Remembrance of Fascism

The second day we started by outlining our expectations for the project. Each participant was given different colored pieces of paper and everyone wrote their expectations, hopes and fears for the whole project. This gave the group a chance to share how they felt the project should go forward. These were pinned onto the wall as a constant reminder of how we wanted the project to develop. After a short introduction to the project we started with the creation of our framework, which was tested and improved, during our first meeting in Berlin.

The participants were divided into groups and had the task finding and the writing down three common questions which they thought were important for analysing and comparing different cases of remembrance culture in chosen European cities. Then we met again in plenum, so that every group could present its results, we discussed them all together and developed finally our first framework draft for the day. Additionally we worked on the preparation of the questions for our ‘street interviews’ and the talk with the time witnesses and traveled to our first visit places the ‘Topography of terror’ and to the ‘Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe’ in the centre of Berlin.  

The Topography of Terror

The Topography of Terror Foundation grew out of a temporary exhibition project created in 1987 for the celebration of Berlin’s 750th anniversary. The foundation’s establishment and the political decision to erect a documentation center were the result of an exchange of ideas that continued for many years during which the ongoing commitment of social groups and individuals played an important role. Since 1987 a permanent exhibition at the site where the headquarters of the Secret State Police, the SS and the Reich`s Security main Office were located during the ‘Third Reich’. 

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The ‘Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe’ was erected in 2005, in the middle of Berlin – the Ministry Gardens. The idea was developed in 1987 and in 1988, in 1988 a Citizens’ Initiative began working on this memorial. The German Parliament confirmed this plan in 1999 by an overwhelming majority. The memorial would honor the murder victims, keep alive the memory of an unimaginable occurrence in German history and exhort all coming generations never to violate human rights again, to defend the democratic rule of law, and to resist all dictatorships and violent regimes. This experience was significantly different because this time there was no guide and so the participants had to have a less informative input and more emotional reaction to what they saw. Many asked what it meant and tried to come up with ideas and concepts themselves from the very little information, which was presented nearby. Time Witnesses Our guests for the evening were three time witnesses from the organization Zeitzeugenbörse (ZZB): Ms. Dorit Ebert, Mr. Dr. Riemer and Mr. Dr. Rinne.The ZZB organizes dialogues between older and younger generations in Berlin in order to share their experiences regarding: the time of National Socialism and the post-war period, life in the fdivided and reunited city as well as political and cultural events in East and West Berlin Each small group had the opportunity to discuss the questions they had developed earlier and also to react to the stories, which the time witnesses told. We also had the opportunity to ask the witnesses as a group why they did what they did and why. They believed it was important to keep the memory of this time alive. Many found it both moving and interesting to discuss first hand the Nazi and Soviet oppression of this time.