Mediation at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin,
by Irit Dekel
Reviewed by Jan Peczkis
This book is about the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, called the Berlin Holocaust Memorial for short. For basic information about this memorial, see:
WHAT KIND OF MEAGER RECOGNITION FOR THE NON-JEWISH VICTIMS OF THE NAZIS?
There are also a few monuments to non-Jewish victims. Yes, but what kind of monuments, and to which victims?
Time and time again (p. 5, 16, 25, 37, and 46), Dekel reminds the reader of the Homosexuals Memorial and the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma (Gypsies) and the fact that they are adjacent to the Berlin Holocaust Memorial. There is also a memorial to the victims of National Socialist T4 Euthanasia.
Why all this? The inclusion of homosexuals and Roma (Gypsies), alongside the Jews, fits with and enhances the ruling leftist-popularized narrative of “marginalized groups” (even though Jews are anything but marginalized). Of course, throwing some crumbs to a few of the non-Jewish victims of the Nazis hardly even puts a dent in the standard Holocaust-centric narrative that rules Western societies. So, the Jews can feel safe about the existence of a few other monuments, knowing that assuredly Jews will still get the lion’s share of the attention in any case.
Furthermore, the few monuments to non-Jewish victims are physically much smaller than the Berlin Holocaust memorial, as candidly admitted by Dekel, “The memorials to homosexuals and Sinti and Roma persecuted under the National Socialist regime cite it in form (though they are much smaller in size) and are located as centrally as this one, enabling walking tours between all three at the center of contemporary political power.” (p. 46. Emphasis added).
The relative small size of the non-Jewish monuments, compared with the Berlin Holocaust memorial, alone sends a message about the unimportance of the non-Jewish victims!
POLES ARE STILL INVISIBLE AS VICTIMS OF NAZI GERMANY
The professed German overtures to non-Jewish victims, tepid as they are, are far from inclusive. Currently, there is talk (and I stress the word “talk”) about building a memorial to the Polish victims of the Third Reich. However, this idea has been bandied around for many years, and so far nothing has come of it. See:
THE HISTORIKERSTREIT WAS ALL ABOUT KEEPING THE HOLOCAUST IN ITS PRIVILEGED POSITION
In the HISTORIKERSTREIT (historians’ debate), a hysterical stink was raised about any attempt to compare the crimes of Communism with the crimes of Nazism (against Jews that is). Dekel sees right through it: “The fear of reaching an end of German engagement with memory of the Holocaust was at the center of historians’ debate in the late 1980s. Maier argued in his discussion of the debate that this fear led to insistence on the left that the Holocaust was a unique genocide, incomparable to other genocides, and should be kept vivid in German memory. This insistence led to the focus on the memorial on the Jews as a single victim group, in order to avoid relativizing their case.” (p. 52). In addition, the guides at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, and members of the Memorial Foundation would, in Dekel’s own words, “vehemently oppose” any comparison of the Holocaust with any other genocide. (p. 71).
It is the same old Holocaustspeak, in this case about “Holocaust uniqueness” and “relativizing the Holocaust.” There is, of course, no concern about avoiding the relativizing of Polish suffering. And, needless to say, there is no moral urgency about keeping Polish suffering present, let alone vivid (!), in German memory.