TheTree of Life lying within the Friedensmal, pointing its roots towards Jerusalem, breaks through the "dark ring of violence” with eleven memorial stones as projection surfaces of an alienated and traumatized mind. The ring is also broken from the outside through a bright area, a "dance floor”, a space for encounter with 22 small stone blocks with values in coexistence. This stands for the dance of life and for growing spiritually and emotionally in encounters. The Peace Monument stands for the journey into one's own inner self; where peace begins, where it is therefore most needed. With this message, the Peace Monument becomes a turning point for our society.
A monument for the inner path to life
Vision and significance of the Friedensmal
The Peace Monument is not just a stone monument in the landscape; it is a living project and a symbol for humanity's journey towards peace and understanding. In a time when memorials often serve to remind us of the horrors of the past, the Friedensmal offers a different approach. It arose from the need to expand the culture of remembrance in Germany and is a place for reflection and encounter. The Friedensmal invites us to look not only back but also inward and forward. It promotes dialogue and inspires people to work for a more peaceful world. The idea of the Friedensmal is thus an invitation: to see oneself and the world anew, to learn from history, and to actively contribute to a better future. In the following chapters, we will explore the various aspects and deeper meaning of this extraordinary endeavor.
In Germany, monuments that deal with the past are mostly memorials. They engage in confrontation with terrible events. I came up with the name
Path of Healing through Sanctification
The Threshold of Humility
The inscription at the entrance to theTree of Life reads: "Recognize the Sacred in your Midst." It is applied to the gray Threshold of Humility that limits the Friedensmal from the outside. To reach the center, the visitor walks "on the inward path" over this threshold. Humans carry the inviolable and sacred within themselves. Therefore, it is stated: Human dignity is inviolable (Article 1 of the German Basic Law). May we walk the inner path of healing in self-awareness and thus achieve peace and freedom, instead of projecting our own inner pains onto other people and events.
In the German word for healing, "Heilung", one finds the (misused) word "Heil," which is related to the Jewish Shalom. The impermanence in the world (entropy) means eternal striving for restoration, for healing and Shalom, without which there can be no further development. Not to slacken in this is also meant by "Recognize the Sacred in your Midst." Perfection will never be achieved. In the end, it's about the journey. Knowing this can be liberating: Be human! One's own inadequacy may be acknowledged. To believe otherwise would be delusion. This delusion is well known in Germany: when children were never told that they are valuable, not because of their performance, but simply as human beings. This then also applies to an entire society.
The Israeli singer Dganit Daddo and students from Israel sing at the Encounter Festival in Germany at the Friedensmal.
A delusion in a society does not heal with the same answers that led to the delusion in the first place. The aim must be to break the vicious circle; also and especially in a vibrant culture of remembrance. The sentence"Recognize the Sacred in your Midst" is therefore not an encouragement to narcissism; it is written on the Threshold of Humility at the Friedensmal. "The truly human is inadequacy, and the most human thing may be to acknowledge, accept, and forgive it, yet still try to master it, at least one's own." (Source unknown) - So it is about encouragement on the path of healing through sanctification and a conscious appreciation of the beautiful, true, and good in one's own life and culture, because one may perceive it in the foreign.
Tree of Life
The view from above means looking at oneself in inner experience. The symbolism encourages one to look at one's own life and to give space to good developments in oneself and others. The fight against the bad in the world may never end. But wouldn't much darkness vanish if one perceives beauty and goodness in oneself and others?
TheTree of Life in Judaism stands for the Torah, of which Rabbi Hillel said, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation." If one were to adhere only to this, peace in the world would not be far off. In the Friedensmal, the Tree of Life is visible in the form of a relief. The Tree of Life concerns the relationship to one's own soul. Just as a healthy tree connects heaven and earth, so it happens to humans in their soul that they may have life in their spiritual connection to a higher consciousness.
Inner and Outer Dimension
The Friedensmal is a 24-sided polygon. One can circle it for 24 hours and many days, yet only revolve around oneself. Only when one pauses and steps into the circle of theFriedensmal over 2 steps—the Threshold of Humility—with the inscription "Recognize the Sacred in your Midst," and lets go of oneself, will one find oneself.
The Dark Ring of the Alienated Mind
TheDark Ring around the Tree of Life is filled with dark gravel and symbolizes the alienated mind. In this ring stand 11 memorial stones made of Odenwald quartz, which serve as projection surfaces for this alienated mind. They are meant to make us aware of how much people are led astray by the mind and its ideologies. The limited mind categorizes and projects what people all too often consider to be the general truth. This area is also the space of intellectual seduction, where propaganda takes effect and where captivity in ideologies is anchored. Do we seek our support here? Are we prisoners of our projections, ideas, and fears, or do we see the abundance of life? Thus, we roam through the dark ring and explore our 'stones' in the soul, where they block our love. The Tree of Life breaks through the Dark Ring from within.
A Space of Encounter / Dance FloorThe Tree breaks through the Dark Ring from within. The Dark Ring is also broken through by a space for encounter, the beige "dance floor" in the Friedensmal circle. It symbolizes the genuine relationship to the You, which may be like a dance. I was inspired by the philosophy of the Jewish religious philosopher Martin Buber, who lived in my neighboring town of Heppenheim until 1938. One of his most famous statements is: "Man becomes an I through a You" (Philosophy of Martin Buber). In the encounter, the other person becomes a mirror to us. Thus, we recognize our blind spots. The "dance floor" is located in the "inner space", as one creates the space for encounter with the other within oneself, and because one cannot truly see the other if one does not see oneself. On May 22, 2022, 22 rose quartz cubes were placed on this "dance floor", on which 22 values for coexistence are written, serving community building.
