today we visited the memorial of the murdered jews and our very knowledgeable (and highly charismatic, with a sarcastic humor that was highly entertaining in my opinion) tour guide said that the architecture was open for interpretations because the architect refused to divulge his interpretation. he then told us that the common interpretations were that the blocks resembled train carriages and tombstones. and before he shared anecdotes and more nuggets of history (which i thoroughly enjoyed and felt like it was a more detailed explanation of my o levels history) he highly recommended us coming back, walking amongst the blocks by ourselves and also paying a visit to the Jewish information center.
and so we did.
as we walk past rows and more rows of blocks, we marveled at the architecture (albeit simple) as the ground beneath us gradually sunk deeper (i feel like i should be using a better description here) and as the blocks, which were once at our knee level, slowly towered over us. “this is really not the place for people with claustrobia” i remember mentioning and i thought of how the tour guide said the memorial’s architecture was open for interpretation.
and i digress slightly; i was thinking of how in secondary two i topped the class for literature and that literature examinations were probably my very first papers that i realized i had a gift of smoking in papers. then again perhaps that can be expressed more positively as having a very creative perspective on things. and i really wish that i had taken literature because i actually really enjoyed it even though i wasn’t even exposed to the harder parts of it. also i realized that, as five years ago, history has its charm and that it is really fascinating. this just goes to show how i had the potential as an arts kid but……. well. practicality over passion overruled in the end.
so my interpretation was this:
(1) the first impression was that it was many rows of blocks, of similar heights and sizes.
however upon closer inspection and of walking down one end to the other, it really is pretty damn amazing how the blocks slowly “change” in size (particularly, height) and i likened this to the different personalities killed during the mass killings. how the many blocks gives you the impression that they are more or less identical and that there are many blocks, but in reality, the numbers represent so much more. – also during the info center walkabout i listened to a recording of the process of how the Jews were gassed and that the wailings of the people in the chambers could be heard and how after 10-15 minutes there was only silence – hearing that made me feel a little sick.
(2) the Unleveled ground
possibly because we went while it was already darks contributed to the feelings of unease and perhaps even a little anxiety on my part. i felt uncomfortable when the blocks towered over me and i felt trapped. and i likened this to how the Jews felt inside the chambers and during the deportations. of course this unease is only a small fraction of what they could have possibly gone through.
it really was a real eye opener and i’m so glad we went back.