Monday, 11 April 2016

Berlin IV - At the Wall / Holocaust Memorial

No trip to Berlin is complete without a visit to the Wall, and here is the longest surviving section of the outer wall at Niederkirchnerstrasse, adjacent to the Topography of Terror museum. The Wall itself is tattooed with fading graffiti and is pockmarked throughout, with some parts of the wall more distressed than others. In some places the granite has been chipped away to expose the steel cables, while other sections of the Wall have holes big enough to stick your head through. Running the expanse of the Wall as part of the Topography of Terror museum is an excellent outdoor photo exhibition detailing the rise and fall of the Third Reich. It's quite a powerful experience to stand before the Wall and read about Nazi crimes and I was particularly moved by a photo of a frightened young girl named Hildegard Martins who suffered from epilepsy and was murdered under the Euthanasia program. Standing there at the photo exhibition there's a particular charge knowing that the site was once a much feared Gestapo headquarters. The building was blown to bits during the war but the walls of the cellars which functioned as torture chambers remain intact...


The following two photos are from part of the Topography of Terror museum which runs parallel to the wall on a lover lever

A striking poster directing residents to quench their lights during Allied aerial bombing raids. The caption: Der Feind sieht dein Licht - Verdunkeln! translates as The enemy sees your light - black out!

Six-year old Hildegard Martins who suffered from epilepsy was diagnosed with "idiocy" and murdered as part of the Nazi euthanasia program. It's almost impossible to grasp the full extent of the Nazi murder machine but looking at this picture of Hildegard, a frightened little girl whose life was so callously rubbed out, the horror of it all becomes extraordinarily vivid and shocking.


From the Wall, it was onward to the Holocaust Memorial near the Brandenburg Gate... From the sidewalk, the Memorial looks like rows of 2001-style monoliths lying flat but once inside the grid, the floor under your feet dips and the concrete slabs or stelae suddenly grow tall. It's a disorientating effect but the Memorial's abstract design is powerful without being sentimental - inside the maze I had that frisson of being lost and separated. The picture taken below is lifted from my wife's collection, Irene's shot of the canyon effect is better balanced than mine and it's worth saying that this was the trickiest photograph of the weekend to get right as fellow visitors were constantly passing in and out of view...

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