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Souvenirs for Concentration Camps?

Design students and museum officials at the former Nazi concentration camp in Buchenwald are working on souvenirs for visitors. DW-WORLD readers share their thoughts.

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A potted tree branch is one idea

I admire the thoughtfulness behind this project. I like the idea of a physical reminder of such an emotional event, but I think it should be called a memorial or memento. I don't know the connotation of the word souvenir in Germany but in this country I think it is something you buy at Disneyland. "Souvenir" seems to diminish the essence of the project. -- Shawna A. Fields

I would regard selling souvenirs of the concentration camps in poor taste. -- Allison Zimmerman, USA

A few tasteful souvenirs would be alright with me, but I do live in the US and my family didn't lose anyone in the concentration camps. If I had lost a family member there I think I would like the concept of planting a living beech tree at home or carrying a small memento close to my heart for a loved one lost there. -- Karen Moeckli

I am deeply uncomfortable with the idea of people taking ‘souvenirs’ from concentration camps, regardless of how much care and consideration goes into their design. One of the most important lessons of the concentration camps for visitors today is how much can be stripped from a human. These camps are physical reminders of how individual humans can be turned into masses, how they can be made ‘other’ so that the average person can look the other way or participate as they are robbed, imprisoned, and murdered. The idea that you or I would leave the camps with anything but the heaviness of collective memory is appalling to me. Rather than funding the camps through their commercialization, we need to address the real questions that underlie this souvenir campaign. Why are the concentration camps so under-funded they need to hawk souvenirs? Why isn’t the government adequately providing for their survival? And more importantly, why are individuals uninterested in funding these sites of collective memory? -- Kim Brauer

I think only souvenirs that would be like memento's of reflection of the horror of the past or progress of Germany in post-war would be appropriate. Certainly anything that could be remotely construed as celebratory or a fond remembrance would be absolutely unacceptable. Maybe a wrist band that says, "We will remember," or "we will not forget," could be tasteful. I do not see anything that one would drink or eat off of as appropriate either, nor clothing. Perhaps pictures showing liberation or as your author suggested quotes from the post-war constitution human rights section. Documentaries of the past including reflection on how to improve the climate for minorities in the present and the future may be acceptable. -- Wes J. Orr



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