Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Berlin: That We May Never Forget

A sign of times past
Just at the entrance of Wittenbergplatz U-Bahn Station is a panel board of place names. Twelve in a list that spells the recording of one of man’s greatest inhumanities to man.
A list of Nazi Concentration Camps
These were the Nazi Concentration Camp names of which if you have read a bit of World War II history, Auschwitz is the most prominent.
The Nazis used these camps for various activities as hostage, labour, prisoner-of-war, re-education, transit and extermination camps. It was in some of these extermination camps that they systemically killed off people, most especially the Jews in what is known as the Holocaust.
Feeling the presence of pain
Now, I have never visited any of these places, but in 2007, I visited Pawiak Prison in Warsaw and that experience still lives with me, for I am of the opinion that where innocent blood is shed, there is always a memorial of feeling and uneasiness that beclouds that place.
Blog - PAWIAK!
However, what struck me more about the Nazi setup was their attention to detail that created a bureaucracy of such efficiency that the particularity of things they documented just took your breath away.
Badges of badgering
One good example of this was the identification in the Nazi Concentration Camps where tattooed numbers, badges and armbands immediately identified the type of prisoner you were.
So, you had political prisoners (red), professional criminals (green), emigrants (blue), Jehovah’s Witnesses (purple), Homosexuals and sexual offenders (pink), asocial elements (black), Roma gypsies (brown) and so on. Pink triangle along with the rainbow flag now signify LGBTI causes and diversity.
The two superimposed triangles in the sign of the Star of David depicted Jews, typically yellow but could have other colours signifying Jew and another offender category.
That we may never forget.
The most important lesson to learn from this and in that understand why World War II was fought and won for our liberty, freedom and acceptance of difference and diversity is in the many memorials that say as shown on that sign, “Orte Des Schreckens, Die Wir Niemals Vergessen Dürfen.” This roughly translates to, “The Places of Horror, That We May Never Forget.
They who have no history and keep no memorials are destined to repeat history, those reminded of the horrific past are quicker to embrace the greater good of humanity and human existence.
More correctly, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.George Santayana or “Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.Edmund Burke.
We speak of history because there is a burden of truth we must carry for the present in order to secure a future of peace and happiness.


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