Without doubt, the Holocaust is the biggest human tragedy of the twentieth century. A combination of circumstances had led to the systematic slaughter of 6 million Jews from all across Europe. The importune rise of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party and the flood of propaganda under the Third Reich banner had driven the German population to a state of frenzy that they became complicit in the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the last century. The documentary film by Peter Eisenman titled Building Germany’s Holocaust Memorial is another addition to the voluminous archives on the Holocaust. But compared to other films this film discusses the motivations and the process adopted for building this monument. In it architect Eisenmen discusses the challenges he and engineer Buro Happold had to overcome to take this gigantic project to its conclusion. He also explains the rationale for adopting the particular grid-like architectural design for the memorial site.
As I saw the film, I felt that the technical details of architecture and design are secondary to the symbolic value of the project. Coming as it did at the 60th anniversary of the completion of the Second World War, the monument stands as a reminder to the evil impulses of human beings and serves as a warning for the future. More than the arduousness of Eisenman’s task, it is the emotional significance of the monument that stayed with me after watching the film. The film is not the best of its genre, in terms of the technical aspects such as cinematography, choice of sound bites, background score, etc. But it is definitely worth a watch for the sentimentality associated with the memorial project. I would recommend it to all students of history and culture.