Saturday, October 16, 2004

Rebuilding the Berlin Wall

I was talking to one of my course mates yesterday, who is from Berlin as well.
"Have you heard?", he said. "They wanna rebuild part of the Berlin Wall."
"WHAT THE FUCK?", I said.

It's true, though. And seeing the controversy is easy. But honestly, I can't find any justification for it.
Alexandra Hildebrandt, who runs the Checkpoint Charlie museum (which is well worth a visit, mind you!), fears that the youth will forget about the Berlin Wall if they don't build a memorial.
But I seriously wonder, are memorials really the key to remembrance? Will that really make a difference?

We have shitloads of memorials in Berlin, and you can ask the kids... most of them will not know what they stand for. Memorials are useless if parents and schools don't tell the kids, if kids show no bloody interest.

The other thing is, we DO have several wall memorials. By the Reichstag building, there is a fence hung with crosses bearing the names of a few of those who got killed trying to cross.
There is a segment of the wall at Postdamer Platz.
There is the frickin East Side Gallery.
There is the uber-frickin Checkpoint Charlie Museum, Miss Hildebrandt, which couldn't be a better memorial, so what else do you want?
And these are just a few.

The other thing about memorials like this is: You don't build them. You leave them. If you want a memorial, you just never tear them down in the first place. I mean, if they had torn down the ruin of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche instead of leaving it as it was , would it sound like a good idea to actually rebuild the ruin?
Or the concentration camps. Our kids need to be reminded of the murder that has taken place there? (Ignore the fact that some still exist as memorials.)
Oh, lets just re-build the barracks and warehouses and dump them full of human hair and baby shoes and gold teeth and the dolls of gassed children, designed for the occasion. Charming.
And don't forget the fuckin gift shop.

I don't usually agree with politicians much, but I had to agree on this:

Rebuilding the Berlin Wall to make it look like the real thing, as a fuckin tourist attraction, is sick.
It is “a trivialisation of history — pure Disneyland”.

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