Context brings the brightest minds to your living room with perspective-shifting online lectures.

Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe: Reckoning and Remembrance with Dr. Lauren van Vuuren

Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe: Reckoning and Remembrance with Dr. Lauren van Vuuren


No events are scheduled at this time. Want to be notified when it’s back? Click the blue button to the right and we’ll notify you.

Can't make this time? A video recording will be sent to all participants after the seminar.

In 2005 the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was opened in Berlin, to acclaim and controversy. The memorial, covering 19,000 square feet of land in the very heart of the capital, had been 17 long years in the making. The weight of this project was immense: Berlin as the capital of Nazi Germany had been the Nerve Center of the 3rd Reich. It was the city in which the Holocaust was planned, and from which it was executed. How then could anyone come close to showing the scale of this horror? How indeed was it possible to “express that which defies description," as the memorial’s designer, Peter Eisenman, said.

In this lecture, we will trace the history of the building of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, the long struggle over its meaning and its form, the stories of the people who fought for it to be built, and of those who didn’t want it there at all. We will also locate the central memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in the wider network of Berlin memorials devoted to other victims of the Third Reich. The story of this memorial is a story of the struggle against forgetting, in a country still haunted by the horrific crimes of the Nazi regime.

Dr. Lauren van Vuuren is a South African-born historian, currently living in Berlin. As an AW Mellon Fellow, and then lecturer, at the University of Cape Town, she has taught and researched a wide range of subjects, from the history and theory of warfare and violence, to representations of the South African and German past on film. In December of 2012, she came to the Free University as a research fellow in contemporary history and encountered the most compelling world she had ever experienced: Berlin. There, the sheer weirdness of its gloomy winter merged with her understanding of its recent past to convince her of Berlin's uniqueness, both as a place and as an idea. Within a year she had permanently relocated to the city. Today she researches, writes about, and teaches on Berlin's twentieth-century history. Sharing the stories of this excoriating place has become an enduring joy for her. She is the recipient of the South African Thomas Pringle award for short story writing in 2013 and is currently collaborating with a photographer on a book of stories and photographs about Berlin.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
100%
(2)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
K
Kris Shapar (Slough, GB)
Illuminating and necessary

Dr van Vuuren really brought out the controversy behind this memorial and made me think. Great talk!

D
Debra B. (Denver, US)
Orleans memorial to the murder of Jews of Europe

A very powerful talk. While presenting both sides of issues and questions raised about the memorial to the murdered Jews, in Berlin, and the importance of the geography and placement of the memorial, the correct answers were quite clear. Profound and excellent seminar.

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
100%
(2)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
K
Kris Shapar (Slough, GB)
Illuminating and necessary

Dr van Vuuren really brought out the controversy behind this memorial and made me think. Great talk!

D
Debra B. (Denver, US)
Orleans memorial to the murder of Jews of Europe

A very powerful talk. While presenting both sides of issues and questions raised about the memorial to the murdered Jews, in Berlin, and the importance of the geography and placement of the memorial, the correct answers were quite clear. Profound and excellent seminar.