Shaping Perceptions, Meaning and Use of Holocaust Memorial Spaces: Two Case Studies from Vienna
In both memorial places a contemporary and abstract design language has been employed, albeit connected to different regulations and expectations of use which reveal diametrically opposed understandings of commemoration: the Judenplatz memorial does not allow people to engage with it in any physical manner (e.g. step or touch it), whereas the Turnertempel memorial encourages its visitors exactly to do that.
Drawing on data gained through ethnographic and socio-spatial analysis, this paper argues that the initial process, the design and the official regulations around a memorial have little explanatory power concerning the actual perception and use of public commemorative spaces. The quality of the wider spatial configuration and its specific location in the city, demographic and socioeconomic parameters and not least the memorial’s active “promotion” by civil society activists are more important in shaping perceptions, mnemonic practices and various forms of engagement with a particular memorial space.