May 10, 2005

It's Too Late Baby

Germany opened its new Holocaust Memorial in Berlin today. The memorial consists of rows of large stone columns of varying heights in an attempt to mimic a graveyard, which I was lucky enough to see through a chain-linked fence while visiting Berlin last November. There's also an information center where one can learn more about the Holocaust. Read the rave review by the NYT if you want to learn more about it.

Although I can appreciate the sentiment to some extent, am I alone in thinking that the significance of this Memorial is seriously undermined by the 60 years separating it from the event it's lamenting? Sure, it probably couldn't have been built until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, but that was over 15 years ago. The memorial is not so architechturally complex that it should have taken that long for it to be built. To me, it seems like this is a schmaltzy attempt by Germany to try and distance itself from Naziism in order to further its bid for a permanent seat UN Security Council. Maybe if this had been built in the couple of years immediately following unification I could have bought it as legitimate pennance. Now its just too little too late. Face it Germany, no matter how many memorials and museums you build people are never going to forget your role in one of the biggest tragedies in human history.


  1. It's really not this simple, and to be frank, I think this review is unnecessarily resentful towards Germany as a country and the German people as a whole...Out of all the bloggers out there, I like to think that we, here at The Little Green Blog would be sensetive to the hazards of making generalizations about a country as a unit--not to mention the fact that the situation is far more complicated than simply giving the Germans shit for waiting 15 and 1/2 years after reunification to build this memorial.

    To begin with, this particular memorial is just one of hundreds that have been erected, painted, sculpted or engraved throughout Germany. It's not as if Germany just sat around and waited untill 2005 to build the first Holocaust memorial--in fact, I can think of at least 3 other in Berlin alone.

    Moreover, the 2005 opening of the memorial should not be seen as an afterthought, but rather as the result of decades of debate, fundraising, and consensus-building. Germany is beureaucratic enough to begin with and when you mix an incredibly sensitive piece of national history in with it all, you're left with an organizational, artistic, and ideological nightmare. They've been trying to get this fucker built for years and it's been a disaster to try and please everyone. For example, the German Gypsies are wicked pissed off about the memorial because they feel that all of the attention from the Holocaust focuses on Jews--to the exclusion of all other persecuted groups.

  2. Anonymous5:29 PM

    Yeah I'm gonna second the sentiment of Ariel here. There is this thing called forgiving, even and especially when it's impossible to forgive.

  3. "Yeah I'm gonna second the sentiment of Ariel here. There is this thing called forgiving, even and especially when it's impossible to forgive."

    Apparently Jacques Derrida is posting comments on our blog from beyond the grave.

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  5. For me, the opening of this memorial was a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t thing” because of their bid for the UNSC permanent seat. Despite the sensitivity of the subject, 15 and a half years seems like an inordinate amount of time. Couldn’t you just as easily argue the opposite, that the importance of the memorial should have given a sense of urgency to it? Also, this memorial differs both in size and visibility from other German efforts. a) its huge b) its in the heart of Berlin, a place where many people will be forced to see it on a daily basis.

    As for anonymous, please don’t patronize me. Do the world a favor and keep your next brilliant hokum to yourself or write it down and tack it up on the wall next to your “Hang in there, Baby” poster. Sell your dime store platitudes somewhere else.