Travel Report: Germany
I was on a consulting assignment in Berlin on November 9th, and across from my hotel, I noticed a building with Hebrew letters. In front of the building there were hundreds of floral arrangements placed along the fence.
“What is going on?” I asked a policeman standing at the gate on guard.
“It is crystal night and this is the Jewish center, ” he told me.
Crystal night is the night when the persecution of Jews started in Nazi Germany. They broke all the windows of Jewish stores and establishments and discouraged anyone from doing any business with Jews.
On the anniversary of that infamous day, many German organizations put flowers in front of the Jewish center.
On that day I observed a solemn procession of a thousand people walking to and from the Brandenburg Gate. These could not have been Jewish people. There are not so many in Germany. These were Germans demonstrating “never again” for this shame to be repeated.
The memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, a stark cemetery-esque line of cement blocks of different heights, is in the middle of town, next to the world famous Brandenburg Gate visited by millions every year. Because of the proximity, one cannot miss the memorial. It is there for all to see and visit.
At the entrance to the memorial is a museum of the holocaust. It has pictures and documents the atrocities committed by the Nazis.
To me this museum is much more moving than Yad Va Shem in Jerusalem or the Holocaust museum in Washington.
The atrocities are better documented and displayed. I even found the names of my grandparents on the list of those deported to Treblinka and a picture of the concentration camp I was in.
As I have written in a previous travel report, who else washes his “dirty laundry” in public like this. Could you imagine Israelis putting flowers in front of Arab establishments as an act of apology for Dir Yasin? Could you imagine the Russians walking down the Red Square in memory of the millions of Kulaks Stalin murdered before World War 2? Could you imagine a resolved demonstration, saying “never again?”
Where are the Turks apologizing for mass murdering the Armenians or the Japanese for massacring the Chinese?
I suggest the Germans are giving us an example the whole world should follow.
I suggest a day should be chosen in a year, but it should not be a memorial just for the Jewish Holocaust. It should be a day of forgiveness and every country should ask forgiveness of those it has harmed. This is the day the Turks will march acknowledging the horrors against the Armenians and the Japanese against the Chinese and the Americans against the Indians. And people from all walks of life from the grass roots, women, men, old and young, spontaneously should be demonstrating: “never again,” like the Germans do.