Germany today - Part I
“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?