Paradigm shift Philosophie

Inauguration of the Peace Monument in 2015 with Batsheva Dagan, a survivor of Auschwitz.

Chapter: Philosophy / Paradigm shift

The paradigm shift does not mean the devaluation of a "German remembrance culture" but concerns a spiritual view of life, which may become visible with this Peace Memorial.

A new way

This place of peace and freedom does not represent an illusion of a good and peaceful world. Life with its movement develops from the struggle of different forces. And yet, there is an inner point of peace deep in the human soul that is to be found in one's own processes that one experiences. This is a religious aspect. If you have found this point, you will still go back to the world, which still holds its problems. It is indeed possible to bring about peace – which is exactly what the symbolism of the site’s artistic design evokes – but not with fine words, but rather with just action. It's about meeting reality honestly and fairly and not getting stuck in the processes that make up life.

The schema for such a process is described in dialectics: Theme – Confrontation – Integration. The Mahnmal (memorial of admonishment), as well as war monuments, can be seen as confrontational. The Friedensmal (monument) can be categorized as integrative. When I wrote my book on this theme to contribute to the debate in 1998 about the plan to build a Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, I opined that this last step of integration was missing in our commemorative culture. I had the impression that our entire country got stuck in how it coped with its own past, as laid out through its monuments, and that its own commemorating and commemorative culture turned into an end in itself. I saw that the progression to integration was missing. To confront oneself with the “shadows” is absolutely necessary to finally introduce more light into one’s life. However, there’s no purpose in dwelling in the negative. An entire country cannot bear this load either. We need a Turning Point for Life. What positive elements, which we have learned from our past, do we want to introduce into our present lives? 

Already in 1999, I made my first attempts to release the initial ideas that constitute this project to the public. In the end, I actually managed to come into contact with Member of the Bundestag Ms Widmann-Mauz, who who made a motion on the Berlin Memorial debate, which included my ideas. It was voted on in the Bundestag. However, no notable newspaper reported on it. Back then, I called up the responsible editor of one of the largest German newspapers to ask why they refused to report on this important theme. I received the following answer: “We cannot report on it, because you are introducing a completely new perspective. This cannot bring the debate to a close.” Over the course of my activities, I have made many similar attempts – with the same outcome every time. 

I believe that my artistic struggles can help dissolve an obstruction in German commemorative culture and lead the way towards integration. The real work, however, is to make myself understood with this idea. For those things that are not anchored into our thinking through words and images yet can hardly be understood. Only rarely do people understand that projects such as mine are a cultural necessity because of their rejuvenating effect. If our culture goes down, our society, founded on certain values, breaks up as well.

This project is concerned with more than “just” the construction of a monument. It revolves around a mentality that is expressed through the concept of the Friedensmal and which needs to be seen in our society. Through it, it is shown that the negative phenomena is reason enough to struggle for a better world; that there is hope. Our country will need this hope, because a society needs to be capable of renewing itself again and again. 

The three different ways of commemorating a painful past at the same time reflect three different ways of dealing with reality: 1. Making a clean break with the past, 2. “Pride in the own culture of remembrance” (Germany is proud to have overcome its past and sees itself as a shining example for the rest of the world), and 3. a Sign of Change. The Friedensmal with its Turning Point for Life in its center (later added: "framed by a Garden of Freedom") is about to be able to admit the negative, in the knowledge that it is now transformed with one's own positive way of thinking and acting.

Our culture understands how to offer itself “a clean break with the past” or the opposite, what i call “pride in the own culture of remembrance”. "Making a clean break with the past" represents a mentality of ignorance, which is capable of undermining every true expression of culture if it affects a large enough share of the population. “Pride in the own culture of remembrance” represents the mentality to get stuck in the negative – this takes away life and can even destroy a country from the inside. To commemorate is the right thing to do, a necessary step in the dialectic process that leads with the integration of this theme into one’s own inner peace. This then leads to a real peace in the outside world as well. Humility is a necessary component of this. There are very compelling arguments to take a closer look at the approach represented by the Friedensmal.

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