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The Identification of Memorialization and Art

Memorialization and its Effects on National and Urban Identities

Anna von Ravensberg
“Reenacting German and American Identities” - Berlin and Jena, Summer 2015
University of Washington Honors Program


Memorials and monuments are lenses into the past, often depicting events integral
to a nation’s history and formation. Our group is interested in investigating different types
of memorialization in Berlin and connecting these structures back to national and urban
identities. There are several different types of memorials that we intend to explore, such
as government commissioned memorials, uncommissioned memorials, historical
buildings, and unintentional memorials. Likewise, we view memorials as non-static
structures; monuments can change over time, both influencing and being influenced by
individuals who interact with them. Therefore, we plan on studying the ways that
memorialization practices affect the formation and constant reformation of both urban
and national identities. We hope to further our project by discovering to what extent these
memorials serve as a representation of the national or urban populace, and how this
representation leads to practices of exclusion and inclusion. Our project will focus on
several different forms of data collection-- primarily interviews with a variety of people,
but also observations on memorial sites, and general surveys. We also intend on speaking
with students and instructors at Humboldt- Universität zu Berlin and Friedrich-SchillerUniversität Jena to get their perspective on German and Berlin history. Through our
individual and group investigations, we will answer our main research questions: How do
practices of memorialization compare in the United States and Germany? To what extent
do memorialization and street art represent a changing Berlin identity? How do sites of
commemoration resulting from the East/West divide and the fall of the Third Reich both
highlight and shape a shifting Berlin identity? What are different people nowadays think
about Nazi architecture, and how does that represent the shift of German identity
throughout these years?

While in Berlin, I will focus on the connections between street art and memorials,
and how these relate to the identities of Berliners and Germans. Specifically, I would like
to answer: To what extent do Berliners identify the Berlin Wall as a memorial or as an 

These minorities and immigrants are an integral part of Berlin’s modern. in hopes of understanding where this urban identity originated from (what distinguished Berlin as “Berlin” from the rest of Germany? From the rest of the world?) and how this identity will continue to be developed. Harjes (2005) describes the main three functions of memorials: “to mourn and commemorate the dead.. 11). how do these people identify themselves? What is.. memorials reflect on the shared history of a population. global city.3 “open­air gallery. to educate their audiences.” and how does this represent a changing Berlin identity? Berlin is a dynamic. who doesn’t. assuming there is one. I want to explore how this identity is changing. Street art. p. What do these people identify the Berlin Wall as? Consequently. to give a voice to the issues that impact them. several different types of . and this identity’s perception today. and why. 139). and to politically and socially represent contemporary German citizens” (p. “Monuments are nothing if not selective aids to memory: they encourage us to remember some things and to forget others. and just as important. 2013. As Ladd depicts. with a constantly changing identity due to its increasingly diverse population. the connection between these identifications? What is the collective identity associated with the Berlin Wall? This will give insight into Berlin’s historical identity. especially where it is openly contested. on the other hand. Do these groups identify themselves as Berliners? As Germans? Why or why not? Consequently. p. and it is therefore important to understand where these perspectives emerge from. is a way for minorities and immigrants. The process of creating monuments. shapes public memory and collective identity” (Ladd. an ancient building or site that has survived. as in Berlin. Likewise. shifting population and identity. how do these groups identify Berlin memorials that are supposed to instill “collective identity”? Background Monuments and Memorialization Monuments are broadly defined as “anything that is enduring. because of its historical significance” (Mitter. and it will be important to find who identifies with the Berlin Wall and the East Side Gallery. 159). who often are overlooked in society. and why. However.

