Reflecting on the year:
Booked to go to Prague in August. They wouldn’t let us in as we had just returned to Germany from the U.K. So we had a German staycation, part of which was spent in Berlin.
Everyone should go.
The connection with recent historical events runs through your body at every monument. Once you have the bullet marks pointed out to you, you can’t unsee them they are everywhere. When you stand above Hitlers bunker you realise this sh1t was real.
And you feel the unease and horror in your soul.
We visited this memorial.
The second picture gives a sense of sensory deprivation when you walk through. Suddenly you see and hear nothing; not the traffic, the people or the other usual sounds of a bustling city.
You have been removed from society.
If you turn to walk another way along this grid of ominous monoliths, the path this way is an undulating one. You are forced to walk in a particular way, whether you want to or not.
Your behaviour has been forcibly changed. Feels very unnatural.
At the other side we discussed our experience. All felt something uncomfortable although we couldn’t all name it.
Our brilliant guide put things into context: whilst this was a memorial to Jewish people it was also a way to permanently remind people to not forget that this happened, because it was really a statement of what can happen when normal people let things slide, inch by inch, until atrocities occur.
And that can happen to anyone. It happens when we (maybe unwittingly) take the “I’m alright Jack” approach and conveniently turn a blind eye, or where through fear for ourselves, feel we have no choice but to say nothing.
The Holocaust was created by everyone was his key takeaway bombshell of a message. He was a wonderful guide who brought past events back to life in our hearts and minds. If you go to Berlin, do the tour.
“First they came . . .”
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
— Martin Niemöller