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sansukong Post time: 2013-11-7 07:15
There is not a gesture more genuine than this ..... to apologise!
A Self-Serving Admission of Guilt: An Examination of the Intentions and Effects of Germany's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
by Sharon Chin, Fabian Franke, Sheri Halpern
“We all recognize that a Holocaust memorial in Berlin is fundamentally different…the memorial can only be understood and accepted if it is the result of a fundamentally German initiative”
- Moshe Safadie
Germany needed to create a memorial that would serve as both an apology to the Jewish community and to record how Germany’s collective public memory regards the Holocaust today.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe connotes that the Memorial’s purpose is to serve as an apology to the Jews for the atrocities Germany committed during the Holocaust.
When one separates the effects of the Memorial from its intended purposes, therefore, one will discover that this memorial was not created truly TO the murdered Jews, but rather OF the murdered Jews and TO the Germans.
“We did not ask for it. We do not need it.”
These are the words that Stephan Kramer, the General Secretary of the Central Council of the Jews, claims represent the adamant rejection by the Jewish community of the Memorial proposal (Kramer 2005). The community objected on the grounds that it was initiated by a non-Jew, German Lea Rosh.
The Council, represented by President Paul Spiegel, instead suggests that a more productive alternative would be to promote visits to the actual, relevant Holocaust sites in order to bring about a more authentic form of remembrance.
However, when one considers the intended purpose of the Memorial, as officially stated by the German parliament:
“to honor the murdered victims, keep alive the memory of…inconceivable events in German history and admonish all future generations never again to violate human rights, to defend the democratic constitutional state at all times, to secure equality before the law for all people and to resist all forms of dictatorship and regimes based on violence" (Bundestag Resolution 1999),
In the words of Avishai Margalit, an Israeli philosopher, "the way for the Germans to re-establish themselves as an ethical community is to turn their cruelty, which is what tied them to the Jews, into repentance" (Schofield 2005).
Whereas guilt is an emotion that people attempt to absolve their minds of, this memorial allows for a sense of “collective responsibility,” which “cannot be neatly ignored or packed away” (Ouroussoff 2005). This transformation of guilt to collective responsibility represents the attitude that action must be taken so that the negative events of the past do not happen again in the future.
Beyond overall reconciliation with its past, the reasons why the Memorial is in fact for the Germans rather than for the murdered Jews are ever-present in German life. This claim is attested to by the inherent physical location of the Memorial. Germans cannot ignore the Memorial, as they are forced to pass by and look at it on a regular basis. Moreover, many Germans feel that it enhances the aesthetics of their city, and appreciate the fact that it is a public space (Memorial Site Surveys 2005). The location is politically prominent, as both the Reichstag, Germany’s seat of the lower house of parliament, and the Bundesrat, the upper house, are just a few meters away.
On the international level, the Memorial serves as a way to improve Germany’s image in the eyes of outsiders. The Memorial was the first of its kind in that it served as an implicit apology to the governments of other countries for its actions during World War II (Leinemann 2005).
In Japan’s public discourse, an analogy has been drawn, focused on the difficulties that would emerge if one were to create a memorial in Tokyo to Asian victims of Imperial Japan. “It would be like navigating a minefield, as it was in Berlin” (Japan Times 2005).
Sandra Anusiewicz, an education curator at the Jewish Museum, stated that the Jews “know about the Holocaust. We don’t need a memorial to help us remember. We remember. The Holocaust memorial is for the Germans.” (Sawyer 2005).
For the past sixty years, Germany has dealt with the Holocaust in a guilty manner. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe now presents the opportunity for a catharsis, through both debate and its sheer presence, to achieve a more positive sense of national identity signaling a template that other countries may follow.[
So, nations of the world, take the skeletons out of your closet. Bring them backout into the daylight and deal with them there.