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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May, 2005, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
Press cool on Berlin memorial
Aerial view of the Holocaust memorial in Berlin
The memorial has been 17 years in the making

Germany's new Holocaust memorial in Berlin opens to a lukewarm reception in the press, with some papers wondering whether it will stand the test of time.

Die Tageszeitung is one of the sceptics, arguing that the design is both too abstract and "agreeable".

"The monument's statement is that it makes no statement - and in an elegant, almost pleasant form. And that's irritating", the paper says.

"Is this combination of the pleasant, the thought-provoking and remembrance of the Holocaust obscene?", it ponders. "Perhaps, but this question will be answered by the way the monument is used in everyday life."

Eisenman wanted to leave as much interpretative freedom as possible. His forms were not meant to be unequivocal, but open to absorption by the individual
Berliner Zeitung

Der Tagesspiegel agrees.

"Because it makes no pre-determined statement, the Holocaust Memorial could become an object of irritation for Germany - an irritation which people will 'like to visit'."

However, Berliner Zeitung defends what it calls architect Peter Eisenman's "trust" in the German public.

"Eisenman wanted to leave as much interpretative freedom as possible. His forms were not meant to be unequivocal, but open to absorption by the individual."

Will people, in only five or 10 years' time, need reminding that this work of art was intended as something more than just a diverting interlude in the everyday tourist hurly-burly of Berlin?
FAZ Sonntagszeitung

"There's no need for a sign saying: 'Commemorate here please'."

But the FAZ Sonntagszeitung has its doubts, saying the monument's significance may have been too "loosely tacked on" to a design it accuses of "art for art's sake".

"Will people, in only five or 10 years' time, need reminding that this work of art was intended as something more than just a diverting interlude in the everyday tourist hurly-burly of Berlin?"

Hierarchy of victims?

Die Welt thinks the memorial is a "worthy place for sombre remembrance", but is worried that its focus on the suffering of the Jews ignores other victims, such as the Roma (Gypsies).

"It was the Nazi state that started dividing its victims into different groups. Why does this have to be continued, 60 years after the downfall of the regime?", it asks.

"But this should not distract from gratitude for the monument's existence," it adds.

How long will it be before phone numbers and the usual mindless, scribbled obscenities dominate this field of German shame?
Sueddeutsche Zeitung

The point is taken up by the Berliner Zeitung, which says the Roma have a political struggle on their hands to prevent their plight being consigned "to the second division of suffering", in a second Holocaust monument planned nearby.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung, meanwhile, has a more practical concern, pointing out that already a swastika has been daubed on one of the 2,711 steles - the stone slabs that make up the monument.

"It was to be expected, but the question is whether this stele will remain an exception for long."

"How long will it be before phone numbers and the usual mindless, scribbled obscenities dominate this field of German shame?," the paper asks.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.




SEE ALSO:
Holocaust Museum's 'journey to light'
15 Mar 05 |  Middle East
The press in Germany
21 Mar 05 |  Europe


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