24 October 2015

Samstag, 24 October 2015


Today was supposed to be about public art and the beauty of density - but that will have to wait for another day. We wanted today to be a "lazy" day: quiet breakfast, a wandering over to the NS-Dokumenationszentrum M√ľnchen, and then perhaps the Pinakothek der Modern. That did not happen, and the day was suffused with silence. We did make it to the new museum on Munich and Nazism. It is five floors of dense documentation: photographs, film, letters, etc. There are five floors of it, and even having done one floor of it on Wednesday, it took the better part of the day to take in all the exhibits.

I left it with mixed emotions. What is impressive is that the center focuses on the role that Munich played in the development, support, and expression of National Socialism. It seems like a deeply personal and private confession on the part of a city. Thus there are disturbing images and memories, and finally when it is all over, when you've seen all that you can see, only silence seems to serve the purpose of the day.

When Arthur and I were in Budapest several years ago we visited the beautiful Synagogue there, and stood for a while at a side yard outside the building. The yard was filled with tombstones, and soon I noticed that Arthur was crying. "Look at the year" he said, and I did. It was 1942 over and over again, and then I began to cry.  Walking back from Lenbachhaus on Wednesday we bumped into the Platz der Opfer des Nationalsocialismus. One is drawn to the "lantern" and its flame (above), and then off to the side a small mound of earth with an inscription noting the murder of Sinti and Roma peoples. I teared up. We had to be quiet for a while.

I complained to Arthur that homosexual men and women got scant notice in the Center's exhibits, and there is still no memorial to gay people who perished under National Socialism in Munich (although one is planned). Then I realized that I was being short-sighed. I realized that one could never have a full accounting of all who perished or who were victims (Opfer). It seemed clear that the Church did precious little to challenge the killing and the violence. I also realized that all the nations of the earth have oppressed, killed, removed, tortured, stigmatized and harassed peoples different than their own, and that all of us have Opfer. So now I will be quiet and think about what I can do.

I recall a plaque that is placed on the wall of Kreuzkirche in Dresden. It remembers as well, and then it does something remarkable. It asks for forgiveness and peace. Maybe that's where I need to go.

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