Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Germany

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Sliver of Light: The Jewish Museum

Barry Ooi ’10: The trip to the Sachsenhausen concetration camp was a little bit of a letdown, probably because I had been eagerly awaiting this visit. I think I was expecting something more raw and graphic, rather than the polished memorial site and scattered shiny new buildings interspersed with the old, moldy ones. Reading the stories plastered around the site gave me an idea into the suffering and brutality of life in the camp, but for most of the time, I was muttering curses at the wind and rain.

The Jewish Museum did a better job in putting us in the shoes of the persecuted. One section of the museum, called the Holocaust Tower, was a fairly large, irregularly-shaped room with an impossibly high ceiling, and dark walls with harsh corners. It was unheated, and the only light came from a small, vertical window at the very top of the room that cast a mere sliver of light, almost like a beacon of hope. Sounds and voices from the outside world could be heard. The effect was a disconcerting one; I felt tiny, caged, and worthless, and although there was the sliver of hope, I knew in the back of my mind that it was an empty one. A wall-ladder was placed mockingly several feet beyond my reach, and led straight to the ceiling on the opposite corner from where the window was. Such a simple exhibit, but it perfectly conveyed the feelings of the Jews at a time of oppression and persecution. I left the room feeling slightly relieved.†

All-in, another entertaining-though-rushed day, thanks to our dictatorial professor, Dr. Tucker. I'll give him a piece of my mind over a beer tonight.

Tsch∏s from Berlin!

-Barry Ooi

Pictures: Holocaust Memorial in the Jewish Museum in Berlin.


Excellent blogging as usual, Ooi. Your account compelled me to learn more about Daniel Libeskind, the architect of the Holocaust Tower.

I take the following quote from an interview with Libeskind conducted by CNN. It reveals Libeskind's source of inspiration.

For the longest time I worked on the Holocaust tower without any light, I made models and I created it. And then, by accident I read a story of the Holocaust survivors in the Chassidic Tales about the Holocaust. One woman said when she was taken on to a train, cattle carts, going through the concentration camps, she saw through the crack of the car a line of light and she said, "I held on to this line of light," and she survived. She was telling the story in Brooklyn now. And she said I don't know why I survived, I but I believe myself that I survived because of the light. And I don't know what it was. Maybe it was the plume of an airplane. And I thought, "Yeah, there has got be a light to hang on to." And I put that cut of light, and I'm glad I did.

The rest of the interview can be found here: http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/11/09/revealed.libeskind.qanda/index.html

Enjoy the rest of your vacation.