holocaust memorial 224.8.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Germany's national Holocaust memorial has drawn an estimated 3.5 million visitors in the year since it was inaugurated, officials said Monday.
The memorial - a vast field of more than 2,700 gray slabs situated close to the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of Berlin - opened to the public on May 12 last year.
Some 3.5 million people are estimated to have wandered through the monument since then, said Uwe Neumaerker, a top official with the foundation that manages it. The memorial is freely accessible around the clock.
About 490,000 visitors have been registered at the site's underground information center, at one end of the site, with exhibits on the fate of some of the Nazis' six million Jewish victims.
Although the slabs are covered with an anti-graffiti coating, in the first year, five swastikas, four stars of David and one other piece of graffiti had been reported, Neumaerker said.
Last year's inauguration of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe followed 17 years of wrangling among German politicians over the design and message of the monument.
Writer Lea Rosh, who proposed the memorial in 1988, said Monday that the reaction "was fifty-fifty, and so it has stayed."
She said she hoped the monument could still win over skeptics, some of whom have argued that it is too abstract.