• Photo of the top of the David Berger National Memorial

    David Berger

    National Memorial Ohio

David Berger Sculpture

David Berger Sculpture

COURTESY/MANDEL JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER OF CLEVELAND

The David Berger National Memorial is a sculpture that was created to honor the memory of David Berger, an American/Israeli citizen who was one of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.

The sculpture was created by the late David E. Davis an internationally renowned Cleveland sculptor. It was commissioned and paid for by a group of eight families, all personal friends of David's parents, Dr. Benjamin and Dorothy Berger.

Through the efforts of former Ohio Senator Howard Metzenbaum, who was also a longtime friend of David's father, Congress authorized the David Berger National Memorial on March 5, 1980 (Public Law 96-199). Recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark, the sculpture is affiliated with the National Park Service.

The David Berger National Memorial is nearly 14' high, 11' wide, and weighs 6000 pounds. It is made of Cor-Ten™ steel, a type of steel alloy which oxidizes naturally over time to yield a rich rust coloring and granular texture. The sculpture depicts the five Olympic rings broken in half, symbolizing the interruption and cancellation of the Munich games by the tragic events, and the 11 segments on which the rings rest represent each athlete whose life was taken. One of the segments is slightly different from the rest to symbolize the unique events in David's life that led him to the Israel Olympic Team and to his death. But there is an upward motion in the broken rings to suggest the peaceful intent of the Olympics, a search for understanding, and hope for the future.

The David Berger National Memorial's first home was on the grounds of the Jewish Community Center in Cleveland Heights. When the facility closed in 2005, arrangements were made to store and restore the sculpture at the McKay Lodge Fine Arts Conservation Laboratory, in Oberlin, Ohio. While in storage the sculpture was cleaned of all existing corrosion and an application of a corrosion inhibitor was applied. In addition, one section of the sculpture required welding reinforcement.

The David Berger Memorial was relocated to the grounds of the Mandel Jewish Community Center in Cleveland, in the fall of 2006.

Did You Know?

Image of US weightlifter David Berger.

While the ten other victims of the Munich Massacre were buried in Israel, David Berger’s body was returned to the United States on an Air Force jet per order of President Nixon. He is buried in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.