Varieties of Vergangenheitsbewältigung
Mere hours after a German patriot of the Gove History persuasion had a bit of a whinge about the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, a mischievous migrant has launched an art project to demonstrate that memorials are what you make them. The memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe (those victims who did not have the foresight to be proto-Israelis are rarely mentioned, and Britain's leading liberal newspaper elides them into the Six Million as "other minorities") has been the scene for various cheery activities, which the Israeli-born artist Shahak Shapira has juxtaposed with archive footage from the camps. The plangent patriot had complained, with the usual alt-snowflake self-pity, that "Germans are the only people in the world that have planted a monument of shame in the heart of their capital." That assertion, of course, can be convincingly rebutted by an hour's walk around London, with its memorials to Francis Drake, William Augustus, Herbert Kitchener, Douglas Haig, Arthur Harris, Winston Churchill and doubtless one or two barnstorming strivers from the East India Company. What makes them monuments to pride rather than shame is that Britons have been conditioned to see robbery, slaving and mass murder as regrettable indulgences of the uncouth lesser breeds, rather than as an intrinsic part of our thousand-year island rah-rah.