Change and Insight A key to liberation

Chapter: Project / Change and Insight

For a Culture of Freedom


In the chapter "Change and Insight," we embark on a profound journey that not only takes us through German history but also points us toward the future. It is essential to recognize the need for a turning point in dealing with our past. However, this turning point is not a final stroke but a new beginning born out of love for truth and freedom.

The reflections we make here go beyond the specific topic of "German past." They aim for self-awareness and change. As the text "Change and Insight" aptly states: We cannot change the entire world, but each of us can be a light of encouragement and change. It is the willingness to change and self-awareness that allows us to touch the hearts of others through our being.

The memorials of the past and the culture of remembrance in Germany are important aspects, but they are not enough. More than admonishing and remembering is needed; life and hope are needed. The Friedensmal, as a symbol of this paradigm shift, does not stand for the past but for today and tomorrow. It is a sign of hope and change, a blessing for Germany and its people.

In this chapter, we will also explore the meaning of the "Culture of Freedom" that can emerge from the experiences of fascism and war. It is about recognizing responsibility for freedom as a viable answer for German society today. We will emphasize the need to free ourselves from ideological captivity and inner suffering to find the path to peace and freedom.

The Friedensmal is a place of healing, integration, and vision for the future. It is a place that invites us to heal the deep wounds of the past and embark on a new path of freedom and peace.

So I invite you to join me on this journey through Germany's history and future, in the hope that each of us can be a light of encouragement and change.

Paradigm Shift in the Culture of Remembrance

In 1998, during the debate about building a central memorial in Berlin for the murdered European Jews, I had the idea for this project. I believe that the remembrance culture in Germany, focused on memorials, needs a positive approach that stands for new life. Only then can there be access without guilt feelings, which often put people on the defensive. Admonishing and remembering alone are not enough. Remembrance also needs life and hope. It primarily needs healing of deep wounds. Only then can integration take place, and we can genuinely say that something has been learned from the past; that the past will not repeat itself in another guise.

The Idea of the Friedensmal

The idea of the Friedensmal thus brings Germany a different way of dealing with its past, which would become a blessing. It is not a memorial for the past but a Friedensmal for today. The Jewish poet Nelly Sachs wrote shortly after the Shoah in a poem: "But those of you who do not shake the dust off your longing. Those of you who stop where it turns into light." When will we finally live that?

The Turning Point - Beyond Memorials and Final Strokes

There is, besides the tense clinging to the past, which offers no solution to prevent the past from repeating itself, and the "final stroke," which is also no solution but self-deception, the third option of the Turning Point.

A pure culture of memorials without hope for peace, without life, without a
Turning Point, is more an expression of the problem than a solution. Instead of more pressure and finger-pointing, what is needed is a deep breath, a finding of oneself, and an exit from the pressure to conform, which does not let people be, makes them small, prescribes to them that they must be perfect beings, as society has just defined it. These would be beings without shadows, forming a perfect nation. How beautiful it would be to simply learn to accept life in all its diversity—as a Rainbow also shows. And there is the Turning Point for life and for Germany: Acceptance is meant, which does without a new perfectionism, without a new totalitarian or extremist ideology "of the new good." For that would again only speak of the spirit of the past in another guise.

Ein Regenbogen über dem (Jerusalem) Friedensmal
After the Turning Point Set by Rabbi Mendelson, a Great Rain Came, Followed by a Rainbow Toward Jerusalem (Film)

The Friedensmal shows a way to integrate Germany's recent past in such a manner that a "German inherited guilt" does not continue to cause further harm. Unfortunately, the current political situation in Germany clearly demonstrates that this vicious circle indeed exists. The Friedensmal aims to break this cycle. What is needed is self-awareness that leads to genuine inner change, and above all, the individual's willingness to perceive this exit.

For a Culture of Freedom: Lessons from History

This chapter builds on the previous one by addressing the significance of German history and the experience of fascism and war. It shows how past experiences can be transformed into a "Culture of Freedom."

Fascism and war, which resulted in millions of deaths, are part of German history. This experience has become a part of the collective identity of Germans. Instead of looking away, the focus should be on looking with a love that can heal the deep wounds in relationships, as well as in one's own self-esteem. Only then will this past not repeat itself in another guise. Self-hate—which is also a form of hate—is not an answer to this dark past. Neither is collective guilt. Responsibility for freedom, however, can be a viable answer for German society today.

Stone of Encounter at the entrance of the peace site reads, "...that we recognize the fences in our interactions." Recognizing and acknowledging different worldviews prevents one from being trapped in an ideology. "Ideology" is a fenced intellectual terrain. It's acceptable to have one, but it's good to be aware that life can also exist outside this "terrain." Germany has had terrible experiences with being trapped in ideologies in its recent history. Freedom, first and foremost, means being able to think freely; daring to question any ideology. This requires the courage to think along different lines, the courage to express oneself, and the free exchange of opinions.

