I visited the Holocaust Memorial during a trip to Berlin in May of 2012. Unfortunately I did not have time to enter the underground museum/information centre, so this review is specific to the open-air installation, which is the most conceptually brilliant memorial I have ever seen, or, more accurately, “been part of”.
The Memorial is a vast field of “stelae”, rectangular blocks of solid concrete, each one a unique size and shape. The stelae on the outskirts of the field are only six inches in height and, as you move towards the center, the undulating walking paths gradually dip down and the height of the stelae increase until they tower above head height. The effect is extraordinary, evoking as you move through it a city, a maze, the sensation of being a small child in the middle of a marching army, and a cemetery.
While I understand the annoyance of some visitors seeing young people playing on the stelae, to me they represented the ultimate defeat of the Nazi evil and the spirit of defiance against oppression; I was happy to see them there. That said, it’s impossible to legislate symbolism, and at the time I visited, ‘selfie culture” was far less pervasive than it is today.