We've been in Berlin for a week. Taking notes. Allowing the weight of the city's complex history to sit with us.
We may have more to say later, but for now we leave you with this famous memorial.
By Mari Angulo.
Click photos for detail and captions.
10+ years ago I visited Dachau near Munich, and yesterday we visited the Sachsenhausen memorial in Oranienburg. Likely due to our turbulent status quo, this visit to the Sachsenhausen site brought up several things:
The realization that I don't have the capacity to imagine the terror of its prisoners. Amazement at the endless creativity for torturing and systematic murder of hundreds and thousands of people. A sense of being dumbfounded at the complicity of civilians coupled with an understanding of the complexity of this evil phenomenon.
While white supremacy ideals are not German, and evil is a human problem, somehow all the right ingredients came together with the right time and place for the holocaust. With white supremacy on the rise, even in Germany the extreme right wing will likely have a voice in the parliament after next week's elections. Trump is already the president of the US and there are leaders all over the western world ready to uphold fascist ideals.
Being far from resolution in this matter, we must stand our ground. We can't afford not to learn from our mistakes. There is too much at stake to flirt with these ideas or to become desensitized to the messages that uphold them. Pay attention. Speak up. We cannot be complicit.
With Germany opening its doors to over one million refugees in 2015, a means for cultural exchange and a bridge to understanding is essential.
This evening in Berlin, we were fortunate to share a meal and conversation with Syrian refugees. They cooked an incredible meal for us and we were able to chat (with our host as a translator) about their experience living in Berlin with their families, the acculturation and language classes they're taking and the challenges they are facing with their families in this new culture.
We are deeply appreciative of this exchange which was made possible by a Berliner and Hungarian journalist Anna Gyulai Gaal. Anna first had the idea to create a refugee dinner series last November, after seeing thousands of migrants crowded into the refugee camps, in government buildings or Berlin's closed down Tempelhof airport.
"Food creates an invisible bridge between people, and my biweekly refugee dinner series aims to connect Berliners to the migrants making a home in Germany."
- Anna Gyulai Gaal
If you are visiting Berlin and would like to take part in this experience, please reach out to Anna Gyulai Gaal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anna shared that they are working on a website to form a network of hosts and expand the exchange. Anna's efforts have made international media. You can read an article by the Independent (UK) below.
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