perceived as linking distant people in the same territory” (p. is upheld and constructed through collective memory. and images. which “helps to fix our identity in the modern re-use of the past” (p. even though “it is not possible for all members of any nation to know even a small fraction of the other citizens of the country. specifically focusing on the phenomenon of collective memory. Mitter (2013) claims that there are two different kinds of memorials: durable and ephemeral. Durable monuments are “material ones such as sites. buildings. and Sharp (1996) describes this process as “the repetition of symbols that come to represent the nation’s origin and uniqueness” (p. Because a group that represents the large . 163).4 monuments exist and have different effects on those who interact with the sites. 98). 163). we can see that memorialization. we will focus on connecting national and urban identities to four different types of monuments found in Berlin and other countries: commissioned monuments. 98). The idea of a nation is described as “a construct that serves to forge a sense of unity and the feeling of ‘us’ versus ‘them. a topic which we will be developing further through our individual research questions. uncommissioned monuments. Commissioned Memorials We define commissioned memorials as monuments that are constructed with consent or direction from a governing body. Likewise.” while ephemeral monuments are “transitory and mobile ones made of fragile materials” (p. [containing] very real bonds. National and Urban Identity The formation of a nation has been highly documented in the literature. which “has a dialectical relationship with historical reconstructions of the past because both contribute to the idea of nationhood” (p. Mitter (2013) focuses extensively on the connections between memorials and national identity.’” Nationhood. which plays a role in establishing a collective memory. Through this analysis. historical buildings.” a sense of national identity is achievable because “nations are communities.. then. and unintentional monuments. 159). For the purposes of our project. For example. has a huge influence on the formation and upkeep of a national identity..

established in Berlin in 2001 (p. Because of the decentralized structure of the monument. Uncommissioned Memorials While a governmental body publically funds commissioned memorials. a very specific and carefully planned narrative is constructed through these monuments. then. Harjes (2005) describes one example of an uncommissioned memorial. 77). 144). often attempting to “speak for” an entire population. is considered to be a “countermemorial museum” because it rejects the categorization of a Holocaust memorial and thus challenges the typically self-reflexive purposes other memorial sites serve (p. such as plaques denoting a victim of the Holocaust installed in front of their former place of residence (p. 138). 144-5). one that sprouts from individual interpretation rather than government construction (p. Sodaro hypothesizes that the construction of this museum. 141). Harjes (2005) describes in detail the intricacies of the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe. but instead to focus on “a celebration of German-Jewish culture and history” (p. The Jewish Museum was not intended to be a Holocaust museum. uncommissioned memorials have no obligation to support a “particular vision of national identity” and in this way are able to create a more organic form of collective memory. 77). but rather something they stumble upon and are interrupted by (p. a publically funded memorial established in 2005 (p. each with a reference to the systematic killing of the Jewish population. people do not seek out these commemorations like they would a commissioned memorial. She describes the purpose for this memorial as being “the unified government’s wish to set a signal of integration: the integration of east and west German collective memory” which eventually became almost synonymous to a “democratic form of collective memory” (p. city.145). For example.5 community. Because the monuments then are representative of the goals of a private group or individual. . In a similar vein. Sodaro (2013) writes about The Jewish Museum. This memorial features metal plates and signs being installed in various places around Berlin. or nation builds these memorials. a “countermonument” known as the “stumbling stone” project by Gunter Demnig. 76-77). the narratives offered through the memorial are often different than a commissioned memorial. uncommissioned memorials are privately sponsored. As Harjes points out.

are integrated into daily Berlin life.” 2005. Over time. but now serves as a canvas for modern artists to express and bring to light important issues. graffiti has switched from aesthetically pleasing public art to collective and collaborative art with a message. Individual Background Berlin is world-renowned for its colorful yet often controversial street art.) Thus. street art often serves as a way for marginalized or oppressed groups to have their voices heard. Nazi architecture riddles many German cities. but has since transitioned into a monument that is maintained through government funding. as they are representative of German history but are not distinctly marked as sites of remembrance.6 Historical Buildings and Other Unintentional Memorials Many times. even though they were once used to further Hitler’s Nazi regime. Perhaps the most striking example of an unintentional memorial is the Berlin Wall. 175). which once signified a clear divide between the Socialist East Berlin and the Democratic West. “creative activism and urban art are increasingly being used as an instrument to collectively re-appropriate the urban space and thus articulate themselves as being part of the urban collective. Despite this sordid past. human . especially when considering the Berlin Wall. environmental issues. many of the Nazi buildings. often ignored in hegemonic narratives. such as Zoologischer Garten rail station. originally serving to divide East and West Germany. the East Side Gallery became a forum for artists to express their distaste for the former Soviet Bloc. reunification. but rather become memorials after “they had lost the purpose for which they were built” (Mitter. street art can function as an unintentional memorial. being an urban citizen” (p. With the fall of the Wall in 1989. memorials are not intentionally created. and many government buildings. As Eva Youkhana (2014) explains. including Berlin. the 1936 Olympic Stadium. An example of this appropriation is with the Berlin Wall. WWII themes still present in the world. and can be considered a memorial for their own experiences. in particular the East Side Gallery. 162). albeit serving a different function now than in the 1930s (“Nazi Past Lives on in Berlin’s Buildings. p. As described by Eva Youkhana (2014). Likewise. these buildings have become a sort of “hidden” memorial. 2013. For example.

