Ex­hi­bi­tion is some­thing to think about

Macclesfield Express - - SCHOOLS NEWS -

THE Kings School hosted a ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tion on post­war Ger­many’s con­fronta­tion with the Holo­caust which high­lights man’s in­hu­man­ity to­wards his fel­low man.

The ex­hi­bi­tion was ac­com­pa­nied by a se­ries of lec­tures by his­to­rian Dr Stephan Pet­zold who ques­tions ‘Ger­many’s re­cent shift to­wards vic­tim­hood and the de-em­pha­sis of Ger­man re­spon­si­bil­ity.’

The first sec­tion of the ex­hi­bi­tion tracks Ger­many’s de­scent into industrial bar­barism from the repa­ra­tions for the First World War to Hitler’s blood stained seizure of full pow­ers to the devel­op­ment of a ef­fi­cient state killing ma­chine.

The six fol­low­ing sec­tions ex­am­ine Ger­many’s post war re­sponses to the Holo­caust in­clud­ing the ini­tial si­lence, the out­rage of the next gen­er­a­tion, at­tempts to at rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, then the re­cent wave of memo­ri­al­i­sa­tion of the Holo­caust.

The ex­hi­bi­tion crit­i­cally ex­am­ines the ex­tent to which Ger­many has con­fronted the Holo­caust and prompts its au­di­ence to ask whether other coun­tries have faced up to their own dark pasts.

Up un­til re­cent years, Dr Pet­zold ar­gues that Ger­many had re­flected on its past with a high level of self crit­i­cal aware­ness.

He said:“Ger­many’s ex­pe­ri­ence shows that a self-crit­i­cal en­gage­ment with your own na­tion’s past does not need to be a bur­den. It can be en­rich­ing and pro­vide a valu­able moral compass for the fu­ture.

“I think Ger­man re­spon­si­bil­ity for the Holo­caust and other crimes dur­ing World War Two needs to re­main at the core of Ger­man iden­tity. This has noth­ing to do with per­sonal guilt, which doesn’t ap­ply to most Ger­mans, but Ger­many does have a spe­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity due to its past.”

Af­ter the King’s School the ex­hi­bi­tion will be take pride of place in the House of Com­mons, and sub­se­quently be shown at the Uni­ver­sity of Birm­ing­ham, Not­ting­ham Trent Uni­ver­sity, Copen­hagen and South Africa.

The King’s School’s Head of Ger­man Jes­sica Houghton said: “I was in­trigued to see how the younger gen­er­a­tion re­sponded to the ques­tion: what is it to be Ger­man? Our stu­dents were very will­ing to en­gage with the deeper ques­tions of defin­ing cul­tural iden­tity, and the dis­cus­sion of how to re­mem­ber past events pro­voked a fas­ci­nat­ing range of thought­ful re­sponses.”

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