"Reality Check: Judenplatz" Museum Judenplatz - Jewish Square Tip by Ekaterinburg

  Holocaust Memorial in Judenplatz
by Ekaterinburg

Putting Judenplatz first on my 'To Do' list is a very conscious decision. In a week filled with pleasurable and interesting things to see and do this was the place that jolted my complacency and made me remember that Vienna wasn't always a home for everyone. For Jews it was never a secure place and long before Anschluss they had already been expelled twice, in 1420 and in 1670. When I arrived at Judenplatz, the centre of the old Jewish ghetto I got very taken up with admiring the proportions and buildings of this really pretty square. I knew the jewish Museum was here but was in no way prepared for the Rachel Whiteread Holocaust Memorial which by some oversight I had not read about. It's at the opposite end of the square from the statue of the playwright Ephraim Lessing and turning round I actually wondered what 'that shed' was doing obstructing my view. The 'Shed' was the memorial and going closer I felt a real physical shock quickly followed by emotional meltdown. It's described as a bunker but to me it was a gas chamber and nothing else. Bleak and uncompromising, it has no ornamentation apart from the bricks shaped like book spines, symbolising the thousands of burned books. It's a sickly greyish-white colour with a large locked door and no means of escape. On the raised kerb surrounding it are lists of the Nazi death camps.
Is this a fitting memorial to the 65,00 Austrian jews exterminated by the nazis ? Personally, I still find it hard to decide and it's a memorial that has caused huge controversey. The levels of loathing and revulsion that it aroused in me were quite hard to cope with but I suppose that could be seen as a measure of its success.

Address: Judenplatz in the Innere Stadt
Directions: Between Am Hof and the Hoher Markt
Phone: 535 04 31
Website: http://www.jmw.at/en/exhibitions/museum-judenplatz

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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