A few days ago we visited the Topography of Terror. I’ve never seen so many well-taken photographs from this era. While a lot of the photos are beautiful in a sense, they’re also brutal and frightening and really bring to life this part of history. In particular I read about a man who as a part of the Nazi party, had apparently a major role in the killing of Jews. While he was eventually sentenced to death, it was able to be changed to a life imprisonment sentence. Then due to his high exam scores and cultural capital/social connections, he was released after only 13 years in prison. It is so sad and so frustrating to hear of continuing injustice despite so much injustice that had occurred already in the hands of these people.
But despite this, it has been extremely refreshing to see the intentionality in how Berlin is continually acknowledging their past and their wrongs, Displaying this past in public, while additionally focusing on moving forward as a city are evidently valued by this city.
This balance of focusing on the new while recognizing the past was also evident in the Soviet War Memorial Treptow, a place of recognition and emotional elicitation that Germany takes the responsibility of maintaining despite representing a moment of triumph of the USSR over Germany. Throughout my time here so far, I’ve noticed the great pride in their heritage of the German people as well as the great humility, honesty, and openness in their wrongs. This really stuck out to me in comparison to the United States. We have multiple genocides in our history, yet complete transparency in our dark past is not present in the way it is in Germany. This really makes me question some of the “American values” that so many of our citizens hold, and whether or not we are prioritizing correctly.
While we are already in Munich (!), attached is a short video of some clips from the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin (I recommend clicking HD when watching!!). It was probably one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I had ever seen.