Preservation of the East Side Gallery is an example of how street art and memorialization work hand-in-hand to represent Berlin’s changing identity into a global city with farreaching influence. as its use of Honecker and Brezhnev as Cold War actors. At my “beginning” of the East Side Gallery on Mühlenstraße. 35). when the East Side Gallery’s preservation was officially decreed. This image depicts the kiss in 1979 between Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker during the 30th anniversary celebration of the founding of the GDR. This is important as recognizing a developing identity through art is the first step in understanding why and how a collective identity is changing. before German although the .the fall of the Wall. I assessed this as an “early” image of the Wall. the collapse of the Soviet Bloc. and depiction of a Cold War event. etc. and the use of Russian as the primary language (placed above and on the painting. Research Methods Much of my data gathering consisted of interviews. “By 1993. Judaism and the presence of Israel. and to analyze what stood out to me for further research. surveys. p. stood murals depicting the news of 1989. I started by visiting the East Side Gallery in order to get a feel for the layout of the site. It was at this of the Wall that I saw the Dmitri Vrubel’s famed mural “My God. and text analysis. near Oberbaumbrüke. While the Cold War is still visible in many areas of the world today. word had spread that this was the place to experience the historic Wall” (Ladd. etc. Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love” (Figure 1).7 rights.

I then arrived at the “uncommissioned” side of the Wall (Figure 2). I realized the images before me turned away from 1990’s current events to modern struggles with environmentalism and human rights. and current controversy. By moving down the Wall. In many ways. leading me to ask. no longer a border. “But  while the Berlin Wall Memorial and Topography of Terror Foundation are further  supported by the state and the federal government. despite German being the main language of Berlin. All funding to support  the upkeep of the site comes from the Artists Initiative group. Much graffiti filled the other side of the Wall. and the East Side Gallery."My God. long­term funding from Berlin” (Yi. The two sides of the Wall became quite obvious.is the Wall a memorial or is it an “open-air gallery?” Next. its preservation. I felt as if I was “reading” the Wall as a book. but also of a city and of the world. To start. I moved to widespread research regarding the Berlin Wall. it is the East Side Gallery Artists Initiative who has taken it upon them to maintain preservation of the murals.8 image is in Germany) of the work. This consisted of researching the origins of the East Side Gallery. although the organization  has no claim over the site. where I reached the chapter of the book currently being written. the Topography of Terror. the East Side Gallery currently  receives no secured. made me feel as if I was looking into the past as opposed to experiencing a modern painting. Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love" by Dmitri Vrubel of a monument. The Artists Initiative group doesn’t work without controversy  . 2013). contributing artists. while the East Side Gallery is technically a protected site by law. It was here that I saw the Wall as an interactive space. but an open gallery and canvas inviting participation. detailing not only the history Figure 1. Berlin has three pieces of the Wall still in tact: the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauerstraße. no longer a monument. and I witnessed groups of people spray-painting their messages onto the concrete.

