One response to “‘Stumbling’ upon Berlin’s National Socialist past”

  1. Dan Porter

    That was a really interesting piece Sarah and particularly so for me having been to Berlin for the first time earlier this year. I have an interest in war memorialisation and I was struck by the contrast between my experience of it in the UK and in Berlin. I was only there for an extended weekend but apart from the obvious memorials, such as the Soviet built memorial near the Tiergarten, I struggled to locate anything of note. In part I’m not surprised by this; war memorialisation in the UK and Germany would seem to be reflections of the different historical and political contexts but I suspect its more complex than that. I’d be interested if you are aware of any research in this area that you could point me at.

    On a personal note I did find the Soviet war memorial in particular to be a political statement of control. The proportions of the figure atop the memorial give it a looming character, redolent with threat that I found to be very different to the war memorials in the UK. Again not entirely surprising given the politcal context of the memorial.

    Finally I do struggle with the whole concept of “dark tourism” and in particular visiting concentration camps. As an individual who is interested in history and as a humanist seeking to understand why humanity inflicts such atrocities on itself there are many reasons why I feel compelled to visit and yet it is something I cannot bring myself to do. There is a really interesting scene in Alan Bennett’s play, “The History Boys” where they debate this. One character asks rhetorically in regard to visiting a concentration camp “where does one eat one’s sandwiches?”. This encompasses the issue for me. How does one even contemplate the mundane or be detatched in a place with such horrific associations? Then again, maybe that is the whole point of visiting in the first place.

    Thank you again for a really thought provoking piece.

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