Exhibition is something to think about
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.”