The maze-like Holocaust Memorial  – The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe – has 2,711 concrete slabs, each a different size and height. It commemorates the death of more than one million Jewish children, two million Jewish women and three million Jewish men during World War II as a result of the extermination policies of Nazi Germany.
Berlin – Been There

Amid the memory of past horror, a present of kindness

Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Berlin – Been There Amid the memory of past horror, a present of kindness

It doesn’t matter how many times you visit museums and memorials which commemorate genocide, any genocide. The sense of disbelief at humanity’s ability to destroy and divide is overwhelming.

Meera Dattani
Meera Dattani Travel Writer

Visiting Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial with a friend whose family lost relatives during Nazi Germany’s rule was always going to be moving. We move around the maze of 2,711 grey concrete slabs, each one a different size and height, remembering the six million Jewish children, women and men who died during World War II.

I hold her arm and we walk silently through the blank blocks, projecting our own thoughts onto their featureless sides. About ten minutes in, we see an old man, perhaps in his 80s, looking distraught. Instinct and etiquette collide – to approach, or respect his privacy? As we near, my friend touches him lightly on the shoulder and keeps her hand there, just for a second or two, then smiles gently as we pass him.

“Gott segne Euch,” he says. “God bless you.” We carry on, wandering and wondering, our minds heavy with jumbled thoughts of war, brutality, pain and separation.

We see an old man, looking distraught. Instinct and etiquette collide – to approach or not?

A few minutes later, she translates his words for me: “God bless you.” She’s an atheist but the sentiment is everything. It’s a reminder that kindness is the most underrated yet most important trait we can display. To whoever needs it.

TRVL’s mission is to empower travelers. Learn more now!

Other stories about Berlin