Memories from (of) Berlin by Mariana Zeleniuk

                                   Memories from (of) Berlin

During journeys we always learn something new – new people, places, landscapes and architecture, culture of thinking and everyday life. Besides, every time in a new context we open ourselves, especially when the topic of common scientific reasoning is the theme of memory, incorporating historical events into a modern context in which today are people who were not witnessed of these events, but live side by side with this memory. Something similar happened to me for 10 days staying in Berlin. In Berlin of past and present.

Despite of belonging to a different nationality, to a different historical experience you are getting into in the new context and involuntarily notice the little details, as if a kind of “memory traces”, and then empathically perceive this experience as your own, looking for parallels, asking questions. From this perspective, it is interesting to think about immigrants, who now filled Berlin (I mean various nationalities). They settled here and anyhow being in the context of the “German memory” must respond to a lot of trails, signs, monuments that filled Berlin.

“Forgive and forget” is only one way of reconciliation. However, when we remember and honor the victims, we are learning not to make those mistakes again. The slogan “remember to change” is the centre, the foundation for the creation of monuments and memorial complexes, tables, signs in Berlin.

I suppose it is a mistake to divide the people who died during the Second World War into the victims and victors. The fact of their death makes them equal, and the attitude to the actions of people, groups, leaders forms future generation. This idea is well represented in the book of Jenny Erpenbek «Trial of house». In her compositions     there are separate stories of people which in some way were united by the destiny, but each of these stories are equal. The equivalence of human lives should be a vector for conversations about traumatic past. Namely on such perception of her book the author stressed at the meeting. To my mind one more author’s opinion is also important. It is the idea of comparison of literature and archeology. A writer should really only consistently remove layers of dust and dirt one by one from the things-people-events and without estimates equally talk about the primary. Memory also must touch the primary and it is this primacy, truth, and the way of filing memory is always the only interpretation.

Do we really want to know the truth? Are we ready to accept it, forgive? Is it important to remember? Is the experience of the Holocaust and The Second World War traumatic for the new generation? How different is the general and private, family history? These and other questions I asked myself while staying in Berlin – a special place of memory.

                                                                         Mariana Zeleniuk