Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Topographies of Terror

We began the day with walking to the Topographies of Terror which was on the same street of our apartments. Before we experienced the memorial, Dr. Etheridge sat us for a discussion. We had a long 'lecture' of all of the terrible things that happened during the Nazi regime on the grounds we were sitting on. The monument for the Topographies of Terror, which was previously known as 'no man's land', was recently completed because of the heated debate and contraversy on how to memorialize something that the German's wanted to be forgotten. Before WWII, these grounds were used to interrogate and torture people. The S.S. men controlled prisoner cells located underground where they captured victims that opposed Hitler's 'perfect race'. The torturing was known to be horrific compared to some of the things that happened at concentration camps. The S.S. men would beat them, break their arms and legs and rip their hair and fingernails until they confessed or were convienced of their incompatiblity. The majority of the prisoners were Jews, which were quickly sent to concentration camps, but there were also many homosexuals, drunks, gamblers, and mentally handicap. The public could hear the screams and crys for help as they passed by these torturing cells, but they accepted these horrific disciplinary actions and were brainwashed to believe these people deserved it because they were considered inferior, subhuman, or evil. After learning about all the terrible things that happened there, we were able to walk around and see the remains of the cold and darks underground cells and also the museum exhibition. While I went through the exhibit, I started to get sick to my stomach after seeing picture after picture of the way the S.S. men treated these prisoners. There were images showing people hanging from trees in the streets, cut up body parts, piles of dead corps laying low in the ground, and many other terrible things. Most of these prisoners were humiliated by wearing a sign around their necks that illustrated their inferiority, like the scarlet letter. There was no second chances or hope of escaping for these people. These Nazi men were cruel and relentless. Although all of these images were heart breaking, the most emotional turning point for me was seeing the S.S. and Gestapo men in their pristine uniforms parade around these people laughing and enjoying themselves. It is hard for me to believe that man is capable of inflicting so much pain without any remorse. It is also scary to acknowledge it only took about 1,000 men to almost whip out an entire race. There ability to gain so much power was extraordinary because the Germans (whether prisoners or anti-Nazi) were competely helplessness. The message of all of these memorials from the Nazi regime is what lessons can be learned from the most terrible period during world history. In the afternoon we went to visit the Jewish Museum designed by Daniel Libeskind. Mr. Caldwell was all gitty when we arrived because he use to work for Daniel Libeskind and knew a lot about this museum. We got the benefit of learning an extensive amount of information. The floor plan of this building is a zig zag, which is not evident from the exterior. The exterior makes a profound statement with the windows that resemble scars and gashes in the facade. It's internal experience has a distingable theme of disorientation. The floor is on a double slope (in two directions) and there is little clarity to navigating around the circulatory paths. The museum is not meant to be experienced in an chronological order because it is about discovering the struggle and instablity of the Jews. I found the garden of the exils to be biggest struggle to walk around. The ground was on a harsh slope to where I could feel the gravity pushing me against the back wall. The main exhibits were experienced through weaving path along the zig zag where the scar like windows were revealed in various places. I enjoyed learning more about the Jewish religion and the reasonings for antisemitism. The exhibitions cleared up a few questions I had about why Jewish people have always been distinguished. Overall, the museum served as a constant reminder of the disorientation the Jewish people experienced along with their struggles and loss of identity.

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