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Posts tagged ‘memorial’

IHolocaustdenkmal, Berlin, Germany,

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: observations from Germany

Primo Levi, Italian-Jewish author, chemist, and Auschwitz survivor, delivered a set of essays about life and survival in Nazi extermination camps in his 1986 book “The Drowned and the Saved”. Levi wrote:

… For us to speak with the young becomes even more difficult. We see it as a duty and, at the same time, as a risk: the risk of appearing anachronistic, of not being listened to. We must be listened to: above and beyond our personal experiences, we have collectively witnessed a fundamental, unexpected event, fundamental precisely because unexpected, not foreseen by anyone. It took place in the teeth of all forecasts; it happened in Europe; incredibly, it happened that an entire civilized people, just issued from the fervid cultural flowering of Weimar, followed a buffoon whose figure today inspires laughter, and yet Adolf Hitler was obeyed and his praises were sung right up to the catastrophe. It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say.

On 27 January 1945, Soviet Red Army troops liberated the Nazi concentration and extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in south-central Poland. Over 1 million men, women, and children were murdered.

The United Nations declared January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day; the designation came during the 42nd plenary session of the United Stations when resolution 60/7 was passed on 1 November 2005.

Accepting and openly stating responsibility are critical first steps, but spending time, money, and effort to ensure the simple motto of “never again” is also an ongoing reality that isn’t solely up to the citizens of Germany. It’s a collective responsibility that we all should have to remain vigilant; that we all have to recognize and bolster actions which encourage and strengthen the universality of human rights, and reject the erosion and withdrawal of those rights.

I believe responsible tourism also includes paying appropriate respect at a memorial, especially the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. It’s my view this important memorial is not (supposed to be) a playground.

And yet, there’s something to be said about what it means to have freedom in the early 21st-century, allowing people to laugh and frolic in the public space, an undulating sculpture of featureless massive grey cement blocks, a testimonial to the systematic murder of millions of people.

Naturally, you have the freedom to play here, take selfies, and have a grand time. But it doesn’t mean I’m gonna laugh with you; for example: Yolocaust art project (DW 2017).

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Chinatown Memorial Plaza, Chinatown Memorial Square, Chinatown Memorial Monument, Chinatown, Vancouver, BC, Canada,

My Vancouver: Chinatown Memorial Square

Above/featured: Chinatown Memorial Square, Vancouver, Canada – 15 Mar 2019 (X70).

Living in and between two societies can often mean a fractured existence; unclear and ambiguous it might be at times between cultural identity at birth with the country of birth.

But my truth is and always has been very simple.

I am Canadian. I am Chinese. I am Chinese-Canadian. I am Canadian-Chinese.

I am all of these, and all of these make up who I am.

I believe my parents would not have emigrated to Canada, that my sister and I would not have been born and raised here in this country, had it not been for the perseverance and hard work by early-generations of Chinese Canadians.

Memorial to Chinese Canadians

The history of the city of Vancouver and of the province of British Columbia includes the history of Chinese people in Canada. These histories are inseparable.

What is significant and well-documented are: the impact by Chinese on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), the completion of which delivered in 1871 the “promise” of British Columbia joining Canadian confederation; the 19th-century “gold rush”; fighting racism and state-sponsored repression; volunteering to fight for a country who didn’t want or recognize them; and their subsequent rightful claims of their right to become Canadian citizens and the right to vote.

Standing at the northeast corner of Keefer Street and Columbia Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown is a memorial to early Chinese-Canadians. The stylized “中” character is surrounded by two sculptures representing important times in Canadian history: a Chinese-Canadian working on the national railway, and a Chinese-Canadian soldier serving in World War Two. In the context of the memorial, the character “中” also represents harmony in spirit, and a declaration and recognition of the past and present, and hopes for the future.

Inscriptions at the memorial are as follows:

This Chinatown Memorial Monument is the creation of sculptor Mr. Arthur Shu-Ren Cheng. The bronze statues of the railway worker and the World War II veteran represent the sacrifices made by Chinese Canadians in building a united and prosperous Canada. The main column is a stylized form of the Chinese character “centre” (“中”) which symbolizes Chinese culture. The Chinese couplet inscribed on the front and back of the column reads:

(Front/Left) “Rich legacies of Chinese pioneers shining bright as the sun and moon.”

(Back/Right) “Great deeds of noble forbears zeal entrenched as mountains and rivers.”

In commemoration of the significant contributions of Chinese Canadians to the growth, vitality and prosperity of Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada.

The Chinatown Memorial Monument is funded by the City of Vancouver, Province of British Columbia, and Government of Canada under the Vancouver agreement.

Unveiled on the 2nd November 2003


Chinatown Memorial Square can be reached by TransLink with the SkyTrain to Stadium-Chinatown Station, or with any of bus routes 3, 4, 7, 8, 14, 16, 19, 20, 22, 50, or C23.


•   Chinese building the CPR: “Nitro”, video by Historica Canada.
•   Chinese Canadians in military service Chinese Canadian Military Museum.
•   Remembering Gim Wong

This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as Initial photos for the 2013 post have been removed, and a 2019 photo has been inserted in a 2021 edit.

Stelenfeld, field of stelae, Holocaustdenkmal, Holocaust Memorial, Berlin, Germany,

My Berlin: in the field of stelae

Above/featured: Reflection – 19 Mar 2011 (450D).

In Berlin’s Mitte district between Brandenburg Gate and Postdamer Platz is a field of standing blocks (Stelefeld).

The slabs of concrete are uniform in colour, composition, length, and width. However, the blocks stand at different heights, the curved ground below undulates, and when the slabs loom suddenly overhead, the spaces in between can be eerie, adding to feelings of confusion and disconnection.

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Berlin: up+down night+day on Friedrichstrasse

In between visits, what a difference one year makes, and how things can also remain unchanged in the same interval of time.

The area around Friedrichstrasse train station is lively with pedestrians, commuters, tourists scurrying in and out of shops, in and out of trams, and in and out of the train station. There are an S-Bahn and a U-Bahn station here. Trains provides vital connections along a “central” west-east axis with trains west to the Hauptbahnhof, Charlottenburg, Westkreuz, and beyond; and east to Alexanderplatz, Ostbahnhof, Ostkreuz, and beyond. Trains along the north-south axis provide intracity and intercity connections, respectively, in Berlin and the metropolitan region. Regional Deutsche Bahn trains stopping here at Friedrichstrasse also provide connections to other cities and towns in the surrounding state of Brandenburg.

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