibition begins with an overview of the Nazi terror policy from 1933 to 1945. A line of text and images depicts the persecution and murder of European Jews in order to be able to classify the contents of the following four thematic rooms. From the front wall of the opening area of the exhibition, visitors are confronted by six large-format faces. These portraits represent the six million Jewish victims.

The focus of the first themed room is on diary entries, letters and final notes taken during the persecution. Few of the murdered Jewish children, women and men could leave testimonies of their personal suffering. The diaries and farewell letters, which are often only preserved in fragments, highlight their experiences, feelings and actions in the face of violence and deadly threats.

This personal level is supplemented by a circulating volume which gives the number of victims for the European countries concerned within the 1937 borders. There are no traces of most of the people deported to extermination. Between 5.4 and almost 6 million Jews have been murdered in Nazi-dominated Europe. The range of figures is based on documents of the perpetrators and statistical surveys of the then twenty, today twenty-eight European countries from which the murdered came. This tradition, too, is incomplete. The perpetrators deliberately removed references to the murdered and their life circumstances; documents were destroyed or lost in the war.

On the basis of 15 Jewish family fates, different social, national, cultural and religious worlds are presented in this room. This illustrates the contrast between life before, during and after persecution, the destruction of this culture and the loss it entails. Photos and personal documents report the dissolution, expulsion and destruction of these families and their members.
The stories of Jewish families reflect the diversity of the worlds of European Jews before the Holocaust. Religious traditions were cultivated and passed on in the family. But the stories shown here also highlight the change that European Jews have undergone since the rise of religious and political reform movements in the 19th century. The changes between the generations are clearly visible in the portraits on display. In the face of the rise of anti-Semitism in the 1930s, the family, along with the Jewish community, offered important support for the persecuted. The German occupation of large parts of Europe tore apart almost all family ties, and up to six million people were killed in the mass murder. The few survivors have often lost their entire kinship. Their lives and cultural environment were wiped out. In contrast to the family histories on display here, not even individual photographs were preserved.

In the room of names, the dramaturgical highlight of the exhibition is the reading of short biographies of murdered or missing Jews. Here, an attempt is made to dissolve the incomprehensible number of six million Jews killed in their abstraction and to free the victims from their anonymity. Each person’s name, year of birth and year of death are simultaneously projected onto the four walls.
The National Socialists and their helpers snatched millions of Jews from their homeland, culture and world. Their mortal remains usually did not find a burial place, but were buried or burned. Little today bears witness to the existence of those murdered. In many cases, their names are no longer even known. Testimony from witnesses and the results of historical research make it possible to commemorate the dead individually. Reconstructing the biographies is a difficult and lengthy process. The information presented in this room is in line with the current state of knowledge. But the search continues. The reading of the names and life stories of all the victims in the form presented here would take about six years, seven months and 27 days.

The creation of the sound recordings in the Romm of Names is complex. But because as many names and information about victims as possible are to be preserved from oblivion and the memory of those murdered is to be kept alive in this way, the “Promotional Circle Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” has kindly agreed to co-finance the production with its donations.

In the foyer area, visitors can research the biographies of victims of the Holocaust themselves in the database on the Room of Names.

Another aim of the Information Centre is to present the murder of the Jews under National Socialist rule in its entirety throughout Europe.
In the Room of Sites, historical film and photographic material on a total of 220 exemplary places of persecution and extermination of the Jews and other victims of the Nazi terror is shown in an endless loop on four large screens. These include mass shootings, extermination and concentration camps, ghettos and »euthanasia sites«, but also deportation routes and death marches. In addition to well-known names, such as the large concentration, transit and extermination camps, less prominent places or places not yet anchored in cultural memory are at the centre of the depictions. This also applies to cities in the former German eastern regions such as Breslau, Stettin and Königsberg.
In addition, the seven extermination camps and the mass shooting of Babij Jar near Kiev are depicted in photos and explanatory texts on eight narrow steles. Listening stations also allow contemporary witnesses to have their say. One hears reports and memories that relate to these eight places.
In the exit foyer of the Information Centre, a memorial portal offers visitors a virtual insight into the European landscape of remembrance.

The portal provides information about more than 550 memorials, museums and monuments in 35 countries through historical photos and, above all, through up-to-date visual material. In addition, the online portal provides detailed background information on the countries, their history during the Second World War and the remembrance cultures that developed there after 1945. The memorial portal is thus considered to be unique on a European level because it not only marks the places, but also informs about the historical contexts and the very different forms of remembrance.
Due to many enquiries from visitors, the »Information Portal to European Sites of Remembrance« has been accessible at www.memorialmuseums.org since summer 2011.

