Sunday, November 26, 2006


While in Berlin, I checked out some museums. That inexplicably controversial exhibition on European refugees of the 20th century was fascinating and moving, but did feature a lot of people doing the Children of Men sad face. I also visited the Jewish Museum, which is interesting but maybe slightly hollow, and checked out the Memorial For The Murdered Jews (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden). This is an oddly extensive structure built over an acre or so of uneven ground, consisting of a number of blocks of dark stone pillars, each occupying the same ground area but rising to different heights. The piece was reminiscent of the Giant’s Causeway, though less impressive because of its newness. I really liked it as a piece of art, but did not really find that it worked as a memorial - instead remembering the victims of the Holocaust, I found myself imagining a complicated set-piece shoot out among the pillars, or the crack you could have playing chasing among them or jumping along the tops of them in a dangerous manner. Needless to say, playing chasing in the memorial or running along on tops of the monoliths is strictly VERBOTEN.

They like remembering bad things in Berlin. If you are ever there, check out the Topography of Terror (Topographie des Terrors). This is an open-air museum located in what were once cells in the basement of the Gestapo headquarters. Two periods of history meet with the museum being located right up against one of the few surviving sections of the Berlin Wall. The Topographie des Terrors documents the Nazis progression from bullying their political opponents to plotting the extermination of entire ethnic groups. It is a particularly evocative place to visit in the depths of winter, when the weather and the chillingly bureaucratic activities of the Third Reich combine to suck the life from your soul. Maybe there is something grotesquely inappropriate about engaging aesthetically with a memorial to terrible evil, but it hard not to be impressed with this exhibition's roughness.

If you've ever tried to learn German, you will probably have come across the Vater & Sohn comic strips. It was upsetting to learn that E.O. Plauen, their creator, was driven to suicide by the Nazis in 1944, after he was reported by a neighbour for suggesting in conversation that Germany was unlikely to win the war.


Ray said...

First Queenie, then the vicar - who will be next?

ian said...

Sorry Anonymous, I found your comments very interesting, but they were a bit long-winded. Have you ever thought of starting a blog?