Jüdisches Museum

At random, today I read a quite good blog post with a familiar photo. I offered to upload one of mine to show why I did not think to walk on the faces in the Jewish Museum in Berlin. All of the design, particularly the half wall, seemed to say not to:Image

The half wall in the photo does end, as it shows, and there was space to step out onto the faces. But it never occurred to me to do such a thing. I was one of two people in the room, and we both stayed carefully, respectfully, back.

I left at closing; I left when they asked me to go. I sat for a while trying to pull myself together in the garden. I took photos of their lush, white roses and tried to hold the experience without attempting to force my thoughts and feelings into a narrative.

Later that night, my wanderings took me to a place with a sign explaining it had been the site of Hitler’s bunker. Today it is an apartment complex, a parking lot, a weeping willow, and a broad lawn with a swing set. Here I did see signs telling me not to walk on but I ignored them. You would never know great evil had happened there. Somehow it seemed right to have only a small footnote. Somehow it seemed right to have normal life continue with children on swings just a few feet from Hitler’s end. Not to forget — never to forget — but not to make for a larger-than-life death, either. Here, too, the white roses thrive.

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Berlin is a vibrant city. History tells, but Berlin is focused on the present and future. Contrast to Cologne. There it is a little clearer what Allied bombs did. I have not seen Dresden.

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