 The Wende Museum in Los Angeles held an exhibition in 2009 to celebrate  the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall.” can someone control the perception of a memorial or does the public do that? The next articles I ran across talked about the movement of the Wall around the world to Figure 2-"Uncommissioned" side of the East Side Gallery promote art. Pieces of the Berlin Wall were cut up and  shipped to Los Angeles. 37). was Vrubel’s response. But how does the Berlin Wall give rise  to Berlin’s collective identity if it no longer stands in the city that gave it its namesake? It was here I asked: Where does the Wall end and the art begin? When does the Wall cease  to be a Wall and simply a canvas? From there I began to read on preservation of the East Side Gallery from the  perspective of the artists. because the Wall. if by no means typical. where established and emerging artists. through reproducing elements of the art and creativity that it  once inspired” (The Wall Project). “The key impetus  behind The Wall Project was to replicate the Berlin Wall’s function as a site for political  and personal expression. as an unintentional monument.  an original painter of the Wall. “Berlin will long remain the city of the Wall. although original artists such as Dmitri Vrubel claimed the Initiative did not notify him of these refurbishments prior. even if the concrete ends up in Florida. This struggle over the Wall’s preservation and subsequent ownership of the pieces led me to ask:  Who owns the Wall? If a memorial (in this case the East Side Gallery) represents “collective identity. came to define the urban  space of Berlin. These segments remain in Los Angeles for the  foreseeable future. the group undertook a massive restoration project for the murals along Mühlenstraße. a debate that has continued today. 2009). In 2009. It was thus an exemplary. case of a monument  giving form to collective identity” (Ladd. p. “My picture is ruined” (Göbel. including Thierry Noir. as stated  . Thierry Noir.9 though. were invited to paint the pieces.

  “With this method of speed and unsophistication. the Gallery’s  artwork — as distinct from the concrete  wall itself — is not a monument worth  preserving” (Yi. Noir doesn’t believe his mural could ever be ruined in its current state. then let it be). The  Wall is not a static structure. on a wall —  you accept that it’s going to change. Here we see why Noir currently  serves as Vice­Chairman of the East Side Gallery Artists Initiative. but a forum. I even like that’”(Yi. I saw some people  taking pictures of the murals. an organization that  openly believes in restoration of the  Wall. and others writing on them.10 previously. p.  Figure 3-Luxury condominium built in former "Death Strip" at East Side Gallery “’Working on the street.’ [Noir] could always do it again” (Yi. 10). 2013). “Symbols and monuments are invested with their meaning through human action. This begged the questions: To what extent does an artist have a say in how .” However. Unlike Dmitri Vrubel’s  statement above. a place for everyone to interact appropriately  (however the individual defines that) with the Wall and the art depending on the value  they see in it. that  somebody’s going to add something and write over it. Avignon  viciously opposes restoration of the  Gallery.  morally detests the preservation of not  only the Gallery. was an original artist of the East Side Gallery. believing the art should be  allowed to decay.  “In [Avignon’s] eyes. ‘it was just impossible to ruin my  paintings. As Avignon said. so we can best understand the Wall (and its physical and metaphoric demise) by looking at the way it has been treated” (Ladd. 2013).  if the public decides to write upon the  art. a  fellow artist of the Wall. of “doing it again. Jim Avignon. but of art in general. and continuously  interact with the public (in other words. This was why when I visited the East Side Gallery. 2013).

