Ana Raab

Blog

In the summer of 2016, I traveled completely on my own for the very first time. Over the course of seven weeks, I wandered through Scandinavia exploring the Swedish heritage of my grandmother, made my way to Berlin by train, explored the stark beauty of Iceland and endeavored to discover a small piece of myself along the way (while doing my best to pronounce words like "Siglufjörður!").

Follow my past and future travels here.

Jewish History in Berlin

My father's side of the family is Jewish, with ancestral roots in Eastern Europe (Austrian-Hungarian area) and although he is very much non-practicing now, Jewish history has always been a small part of family travel itineraries growing up. Naturally, being in Berlin, I sought out the Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Memorial. Both of which are incredibly well done and thoughtfully designed. The Holocaust Memorial is a stark mass of 2,711 concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping, uneven field with each slab varying in height & width. Organized in rows but slightly askew, the concrete blocks and uneven ground are meant to trigger unease to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with reason. I certainly felt this as I meandered through. Some slabs grow increasingly taller, towering above my head, while others reached only to my ankles.

In the same vein, the floor plan of the Jewish Museum (which is separate and located in a different part of the city) is shaped like a zigzag line, intersected by sharp corners and inclines with stark black and white walls at every turn. As a visitor, you feel physically confused in the space, uncertain where to begin and how to proceed. This is intentional of course. Both experiences were powerful and ones I won't soon forget.