Heritage and Identity Recognition of our cultural roots

The Israeli artist Dganit Daddo sings at the Friedensmal with students from Haifa during the inauguration ceremony in Bensheim-Hochstädten.
Procekt / Heritage and Identity

In Dialogue with the Past


In the chapter "Heritage and Identity", we embark on a profound journey through the themes of responsibility, encouragement, cultural heritage, healing, and freedom. We take a look at Germany's past, present, and future and explore how these principles are interwoven. Special attention is given to the white "Blüte des Schalom" as a symbol of purity and spirituality, which stands at the center of the Jerusalem Friedensmal. It is not just a random reminder of another white flower, the "White Rose". This chapter lays the foundation for our understanding of the subsequent chapters and shows how important it is to be vigilant against collective delusion and totalitarian developments. It emphasizes the importance of freedom and self-responsibility and raises the question of how we, as a society and individuals, can stand up for these values.

A white Blossom - Out of Responsibility for Peace and Freedom

This chapter introduces the fundamental principles of responsibility and encouragement. It points out the importance of freedom and self-responsibility and presents the white blossom as a symbol of purity and spirituality.

The tendency towards collectivism, envy, and subservience formed the breeding ground for anti-Semitism in Germany in the first half of the 20th century (see reviews). It is important to be vigilant against any collective delusion and against all totalitarian developments. It defines human dignity to live in freedom and to go through life upright and self-responsible. If no one stands up for these values of freedom, then they will fade away.

A white Blossom of Shalom
The artist Thomas Zieringer gives a lecture at a community gathering. Mayoral candidates were also present.

The privately initiated
Jerusalem Friedensmal can be an encouragement for people to commit themselves to peace and freedom. Encouragement is needed, for the individual path to maturity and responsibility is not an easy one. At the center of the Friedensmal is a White Blossom; it stands for purity and spirituality. The Scholl siblings had a white blossom—a white rose—as their symbol. With their courage, born from deep faith, they made it clear what it means to take responsibility. This is true today as well. Then peace, then Shalom is possible.

Silence, beauty, and the hope for true freedom: a great message for our time

This chapter expands the understanding of the inner aspects of peace and freedom. It emphasizes the importance of silence and inner contemplation to find true beauty and healing. Here, the significance of the quiet voice of the heart and the details amidst the noise of our time is highlighted. It shows how one can come to a new understanding of freedom.

The Jerusalem Friedensmal is a place of contemplation. One finds beauty that touches the innermost being. It leads us on a path of healing. So much bad in the world is fought against with so much effort. The world would be much better if only the good ideas and solutions that already exist were recognized. But good, which often happens in small or quiet ways, is often overlooked, unheard, or taken for granted. Not simple beauty, but grandiosity is sought after. The great noise of our time also deafens us to the quiet voice of our heart, which wants to tell us what really matters in life. The memorial, with the inscription 'Yerushalayim' on the Stone of Encounter, indeed carries a great name. But what kind of greatness is it about? The language of form is simple and plain; the special lies in the details. One must look closely to recognize. If one looks and listens and silence sets in, then one can come to a new understanding of freedom—that is a great hope for our time.

Saying Good Bye at the Jerusalem Friedensmal

We thank each other (Pastor Mohr and I). In this, the meaning of Yerushalayim becomes visible. If only one person thanked the other, one would appear greater and the other smaller—but only together can the essence of "Jerusalem" be felt. We are the modestly dressed small figures on the right in the picture, but the large figures behind us stand completely still and no longer appear larger, brighter, or more important in the scene. However, they do give the space a boundary and protect the event with their beauty. This creates a protected space where Yerushalayim, the vision of peace, can exist.

The Beauty of Life and the Dignity of Man

This chapter introduces German culture and its light and shadow sides. It emphasizes the importance of valuing and preserving cultural heritage while simultaneously finding a healthy balance between change and tradition.

German culture has much light. So many cities are wonderful. Philosophy, poetry, and science speak for themselves. The prosperity of today's generation rests on a cultural foundation that previous generations have built with much effort and also through much suffering. Without appreciation, without the will to preserve the light of one's own culture through the changes of time, our country would first lose its soul and then its wealth. The understanding that life always means change and the mindfulness to preserve the light of one's own culture must find a healthy balance.