 Do you identify the Berlin Wall more as   a. as a memorial?     Explain your answer briefly. We appreciate  your participation in this preliminary study. I researched the luxury condominium I spotted between the East Side Gallery and the River Spree (Figure 3).     American Studies students at Humboldt University (Figure 4). All responses are anonymous. my survey was  quantitative in determining what the most popular response was. Should the Berlin Wall be preserved as   a. This led me to ask: How do people see the Wall today? Does removing pieces of the East Side Gallery remove its value.            3.11 their art is maintained once it enters the public sphere? How does art’s message change when it connects with the community? In addition. and create my survey questions that I presented to Memorialization and National Identity    We are researchers from the University of Washington who are interested in learning  about the connections between memorialization and national identity.” I invited responders to justify their answers. as pieces of the Wall were to be removed in order to bring materials to the site. where soldiers guarded the border intensely. or add to it? All this information led me to refine my original research question to the one presented in the “Question” section of this paper.            2. I found this complex was built in the former “Death Strip” of the Wall. . but also qualitative in  the analysis of the unique explanations. a “memorial” or   b. If you have  questions.Survey presented to American Studies students at Humboldt University wanted to find a connection between personal identification and how people identified  the Wall. as an “open air gallery”?     Explain your answer briefly. and many lost their lives trying to  cross here. a stark symbol of extravagance in an otherwise desolate landscape. which is why there are two clear parts to the survey.    Demographics information:  ● Age:___________________________  ● Gender:________________________  ● Do you consider yourself German?__________________________  ● If you do not consider yourself German. of which both responses I gave equal weight to  when reaching my conclusion. what nationality would you consider  yourself?  ______________________________  ● Do you consider yourself a Berliner?_________________________    Part I  1. and operation that was met with abundant protest.What comes to mind when you think of the Berlin Wall? Explain your answer briefly. I Figure 4. There was much controvery surrounding its building. In addition to having  people respond to my survey with identifying the Wall as a memorial or as an “open­air  gallery. In this way. please ask. a collection of art pieces?   b.

” “separation/segregation/divided city. I had nine students who did not  consider themselves Berliners. starting with the  demographics. French. American/Kenyan. “cage. and one participant said “the shared will and force of the people” when he or she thought of the Berlin Wall. six of which identified as German and  six which identified as non­German or as German and another nationality. but rather identified as  Slovakian. American.” and two  mentioned they were a Berliner “somehow.” etc. However.” I should note one  of these three participants I also counted for “historical words” as they mentioned both  history and art in his or her response. and six  identified with another nationality (including “antinational”). On the first question of the actual survey. there were 12  students who did consider themselves Berliners. Answering the first question.12 Findings Note: All quotes present in this section are direct quotations taken from survey responses. of which there were seven males and 18  females aged from 19 to 33.” a term I had never once associated  with Berlin before now.  To note. and this person  . All three of these participants considered  themselves Berliners.” and another partaker responded “not completely”  when asked if she identified as German. I will detail the results of my survey. a “global citizen. Nine participants did not identify as German. six considered themselves Berliners. In this section. there were two participants who responded uniquely to this  question. In the second part of my demographics section. in particular the “East Side Gallery. six did not consider themselves Berliners. There were 25 participants. identified with “Europe as a whole/I more identify with my hometown Berlin. where three considered themselves German. two students explicitly mentioned.” “WWII.” and as  “Antinational. One said “not sure” when asked if she identified as German.” Norwegian.” In addition. Of these 15 participants. I had 15 participants mention key  historical terms such as “Cold War.” Three participants mentioned art in  association with the Berlin Wall. but self identified as “Indian. 14 participants self identified  as German.” (Note: BOTH  these students identified themselves as Berliners later in the survey). One participant did not answer. Russian. one said she was not a Berliner “yet. though she  considered herself “German/Arabic.

 and one identified as not German but as a Berliner. where  three identified as German and Berliner. how the Wall  should be preserved. I had five students make  a third choice on my survey to say the Wall should be identified and preserved as both a  memorial and an open­air gallery. “Why should it be  more than it is.  Two students identified the Wall by its art pieces.” was one of the explanations. In the second and third questions of the survey.” . The participant identified as a Berliner.  four identified as German but not a Berliner. the  Wall is not. I asked students to distinguish the  Wall as either a memorial or an open­air gallery.13 identified as German but not as a Berliner. One student responded. three identified as neither German nor Berliner. Two students identified the Wall as  “historically significant. and one identified as neither a German  nor a Berliner.” One of these participants identified as Berliner but not as  German. I had 15 participants identify the Wall as only a memorial. “[the Wall] is something that is historically significant for  Germany but doesn’t affect me personally because I wasn’t born then. I should note here that even though it was not an option.” and talked of how the  Wall is a huge part of our history. one participant identified the Wall  as “the history of my city. and both identified as Berliners. as being forced to face history  keeps its messages and teachings present.” One participant  mentioned how easily one can still tell the East and the West apart. and his or her explanation was “Art can be historical too.” The other  participant identified not as a Berliner but as a “global citizen.  one identified as not German but as a Berliner. Two separate participants mentioned they identified the Wall as neither a  memorial nor an open­air gallery.” and said the Wall should be preserved as both. and mentioned. A common explanation for  this response was to prevent history from repeating itself. Three participants identified as German and Berliner. Lastly. “Art is ephemeral. and of these two choices. and while we have to keep that in mind. two identified as German and “somehow” a  Berliner. we at the same time must let go­ “We’re a new nation now without boundaries. where one participant identified as  neither German nor a Berliner. and one identified not as German but as a Berliner.” a clear indication that the Wall should only be a memorial and not a gallery. while another student  voiced how it wasn’t too long ago when the Wall was still standing.

