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People and Politics Forum 15. 08. 2008

"Is it disrespectful to make money out of history?"

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More information:

The Second German Dictatorship – Why many Germans glorify communist East Germany

This week marks the 47th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall. Almost two decades since that Wall fell and the start of the end of the communist East German state, there is considerable nostalgia for the olden days. Many people appear to have forgotten the regimentation and lack of freedom, government surveillance and the shoot-to-kill order at the border.

Our Question is:

"Is it disrespectful to make money out of history?"

Sadick Mashud, in Ghana, says:"I think it’s no bad thing to make money out of history. Using history to make money is a way of preserving it. We can keep the memory alive of those brave people who achieved something for their country, family or community. Obviously we need money to set up and maintain museums and memorials for younger generations. It’s perfectly normal to pay for this sort of thing."

Herbert Fuchs, in Finland, writes:

"Through my work in business I have learned that you can make money out of anything. As has been proven throughout the world, unfortunately this includes the negative side of human history. What people are capable of doing to other people is part and parcel of this. Other things often appear less significant and uninteresting. When something becomes history it has become a common good. We can’t be angry with the young businessmen who profit from and market sad aspects of the past.... Unfortunately younger generations will never consider it as important to commemorate the past as those who experience it directly do. That’s just the way of the world. We shouldn’t always take questions of history so seriously, because each generation has its own way of dealing with the past."

From Brazil, René Junghans adds:

"History should be something to be remembered, not something to profit from. Anyone that’s unaware of or forgets their past can fall victim to opportunists that reintroduce aspects of the past into the present. We shouldn’t be ashamed of our pasts, but learn from them in the hope of building a better future. We should simply ignore those people that want to turn history into an industry. Otherwise we’ll continue to blame the Russians entirely for the erection of the Berlin wall, even though this wouldn’t have been possible without the go-ahead from Kennedy. The Americans were afraid that the West wouldn’t be able to cope with the increasing number of refugees from the East. Kennedy was no President for peace. Vietnam proved that. "Ich bin Berliner" As if! We could do without Berliners like that!"

The People and Politics desk reserves the right to edit and abbreviate texts.