However, every culture brings with it a shadow that must be recognized. The pressure to conform in our country is high to align one's thoughts with a majority opinion. Those who do not agree with the prevailing ideology in the "collective of the good" are often considered indecent and excluded. There is no broad public discussion about differing opinions. Without a corrective, the German nation repeatedly falls into (self-)destructive ideas. Once upon a time, the world was supposed to heal through German essence. Today, salvation is sought in the dissolution of one's own cultural identity, and thus the cultural foundation of our society erodes. There is no measure and no middle ground. But this can only happen because, on an individual level, people in our country are already so ashamed to look at their own shadows. Yet that would simply be human; sei a Mensch (jiddish, meaning: be a person of integrity).

A Blossom of Shalom as a Symbol of the Heart
Die Blüte des Schalom in der Mitte des Friedensmals steht als Herzsymbol für den mit dem Leben verbundenen Menschen.

The Importance of Healing Our Cultural Roots

This section introduces the idea of healing cultural roots, particularly with respect to German culture. It illustrates how freedom can arise from inner awareness and connection to one's own cultural roots.

Just as a tree needs healthy roots to stretch its branches towards the sky, so does a culture. It has its foundation; it has its roots. Especially German culture today needs the impulse of healing its own roots, as this project aims to convey. This makes it clear that freedom can only arise from an inner awareness that knows the foundation of its own culture and can therefore give the human spirit confidence and protection to discover the heavens.

Therefore, it requires the acknowledgment of the roots of one's own culture, especially the root 'Jerusalem', and healing in this relationship. This brings up the deepest trauma of the German nation: the murder of the Jews and thus the destruction of its own cultural and spiritual foundation. The topic thus becomes healing in the German-Jewish relationship, the realization of a new Shalom where it is most deeply needed. In this way, lessons would actually be learned from both German and Jewish history: that one is willing to courageously stand up for freedom—especially the freedom of the other.

Dust to Light - Healing Emotional Wounds

This chapter delves into the concept of healing and reconciliation. It discusses how ignorance, self-righteousness, and envy can be overcome to create a better and more healed world. It emphasizes the importance of freedom in the context of peace and understanding.

This is a place that stands for the beauty of life and the dignity of the human being. Here, people can become more aware of their inner longing for sanctity: How can the healing of emotional wounds be experienced in one's own life? How can this longing be carried into society? A "better world," a more healed world, can become possible when ignorance, self-righteousness, and envy in relationships give way to genuine interaction with one another. The inscription "Wo sich Staub zu Licht wandelt" ("Where dust turns to light") under the Stone of Encounter signifies a hopeful vision of coexistence and means that free people seek peace, reconciliation, and an understanding of themselves and others. This place—the Friedensmal framed by the Garden of Freedom, with the Stone of Encounter along the path—is a symbol of this idea. It establishes a connection to the hearts of people, where dust turns to light.

You can learn more about the spiritual background of this project in this elaboration on Nelly Sachs, featuring some of her poems and some interesting philosophy.

Worms at the Horizont - Jerusalem Friedensmal
View of the Rhine Plain with Worms on the Horizon. This city was part of the former Jerusalem on the Rhine.


In light of these insights and the journey through various facets of responsibility, encouragement, cultural heritage, healing, and freedom, an important message emerges: The true path to freedom and peace lies in the recognition of our cultural roots, the healing of our emotional wounds, and the responsibility for a better world.

German history has its very dark shadows, but also much light. Precisely from this past, we can learn how important it is to stand up for the freedom and dignity of every human being. Our cultural roots, symbolized by Jerusalem, are the key to a deeper understanding of freedom and responsibility.

The vision of coexistence, where "dust turns to light," is a hope that we can carry into the world. It is up to each of us to overcome ignorance, self-righteousness, and envy, and instead promote true freedom, peace, and understanding. The Jerusalem Friedensmal stands as a symbol for these ideals.

Let us learn from the past and courageously stand up for the freedom and well-being of others. In this way, we can collectively work on a better world where peace, freedom, and healing are possible.

Stone of Encounter

Change and Insight

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