This fairly new memorial was opened in 2014 at the address that once gave the euthanasia programme its code name “T4”: Tiergartenstraße 4. It is administratively a branch of the Holocaust Memorial
(officially: Stiftung Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas”).
The location of the memorial is remarkable in as much as it it stands right outside one of Berlin's most famous cultural institutions, the Philharmonie concert hall complex with its striking modernist architecture. Rarely do fine arts and dark tourism come so close to each other – in physical juxtaposition, as it were. I wonder how many concert-goers will encounter the topic of the Nazi euthanasia murders for the first time here.
Before the larger memorial was set up, there was only a comparatively small information panel by the bus stop across the road. This is also still there.
What there is to see: This is not just a memorial in the form of a monument and maybe an info panel, it's more like a mini open-air museum.
The main monument part is just a simple blue perspex wall. Facing this is a stone construction on which a row of text-and-photo panels and weather-sealed screens are arranged in one long row.
There is bilingual text on the panels in both German and English … though actually it's even more, because the German comes in different forms. In addition to the “regular” German there is also a Simple German version. Moreover, some of the text is also available in Braille and on the screens you can activate sign-language translations too. This is of course only fitting for a memorial that commemorates the systematic crimes of the Nazis
against mentally and physically disabled people during the Third Reich
Content-wise, the texts go through the topic mostly chronologically, from the development of “eugenics”, including the appeal this ideology also had in other countries outside Germany
, such as the USA
. The integration of “eugenics” or “race hygiene” into the context of the Nazi ideology is next, followed by the first measures taken – such as forced sterilizations.
The actual programme called “Aktion T4
” takes up a key position in this topic including this particular location. Historical photos show the original villas that used to stand here and in which the whole operation was bureaucratically planned and overseen.
The topic of protests against these operations are also covered, which eventually led to Aktion T4 being stopped, at least officially. The more undercover operations of basically the same nature that carried on are described in some detail too, including the systematic use of the same methods of killing e.g. in various concentration camps
A large amount of information is also given about dozens of individuals involved, both perpetrators and, in particular, victims. The aftermath of T4, from prosecution of perpetrators to sites of contemporary commemoration form the final points of the story.
While some of the information is given in fixed, physical form, a lot more is relayed by means of the interactive screens. Next to them are buttons to select the various chapters available, extra documents and photos and also the sign-language versions.
It's all pretty state-of-the-art museum commodification
– only out in the open air, which is rather unusual. You can't help but wonder how weather-resistant all this will be in the mid to long term …
The most robust-looking element on the square is an object set a bit away, closer to the street opposite the bus stop: it's an installation consisting of two curved rusty iron walls … but whether this actually has anything to do with the memorial or if it's a completely separate piece of art, was unclear (my guess is the latter).
Across the street, the older, more concise memorial panels by the bus stop that I had found when I first went to this place in 2008 are also still there, even though they have technically been superseded by the new memorial.
Small as this may be, it does convey a lot of information if you are prepared to spend some time with it. This will of course be weather-dependent. I guess the memorial will attract a lot more attention in fine, warm weather than in wet and cold conditions. One downside of sunny weather, on the other hand, is that the screens are a bit difficult to see in bright sunshine. But that's pretty much unavoidable.
All in all, this is an unusual but very worthwhile addition to Berlin
's already rich commemoration of its multifaceted dark past.
in front of the Philharmonie concert hall complex on the corner of Tiergartenstraße and Herbert-von-Karajan Straße, just south of the Tiergarten park in the centre of Berlin
Access and costs: fairly easy to get to; free
Details: To get to the memorial you can walk it from the transport hub of Potsdamer Platz, heading first north-west on Bellvuestraße and then west past the Philharmonie concert hall. The memorial is in the open space on the corner of Tiergartenstraße and Herbert-von-Karajan Straße. You can also take bus line 200 which has a stop right opposite the Philharmonie.
The memorial is accessible (barrier-free) at all times; free of charge.
Time required: between 15-20 minutes for a more cursory look and potentially over an hour if you want to read all the material available on the interactive screens.
Combinations with other dark destinations:
in general see under Berlin
The physically closest and also thematically related other site in the area is the German Resistance Memorial
on Stauffenbergstraße, which branches off Tiergartenstraße one block to the west.
In the other direction, to the north-east, the Holocaust Memorial
(that administers the T4 memorial too) is only a bit over half a mile (850m) away.
Combinations with non-dark destinations: right behind the memorial stands one of Berlin's most famous modern edifices and prime cultural institution, the Philharmonie classical concert hall complex. More recent hyper-modern architecture can be found nearby on Potsdamer Platz just a short walk to the east.
Bordering Tiergartenstraße to the north is the huge park of the same name: Tiergarten. Despite that name (literally 'animal garden' – in German commonly a synonym for 'zoo') this is not a zoological garden but really just a park, Berlin's largest in the centre. It was once a royal hunting ground (hence the name). At its north-eastern corner stands Berlin's No. 1 landmark, the Brandenburg Gate.
See also under Berlin
- T4 memorial 1 - new installation
- T4 memorial 2 - bilingual
- T4 memorial 3 - interpretative panels
- T4 memorial 4 - video screen
- T4 memorial 5 - choice
- T4 memorial 6 - monument
- T4 memorial 7 - in front of the Philharmonie
- T4 memorial 8 - Philharmonic concert hall