All posts tagged: history

Remembering In Berlin

I was seventeen, the first year I came to Berlin. It was February, the month a comma in the death sentence of an unending German winter. It was bitterly cold and I did not recognise the memorial when I stumbled across it. Rushing through the web of grey pillars I stood – dizzied – at its centre, wondering where I was. The Holocaust memorial, I later discovered – a vast network of concrete stelae, 2711 hulking lumps of stone. Germany is no stranger to remembrance, and this is Berlin’s answer to its history: the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The further one ventures into the vast network of concrete stelae which compose the monument, the fewer the reminders of life outside endure: the external sounds of the city dwindle, then vanish. Birdsong, traffic, the laughter of children turn to silence, just as life can turn to death can turn to stone. 2711 slabs of stone. The stelae sit in central Berlin, prime real estate, and a place where past paints present. Just round the …

11.11.1914 – 11.11.2014

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields, Sleep sweet – to rise anew! We caught the torch you threw And holding high, we keep the Faith With All who died. We cherish, too, the poppy red That grows on fields where valor led; It seems to signal to the skies That blood of heroes never dies, But lends a lustre to the red Of the flower that blooms above the dead In Flanders Fields. And now the Torch and Poppy Red We wear in honor of our dead. Fear not that ye have died for naught; We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought In Flanders Fields. – Moina Michael All through the city, country, poppies. Poppies on tweed lapels, poppies on collars, poppies tucked into buttonholes, poppies pinned into hair. A pregnant woman reading Tolstoy on the Circle Line, a businessmen with a briefcase and a crumpled tie, a gaggle of American holidaymakers asking the way to Baker Street, a child, a pensioner, a young man hunched over his smartphone, scrolling through Twitter on the …