Since January 2008, the online version of the »Gedenkbuch(es) – Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der Nazialistischen Gewaltherchaft in Deutschland 1933 – 1945« with over 159,000 entries for individual research has been available in the back area of the foyer. The database of the Federal Archives enables visitors to search specifically for names, places of residence, birth, deportation and death dates of Jewish victims. For the online version of the memorial book, the letters from relatives of the murdered, researchers and interested private individuals received by the Federal Archives since its publication in 2006 have been evaluated and taken into account. Compared to the printed version, the online version contains 10,000 newly researched names. These include, for the first time, the previously known names of about 7,000 Polish Jews deported from the German Reich to Poland in 1938/39. Furthermore, the results of the work on the project »List of Jewish Residents in the German Reich 1933 – 1945« have been incorporated into the online presentation. Almost 1,000 sources from institutions in Germany and abroad were evaluated for this purpose.

At the end of their tour, visitors to the exhibition will be able to take a detailed look at the life stories of victims of persecution through video interviews.
The interviews were conducted by the Foundation itself or by other institutions: In the video archive of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, part of the important Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University is publicly presented. In addition, interviews from the »Archive of Remembrance«, a cooperation project of the Moses Mendelssohn Center Potsdam, as well as interviews from the Documentation and Cultural Center of German Sinti and Roma in Heidelberg and other collections are included in the collection.
All interviews are recorded in a database and can be selected at computer terminals. The interviews are presented there uncut and in full length. Through the various search options, the detailed evaluations and the presentation of transcriptions, translations, tables of contents and topics, CVs and short biographies, passages from the interviews lasting several hours can be targeted. As a result, the video archive database provides unique insights into this increasingly important historical source for the future.

Special introductions to the work of the video archive can be booked via the visitor service.

You can find out more about the interview project »Speaking in Spite of Everything« of the Foundation here (in German only). The Foundation’s video interviews are available online at www.sprechentrotzallem.de.

The reading room can be visited during the opening hoursof the place of information.

Visitors to the exhibition have the opportunity to linger for a moment after their tour and to take a look at the various publications of the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Of course, these can also be purchased on site.

The designer of the exhibition Dagmar von Wilcken

When designing the exhibition spaces, Dagmar von Wilcken intended to integrate the content concept into architectural specifications in order to achieve an aesthetic unity of both elements.

In the Information Centre, the steles of the monument find a formal continuation, but here they leave their abstract level and serve as information carriers. The grid and the formal language of the Field of Stelae are quoted by taking up and varying their original appearance in a modified form. In each of the four exhibition rooms, this metamorphosis looks different. This makes it clear that the visitors are in a distinctive place, namely below the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The functional transformation of the stele into an information carrier creates a formal link between the Field of Stelae and the Information Centre, a transition from the abstract level to the level of concrete content.

In the first exhibition room, quotations from the victims’ own testimonies and the representation of the European dimension of the Holocaust are shown. The quotations can be read on glass plates embedded in the floor and illuminated from below. Each of these glass plates »reflects« an above-ground stele in the ground in size and placement – as a virtual continuation of the above-ground Field of Stelae.

In the second room, the stelae of the field »penetrate« the Information Centre from above. They show 15 life stories – representative of the fate of many Jewish-European families. The stelae, which seem to protrude through the ceiling into the Information Centre up to a height of 0.70 m, are in turn impermeated by these individual life stories. The backlighting of the exhibits illuminates the room. In addition, each hanging stele throws light in its ground plan onto the floor and reflects it indirectly into the room.

The third room, the Room of Names, is empty except for three benches. In contrast to the other three themed rooms, the grid of the Field of Stelae is only quoted by the format and placement of benches.

In the last of the four themed rooms, in the Room of Sites, the stelae reach out of the walls towards the exhibition visitor. The focus is on the geographical dimension of the Holocaust. The broad sides of the cubes serve as projection surfaces for historical film and photographic material.

Dagmar von Wilcken, born 1958, studied object design and visual communication, 1987 diploma at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, freelance exhibition designer, numerous exhibitions for the Bauhaus Archive Berlin, 1995 to 2004 design of the permanent exhibition »Traces of Injustice« for the Documentation and Information Centre DIZ Torgau, numerous commissions from the Foundation Neue Synagoge – Centrum Judaicum Berlin, including the exhibition »Jews in Berlin – 1938 to 1945«, the overall design concept for the exhibition in the »Information Centre« of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe from 2001 to 2005 and for the special exhibitions »›What was deemed fully legal at the time …‹ – Soldiers and civilians tried before the courts of the military«, »Fire! Anti-Jewish Terror on Kristallnacht in November 1938« and »The Unknown Extermination Camp at Chełmno nad Nerem – History and Remembrance«.

Traffic

Publications available in the place of information

Offers for visitors