"Angela Findlay’ s lecture was really excellent as it offered an alternative viewpoint for that much-discussed period in history. I enjoyed her exploration of the rebuilding of German society and the tackling of the somewhat delicate issue of commemoration in this country. It was so interesting to learn more about the memorials built to commemorate German losses, and the different ways in which they have been interpreted. The lecture kept everyone’ s attention throughout with Angela’ s eloquent and informed slides. A great success!"
Lower Sixth student,King William’s College
The Other Side: Counter memorials - Germany’s post-WW2 culture of apology and atonement
Ideal for Sixth Form, PSHE, Enrichment or General Studies. Also for History Departments or Societies, Holocaust Studies, Peace & Reconciliation programmes and as preparation for School Trips to Berlin and WW2 sites.
With all the current anniversaries and centenaries of the two World Wars the subject of Remembrance is hugely topical. And yet little is known here about Germany’s complex post-war process and its powerful culture of Counter memorials.
After the end of WW2 a collective silence descended over Germany and the horrors of the past were suppressed. Germany’s very specific situation rendered all traditional concepts of monuments and memorials irrelevant and inappropriate but in the 1980s certain artists resolved to create art forms that would confront Germans with their Nazi pasts and respond to questions of apology and atonement:
- How does a nation of former persecutors mourn its victims?
- How do you commemorate destruction?
- How do you remember what you would rather forget?
The art forms emerging all over Germany are fascinating, challenging and highly original. Some change or disappear over time; some demand interactive responses. All aim to keep the memories alive in the minds of the observers rather than in the memorial itself.
Angela’s Anglo-German roots, artistic background and years of research into the historical context in which her German grandfather operated as a decorated General in the Wehrmacht, puts her in an ideal position to give insights into Germany’s on-going efforts to find artistic forms for the remembrance of the victims of one of history’s darkest periods.
As in all her talks, she asks ethical questions, challenges pre-conceptions and evokes empathy through understanding ‘the other side of more familiar narratives.
Please listen to the talk soundbites below
“The timing of the lecture, just a week before our trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau, was ideal. It gave students the sense of the gravity and significance of what they were about to see: a crime that defies ordinary memorialisation and that has led to a culture of counter-memorials that is so different to the British tradition of glorification and veneration of the past. As you put it, Germany’s counter were specifically intended not to console, but to provoke and remind us about the necessity to preserve an active and critical ‘memory’ of the past, rather than simply accepting the narratives that we receive. I received universally positive responses to the lecture from both pupils and staff…”
Head of Critical Thinking, Brighton College
“An excellent talk that posed many questions and would have interested students from a wide range of disciplines, from art history to philosophy. The personal reflection was powerful and moving, challenging the audience to reassess our own emotional reactions, when seen through the prism of family. Definitely someone to get in again!
Politics teacher, Brighton College
“Thank you again for a most stimulating, engaging and thought-provoking lecture. Our students have been discussing it in class this week and I know you will have stimulated many of them to join the Berlin trip this summer. It was very pleasing to see so many younger pupils coming back for other events in our Holocaust week, obviously inspired by your engaging talk. Whilst the material was pitched at a sophisticated level, the delivery and slideshow made the whole audience feel involved, as did your obvious passion and personal engagement with the subject matter. I would be delighted if you would return next year.”
Head of History, Brighton College
“The lecture was extraordinarily interesting. It is well known that ‘history is written by the victors’, so it was good to be reminded that the other side had losses and people to grieve too. It was particularly interesting to investigate the counter-memorials in Germany and the way people are doing their best to move past their history. Thank you for the great lecture and the opportunity for further discussion afterwards.”
Upper Sixth student, King William’s College
“A couple of years ago we went on a school trip to Berlin and visited some of their memorials to the second World War, however we did not fully understand them at the time. It was so interesting, therefore, to learn about the different types of memorials and counter-memorials, and in particular, to gain a greater appreciation for the memorials we had visited.”
Upper Sixth student, King William’s College
Angela is also available to lead subsequent seminars or discussion groups.