Postcard from... Berlin


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The Independent Online

Sharp-eyed visitors to the Holocaust memorial will notice that something is going badly wrong at the acclaimed monument just nine years after it was opened.

The €27m Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe lies only yards from the city’s Brandenburg Gate. Designed by the American architect Peter Eisenmann, it covers an area the size of two football pitches and is made up of 2,711 concrete blocks. It is one of the most visited places in the city. The observant among them will see that some concrete blocks – 48 to be precise – are being held together by large steel cuffs. The fact is that the monument has started to fall apart. A recent survey established that cracks were visible in 2,200 of its hollow concrete blocks and that 380 more steel cuffs were needed to stop the worst affected from disintegrating and possibly harming visitors. Mr Eisenmann once declared that the concrete used for his memorial was the “best I have ever seen in Berlin”. He has since blamed the foundation responsible for the project for scrimping on the cost of the building materials. He says each concrete block needed reinforcing with 10 steel rods apiece, but in order to save money only six were used. The repair estimate is put at €1.2m. Mr Eisenmann says he won’t be footing the bill.