Memorial for Nazi victims in Poland: place of remembrance and encounter

Status: 15.09.2021 2:05 p.m.

Foreign Minister Maas presented the concept for a Nazi memorial in Berlin. A memorial for the victims of the Second World War and the National Socialist occupation in Poland is to be erected in the center of the memorial site.

A German-Polish commission of experts has presented its concept for the planned site in Berlin to commemorate the victims of National Socialism in Poland. The planned place of remembrance and meeting with Poland is “fundamentally important”, said Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas when presenting the concept in Berlin. “As a gesture to the Polish victims – and as a step that brings the cultures of remembrance of our countries closer together.”

Expert commission presents concept for a memorial for Polish Nazi victims

Tagesschau 4:00 p.m., September 15, 2021

The place should be based on two essentials: remembering as well as education and encounter. In the center there should be a memorial for the victims of the Second World War and the National Socialist occupation in Poland. “It honors their lives, their resistance and their courage,” said the SPD politician.

In addition, exhibitions should shed light on the German occupation and German-Polish relations. In addition, people from Germany and Poland are to be brought together through educational offers, conferences and discussions with contemporary witnesses. “Because remembering needs historical knowledge,” said Maas.

“Because remembering needs historical knowledge,” said Federal Foreign Minister Maas.

Image: AFP

Laying of the foundation stone after the federal election

The commission, which includes German and Polish experts from science and civil society, suggested the site of the former Kroll Opera south of the Federal Chancellery in the Tiergarten and the property next to the ruins of the Anhalter Bahnhof on Askanischer Platz in Berlin as suitable locations.

According to the expert commission, the Federal Foreign Office has promised start-up funding of 200,000 euros for the 2022 budget year. After the general election, the new Bundestag has to decide on the concept. After an architecture competition, the foundation stone is to be laid in the coming legislative period.

Project part of the future coalition agreement

Maas was convinced that the memorial could become a fixed point – “physically: in the center of Berlin; and mentally: in the commemorative culture of our society”. The minister supported the recommendation of the commission to include the implementation of the project in the future coalition agreement.

For several years there has been a debate about appropriate forms of commemoration for the victims of the Nazi wars of extermination, especially in Eastern Europe. There have been several attempts to achieve this. Last October, the Bundestag voted for the erection of the memorial site by a large majority. The project had been controversial for years. Critics warned against nationalizing commemoration. They feared that other Nazi victims could take a back seat.

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