Berlin Blog

From my perspective, it seems that Germany is a country which is continuously trying to atone for World War II. Our visit to Berlin started off with a trip to the Reichstag, where the Bundestag is housed and which is essentially the German parliament. Inside the Reichstag, the first thing we ran into was the central hall where all members of the Bundestag meet and sit. It is a huge hall, surrounded entirely by glass. This glass is indicative of a transparency which the German government wishes to have with its people, as the Germans want the entire public to be able to see and understand what is going on within. They seek to avoid a repeat of the early 1930’s. Visits to the German Historical Museum and the Topography of Terror Museum further supported that the Germans do not forget the Third Reich as a part of their history. Coverage of the rise of Adolf Hitler and his party and their takeover of Germany is extensive in these museums, and it strives to show the complete German acknowledgement and understanding of what happened. With every exhibit it seemed that there was some effort to say: “This is what happened, and here is how and why we will not let it happen again.” These museums were followed with discussions of the German Resistance, however small it was, and a trip to the German Resistance Museum. At St. Mathias Church I gave my site report on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and member of the religious German resistance. The German resistance was represented in these museums as a disjoint collection of a few small groups. While resisters in France may have numbered in the thousands or tens of thousands, German resistance most likely never numbered more than a few hundred people. The general population typically lived in fear of the regime if they didn’t actively support it, and had very little collective courage to actively resist the Nazis. The religious resistance, as mentioned earlier, was paralleled by a group of students, among them Hans and Sophie Scholl, and a group within the military, including Klaus von Stauffenberg, who attempted to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944. While all of these groups were particularly passionate about stopping the Nazis, all of their methods proved ineffective and none of them were met with success. The failure of the resistance also factors into the Germans’ inability to fully move forward from the war, as they need to hold on to it in order to distance themselves from it.

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