March 2008

Two new Holocaust memorials for Berlin

Parliament approves final budgets for monuments to homosexuals and Roma and Sinti people murdered by the Nazis

A still from Elmgreen & Dragset's memorial to gay victims of the Holocaust

Two new memorials to victims of the Holocaust should finally be unveiled in Berlin later this year after years of debate and disagreement over what form they should take. Monuments to gay men and women, and the Roma and Sinti people murdered by the Nazis, will be built in Tiergarten Park close to US architect Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, completed in 2005 in central Berlin.

“I have the broad support of the parliamentary committee for culture,” said German minister for culture Bernd Neumann. “The road is finally free for the construction and inauguration of these memorials.”

The German parliament first gave approval for the memorial to gay victims of the Holocaust in 2003. A design by Danish artists Ingar Dragset and Michael Elmgreen was quickly adopted. This consists of a concrete slab that echoes Eisenman’s design, and features an “endless loop” video of two men kissing. However the project was delayed when it was pointed out that this design excluded lesbian victims of the Nazis. The video will now alternate every two years between two men and two women kissing.

Approval for the memorial to the Roma and Sinti victims of the Nazis was first given in 2004. However, different groups representing the interests of the Roma and Sinti were then unable to agree on the inscription for the work even when the German parliament agreed to fund the project to the tune of $2.95m in 2006. However, the disputes have now been resolved and the design, a fountain by Israeli sculptor Dani Karavan inscribed with a poem by the Italian poet Santino Spinelli, was set to begin construction as we went to press.