The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is the central Holocaust memorial in Germany. Designed by Peter Eisenman, it consists of a wave-shaped field of 2711 steles (standing stone slabs used in the ancient world to serve as monuments or markers). The concrete steles differ in height to create a maze-like undulating pattern. Students can walk through the memorial, intended by the architect to stimulate reflection. Eisenman wanted to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere. In a speech delivered at the opening of the monument in 2005, Eisenman said:
Since the Holocaust, since Hiroshima, since the existence of the mechanism of mass killing, th[e] simple idea [that one individual can be represented in a memorial] no longer applies. Today, an individual can no longer be sure of dying an individual death, and architecture can no longer be reminiscent of life as before…The extent and scale of the Holocaust inevitably make any attempt to represent it by traditional means a hopeless undertaking.
[The layout] leads to uncertainty and isolates the individual through a disturbing personal experience…In our monument there is no goal, no end, no way in or out. The time of the experience of the individual does not grant further understanding, because understanding is not possible.
Beneath the memorial is a Place of Information, documenting the Nazi crimes. Students can learn about the historical context for the Holocaust as well as personal stories.