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. Active and lively discussions will continue to accompany the Memorial and the Information Centre.
Resolution by the German Bundestag of 25 June 1999 concerning the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
1.1 The Federal Republic of Germany will erect a memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin.
1.2 With the memorial we intend to
- honour the murdered victims,
- keep alive the memory of these inconceivable events in German history
- admonish all future generations never again to violate human rights, to defend the democratic constitutional state at all times, to secure equality before the law for all people and to resist all forms of dictatorship and regimes based on violence.
1.3 The memorial will be a central monument and place of remembrance, connected to other memorial centres and institutions within and beyond Berlin. It cannot replace the historical sites of terror where atrocities were committed.
1.4 The memorial will be erected at the designated site in the centre of Berlin – the Ministry Gardens.
1.5 The Federal Republic of Germany remains committed to commemorating and honouring the other victims of the Nazi regime.
2. Peter Eisenman’s scheme for a Field of Stelae (Eisenman II) will be realised. Incorporated in the concept is an Information Centre referring to the commemorated victims and the historical sites of remembrance.
3. A foundation under public law will be set up with representatives from the German Bundestag, the Federal Government, the State of Berlin and the Association for the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The committees will comprise members representing Memorial Centres, the Central Council of Jews in Germany and victims’ associations, as well as other experts. The Foundation shall implement the resolutions passed by the German Bundestag. The Foundation shall ensure that all the victims of the Nazi regime are remembered and honoured appropriately.