Jewish Cemetery in Prague
I'm in Prague attending a meeting of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research . To learn more about the Task Force, see http://www.holocausttaskforce.org/. This year, I am the Chair of the Museums and Memorials Working Group. Our task this meeting was to examine the question of the identification and marking of the physical locations where Holocaust-related events took place. We had two very productive days of meetings, which included fascinating presentations on several projects designed to identify and mark sites of mass execution and burial. Very interesting... I am including in this blog, a part of the report that I delivered to the Plenary of the Task Force.
The identification of historic sites is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the educational and commemorative power of place. It could be argued that, just as we recognize the importance of archival collections, which document the history we study, so should we acknowledge the importance of the places where that history took place. Nothing can substitute for the experience of standing on a spot where significant events occurred. There is an undeniable emotional power connected with geography, and that power can have an immense impact. Authentic sites can personalize history and unlock the power of imagination. Their identification and preservation can be a significant antidote to Holocaust denial. When we add to the inherent importance of these sites, the fact that many include places where people were murdered and buried, there are a host of religious and emotional considerations that must be addressed.
There will come a time in the not too distant future when there will no longer be any living eye-witnesses to the events of the Holocaust. The loss of Human witnesses underscores the importance of the sites where the events of the Holocaust took place. These “silent” witnesses along with archival evidence will be alone in providing crucial testimony.
We introduced a proposal that, once adopted will underscore the commitment of the Task Force members to undertake the identification and marking of these historic sites. I'll report on the progress of this issue in future blogs.
Kafka Statue in Prague
(Photos by David G. Marwell)