Author Archive

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WHAT NOW

June 18, 2010

I’d like to start by saying that I commend the German populace for taking ownership and responsibility regarding their crimes and atrocities. I know there are many mixed feelings and negative feelings toward their memorializations. I suppose some feel that it is a terrible waste of resources. For some there are better ways to spend millions and millions of dollars than on expensive real estate and monuments. At least there is true acknowledgement. These sorts of debates can only mean that these issues are at the very least being carefully thought of and considered. I for one have to applaud that.                                                                                                                                         There are a lot of what ifs in history. What if the National Socialists had paid more attention on their war effort, and less attention on the extermination of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and the disabled ? It is possible that they would have succeeded in their campaign of terror. Did six to twelve million people die in order to save millions of others ? What if one of or several of the factors in place that led to the Berlin Wall being erected hadn’t happened ? What could have happened if there were higher levels of resistance ? With Germany’s current political and economic situation, is it possible for any of the previous events to take place again ? Studying this facet of German history and politics has no doubt enriched my life and given me a better understanding of human psychology.

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PSYCHOLOGICAL TERROR

June 18, 2010

It’s been almost two weeks since our return from glorious Berlin. What an intense time it was. There is one particular thought and feeling that I can’t seem to let go of. The psychological terror that was executed by the National Socialists and the GDR was unlike any that I ever read or heard of. Beginning with the National Socialists, my mind was blown with how quickly they turned Germany into a hardened police state to be ruled with an iron fist. They wasted no time in showing the authoritarian rule that was to permeate throughout the country. There was a photo in The Topography of Terror that showed a typical German city street right before Hitler was given the position of Chancellor. Next to it was a photo of a city street after Hitler was put in office. SA soldiers were marching down the street in a show of power and it appeared that the entire city was draped in flags adorned with the swastika emblem. That imagery was very profound to me. I know that many Germans were buying into and cooperating with the new ruling party, but psychologically that must have been terrifying to most. Whether you liked or were being persuaded to dislike Jewish people, you had to have still been somewhat of a compassionate human being. Watching families being removed from their homes and businesses, and being paraded through town to unknown destinations had to have a profound effect on German citizens. The way in which the National Socialists did mostly everything out in the open for all to see sent the ultimate example of fear into the hearts of its citizens. I couldn’t imagine watching an entire ethnic group being systematically removed from society. At the same time, with these acts of terror being done in public, there was no mystery as to what was really happening. I wasn’t aware until this trip of all the public humiliation that went on. As awful as this time was, it also boggles my mind at how thorough and intelligently thought out the National Socialists were during their reign of terror. Gaining power and control through public humiliation and terror. Although there are many images that have been constantly in my thoughts since leaving Berlin, this is one of the more prominent ones. The shaving of these women’s heads and their parade through town before being taken to one of the many concentration camps for having relations with Jews are any other person deemed undesirable by the new ruling party. The crowd of people watching this spectacle seem to give the feeling of the mixed emotions that had to be running through Germany. I have to think that even the ones that found this amusing had to have some repercussions psychologically with the terror being presented to them on a regular basis.

As far as the GDR and the terror they inflicted, there was also a great element of public atrocities that displayed their power and created a stage for psychological affliction. Their immense system of spying and informing caused a tremendous outbreak of paranoia and anxiety. The propaganda they used to paint a picture of a prosperous and socially healthy Germany also struck my attention. This picture taken at the German History Museum is a perfect example of this. I believe this photo illustrated a passiveness in the name of prosperity the GDR was trying to paint to keep their citizens preoccupied. In truth, this image was a contradiction to what was really happening. How fragile we all are.

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FIRST THREE DAYS

May 28, 2010

How’s it going UC Denver Crew ?

It’s been three full days and nights in Berlin proper. Three days was the morning my focus three days old. Berlin has been beautiful and haunting all at once. The overcast and gloom has definitely added to the whole mystique and aura of this wonderful city. It’s hard to imagine the divisions that permeated, though I can still feel it. The power of the remnants run through me like a a train through the tunnel. The architecture has been an entwined mix of old and modern design. The way the buildings snake through the city along with the graffiti, nature, and people remind me of a song by the Smiths entitled “William It Was Really Nothing.” Such a large portion of the city was decimated during the war, the restoration and rebuilding was an undertaking that is unimaginable in my eyes and mind. The two sides of Berlin are really unique. I’m not going to judge the East from the West as far as which is better or which I enjoy more. It is all relative to one another. The city is clean and fresh dressed with a fervor reminiscent of a calm and collected Chicago. I am a bit taken back by the lack of skin color. I’ve been wondering where all the international brothers and sisters of color are. I was fortunate enough to find a sect on Wednesday in the weeeeee hours of the night at a club pretty close to the hostel in which I dwell. Raga Muffin, it felt good to see the diverse cultures enjoying each other freely. Just think how different this all could of been. This wouldn’t have been. West Africans, Germans, Americans, not to mention two French women on holiday coexisting. A journey into the Turkish section of town in search of food and other services continues to remind how far Germany has come in 65 years. Grab a scent of wonderment new birth and new tint will the earth move beyond new moons and pocket lint. I left the womb with a whole plan take my seat in life and rock the chair like an old man. But in another time days flowed blind like the sunshine pantomime your mind drop it on a dime. For goodness sake these two worlds relate like a Muslim god and goddess with pork on their plates. In general the amount of information historically, politically, and socially has required a lot of processing. My posts will be a way in which my mind can connect them rather it be cohesive or non-cohesive. Friday’s tour will be the piece that I need in order to begin coagulating the political and historical aspects. It is sure to be profound and emotional as the trip has been so far. I have felt boxed in defeatedand exhilerated but mostly I’ve felt  hope.