Friday, July 9, 2010

Nazi Berlin

The era of the Nazi’s has had the most heated debates on memorializing the darkest chapter in Germany’s history. Most Germans say they would rather sweep that time period under the carpet and forget about it; but you cannot erase history by simply denying it. The biggest controversy in how the German’s should memorialize their Nazi past existed between the east and west. The east did not want to commemorate any of the traces of Hitler and the Nazis but the west wanted the German’s to recognize the horror of their Third Reich. Hitler’s bunker was not preserved because it lied on the east side of the Berlin wall. The Soviets kept the remains of Hitler’s bunker a secret until they were able to destroy the public access. Hitler’s bunker, where he committed suicide, existed below the foundation of our apartments. In the book The Ghosts of Berlin, Kernd’l argued that preserving Hitler’s bunker was the last chance to keep any traces of the Nazis. He said the “Germans’ failure to confront their own past can be measured by the continuing destruction of its traces.” The German’s are hesitant to memorialize any remains of the Third Reich because they feared it would encourage neo-Nazis gatherings. The only traces of the Nazi’s that we were able to see was the remains of the Nazi rally grounds in Nurnberg, Topographies of Terror, and the Concentration Camp in Dachau. Recently there has been some controversy on the up keeping of the Nazi Rally Grounds which was designed by Hitler’s architect Albert Speer. Albert Speer Jr. has been defended his father’s architecture as a monumental historic landmark. Hitler was fascinated with architecture and used it to represent his power in a monumental way. I think that it is important that they keep the remains of the Nazi rally grounds for educational purposes. There was also a great debate on the memorial to the Topographies of Terror where the Gestapo’s and S.S. men tortured prisoners. This site existed in the heart of the city where it was exposed for the public to encounter on a daily basis. This site was not memorialized until after the fall of the wall. Peter Zumthor won the competition for the design in 1992 but they feared his design might be too much of an architectural gesture. They recently finished a more subtle design for the museum where they confronted the painful truths of their history.

Tourists that come from all over the world deserve to become a part of Germany’s history, because it has affected us all. Their past can never be erased, even without the evidence of its ruins. It would be disturbing to visit a country that presented a false representation of themselves. Although Germany will forever be known as the land of the Nazis, they have the opportunity to commemorate their past as lesson for people to learn and appreciate the freedom we share today. It is our responsibility as a human race to protect something like this from ever happening again in our world’s history. Without the concrete traces of these horrific ruins this message would not be as profound because it would only be told through writings.

No comments:

Post a Comment