Berlin's Holocaust Memorials

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As troubling pasts linger on throughout the world, countries that once committed violence as perpetuators struggle to shape its legacy. Germany, a nation that committed one of the most violent atrocities of the 20th century, has been tasked with remembering its past in hopes of shaping its national identity. In the process, leaders and politicians have struggled to properly memorialize the nation’s many victims. Many have debated what proper memorialization is, sparking controversies over almost all of Berlin’s Holocaust memorial (Hansen-Glucklich). With its wrongdoings so recent in human history, the ubiquitous ideals of nationalism have complicated Germany’s legacy. Meanwhile, the United States fails to commemorate its victims of slavery…show more content…
Memorials have been utilized by nations to commemorate its victims while also signaling a commitment to establishing a righteous legacy. Visitors believe they are an eyewitness to history, though what they witness is more of an interpretation of history by the designer rather that history itself. Following the unification of Germany after the fall of the Wall, Berlin became the center of Germany’s promising future (Till). As the city flourished, debates began over how to design memorials and what they should represent. The Jewish Museum Berlin, for example, meant to give visitors a taste of Jewish history in Germany rather than a reiteration of Jewish victimhood during the Holocaust. During the initial stages of its construction, many worried the museum would be yet another educational experience to teach the Holocaust (Hansen-Glucklich). However, the museum’s emphasis is Jewish cultural history, which paints a broader illustration of history. Because the museum also has a floor dedicated to the Holocaust, it is an effective memorial-museum. The structure confronts visitors with the fact that Jews faced deadly circumstances during the Holocaust, but the…show more content…
Germany’s unconditional surrender after WWII resulted in immediate reparations, but the U.S. never faced a similar situation (“Zusammenfassung…”). As years have gone by since the existence of slavery, the case for reparations has become weaker. Since the U.S. Census does not track the descendants of slaves, it would be difficult to know who should receive such reparations. Furthermore, the cost would be immense – one estimate by Harper’s Magazine puts the amount at $97 trillion based on the amount of forced labor hours between 1619 and 1865 (Olson). Mainstream politicians oppose the idea, including President Barack Obama and democratic-socialist Bernie Sanders. Sanders instead proposes a more equal society, where free education and more socioeconomic services make it possible for African Americans to become free of systemic poverty and disenfranchisement (Friedersdorf). Nonetheless, the time has passed for the nation to issue substantial compensation for slavery. Abraham Lincoln’s murder complicated the Civil War Reconstruction, which was partly aimed at ensuring former slaves integrate into mainstream society and maintain socioeconomic stability (Reconstruction - American Civil War). The reunification of the North and South U.S. made it difficult to give attention to the issue, much like Germany’s difficulty following the War to come to terms with National

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