Splinters of memory

Location: Dresden, Germany
Designer: Arch. Daniel Libeskind AG, Zurich
Project: New Military History Museum
Period of construction: 2011
Photos: Bitter Bredt, Bitter BredtCourtesy, Concept Sketch© SDL, Hufton+Crow,
Another of the symbols of the new Germany, after the Jewish Museum in Berlin, bears Daniel Libeskind’s signature.

Son of Polish Jews who escaped the holocaust, son of a war he never lived in but whose shadows follow us all, Libeskind does not want any “invisible” elements on the rear of this building, but wants to promote a culture of peace, beginning with German military history.
He wants to create a daring break, to penetrate the historic arsenal and generate a new experience, with no revisionism of German responsibility.
The glass, concrete and steel wedge penetrates the neoclassic buildings on the edge of Dresden and creates the New Military History Museum. The project took 7 years to complete and cost almost 63 million Euros.
A steel splinter, renamed with an almost onomatopoeic use as “sharp” (which means not only its cutting edge, but also strong, intense, clear and limpid), stands 30 meters tall and weighs 14,500 tons forming the concrete and steel wedge that cuts into the face of the museum and passes right through it.
A wedge standing five storeys high which, with theme itineraries that follow a chronological order, breaks up the main façade of the building and destabilises the inside halls and rear courtyard, with triangular geometric invasions overturning the two-way perspective lines.
Alongside the typically war material, like the missiles, helicopters and military vehicles, those symbols of the language, game and fashion of everyday war, there are items taken from the memory which has learnt not to forget. The wood puzzle forming Hitler’s name, the skull of the soldier who committed suicide in the world water, the letter from the soldier’s mother which was returned to the sender stamped as “Fallen for the Great Germany”, the poem of a child who died in Auschwitz, the photo of Marlene Dietrich in uniform, the original suit of the former foreign minister Joschka Fischer, splinters of grenades that injured a German soldier in Afghanistan, 30 pairs of shoes from the Majdanek Lager, the bible of the priest who read it out loud while the German troops sacked the village of Kommeno in Greece. They are all fragments of life that suggest we meditate on the sense of the violence, war and pain, rather than on the technology of war.
A splinter which points towards the horizon, to where the planes came from which destroyed Dresden in February 1945, and on the top floor it is run through by the wind, which filters from the grids in the roof into an almost empty space and dominates the destroyed and rebuilt city. Giving a significant conclusion to the museum itinerary.
“Libeskind’s Wedge” wants to be a strongpoint for a Germany that is able to reflect but which, even more, has the courage to explain its tragic past without any excuses. A splinter that runs through the human conscience, which has never been the same since that war, and which it must never forget.

Chiara Centineo
Acciaio Arte Architettura 50