Two days after the opening celebrations, the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe was handed over to the public today. Thousands of people from all over the world, among them numerous school classes, have visited the field of stelae. The Information Centre counted 1,800 visitors who were very impressed by the exhibition. At the same time, the two roads which were built during the erection of the Monument were opened to traffic. They are named after two Jewish women: Cora Berliner and Hannah Arendt.
Cora Berliner was born into a middle-class German-Jewish family in Hanover in 1890. Following her final school examination, she began a degree in economics and played an active role in the Jewish youth movement. In 1916, she became a board member of the Deutsche Verband der Sozialbeamtinnen (German Association of the Social Civil Servants). After 11 years at the Reich’s Ministry of Trade and Commerce, she became a professor of economics in Berlin in 1930. Just three years later she had to give up her teaching post due to the “Restitution of the Civil Service Law.” Following that she worked as an official for Jewish organisations. It is believed that Cora Berliner was deported from Berlin in the summer of 1942. The place and circumstances of her death are unknown.
Hannah Arendt was born near Hanover in 1906 and grew up in Königsberg/East Prussia. Following her final school examination, she studied philosophy, theology and Greek. At the beginning of the 1930s, she developed her own opinions on the question of the assimilation of German Jews. When the National Socialists came to power, Arendt’s Berlin apartment became a central meeting point for the politically persecuted. After a brief period in custody, she managed to flee via Prague to Paris where she organised the immigration of Jewish children to Palestine. She was held in the French camp Gurs for some weeks in the summer of 1940 but managed to flee and in 1941 emigrated to the US where she worked for various immigrant newspapers. She became established as a notable social and political scientific theorist with her essay “The Origins of Totalitarianism” in 1951. Her article on the Eichmann case “Eichmann in Jerusalem. A Report on the Banality of Evil” was published in 1963. Hannah Arendt made a key contribution to analysing the causes of the National Socialist dictatorship. She died in New York in 1975.
The eastern half of the Ebertstraße, which runs alongside the field of stelae, has been newly constructed and not only improves road access to the Memorial, but also rounds it off artistically. In accordance with Professor Eisenman’s design, 100 ground-level stelae slabs have been integrated into the bordering walkways.
The naming of the two newly-constructed roads was decided on by the district authority of Mitte, Berlin five years ago. The honouring of these two significant Jewish women, both persecuted and one murdered by the National Socialists, corresponds in a particularly powerful way to the Memorial and those it commemorates.