The Holocaust Memorial

In the city of Berlin, near the Brandenberger Tor,

They’ve built a new memorial, to the victims of the war.

Specifically the holocaust; the Jews and many others too,

Who suffered so unjustly at the hands of a deluded few.

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It’s really quite unusual, a weird and strangely moving place.

It’s certainly a modern and creative use of urban space.

A large square area by the park has been laid out with slabs of stone;

Giant blocks of towering concrete, each impressive on its own.

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Several thousand stand aligned in absolutely even rows,

Making corridors through which an undulating pavement flows.

Starting shallow, going deeper, twisting, turning left and right,

Tourists wander through the canyons formed by boulders twice their height.

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In the underground museum, in the guidebooks you can buy,

The architect explains his thinking; how he built the place and why.

Apparently it’s not symbolic; don’t ask what it represents.

No, the slabs are not just gravestones, no it needn’t all make sense.

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Not symbolic?  He may say so, but I’d have to disagree.

Walking through it, getting shivers – this is what it meant to me:

Firstly, there’s the sense of scale – the quantity of stone is vast.

Ensuring we remember the enormity of crimes long past.

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Then it strikes me, you can always clearly see your passage out.

It’s the maze that’s not a maze; the exit route is not in doubt.

So however convoluted were the minds of those involved,

There was no excuse – it was a moral puzzle easily solved.

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As you venture down the paths, the crossing aisles each get revealed,

But you can’t see in advance just what or who might be concealed.

So our lives are full of peril; we walk on but cannot see

What might lurk around the corner, what our destiny might be.

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In the deeper, darker reaches, you can feel a bit afraid;

Now the monument has trapped you, cast a cold and evil shade.

But however deep and dismal is your unremitting plight,

Raise your eyes and there is hope – look ahead and see the light.

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Through this grid of permutations, people wander to and fro,

Faced at every intersection with a choice of where to go.

So through life the roads are many; countless options every day.

For grave error there’s no reason – each can choose the righteous way.

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(June 2007)

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http://www.visitberlin.de/en/spot/memorial-to-the-murdered-jews-of-europe

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