Founding of the Foundation

Picture: Chamber of the German Bundestag in Bonn

On June 25, 1999 after many years of debating the German Bundestag
passed a majoritarian and cross-party resolution to build the Memorial
to the Murdered Jews of Europe. For the implementation of the
resolution, the planning and realisation of the Field of Stelae and the
Information Centre, the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered
Jews of Europe, a foundation under public law, was established with
effect from April 6, 2000.

Between April 2003 and May 2005 the Foundation was in charge of
the building project for the Memorial and is now responsible for the
running of the Memorial as a place of remembrance, information
and encounter. According to the Foundation Act, it is also obligated
to »ensure that all victims of National Socialism are remembered and honoured appropriately« as well as to point out the »authentic sites of remembrance«. The Foundation is also responsible for the Memorial to the Homosexuals Persecuted under the National Socialist Regime, the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma of Europe Murdered under the National Socialist Regime and the Memorial and Information Point for the Victims of National Socialist »Euthanasia« Killings.

The Discussion on the Memorial

The resolution passed by the Bundestag was preceded by an intensive discussion process that continued over several years. The initial step was taken in 1988 by a circle of people around the journalist Lea Rosh. In the following years, the Association Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe succeeded in winning the support of large sections of the community for the construction of a »prominent memorial dedicated to the murdered Jews of Europe.« Since the start of this discussion, much has changed in Germany. Reunification and the relocation of parliament and government to Berlin - the old and new capital of Germany - have made the Memorial project the subject of a fundamental debate concerning German people's historical self-awareness at the end of the 20th century. From the outset, this process of self-understanding has involved vigorous criticism and conflicting feelings, and the Memorial was correspondingly the subject of a great deal of fervent argument.

The debate on the Memorial project, which preceded the start of construction itself, illustrates the enormous significance of the project. As its completion draws closer, this debate will certainly intensify, and engaged and lively debates will undoubtedly continue to accompany the Memorial and the Information Centre.

In the central reception room of the Information Centre under the Field of Stelae of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a database has been installed in which the visitors can inform themselves about the long history of the Memorial project and the debates that took place during the planning and construction period (German language only). This database includes a selection of more than 500 press articles about all important phases of the project and other important documents, such as the first call of the initiative around the publisher Lea Rosh who launched the Memorial project, as well as a chronicle covering the years 1988 to 2005. The database also provides information about the other design proposals from the two competitions of ideas, which were also under consideration. In addition, further information is provided about the Bundestag debate from 1999 which ended with a clear vote to go ahead with the construction of the Memorial. This database, which was installed on the decision of the Foundation´s Board of Trustees, gives the visitor an insight into the seriousness and the variety of problems which had to be solved during the realisation of the project.