Next to the Branderbourg gate, 2711 concrete blocks are spread through 20 000 m2 on the Cora-Berliner-Straße in Berlin. The steles are about 2,4m long, 0.9 m wide and vary in height. A general view of the set of concrete blocks echoes a graveyard.
It is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe by architect Peter Eisenmann, inaugurated in 2005. As visitors enter the memorial the ground sinks while the concrete blocks grow higher closing visitors into a claustrophobic uneasy space with few light inside. The interactive nature of Eisenmann's monument creates an unusual « memory space », which generates meaning through the interaction between the visitors and the commemorative site.
Destined to commemorate the destruction of the European Jewry, the memorial became an indispensable part of Berlin's urban landscape, and slowly established itself as one of the main attractions of the « dark tourism ». It is not uncommon to see the visitors, both locals and tourists, appropriating the monument in the ways that might be regarded as insulting the memory of Holocaust victims – picnicking, playing hide and seeks, jumping from one stele to another, and doing selfies. It is estimated that more than 10 000 of those photographs taken on the site, destined to commemorate the annihilation of the 6 millions people, are now shared on the Internet.
All in all, what function does the monument actually play? How appropriate is it to use the memorial as a piece of public art, to experience the pleasure of its esthetics in such a joyful way? To what extent such a monument is suitable to remember the mass murder of the European Jews? Seemingly, the memorial's commemorative and touristic functions are in conflict, placing it in an ambiguous position between memory and oblivion.
These images were taken between October and December 2016. In February 2017, Israeli artist Shahak Shapira revealed his project « Yolocaust » , in which he placed the selfies found on social media into the atrocity photographs taken in the sites of mass murder. His work has been seen by millions all over the world. Months after, no visible changes of people’s behavior in the memorial site could be observed.