Building Bridges ... to a common center

Chapter: Friedensmal of Change / Building Bridges

From Local Roots to a Universal Message

The Friedensmal represents a significant conceptual evolution: Inaugurated in Jerusalem in 2013 as the 'Jerusalem Friedensmal' with a focus on German-Jewish relations, these historically burdened relations continue to exert a profound influence on people and politics. Thus, it is of paramount importance to address the associated traumas to prevent a 'repetition of the past under a different guise'.

Over the 26 years since the project's inception in 1998, it became evident that the direct path of German-Jewish reconciliation through the monument was insufficient, as historical trauma created structures that hinder healing. In a creative process, the orientation of the
Friedensmal thus transformed: from an attempt to explain the Jewish element within German culture through the monument, and thereby build a bridge of understanding within German culture, it evolved into a more universal symbol of spiritual reconciliation and healing.

The approach was expanded as the '
Friedensmal of Change'. This aims to recognize trauma processing within a larger international and interreligious context as a global task - not merely related to the specific German-Jewish relationship, but relevant to all humanity.

The name 'Yerushalayim' (Jerusalem) on the 'Stone of Encounter' alludes to one of the roots of German culture - the Judeo-Christian heritage. This is also reflected in the monument's design language. More about the significance of the name Jerusalem can be found in the chapter 'Yerushalayim.' Awareness of one's own origins is crucial for drawing strength from these roots, to grow anew as an individual or nation into the light. As the Friedensmal now addresses various religions and worldviews with its universal spirituality, it lays the foundation for necessary collective healing work—beyond the boundaries of individual cultures or religions.

Thus, the
Friedensmal opens itself to broader access by different target groups without denying its roots. Instead, the Jewish aspect, symbolized by elements like 'Yerushalayim' and 'Chai', is displayed in a universal context so that the human values contained therein can connect nations and cultures. This approach serves as a concrete expression of reconciliation in the German-Jewish relationship, which, through this thoughtfully introduced expansion, may for the first time be embraced by both sides. In this way, the Friedensmal becomes a symbol of universal reconciliation and healing, building bridges between cultures.


Chalenges and Experiences

The evolution of the Friedensmal was marked by challenges that necessitated an expansion of the concept in March 2024. Collaborating with organizations in the field of 'memory culture' proved challenging. Despite efforts, I often encountered reticence, revealing the sensitivity of historical burdens. A central obstacle was dealing with Germany's Nazi past. The politicization of history, often framed as a 'battle against the right,' complicated open dialogue. This impaired the ability to learn from history and shape the future. The practice of hastily branding opponents as 'Nazis' or 'anti-Semites' undermined constructive exchange. This led to misunderstandings about the objectives of the Friedensmal and influenced its role as a neutral space for dialogue.

The conflict in Gaza posed an additional challenge, as the
Friedensmal had been inaugurated within the framework of '50 years of relations between Germany and Israel.' Originally conceived as a space for reflection and reconciliation, the monument increasingly found itself in a politically charged context due to the reasons described, which limited its reach and impact among the general populace. This situation and the limited support from political entities and organizations led to the decision to redefine the Friedensmal as 'free art for peace,' independent of specific groups, religions, and nations. The reference to 'Jerusalem' should be maintained, but embedded within a broader framework of universal spirituality and reconciliation.


Reflection on the roots

The vision of the 'Jerusalem Friedensmal,' which has long imbued this project with spirit, remains an essential component. Despite the embrace of a more universal approach and the changed world we inhabit, the original concept shall be honored: At the edge of the forest, a place of reflection emerges - the 'Realm of Dreams.' Here, the sign 'Jerusalem Friedensmal' will be reinstalled as a symbol that inspiration and hope for peace must find their place. This site shall warn us against illusions of power and keep our dreams of peace alive.

The roots of the
Friedensmal reach deep into the Judeo-Christian tradition and the turbulent history of the region. A significant point of reference is the location of a former satellite camp of the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp near the monument. We wish not to forget this past, as we commit ourselves to peace and reconciliation. The naming 'Jerusalem Friedensmal' also gained additional significance through the discovery of the historical "Jerusalem on the Rhine" in the cities of Worms, Speyer, and Mainz. These cities, known as the birthplaces of Ashkenazi Jewish culture in the High Middle Ages, were called "SchUM cities." From the Friedensmal, one can behold the silhouette of the city of Worms, distinguished by its striking cathedral, 22 kilometers distant.

The connection to '
Jerusalem on the Rhine' is now shaped through the "(Jerusalem) Stone of Encounter," which recalls this history of the Jewish communities along the Rhine. Both Christianity and Judaism trace back to the same origins in the teachings and scriptures of the Old Testament. Many moral principles and wisdoms from these common roots have shaped Western culture over centuries. Despite all conflicts and persecutions, there have been phases of peaceful coexistence and mutual cultural exchange between Jews and Christians, especially in the SchUM cities on the Rhine.

As we recall the turbulent history of the Jewish communities in this region - their centuries-old traditions, which were threatened as early as the 11th century by the cruel massacres and expulsions at the hands of the Crusaders and, at times, the local Christian populace during the Crusades, the unimaginable horrors of the Nazi genocide, but also periods of peaceful coexistence and cultural exchange between Jews and Christians in the so-called 'SchUM cities' along the Rhine - we are also reminded of a shared spiritual root in the teachings of the Old Testament.

This richly layered history, marked by light and shadow, suffering and reconciliation, inspires us to strive resolutely for a more peaceful, humane future in which the dignity of all people is respected.

Fertigung des Schildes

Building Bridges to a Common Center

The Friedensmal symbolizes humanity's endless journey in search of peace, understanding, and spiritual unity. Inspired by Socrates' worldview that 'I know that I do not know,' it underscores the importance of openness and intellectual humility.

With the 'Blossom of Life' at its center as a metaphorical bridge between diverse spiritual and cultural traditions, the Friedensmal represents a path to healing and universal reconciliation. It stands for the collective quest for a deeper understanding of humanity and a harmonious future, beyond prejudices and projections.

Friedensmal opens doors on the 'Path Within' to spiritual and philosophical paths with the same goal: a deeper understanding of our humanity and the pursuit of a peaceful world. It invites us to expand our horizons and recognize ourselves in others, to gain deeper insights into our being. Each tradition contributes to collective wisdom and shared growth, while the Judeo-Christian heritage remains the central starting point of the monument's development.

Thus, the
Friedensmal is not only a place of remembrance but also, in remembering 'the idea of Jerusalem,' a symbol of hope. It invites us not to dwell in the heaviness of history but to realize that the task lies in clarifying, changing, growing, and, as symbolized by the 'Chai' placed at the center of the monument, to turn towards life in both individual and collective responsibility.

Der frühere Ort des Schildes


Hope and Outlook

This evolution symbolizes the hope for dialogue among cultures, worldviews, and religions. The goal is to establish the Friedensmal as a place of exchange and inspiration, where people can come together peacefully. It aims to demonstrate how art, culture, and spirituality contribute to humanity and mutual respect. The Friedensmal represents not only the overcoming of historical burdens through lived responsibility but also the development of a universal consciousness that embraces all cultures and beliefs.

Continue the journey in the 'Friedensmal' chapter:

Philosophy - Discover the deep philosophy behind the Friedensmal: A path to reconciliation and spiritual unity, shaped by dialogue and inspiring art for peace.

'we'-Networking - We are creating a decentralized network of communities around the idea of peace and freedom, expressed through the Friedensmal.

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Chapter 'Project: Introduction'
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