Inner Transformation and Covenant Sign
The healing answer is thus the quiet turning inward—a place for meditation and prayer—that also conveys a feeling and joy for encounter and dance in life. A 26-meter-long, 7-colored rainbow will be laid as a glass mosaic around the "tree crown." The 22 Hebrew letters around the rainbow make it clear that the rainbow from the Torah is meant, which signifies the "Covenant of God with humans." The diameter of the crown of theTree of Life, around which the rainbow lies, is 16.60 meters. This is a reference to the only Bible verse with this number, namely Ezekiel 16:60: "Nevertheless, I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you."
Numerical Symbolism in the Friedensmal
The Mystical Meaning of the Number 11
In the Friedensmal, in the "Dark Ring of the alienated mind," stand 11 memorial stones. In Christian mysticism, the number 11 has special meaning. It is considered the number of sin or, as Tillisch explains in the Lexicon of Theology about sin, thus as a symbol for the alienation of humans from the ‚Ground of Being‘ (God), from other beings, and from themselves. In this symbolism, the 1 stands for the will of God and the 0 for the receptive principle, creation. The number 10 thus represents the will of God in creation and the Ten Commandments. The 11 adds human will, which has fallen out of this divine order. It becomes a number of liberation when the responsibility contained therein has been understood.
A Hint at the 12th Stone Outside
When one leaves theFriedensmal, where inner peace can be found, one encounters the 12th stone outside, the Encounter Stone, with the inscription ‚Yerushalayim.‘ This number symbolizes the restored harmony with the ‚Ground of Being,‘ thus with God. It stands for service to God, similar to what is described in the Torah: The Israelites found their freedom through the exodus from Egypt to serve God.
This Encounter Stone and its inscription are an important part of the symbolism of the Friedensmal, as they represent the transition from the inner search for peace to the external realization of freedom and harmony.
Entrance to the Tree of Life
At the opening of the monument in Hochstädten in May 2012, people from the village took off their shoes as they entered theTree of Life. In Judaism, the "removal of shoes" is a sign of reverence and sanctity. It is also a sign to shed habits and prejudices and to open oneself for a sacred experience from the heart. In this center, Shalom can be found. The Friedensmal can make people aware again of their inner longing for sanctity. We need signs of hope that touch the good in us. The greatest misfortune in a society does not happen through "evil people," but because the good potential in it is not recognized! Responsibility for life is positive. It wants to express itself in the commitment of freedom-loving and mature citizens. In this sense, this project was implemented over many years of volunteer work on private property.
Jerusalem and Healthy Boundaries
With its root, this Tree of Life points to Jerusalem as a call for a "better world." This call is more than a place; Jerusalem is a state of beauty. Thus, peace begins within, from where it affects the small and from there into the larger contexts in the world. -Yerushalayim, the name of Jerusalem, is written on the 12th memorial stone of the monument, the Stone of Encounter. The stone is located outside the Friedensmal at the border of the European Long-Distance Path, "facing the world." The topic here is: healthy boundaries.
Blossom of LifeIn the center of the Friedensmal lies the Blossom of Life. The Hebrew word Shalom means harmony, wholeness, abundance, and peace. The Jewish poet Nelly Sachs described Shalom as a "butterfly zone of dreams" (source).
Shalom   begins within oneself, in one's own inner being. The Friedensmal is a space for healing and encounter. It shows the path into one's own inner self; where we ourselves have the power to make a change. In this way, peace can then radiate outward into our society.
The White RoseThis blossom made of white marble, granite, and Odenwald quartz is also a reminder of a resistance group that named itself after a white flower: The White Rose. These young people found their values and their strength to resist in their lived Christian faith.
Jerusalem as a Cultural RootThe individual is also part of a cultural community with its imprint and its history. Therefore, this monument refers to "Jerusalem" as the deepest root of European culture and to the deep injury in this relationship. This is an important societal impulse for our country to rediscover itself through the understanding of "Jerusalem", and it even becomes an idea of Jerusalem in German-Jewish relations.
The Symbolism of the Blossom
TheBlossom of Life carries the seed of life. It consists of twelve white petals and a star lying on top: a living heart!
This star also serves as a symbol for the connection between "heaven" and "earth"; between spirit and matter. The blossom is located in the center of the Tree of Life in the Friedensmal: humans can connect heaven and earth within themselves like a tree; in Christian terms, this is the person filled with the Holy Spirit.
There are two triangles in the star; one triangle with the brown spot at the tip points towards the Rhine Plain with the former "Jerusalem on the Rhine" (Earth), and the other triangle with the brown spot at the base points towards Jerusalem in Israel (Heaven).
The Blossom of Life Right After Completion
In the center, there is not yet a marble slab, but still a glass stone.
A Point That Connects Everything
In the center of the star, a marble slab with the Hebrew inscription "Chai" was placed by a rabbi of Orthodox Judaism, which means: to live. This entire site of peace and freedom was constructed in relation to this
This point in the center is exactly 72 cm above the level (outside) in front of the first step of the Threshold of Humility. This is a reference to the 72 names of God; it is about experience.
In the center of the star, a marble slab with the Hebrew inscription "Chai" was placed by a rabbi of Orthodox Judaism, which means: to live. This entire site of peace and freedom was constructed in relation to thisone point in the center. In this one point that connects everything, there is no ideology. Here is Shalom, i.e., harmony, wholeness, abundance, and peace.