There’s been a lot in the German media this week about the 80th anniversary of the Nazis taking power in Berlin. Actually, there was much more written about a ridiculous story involving a politician allegedly making sexist remarks to a relatively young journalist more than a year ago, but that’s gotten more than enough coverage. I’m certainly not going to add to it.
The anniversary wasn’t exactly forgotten, but was arguably overshadowed by what seemed to me to be a non-story. Overshadowed maybe but certainly not forgotten.
I took the above photo of Die Neue Synagoge when I was in Berlin last year, and going to that city often makes me think of the plight of the German Jews. Not a pretty story, but important to remember what happened there. Also read something in the Guardian this week that I found compelling. Take a look at Hitler came to power 80 years ago. I remember it like yesterday by Fritz Lustig.
It sounds so cliché to say that we should stay aware of the past to avoid its repetition, but it’s times like these that we need to remember. This generation of people who were actually there are slowly disappearing.
Maybe because I enjoy living in Germany so much, I find myself particularly vigilant about keeping these topics fresh. That’s not to say that I think this country should be forever shunned and cowed by its past.
Nevertheless, most Germans I know have been raised in a particularly pacifistic society that, as a rule, goes out of its way to distance itself from the National Socialists. It’s a difficult balancing act that I think the modern German state does a decent job of walking.
If the German media this week is any indication, this society’s not in danger of forgetting anything. Not remotely.