International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Berlin Looks Back Toward Thinking Ahead

“It’s better to look ahead and prepare, than to look back and regret.” ~ Jackie Joyner-Kersee 

Reichstag building, Parliament

Berlin, German Capitol City’s museums and monuments enlighten modern Germany

As we mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we do so with the focus on the light side, the positive qualities of humanity, that life in general prevails.

In this short photo essay of Berlin, I share my feelings in visiting this clearly re-enlightened city. I admire and applaud the efforts,  the sincerity and the courage of Berlin to pay “hommage” and give voice to Holocaust victims.

Reichstag building, Parliament

Berlin, German Capitol City’s museums and monuments enlighten modern Germany

It takes courage to open the wounds of the people (who prefer to forget) in order to drain the lingering taste of a horrible historical legacy and to set hearts free.

Government seat, Reichstag building

Berlin, German Capitol City’s museums and monuments enlighten modern Germany

The Reichstag is the historical building housing the government in Berlin, Germany. Originally constructed to house the Imperial Diet of the German Empire, it was opened in 1894 and housed the Diet until 1933, when it was severely damaged after it was set on fire.

Berlin, German Capitol City’s museums and monuments enlighten modern Germany

On 3 October 1990, the two parts of Germany were reunified as the Federal Republic of Germany, and Berlin again became the official German capital. The German Parliament, the Bundestag, voted and moved the seat of the (West) German capital from Bonn to Berlin.

The Holocaust Memorial

Berlin, German Capitol City’s museums and monuments enlighten modern Germany

The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin  is a monument to recognize the Jewish  victims of the Holocaust. It was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. It is 19,000 m2 (4.7-acre) site arranged as a grid mounted with 2,711 concrete slabs on a sloping field. They are organized in 54 rows,  going north–south, and 87 heading east–west at right angles yet set slightly askew. An attached underground “Place of Information” holds the names of approximately 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims. Below, a child eagerly runs through the rows appreciating freedom and joy as life is intended to be experienced!

Child eagerly runs through the rows, being free and fun as life is meant to be appreciated

Berlin, German Capitol City’s museums and monuments enlighten modern Germany

Building began on April 1, 2003, and was finished on December 15, 2004. It was inaugurated on May 10 2005, sixty years after the end of World War II, and opened to the public on the 12th of May.

It is a brave act to assume responsibility for atrocities committed in the past. It requires devotion, candor and veracity to construct meaningful and beautiful monuments and museums to publicly apologise. It is even harder work to live day by day with objectives and practices that result in becoming better, and to stay alert to harmful actions which could engender inequality and inhumanity.

part of the wall and the famous crossing checkpoint charlie

Berlin, German Capitol City’s museums and monuments enlighten modern Germany

This is a remnant of the wall dividing East and West Berlin, noting the Checkpoint Charlie crossing point between ‘one people, two worlds apart’ in Germany.

riverside recreation and relaxation

Berlin, German Capitol City’s museums and monuments enlighten modern Germany

The city offers riverside recreation as the Spree traverses the city center.

All manner of riverside relaxation

Berlin, German Capitol City’s museums and monuments enlighten modern Germany

A multitude of forms exist in which to enjoy the river environment on a warm, beautiful weekend.

exposition at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art

Berlin, German Capitol City ‘s museums and monuments enlighten modern Germany

The KW Institute for Contemporary Art displays the above exposition. A Jewish Museum, the Memorial to Murdered Jews, presents well-curated, effective expositions with its careful and poignant remembrances that are finished off with the simple, but harrowing monument.

a black chamber prison style with a crack of light

Berlin, German Capitol City’s museums and monuments enlighten modern Germany

A black, concrete prison space with a small crack of light.

The courage to be open and to acknowledge the truth gives homage and voice to victims and allows a united Berlin to join the world, even lead the world, as a people committed to maintaining human rights.

I like the Greek word ‘eudaimonia’ – human flourishing, thriving – the innate potential of each individual to live a life of enduring happiness, penetrating wisdom, optimal well-being and authentic love and compassion.

“It’s better to look ahead and prepare, than to look back and regret.” ~ Jackie Joyner-Kersee
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