Blogging our way through Eastern Europe
Saturday, April 14, 2018--day 4
After the amazing and very transparent tour of the Bundestag (it was made of glass), we went on a walking tour of some of the memorials to the targeted populations. Since we just finished presentations on these groups we were very eager to see how they would be represented. Our first stop was a pond-like memorial to the Roma and Sinti, whom are more commonly referred to as Gypsies (not the right term!). It was a very simple memorial, with a triangular stone in the middle symbolizing the triangles which targeted populations such as the Roma and Sinti were forced to wear. The next memorial we walked to was one in remembrance of the homosexuals who were persecuted and killed. The memorial was a big stone block, with a window you could look into and view a video of two homosexual couples, males and females, embracing. The last memorial was to honor the disabled, which displayed a translucent blue wall. I really appreciated that it was made accessible, low enough for wheelchair access, with audio information and with Braille.
Before we broke for dinner we reflected more on the memorials, all of which were beautiful and thoughtful but evoked very different emotions and conversations. The first was very peaceful and right next to the government’s Bundestag building, an ideal location for something that should never be forgotten. The memorial to the homosexuals was unmarked and would have been unidentifiable unless you looked in the small viewing window. This could be due to the homophobia that still exists, or that the artists wanted the images to be discrete but potentially surprising, forcing viewiers to consider their own reactions. Although we were undecided on the meaning of the memorial to the disabled, we did like it, and among the many things we have learned so far is that many meanings and messages are meant to be up to interpretation.
(As many experienced on the post-colonial tours, we do not live in a post-racial world, and there is unfortunately no memorial to the Afro-Germans. Yet!)
Dinner was great (we even had a convo on how to best support each other during the coming challenging days —maturation? Increasing empathy?—). Many of us had ice cream. A very Facing History type of day. Very wound out, and tired with our ~12 mile walk today, we are all looking forward to a late morning in. Goodnight!
I think it is great that you are experiencing so many images and monuments reminding us of a dark time in history. I think it is wonderful that you are all debating the subtle nature and the artists reasoning behind the discretness of the monument to homosexuals. I think it is also powerful that you are finding ways to support each other through such an impactful and emotional time. Empathy , vulnerability, and the ability to take in account various perspectives will shape you into being the leaders of our future. Thanks for the blogs.
Laila, thank you so much for sharing with us your very difficult day! It is incredibly sad that there's no memorial to Afro-Germans but I do hope that that changes soon. Please take care of yourself!
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