Ger­many to­day - Part I

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - By Muna Al-Fuzai muna@kuwait­times.net

“Main­tain­ing and pro­tect­ing cul­tural her­itage in Ger­many and in the world” was the theme of my week­long tour of Ger­many. The trip was at the in­vi­ta­tion of the Ger­man Fed­eral For­eign Of­fice that brought to­gether many par­tic­i­pants from around the world. I was in­vited as part of the vis­i­tors pro­gram.

I would like to share with Kuwait Times’ read­ers an in­sight of my ex­pe­ri­ences in Ger­many. Be­fore fly­ing to the coun­try, I thought I was fa­mil­iar with Ger­man cul­ture, but I was wrong - what I knew was merely a drop in the ocean. This cul­tural trip was a vivid les­son on how Ger­many has to­day be­come a great and pow­er­ful na­tion and was able to pre­serve its her­itage de­spite var­i­ous crises.

Ger­many is not only a des­ti­na­tion for tourism or med­i­cal treat­ment. In Ger­many, nearly ev­ery city has a story to tell and a his­tory of sac­ri­fices through­out the cen­turies and dur­ing the First and Sec­ond World Wars, apart from oc­cu­pa­tion by var­i­ous mil­i­tary pow­ers in the past. This is an­cient his­tory, yet old mon­u­ments, churches and mu­se­ums speak for them­selves, be­ing vis­i­ble and ac­ces­si­ble to every­one.

The Ber­lin Wall has been top­pled, but its ef­fects re­main as a story about the strug­gle of the Ger­mans for many years for free­dom and peace. I vis­ited the site and saw lots of tourists and Ger­mans as well. The Ber­lin Wall was a con­crete bar­rier that phys­i­cally and ide­o­log­i­cally di­vided Ber­lin from 1961 to 1989.

Cul­tural her­itage is an es­sen­tial part of Ger­many, and there is a mes­sage be­hind this. The mon­u­ments’ con­ser­va­tion means pro­tect­ing, eval­u­at­ing and in­ter­pret­ing cul­tural her­itage and mak­ing it reach­able to both res­i­dents and vis­i­tors. Main­tain­ing the di­ver­sity of Ber­lin’s cityscape, for ex­am­ple, is im­por­tant to spread the sense of ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the past and to un­der­stand the present to cre­ate a bet­ter fu­ture.

This is why Ber­lin is a city that is char­ac­ter­ized by spec­tac­u­lar con­struc­tion sites. This is not an easy mis­sion. Ev­ery city has its own ex­perts who made ef­forts to col­lec­tively draw the mas­ter­piece that is Ger­many to­day. Clearly, preser­va­tion of cul­tural her­itage is a mu­tual re­spon­si­bil­ity there. It is a pity that we Arabs re­mem­ber our his­tory, in­clud­ing bat­tles and old vic­to­ries of the past, but in re­al­ity we of­ten dis­re­gard our her­itage, as if we are ashamed of it.

My trip in­cluded many pre­sen­ta­tions and vis­its to var­i­ous sites. I was de­lighted to visit the Ger­man Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal In­sti­tute. It was a great op­por­tu­nity to learn from ex­perts and lis­ten to what they do to pre­serve the her­itage of Ger­many and help other coun­tries to do so.

The World Her­itage Con­ven­tion of 1972 was a dec­la­ra­tion of a global agree­ment to pro­tect the cul­ture and his­tory of mankind. To­day, many coun­tries and sites, es­pe­cially in Iraq and Syria, are in­creas­ingly threat­ened with de­struc­tion, not only by the tra­di­tional rav­ages of time, but due to bar­barous acts by ter­ror­ist groups that ag­gra­vate the sit­u­a­tion. Also, are we do­ing enough to com­bat traf­fick­ing in her­itage ob­jects?

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