The German Resistance Memorial by Marisa Diaz Bonacquisti and Talulah Geheim

Marisa Diaz Bonacquisti

The German Resistance Memorial Center is located at the historic “Bendler Block,” the unofficial name for the German Military Leadership Center. This memorial commemorates the attempted coup against the National Socialist regime that took place at this site on July 20, 1944. Along with the attempted coup, the memorial commemorates other resisters—both groups and individuals—across Germany. This space acts as a site of remembrance that showcases the various forms and motives of German resisters during the National Socialist era. In Germany, remembrance is an act of resistance against the oppressive ideologies of the Nazi regime. Public monuments like the German Resistance Memorial Center complicate master narratives about Germans during the World Wars in an accessible and educational way. The frameworks we have been working with (Black Feminism, Transnational Feminism, and Critical Race Theory) examine the dangers of simplifying atrocities and thus prioritize taking the most complex approach possible. The simplification of master narratives in storytelling often allows oppressors to absolve themselves of accountability, especially in regard to reparations. The memorial both complicates German experiences during the Holocaust and teaches visitors about allyship and the extent required to do so effectively. At the memorial, I was heavily guided by a notion mentioned during our Jewish History & Culture Walking Tour with Adam Schonfeld that morning: memorials reflect more about who made them than who they commemorate. As I paired this notion with my built understanding of counter-storytelling, the significance of the space became much more nuanced than simply being a sight for commemoration. Master narratives related to the Holocaust often exclude marginalized peoples within Germany, such as Black people and Sinti and Roma people; yet, this memorial challenges these ideas by conveying solidarity and allyship amongst women, children, and other marginalized groups facing oppression.

Marisa Diaz Bonacquisti is a Chicana and Italian from Denver’s Northside with a passion for art as resistance. Her culture, community, and language have deeply informed her academic pursuits and aspirations, as well as her professional path. As such, Marisa is a rising junior double-majoring in Southwest Studies and Spanish (Hispanic Studies). She has a focus in public art and is especially excited about Berlin’s street art!

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As a Race, Ethnicity, & Migration Studies major, I am somewhat familiar with the racialization of Jewish people and their contemporary relationship to whiteness in the U.S. However, because of my critique of whiteness, especially as a BIPoC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) student at a predominantly white college, the narrative of Jewish people being racialized was not the easiest for me to understand. As I walked through the German Resistance Memorial and Jewish History Tour, I realized the definitions I previously learned about racialization were not exactly applicable regarding the racialization Nazis imposed on Jews. For example, “Jew” was not just attached to phenotype; it was also attached to ancestry and religious practice. However, racialization as we understand it now was only a part that played into the narrative of what defined a “Jewish” person during the Holocaust. The American education system typically teaches about the survivors and victims of the Holocaust from a very white male perspective. After reading “Trouble Categories I Can’t Think Without: Reflections on Women in The Holocaust” by R. Ruth Linden, I began to think more about how I imagine victims of the Holocaust. The refugee stories of those who escaped persecution or those who survived through hiding in margin areas were rarely told besides that of Anne Frank. The stories of those who were persecuted for political identities, sexual identities, disabilities, and those who helped people survive are rarely told, as well. The fact that people besides Jewish people were persecuted was familiar to me, but not fully processed. I am pleased to know there is a space for untold stories. Reading the stories of survivors facing political execution gave me the perspective and knowledge I needed to reframe my perception of Holocaust survivors, victims, and resistors.

by Talulah Geheim

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