Berlin’s 17-million-euro seesaw unity memorial to be unveiled in 2023
After years of planning and unmet deadlines, Berlin’s new moving unity memorial is expected to be unveiled next year.
Berlin unity memorial to open in 2023
A new freedom and unity monument to recognise German reunification is set to open in Berlin in 2023. The opening of the memorial has been met with a number of delays and, though plans were made to open it on this year’s October 3, the anniversary of German reunification, the unveiling has now been pushed to next year.
During the construction process the memorial’s architects have faced material shortages. But speaking to the dpa, architect Sebastian Letz, who works for the commissioned firm Milla & Partner in Stuttgart, said that “the delivery problems seem to be a thing of the past.”
Letz hopes that the monument can be built and mounted during the coming summer and then opened in the autumn, in time for the annual Wiedervereinigungstag (Reunification Day) public holiday on October 3, 2023.
The idea for the memorial was originally approved by the Bundestag in 2007. However, disagreements on which memorial idea had won the competition slowed down the process. In 2018 the Bundestag approved a 17-million-euro budget for the project.
What will the German reunification memorial look like?
Reminiscent of a large, oblong bowl or ship, the golden unity memorial will be almost six metres high and 50 metres long. The so-called Bürger in Bewegung (Citizens in Motion) monument will have stairs ascending each opposing side. When at least 20 people gather on one side, the monument will tilt like a seesaw. If at least 50 people gather on one side of the monument it will sink down 1,5 metres. The German phrase “Wir sind das Volk. Wir sind ein Volk” (“We are the people. We are one people”) will be written on the platform of the monument.
Explaining the design idea in a press brief, Letz wrote, “The monument is a social sculpture. It comes to life when people gather, communicate and move together. It's an invitation to participation and an image of genuine democracy.”
After it is constructed in North Rhine-Westphalia the monument will be mounted outside Berlin’s Humboldt Forum on the city’s Unter den Linden boulevard.The Humboldt Forum museum building has a long history, entangled in Germany’s own turbulent timeline as an empire, a war-torn dictatorship, a divided country and a united federal republic.
Previously the royal palace of the House of Hohenzollern from 1443 to 1918, the building faced heavy Word War II bombing and was demolished by East Germany in the 1950s. The GDR’s brown glass-plated Palace of the Republic, used as the seat of government in East Germany, took its place but was also abolished following reunification. In 2013 a controversial project began to reconstruct the original palace, which was opened in 2020 and now houses the Humboldt Forum museum.
Thumb and body image credits: (C) Milla & Partner