The next few posts will deal with a subject close to my heart, and one of the things that first attracted me to this magnificent city. That is, the memory of the Holocaust. I have already mentioned here before I have personal interest in this subject, being what is known as “third generation to the Holocaust”, and obsessed about the issue.
My particular obsession is focused on learning from history, making sure such things never happen to anyone, anywhere. One of the aspects of learning from history is the issue of dealing with the memory. Being a descendant of victims is not an easy thing. There’s a lot of unremitting pain involved, a lot of distress, a lot of very tangible loss, still very much alive. But I always thought that being a descendant of the perpetrators is even harder.
How do you deal with the sins of your elders? Especially when they were committed under the umbrella of what used to be your state. And how can you convince the world, with its very pronounced “black and white” inclination of the “winners”, that you are not your parents, that you are not a genetically inclined state of murderers? (Hitler’s terminology is still very much prevalent in many parts of the world, unfortunately). How do you achieve that impossible task of distancing yourself from these horrible crimes, on one hand, but still learning from them, on the other? And on the personal level, how can you really distance yourself from parents, or grandparents, people you cannot just stop loving on demand, no matter what they did?
I would have liked to try to get to the bottom of these issues by discussing them openly and without prejudice with Germans from my generation (the third, of course), but I realize it is not an easy thing to achieve, not only because the subject itself is difficult and emotionally laden, but also because of a lot of things that happened since then.
So for now, I settled for memorials, museums and monuments. Some, such as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, left me unimpressed. I do not believe that overwhelming by size is of any effect. Others were much more interesting and educating in my eyes, and I will give you here some of “my favorites”.
Even thought we were over a month altogether in Berlin, and even though I tried to see every monument I heard of, I still didn’t cover them all. Berlin is full of them. Some can be found on dedicated spaces, some within the normal space of living. This multitude by itself is very impressive in my eyes, and also very hopeful.