 As one can see from my results. though Mr. 32). it will be  difficult for me to talk about the Berlin Wall. p. Some of my findings of my survey matched with the readings I found when  developing the questions. a town over 200 miles to the east of Berlin. when Mr. and how it is taught to them. he had a more closed off answer: “However. an indication that the battle  over preservation and presentation of the Berlin Wall and East Side Gallery is an issue  that will surround Berlin for years to come.” Laumann  later explained he is from Dortmund. many students think the Wall should be preserved as a memorial was an idea also expressed by Ladd. I found  his response interesting. “In [Avignon’s] eyes. seeing as how so many non­Berliners born after the fall from my survey responses still extended their opinions about the Wall. I wanted to ask about how students of  “migrant backgrounds” connect to German history. When I  initially approached him about my project. On the other hand. I interviewed Robin Laumann who works at the Junge Islam Konferenz and presented to our group about his organization. the Gallery’s artwork — as distinct from  the concrete wall itself — is not a monument worth preserving” (Yi. Laumann initially heard I was exploring the Berlin Wall and how it  is identified and preserved. there was  quite a range in responses to how people believed the Wall should be identified and  . For instance.14 In addition to performing this survey.  but they are nonetheless bestowed by a youthful generation. because I’m not from Berlin  and wasn’t brought up with the Wall as a symbolic icon of (world) history. I did not find a correlation between how people identified  themselves and how they identified the Wall. street art etc. Laumann  refused to.  However.. Conclusion In conclusion. I found that  the diversity of ideas offered by the students about the Wall are not necessarily original. the two  participants who believed the Wall should not be preserved in any way brought up  thoughts of Jim Avignon. “The reason for preservation was thus to protect a place of national memory and to keep alive the lesson of the Wall: the  unbreakable unity of the German people” (Ladd. 2013).

 students who  identified with Germany and students who did not (despite studying at a German  university) and students who identified with both Germany and Berlin. with my survey results. and again. Everyone around  me does the same. For instance. a testament to the diversity of  . a significant percentage. yet look at the diversity I received in the participants self identification. The demographics of my sample speak volumes to this. I know this was an  assumption as I had five of 25 participants. and students who identified with Berlin but not Germany. a small sample size when attempting to find trends in  statistics. an American. I have yet to run into someone who identifies with only Seattle and not with  America as a whole.  my lack of a conclusion could be due to the assumptions I made in my survey questions  that may have misguided participants. American/Kenyan. I found  this last identification quite intriguing.  for 25 people is certainly not enough to draw a strong enough conclusion on identity. and I identify as a Seattleite and consequently.  the way I phrased my survey questions made students feel as if they had to make a  choice. there simply was no trend to how people identified themselves by  nationality and as a Berliner or not. this could be due to my small sample size. Norwegian. By assumptions. In addition. as I have grown up the majority of my life in  Seattle. I believe that this lack of a trend is indicative of Berlin’s globalization  and establishment as a multicultural hub. as there is no way you can separate Seattle from the country that  houses it. my second and third question assumed students would choose  “memorial” or “open­air gallery. Russian.” and did not initiate the idea that there could be several  other options on how someone could identify and preserve the Wall. Or. students who  identified with neither. I had only 25 participants. I believe preservation of the Berlin Wall will  continue to be a subject for discussion for Berliners and Germans. I admit. explain that it should be both a memorial and an open­air gallery. I found it was not uncommon for  participants to identify as Berliner but not as German. However.15 preserved. I had  students identifying as German. I mean I expected people would  identify with a nationality (which was not true as I had students identify “with Europe as  a whole” or as “antinational”) and they would identify with Berlin or they wouldn’t  (which was also not true as I had students identify with Berlin “somehow”). However. if the diversity in my  survey responses is any indication of the future.

