Society ... do not forget Jerusalem

Inauguration of the Jerusalem Friedensmal with School Classes from Bensheim, Germany, and Haifa, Israel. Patronage: Batsheva Dagan.

Project / Society

Society and Responsibility


The Jerusalem Friedensmal expands German memory culture by focusing on "inner liberation" and personal transformation. It establishes a connection to the painful but also hopeful German-Jewish history and emphasizes the spiritual dimension of peace. It shifts the focus from pain and death to a focus on life; that we learn in love.

The Friedensmal promotes self-encounter and dialogue with others to heal emotional and societal wounds. It emphasizes the importance of relationship and reconciliation in German-Jewish history; for peace must become concrete. It serves as a learning place for school classes and other groups to convey the importance of memory, encounter, and reconciliation.

In a time when freedom of speech is threatened and the past is instrumentalized for political purposes, the Friedensmal urges the preservation of freedom of speech and emphasizes individual responsibility for freedom and justice. It addresses the current societal division and opens up new perspectives as an artistic expression for life and freedom.

The Friedensmal is located in a Garden of Freedom and encourages standing up for freedom, justice, and life. It is a place of encounter and healing that invites us to overcome fear and to be able to stand up for freedom, justice, and life. It is a bridge in a divided society and carries profound social and cultural relevance within it.

In this context, it is particularly important to be vigilant. The instrumentalization of the past can create a climate of fear and insecurity that threatens individual and collective freedom. It is about inner liberation from the totalitarian spirit that operated in the past and still has influence now. It is a call to responsibility, to inner transformation, and to reconciliation.

Do not forget Jerusalem (Psalm 137)

Culture of Remembrance

The Jerusalem Friedensmal shows a path of healing and new life in the consciousness of past suffering. Without light, life, and hope, a totalitarian spirit that binds us to the past and leads to its repetition in another guise cannot be overcome. The memorials of German remembrance culture represent an important confrontation with past suffering. However, they also touch on feelings of guilt and shame and offer no solution for overcoming that ideology on a collective, as well as personal level, against which they warn. Thus, integration and therefore "learning from the past", i.e., liberation from this ideology, has not yet taken place. This gave rise to the motivation to build the Friedensmal; it developed as a private project over many years of volunteer work. It should not be understood as a counter-thesis to the culture of remembrance, but as a natural continuation, addressing the possibility of "inner liberation." - "Everything flows", said Heracles. Life is always in a process.

Inner Liberation

The coming to terms with the past can go much deeper if it encounters people positively, if it addresses human dignity instead of primarily evoking feelings of guilt and shame that make one powerless. The "lesson from the past" should arrive as a change in the heart. "Learning from the past" can mean so much more than the state-ordered "fight against evil." It should be about enabling people to recognize evil even when it disguises itself as good and gives the impression that the majority agrees with it. What is needed for real change is personal insight and inner transformation. Because every person carries good and evil within them. Evil will never be eradicated; but we can learn to deal with it in such a way that it does not control us and we are free from it in our decisions. It is about the inner liberation from the totalitarian spirit that operated in the past and still has influence now.

Spiritual Dimension

The Jerusalem Friedensmal reminds us of peace in the name of Jerusalem, which means "place of peace." It is an encouragement to bring light into the world and life into a culture that has focused too much on death and increasingly reduces human beings and their existence to the functionality of a machine. It is only right if a turn towards life begins here: in Germany with its past in which the life of "Jerusalem" was denied. The name Jerusalem Friedensmal, with the religious background of the heavenly Jerusalem and the Holy City, is associated with high expectations. Ultimately, religion, with its metaphors and stories, is to be understood as an inner event in one's own soul. Here the sacred happens in silence and humility. The choice of location for the monument is a hint at this truth. "He did not appear to Moses at Pharaoh's palace, but in the countryside at the edge of the road."

The Landscape: The View Towards the Odenwald as Seen from the Friedensmal.

Instrumentalization of the Past

In the current times, we are experiencing that people in Germany are being discredited and marginalized based on their opinions. In this political struggle, the burdened German past is often instrumentalized for political purposes. It is crucial to handle German history sensitively and without appropriating it for political ends. This is currently evident when individuals who criticize government measures (e.g., in the context of Corona) are quickly and without substantiated evidence labeled as 'right-wing' or 'anti-Semitic'. The Jerusalem Friedensmal was inaugurated in 2015 with a plea for freedom of speech. This cautionary speech at the inauguration has become highly relevant just a few years later.

Freedom of Speech and Social Division

The Friedensmal is located in a Garden of Freedom. This place can liberate people to stand upright and courageously for freedom, justice, and life in our society today and in the future. What does "learning from the past" mean for us? We must also be vigilant that this past is not instrumentalized for political purposes. "Taking responsibility" means much more than following a top-down prescribed ideology of a "better world" and receiving praise from politics and the media for it.

Restoration of Relationship

Living Freedom and Overcoming Fear

Even today (in the year 2022), many people are still bound to the spirit of unfreedom and totalitarianism. Although it is vehemently fought against today, it is only in relation to the past. We must let go of it. This is what the Jerusalem Friedensmal stands for: Remembering alone is not enough. - Each individual must liberate themselves to stand upright and courageously for freedom, justice, and life.

Often, personal responsibility is avoided by seeking and finding 'evil' outside oneself. In German society today, it is 'the Nazis,' but also alleged anti-Semites and right-wing extremists who must be fought. These accusations are often brought into the public eye without sufficient evidence. On a deeper psychological level, however, this often serves as a strategy to avoid dealing with one's own inner weaknesses and negative tendencies. This also happens in the name of memory and responsibility and is
a corrupted form of coming to terms with the past, which promotes anti-Semitism and also allows the past to repeat itself in a different guise.

In this context, it is particularly important to be vigilant. The instrumentalization of the past can create a climate of fear and insecurity that threatens individual and collective freedom.

Encounter and Healing

At the Friedensmal, we come back into contact with ourselves. We become aware of our own emotional injuries and the injuries of the world. Following the inward journey, we turn outward. Respecting boundaries, we open ourselves to the encounter with the other person and their world. This is the theme at the Stone of Encounter. Through inner clarification and free encounter, we as a society recognize those ideas and behaviors that are hostile to life and to which we have become accustomed.

Jerusalem Friedensmal is about the restoration of relationships. This idea must be filled with life and become concrete in the world. When one stands behind the "Blossom of Shalom", one can look out from this center of the Friedensmal into the Rhine plain, where the Jewish "Jerusalem on the Rhine" once stood. In this way, this place can impact the painful but also often hopeful German-Jewish history. "Our belief was that German and Jewish spirit could meet on German soil and become a blessing through their union", said Leo Baeck after his liberation from the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

For more information on this topic, please see the chapter "
Living the Answer."

Pupils from Israel and Germany at the Friedensmal

School classes from Israel and Germany at the "Stone of Encounter" on the hiking trail with the inscription "Yerushalayim", Jerusalem. The memorial stone is located at the entrance and the border of the Jerusalem Friedensmal.

The Role of Art in Society

Art can give society a new impulse. It arises from inspiration and can therefore bring new information into an existing system that the system could not find on its own. Today, it can help reconcile a deeply divided society. The Jerusalem Friedensmal carries an impulse of life and freedom into German culture. On September 27, 2015, it was inaugurated in Bensheim in southern Hesse. Here you can find the film about the inauguration and here you can find a report.

Further link: Lecture in German on the creation of the Jerusalem Friedensmal

Vision of Peace

Peace & Shalom

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