The war memorial at Weinheim can startle,
especially upon first glance
This especially when coupled with the sight of
Even though the Second World War ended close to 70 years ago now, there are many people who still primarily associate two of my favorite countries to visit with it. And although it's true enough that I don't often think of the war that, after all, occured several decades before I was born when visiting Japan or Germany when there, it's also the case that every once in a while, I encounter sights that do get me thinking of the terrible things that happened during that period in history when it often seemed like the world -- and particularly the Japanese and Germans -- went (temporarily) insane.
Sometimes, it can be something as innocuous as passing through a section of a German town or city with the sign "Judengasse" (Jewish alley) and realizing that no Jews live there anymore. Then there was the war memorial my German friend and I passed by in Weinheim that got her recoiling in shock and my wondering whether the likes of me would be welcomed in that town.
As it so happens, I actually received a warm and enthusiastic welcome at the tourist office and later was treated very nicely at the Woinemer Haubrauerei, particularly after it was recognized that I was -- as my German friend described -- a "beer fan"! And what my German friend had taken to be statues of Nazi soldiers adorning a war memorial were later identified by another friend of mine who knows military stuff pretty well to be those of first world war German army combatants.
Still, rather than try to brush away or bury their Nazi past, contemporary Germans tend -- if my German friend is any guide -- to openly admit that way too many horrors were committed under Adolf Hitler, with the idea being that keeping knowledge of this alive will ensure that the past horrors will not be repeated any time soon. And thus it was that she and I both were intrigued to learn that in Trier, brass plates bearing embossed inscriptions had been set in the pavement all over the city to memorialize and commemorate the victims of National Socialism.
Despite our making a point to look out for those "stumbling blocks", however, neither my German friend nor I spotted a single one in Trier -- and it wasn't until the final full day of my German holiday, when we were strolling around the aldstadt (old town) of Freiburg im Breisau (or just Freiburg for short) that we encountered those inspired cobblestone-sized creations of German artist Gunther Demnig.
Also, yes, the sight of these items is indeed sobering -- but I'm also very glad of their existence; this not least because I do believe that "the past may serve" and that those who forget the past will be condemned to repeat it.