Summary of the Source
When the Second World War ended in 1945, Germany was divided into four occupational zones controlled by the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France. The German society started the demanding task of reconstructing the country after the destructive war. As the country restructured its economic and political pillars, events of the Second World War remained memorable in the minds of many. One of the events that were not forgotten in society was the holocaust. The Nazi regime planned and executed one of the most horrendous mass murders that targeted Jews in German territories across Europe. The Soviets and Germans came to appreciate the unfortunate events of the war and memorials have been constructed in these two territories as a reminder to the society of the holocaust. Scholars have also come up with books and articles to help reconstruct and document events during the Second World War and the pain and suffering that Jews went through during that period. In the chapter Collective Memory in Small Communities the author explains how small groups of people, some of who were victims of the war, have made an effort to ensure that historical facts about the holocaust are preserved.
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Burden warns that sometimes holding on to the sad memories of the past can have serious psychological consequences on a person who was affected by the sad events (23). In Nazi concentration camps, Jews were treated worse than animals. Many watched as their close family members were killed or starved. The constant reminder of these events may make it difficult for these victims to heal. However, McQuiggan argues that the memorial sites within Germany and Soviet territories are a sign of restored normalcy in the region (32). The majority of Jews in Europe, especially in East Europe, moved to Israel soon after the war. However, some opted to stay in the region. The memorial site is an assurance to them that society appreciates injustices committed against them and that such events are less likely to be repeated in modern society (Pawlikowski 12). The memorials are constant reminders and warnings to the society about dangers of anti-Semitism.
Evaluation of the Source
This source provides a comprehensive analysis of the relevance of the memorial sites that were constructed in Germany and parts of Soviet Union territories after the Second World War. The author argues that it is important to understand the real reasons why these sites were constructed, their significance to the minority Jews who decided to remain in these regions, and their role in shaping politics in East Europe. Memories of events that took place during the Second World War are burdening to some of the victims and their family members. The global society has come to appreciate injustices committed against Jews in what is currently known as the holocaust. The decision to have memorial sites where a collection of artifacts and documents about the war are kept was considered a noble step towards healing the society. According to Burden (25), the German rulers came to appreciate the need to have these memorial sites as an assurance to the minority groups that such incidences would never occur in the country. In such sites, the pain and suffering of Jews and other minority groups were depicted to remind society of the dangers of radicalization and discrimination. Victims were allowed to participate in the development of these sites as a way of assuring that society would not easily slide to the dark days where people were judged and victimized based on their race.
The narrative in this source clearly shows that there was more to the rapid construction of memorial sites in Germany in the post-Nazi era than the rulers were willing to admit. In East and West Germany, numerous memorial sites were erected and strongly supported by the political leaders who condemned events that led to the mass murder of Jews. They criticized the Nazi government and its activities that led to the collapse of the nation. McQuiggan notes that “the use of the anti-fascist narrative could be found everywhere in East Germany beginning with children’s school books, films, television shows and in memorial sites” (41). A new form of indoctrination was emerging in this society where fascism was considered socio-political evil that should not be tolerated. The development of the memorial sites for the holocaust victims provided the political leaders with a perfect opportunity to present a new narrative. They had a perfect example of the dangers of fascism and how it could easily destroy the social fabric if it remains unchecked.
A section of the Jewish community in Germany and Soviet territories was not comfortable with numerous memorial sites that were put in place by the political class (Pawlikowski 14). Although the political class made efforts to engage them, there was a feeling that efforts were focused on political interests other than genuine desire to remind the society of sad events that led to the massacre of Jews. Politicians were using these events and sites to fight against the dictatorial regime. Some of these Jews argued that the Nazi regime came to power through democratic elections, but that did not stop Adolf Hitler from committing mass murders. The only source of security can come from genuine change of ideology and the perception that the majority has towards minority groups in the region.
Relationship to Other Sources
The source looks at the attempt by the German leaders to acknowledge the massacre of Jews in the country and efforts made to ensure that such incidents are not repeated. The information presented corroborates findings made in Holocaust Exposure Induced Intergenerational Effects on FKBP5 Methylation about the painful memories that victims of the holocaust are forced to live with several decades after the incident.
Possible Use of the Source
The source will be of importance in the argumentative essay. It will help in explaining the efforts made by the political leaders in Germany to reassure the minority groups that unfair victimization will never be tolerated in this society. It will help in explaining the efforts that have been made to fight anti-Semitism after the Second World War.
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Burden, Thomas. “Rivers of Blood and Money: The Herero Genocide in German Southwest Africa.” The Student Researcher, vol. 2, no. 2, 2017, pp. 2-25.
McQuiggan, Sean. Nazi Anti-Semitism Remembered: Jewish Memorials in the SBZ and GDR between the Years 1945–1987. Dissertation, Charles University in Prague, 2016. CUP, 2018.
Pawlikowski, John. “Christian Anti-Semitism: Past History, Present Challenges: Reﬂections in Light of Mel Gibson’s the Passion of the Christ.” Journal of Religion & Film, vol. 8, no 1, 2016, pp. 1-15.