Tim Boxer

Nina Boxer

[ Holocaust memorials ] [ Hollywood Media Hotel ]

Memorializing A Dark Past

UCH to its credit, reunited Germany is trying valiantly not to ignore its Nazi legacy. We saw evidence of German awareness of its recent dark past. In 2001Leipzig erected a memorial on the former site of the Great Community Synagogue. The synagogue, built in 1854, was destroyed during the November 1938 Reichspogromnacht (Kristtalnacht).

There is no resurrected synagogue at the site. Several dozen lonely chairs stand on a platform in an empty lot under the open sky, as if awaiting the return of people that were driven out of the neighborhood. You stand in front of this assembly of empty seats – a powerful evocation – contemplate the carnage of Leipzig’s Jewish citizens, and shed a tear.

Where have they gone?

In Berlin the Jewish Museum was expanded with the addition in 1999 of a multi-layered zinc-clad structure fearlessly designed by Daniel Libeskind. Access to this annex is through the adjacent old building, which brings you to corridors that slant, walls that zigzag, a solitary pathway that leads to a dead-end and, at last, an outdoor garden.

This Garden of Exile and Emigration consists of 49 pillars that serve to instill a feeling of insecurity as you navigate over the uneven ground, walking on hard cobblestones, trying to keep your balance. You are supposed to feel what German Jews felt as they were forced from their homes, divested of their citizenship, stripped of their humanity and finally removed from life itself as they were driven to the crematoria.

Do you feel their pain? I don’t think so.

As I made my way around the pillars, my thoughts were not about these people being thrown out of their homes. My thoughts were about trying to negotiate around these pillars and keep my balance on the uneven ground. Is that what Libeskind wrought?

Watch where you walk.

Then there is the unwieldy named Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. More pillars. Some are 15 feet tall. This is the city’s cumbersome commemoration of the annihilation of six million Jews of the Holocaust.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will inaugurate this monstrosity on May 10. Finally Berlin will have its own Holocaust memorial and every citizen can go on with his life knowing he’s done his duty to history.

But what do you think, or feel, as you gaze at these 2,711 stark concrete slabs planted in one citywide block of prime land?

On one side is the future home of the U.S. Embassy, now under construction. Beyond is the imposing Brandenburg Gate. A stone’s throw south is the site of Hitler’s bunker. That’s what I envision when I stand before the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

Does this move you?

Walking among these pillars, you shudder from claustrophobia rather than from the realization of mass murder. Surely that was not the intent. Viewed from above, these concrete pillars look like a mass of gravestones. If that was the intent of architect Peter Eisenman, then it should have been constructed as a high-tech cemetery that would evoke a tear at the memory of those millions murdered.

Pillars on shaky ground, concrete columns – such "monuments" cannot possibly evoke memory of the Holocaust, elicit a tear for the victims, or conjure the resolve of "Never again!"

Learn from Pol Pot’s massacre of his Cambodian people. Concrete pillars will not move your heart. Dig an open grave, pile up the skeletons at the mouth of the pit, let the locals and tourists gaze at the horror – that would be a fitting Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.


[ Back to Top ]

Hotel entrance

Herbert Ebner and old movie projector
that still works.

Titanic bedroom

Hollywood In Berlin

VERYWHERE you turn at the charming Hollywood Media Hotel you’re reminded of the movies. Step into the lobby and you’re greeted not only by Berlin’s bear mascot but also by giant posters of the great stars of the screen. Even the handsome desk clerks could stand in for extras on a set.

Located right in the heart of the fashionable Kurfurstendamm shopping boulevard, this unique 4-star hotel is the brainchild of Artur Brauner. He is a well-known film producer who discovered Senta Berger and cast such names as Omar Sharif, James Mason, Telly Savalas and Brigitte Bardot in his films.

General manager Herbert Ebner escorted us on a tour of the property. The corridors are lined with photos and posters depicting the heyday of Hollywood as well as European film icons.

Each of the 264 rooms and 61 suites, with satellite TV and Internet access, is dedicated to a movie star or a famous film. Paintings over the beds evoke scenes from well-known flicks. Ken Kercheval (remember Dallas?) recently stayed in the Titanic suite.

There are nine conference rooms for presentations and meetings. A screening room holds 100 seats plus stage and film projector.

Hollywood Media Hotel is at Kurfurstendamm 202, Berlin 10719. Visit or email

[ Back to Top ]


Copyright©1999 -
15 Minutes Magazine, Inc.

Site Designed, Developed and Maintained by
Internet Web Systems Internet Consultants - Web Site Design -  Website Hosting
Any questions or comments regarding this website, or if you would like one of your own,
please contact us at