Dancer Natalia Pienkina visiting
The Ukrainian Dancer Dances for Peace and Spiritual Awakening at the Friedensmal. You Can Find the Video Here.

he causes of the dark past in the Third Reich cannot be found solely in evil. A guest traveling through Germany will encounter so many friendly, helpful, and kind-hearted people that this past becomes hard to imagine. One must look deeper when searching for causes: Why did so many decent people in our country allow themselves to be easily deceived and seduced, or remain silent when they noticed injustice and it was still possible to raise their voice? Therefore, today's culture of remembrance should not primarily be about conveying feelings of shame and guilt, but rather about answering this question. The name "Garden of Freedom", where the Friedensmal is located, carries a responsibility: what Germany needs is a culture of freedom and an education for freedom. This starts with each individual being self-responsible and mature. Because this culture is so lacking—the Germans still speak of the "Father State" today—fascism had an easy time. There are not many today who dare to speak out against what is politically correct but, in their opinion, very wrong. Even today, it would still have an easy time. Why, however, was this context apparently forgotten in coming to terms with the past?

The inner development of people affects external societal processes. Thus, the monument stands for a responsible and peaceful way of dealing with Germany's burdened past; transforming it: A mature and free civil society, in which the right to free expression is recognized as essential, means that Germany has politically learned its lesson from the past.
Education for freedom provides us with the tools for liberation from upbringing (kokhavim).

Visiti of a Jewish Community from Karlsruhe
The Jewish Festival Lag baOmer at the Jerusalem Friedensmal

Turning Towards Life: Self-Realization and Liberation

This chapter deepens the understanding of self-realization and liberation. It emphasizes the importance of changing oneself and taking responsibility.

One has the power to change oneself and thereby one's destiny. Changing other people or even entire nations from the outside is not possible; they can only do that themselves. The dark chapters of German history have causes that also lie in the character of the Germans. As long as these weaknesses are not recognized, the past can repeat itself in its negative aspects in a different guise. Self-realization is about stepping out of the prison of one's own self-importance and freeing oneself from delusions. This is a turning towards life. It is about liberation, not the conveyance of feelings of guilt. In the self-realization found at the Jerusalem Friedensmal, the conditions would be created for Germany to withstand the challenges of the times.

Die Schwelle der Demut

"Recognize the Sacred in your midst" also means: Come to yourselves and do not seek the Sacred in external projection, even if it would be a well-functioning distraction to avoid finding oneself. The image shows the Threshold of Humility, which is the entrance to the Friedensmal. One must overcome it for the journey into one's own inner self. It is about the perception and liberation from deception (through ideologies) and suffering within ourselves; here begins peace and freedom. People confront their ideological and emotional entanglements that prevent them from coming to themselves. Religion also often becomes an ideology for people. However, it is a path; if one stands still, one does not use it to move forward.

A Place of Encouragement - In the Tree of Life

Changing other people is not possible. However, every person can become an encouragement for others to turn towards life if they are capable of touching their hearts through their being. The Jerusalem Friedensmal is located in nature along the hiking trail. Here, one may take a piece of peace and inspiration into the everyday world. In the face of the painful experience of people in the world, the central element of the sanctuary shows the Tree of Life as a path to inner peace. Here, the visitor can also find a positive example of a forward-looking culture of remembrance. A future in dignity and freedom exists if we courageously confront the past.

A Dance within the Friedensmal

Dance of the Rainbow People at the Festival of the Inauguration of the "Stone of Encounter"

Closing Words

In light of these insights and the "Journey through Germany's History and Future," a crucial message emerges: The turning point we seek lies in self-awareness and the willingness to change. Our past not only has dark but black chapters, and precisely for that reason, we should not relive them. The remembrance of our history should not serve to burden us with feelings of guilt and shame but to encourage us towards responsibility and freedom. In a culture of freedom, based on mutual respect and free thinking, we can avoid the mistakes of the past.

Self-change and self-awareness are the keys to liberation from ideological captivity and inner suffering. This is the path to peace and freedom that we seek. The Tree of Life, which we find at the Jerusalem Friedensmal, reminds us that we can find encouragement and inspiration in the spiritual and carry these into our everyday lives.

We cannot change the entire world, but each of us can be a light of encouragement and change by touching the hearts of others through our essence. A future in dignity and freedom is possible if we have the courage to face our past and change ourselves.

Heritage and Identity

Vision of Peace

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