In Berlin, memories can be found everywhere.
At every corner, every station, every street, you’ll find objects of remembrance. Usually, those objects are statues or commemorative tablets. But if you go to Bayerischer Platz, you’ll find something unusual.
I heard about those signs in a very good French book by Olivier GuezL’impossible retour (The Impossible Return): it is about Jewish people coming back to Germany after World War 2. I strongly recommend this book. If you can read French, you’ll learn a lot.
I thought those signs had been installed here by the city of Berlin itself, as a manner to commemorate. But if you read carefully, you’ll notice that they were created by modern artists Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock in 1993.
In fact, it’s art. And this is the explanation you’ll find on the artists’ website:
Places of Remembrance / Orte des Erinnerns is a decentralized memorial in the Bavarian Quarter in the Schoeneberg district of Berlin, which was inaugurated in 1993. 80 brightly printed signs are put up on lampposts, depicting colorful images on the one side and condensed versions of anti-Jewish Nazi rules and regulations passed between 1933 and 1945 in black and white on the reverse side.
Together, the words and images force passers-by to remember the almost-forgotten history of this neighborhood, where Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt once lived. Dispersed throughout the area the memorial becomes a metaphor of the daily deprivation of rights and humiliation of Jews during the Nazi era.
You’ll find everything you want to know here: http://www.stih-schnock.de/remembrance.html
I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing to do. The lack of obviousness can be a problem for some people, I guess, as for Lola Waks, who lives here and who has known the darkest part of german 20th century history. As she explains to Olivier Guez in L’impossible retour, those signs make her angry: they force her to remember something she sometimes wants to forget.
There’s a monster living here. A tiny little monster, black as night.
He has taken the shape of a big crow, cawing loudly in the little park at Bayerischer Platz.
His name is “Remember”.