This afternoon I went to visit the new Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
I occasionally passed by as it was being built, but didn’t really pay too much attention. Nor did I pay much attention when it opened earlier this week. So today, as I was passing by there anyway, I hopped off the train and went to have a good look around.
The first thing to note is I found it very beautiful. I enjoyed being there. There’s something depressing about it, though. Not depressing in the way I thought it’d be (ie thought provoking), but depressing that it seems to have become, within days, just another spot on the Berlin map for visitors to take photos.
Seeing hordes of teenagers on school trips picnicking there, chasing each other around inside the labyrinth of plinths, or having their photos taken in wacky poses while standing on the stones… it just doesn’t seem right.
I felt a bit embarrassed and ashamed taking these photos too. I became just one of many amateur Ansel Adamses finding the perfect jaunty angle to take my snaps. I only took a handful, whereas normally you can’t stop me taking a few hundred photos of anything vaguely nice-looking.
I really like the plinths, though. I think it’s a great idea; it’s just, if I go there again, I’ll go on a cold rainy winter’s day when it won’t feel like a playground. But then, maybe I’m just being a grouchy old sod; maybe kids running around having a laugh and smiling in photos is just as good a memorial for Berlin to have.