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Although it’s colloquially referred to as the Holocaust Memorial, you might call it “concrete memory.” A few hundred yards from Checkpoint Charlie, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Stiftung Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas) now occupies a vast site in the center of Berlin, with 2,711 gravestone--like columns. Located in the former East Berlin, just south of the Brandenburg Gate, the memorial was opened on May 10, 2005, 2 days after the 60th anniversary of V--E Day, signaling the ending of World War II in Europe.

Peter Eisenman was the architect who designed the controversial site, filled with claustrophobic pathways through the slabs, some of which are 4.5m (15 ft.) long. The American architect deliberately placed many of the dark gray slabs, with their knife--sharp edges, off--kilter, evoking tombstones in an unkempt graveyard. Wandering through the memorial is like getting lost in a maze. James Young, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, called it “the Venus flytrap of Holocaust memorials.”

Under heavy guard, the memorial is open 24 hours a day. Underneath the monument are four large rooms containing exhibits that document Nazi crimes against humanity.