 her name escapes me). fashion. As stated above. that these two identities existed separately and only one could truly  define the Wall. and problems Germany has faced for several years with its status as an  “immigrant nation. She told us this was intentional. and  Berlin. But my participants showed me that the Wall is both a memorial and a  gallery. several students made of point of telling me that the Wall should  be both a memorial and an open­air gallery. In the same way we want to define the Wall by one  identity. When reflecting on everything we had seen in the room. why do we feel the need to only classify others by one identity. I was forced to ask myself. although I tried to treat it as such in my survey.16 Berlin. I believe this speaks volumes to the multiculturalism of  Berlin as a globalized city. and she will always say Berlin. I believe this realization is where I draw  the greatest conclusion from my research. She said she is first and  foremost a Berliner. and that this is her home. it is only a small part.” As many students of diverse backgrounds chose to identify with  Berlin rather than Germany. In a globalized society. where my  group was set to explore the apartment of young Persian woman (unfortunately. usually where  they come from? This brings back images of our trip to the Youth Museum. and sadly people always want to  classify her by her ethnicity. and more. art. which are  what are truly reflective of her personal identity. she did not. but that there weren’t many things indicating a connection to her  ethnicity. I believed that the Wall must be one or the other. We told her that we  knew she was Persian. we must realize that  location is becoming irrelevant when learning someone’s identity. Although there were many indications to her family being from Iran. I believe this speaks to the Wall not being a  static space. the  majority of the things in her room reflected her passion for music. Just because someone  looks a certain way does not automatically mean they are from a certain culture or  . why must we feel the need to define the  Wall as one identity? This got me to start thinking about people.  and she has only visited once and did not enjoy herself there. our group had the  opportunity to speak with the girl about how she identifies herself. and reflect back on the  experiences I’ve had in this program. While her parents grew up in Iran. which often eclipses her passions and aspirations. While being  Persian is a part of her identity. In her perfect German. she explained  people often ask where she is “really” from.

 of course). and not all. being from America. If I were to rewrite this survey. I would be interested in exploring how people identify  themselves in terms of their location. I assumed that the participants would  agree with me that the Wall should be either a memorial or an open­air gallery. and if no to German.17 ethnicity. As stated above. tells you nothing  about who a person is. or that they identified as “antinational” or “with Europe as a whole. as people who identify with their American city usually identify with America as a whole as well. I was not prepared for people  to answer that with “somehow” Berliner. as we have learned. However. location is important. Also. but a significant portion of my participants identified with Berlin but not with Germany. but found solace in the diversity of Berlin.” However. It wasn’t until I came to Germany that I realized people felt so othered by their  larger German society. but it  comes down to respecting an individual enough to let them define themselves as they see  fit. this is hard to understand. When it comes to identity formation.  simple. However. but not identify with  Germany. Asking where someone is “really” from. In terms of a future study. This stems again from the demographics  of my survey responses. when crafting my questions that I was writing a straightforward. I would include an  option that said “both” or “other:____” and allow participants to include their own  response (with justification. I realized I had  several errors in my assumptions. after our talk with Catherine. easily  accessible survey that would deliver me results that I could simply quantify and present  to an audience. yet I did  not consider a third or fourth option. what nationality they identify with. when I received the results of my survey. that they could identify with the German capital and with the nationality of their families. the way my demographic questions were  set up. and why. Cultural Sensitivity The surprises of this research project were definitely how wrong my assumptions  were! I believed. Again. another way to classify my results later. an artist who presented to  . I would assume students would respond yes or no to saying if they identify as  German or Berliner. Clean.

