Attacks on Memorial Sites: Shame – Culture

The persistence of the “180-degree inflection of remembrance” that the far-right AfD has been calling Bjorn Hocke for years appears to be continuing: Right-wing extremists throng memorials to the victims of National Socialism, deny the Holocaust and take pictures of themselves saluting Hitler in concentration camps previous. They plaster information boards and memorials with swastikas and hate slogans, break bumper barriers from asphalt or destroy monuments. In parallel with these acts of vandalism, representatives of the AfD have repeatedly questioned the public funding of the memorials. Similar to culture, which has recently become a battleground, the political representatives of the New Right as well as the extremists and subversives of the Right seem to be working towards the same goal of undermining the culture of remembrance – perhaps uncoordinated, but deeply frightening combined.

What makes the attacks especially ironic is that they occur in the scenes of the mass murder of National Socialism, in which countless people — Jews, forced laborers, Sinti, Roma, Social Democrats, gays, communists, and Christians — suffered. A group of visitors to AfD politician Alice Fidel thinks it appropriate to question the Holocaust at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial. Right-wing extremist Nikolai Nerling mocks Anne Frank, who died there, at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp memorial in all places. Activists such as Nerling use memorial sites as symbolic and attention-grabbing stages for their performance. They worry about breaking taboos, and mocking the dead. However, most of the culprits remain unknown. They deliberately want to hurt the feelings of others. Their actions testify to anger and brutality, but also to cowardice. The target of many of the attacks were unprotected memorial stones and memorials.

searching for Sueddeutsche Zeitung The NDR has documented more than a hundred such attacks on memory culture over the past six years – averaging more than one a month. They sound like aggressive signals of oppression and intransigence, as an attempt not to have to confront the history of this country. This has to do with defense, the opposite of victim and offender, cold feelings and absolute hatred, and it has nothing to do with enlightened patriotism.

Nikolai Nerling in 2019.

(Photo: Sachelle Babbar / Imago Images / ZUMA Wire, Collage: Stefan Dimitrov)

Violence as a means of denying history is nothing new. In 1979, a neo-Nazi blew up transmitters to prevent the broadcast of the TV series “The Holocaust”. An NPD employee has been arrested as the culprit. In 1999, right-wing terrorists attacked the exhibition documented by the Hamburg Institute for Social Research, the crimes of the Wehrmacht. In January 2020, a parcel containing, according to the police report, an “improvised explosive device of dangerous effect” was deposited at the entrance to the memorial to the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp in Thuringia. Places of remembrance, respect for the dead, and shame are systematically ignored. Memorial staff are insulted and threatened. So for years, memorial sites have felt compelled to train their staff on how to deal with such disruptions. They must learn to pay attention to symbols and right-wing symbols when visitors dress, and they must interrupt tours over and over, and prevent some visitors from entering the house.

But the truth is that every year more than a million visitors to Berlin’s “topography of terror” learn about the Nazi apparatus of violence. The memorial to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Brandenburg alone sees more than 700,000 visitors each year. Additionally, confused historical reviewers and neo-Nazis are a small minority. When right-wing extremist Nerling provoked a furor against a “guilt cult” during one of his appearances at the Dachau camp memorial in February 2019, the classroom to a group of visitors vividly and unequivocally contradicted him. Young people showed more tact and human responsibility towards German history than the “people’s teacher”.

Here you will find them accident facts.

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