Facts about Germany 2015 2015 - Page 38

36 | 37 THE STATE & POLITICS TOPIC VIBRANT CULTURE OF REMEMBRANCE Addressing war and tyranny, ideologically The overwhelming sentiment in the memor- motivated crimes and political injustice in the ial services in 2014 and 2015 marking the 20th century, not to mention commemorating 100th anniversary of the beginning of the the victims of persecution play an important First World War and the 25th anniversary of role in the culture of remembrance in the the fall of the Berlin Wall was one of grati- Federal Republic of Germany. Preserving eye- tude. Gratitude for the Allies’ anti-Hitler co- witnesses reports by persons who actually ex- alition for liberating Germany in 1945, as well perienced the events is the key element in a as for the opportunity to re-build the country culture of remembrance destined to make cer- and for it then to be re-united in 1990. There tain that coming generations are conscious of was also gratitude to those who, as surviving the crimes committed by the Nazis. The nu- victims of the Holocaust, bore witness to the merous memorials to the various groups of crimes – and reached out their hand to a victims all over Germany are also part of this democratic Germany after the Second World vibrant culture of remembrance. In central War. The initiation of diplomatic relations Berlin, for example, the Memorial to the Mur- between Israel and Germany, the 50th anni- dered Jews of Europe is a memorial to the six versary of which was celebrated in 2015, was million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. a particular symbol of this willingness to embrace reconciliation. INFO “Stolpersteine” In many German and European cities, “Stolpersteine” (stumbling stones) placed in the ground remind passersby that Jewish citizens who were persecuted, murdered, deported, or driven away by the Nazis, once lived or worked in the buildings outside which the stones are placed. The approximately 10 by 10-centimetre cube-shaped concrete blocks have a brass top with an inscription in memory of the victim bearing his or her name and biographical data. → stolpersteine.eu Memorials to war, resistance and dictatorship Memories of the communist dictatorship during the Soviet Occupation Zone (1945– 1949) and the days of East Germany (1949– 1990) are also being kept alive for those generations that never experienced the division of Germany and the East German system. The Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the Former German Democratic Republic, the institution where files are still being examined, sorted, and made accessible to those affected and academics, plays a major role in this.