Last September I was preparing to travel to Hungary and Poland to visit the mass graves and camps.
It was the end of the summer, the weather was good, and it made sense to combine the research trip with
a holiday. A strange postmodern Ballardian holiday…
I’ve been reading an article by Jason Webster about a package holiday that tours sites of Nazi memory in Germany. It takes in Wannsee Villa, Sachsenhausen, Eagles Nest, Nuremberg Court Room, Dachau. Needless to say it has attracted controversy, but I was surprised to read that at Eagles Nest there are already coaches to take tourists up to the site where they can buy Eagles Nest branded baseball caps and t-shirts.
‘How the Nazi period should be remembered is an over-arching theme that develops as we travel around the country. When I lived in Germany as a child, in the late 1970s, any mention of the war was taboo. Today, however, many venues have recently-opened excellent museums [...] suggesting that Germans themselves are coming to terms with their past and are more at ease with the idea of others coming to learn about it [...].
In earlier centuries it was fashionable to take the Grand Tour, to complete one’s education by travelling to Italy and Greece to learn about Classical civilisation. Today’s equivalent may turn out to be this – to witness the relics of one of the greatest horrors of man: a grandeur not to be emulated but to grapple with, to question, to struggle to comprehend.‘ Jason Webster