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    Remembering what happened at this site: in Flanders fields (Ypres) and the Militärhistorische Museum, Dresden

    Arnold-de Simine, Silke (2013) Remembering what happened at this site: in Flanders fields (Ypres) and the Militärhistorische Museum, Dresden. In: Inaugural Session of the Cultural Memory Seminar Series Spaces of Memory in Comparative Perspective: Performing Life in Former Sites of Suffering and Death, 2013, The Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London. (Unpublished)

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    Ypres and Dresden have become almost mythical places of suffering and devastation during WWI and WWII. Both cities lay in ruins but whereas the people of Ypres rejected Churchill’s wish to preserve the destroyed city as a memorial to British and Commonwealth war dead and opted instead for rebuilding and for the monumental Menin Gate, in Dresden the pile of rubble that was left of the Frauenkirche, hit by Allied bombing in the last days of WWII, was kept as a memorial until 1993 when reconstruction began. These memorials in Ypres and Dresden were complemented in recent years by new war museums that have to balance the tasks of memorials and museums. Memorials are usually seen as sacred places for reverent commemoration, their commemorative functions and associated ceremonies evoke burial rites. As such they are supposed to honour the dead and establish a community united in mourning and in the resolve to prevent the cause for grief and suffering in the future. In contrast, museums are educational institutions tasked with critical interpretation and historical contextualization. Increasingly the distinction between the two institutions becomes more and more blurred: new museums often double as memorials and quite a few memorials feature so-called information centres, such as The World Trade Centre Memorial (New York), the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and Bernauer Strasse Wall Memorial (Berlin). My contribution will ask what the consequences are of the coalescing of memorial and museum functions for the commemoration and remembering of these events.


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