 And many other participants agreed. I was amazed how well presented this memorial was. several  memorials are dedicated to this disturbing side of Germany’s past. the Native American genocide. just like a participant in my survey. but  many. Few memorials in America acknowledge the dark side of America’s past­ there is no tribute to the wrongs of slavery. I must also speak to the sheer surprise of experiencing how Germany  memorializes things versus how the US memorializes things. and I cannot assume that  they ever will be. I realized that this participant was not an outlier in my survey. in Germany. Although I am from a  country where people identify with America and maybe one other country that their  family is from. and Europe are not like this. etc. deeds that prevent any consensus about the sort of things monuments are  supposed to embody. segregation. Berlin. How I ask my questions in this survey is just as. important  than what I ask. I noticed how she. next to the Brandenburg Gate.  but representative of an emerging identity that doesn’t accept only one nationality. as I had few surveys that said they only  identified with one country. mostly of  the recent past. even though it was free to attend. It is this deep  . with the history of WWII and the Holocaust omnipresent. said she  identified as a “European citizen. etc. Vietnam Memorial. but Germany was determined to remember the  mistakes so that they are not forgotten. and how.” not with only Germany (where she lives now) or only  Finland (where she lived and studied for several years) or only Austria (where she is from and where her family is). the  majority of memorials pay tribute to how great Americans died for a noble cause. What comes to mind  is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. I believe Ladd  said it best: “The Wall and other Berlin monuments recall controversial deeds. such as national identity or a common ideal. This memorial  paid homage to the ugliness of history.18 our group in Berlin. I would certainly need to put  more thought into how I approach the demographic questions. if not more. As an American. the Lincoln Memorial. All of  these represent the strength of America in a time this was tested. there were several guards around to maintain the sacredness of the site (mostly to  prevent hooligans from sitting on top of the structures of the memorial). even if the wounds are still fresh. Germany.  However. yet how America  prevailed. If I were to remake this survey. Think  of the Pearl Harbor Memorial.

 By accepting street art as a  tolerable medium of expression. I wish I knew enough German to communicate with my audience in  their native tongue. This becomes a powerful tool for  those underrepresented in society. in Berlin. one that rarely occurs today. I certainly agree that Berlin  held a culture I never felt I truly understood. as several of  the art professors at Humboldt I was guided to talk to by Cindi Schaarschmidt were  unable to meet with me. Street art creates a  public discussion. and therefore  unpleasing to the eye. The sprawling metropolitan of Germany’s capital would look incomplete  without its famed murals stretching over the buildings. and I wonder how the US would be better  served should we allow more street art to flourish. a nuisance that must be removed. street art is often viewed only as graffiti. such as minorities and immigrants. 11). Especially when it came to  creating my survey. and creates a charged  atmosphere that foreigners find hard to grasp” (Ladd. I say this because there were several instances where German words  did not translate to English. will the US ever openly pay tribute to the  wrongs of its past the way it respects is successes? One last major distinction I wanted to make between Berlin and the US is the  treatment of street art. Is this “charged atmosphere” what allows  Berliners to face history? It made me wonder. I feel my results may have come out differently should  my survey be in German. street art is  integral to the collective identity (thank you Ladd for the term) of the city. p. In addition.19 uncertainty that makes Berlin such a contested landscape. In the US. I would like to highlight a few struggles of this research project. the language barrier was constantly present. yet captured German feeling perfectly (most notable  “Heimat” at the Youth Museum). First and  foremost.  Lastly. Berlin is also inviting anonymous people to speak up  about the issues that impact them at a public forum. I struggled to meet with professors. and fills every  urban space. . However.

eastsidegallery­ berlin. from http://www.  London: Routledge. 1933).20 References Colomb.com/data/eng/index­eng. (2012). C.htm  .  East Side Gallery Berlin. But Sexy': Marketing the Creative City. Retrieved August 10. 2015. In Staging the  New Berlin: Place marketing and the politics of urban reinvention post­1989 (p. (2013). 2001­2011. 'Poor.

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