Monthly Archives: April 2014

Angela Findlay: “The other side: Germany, looking forward through the shadows of the past”

Angela Findlay (website) spoke to the WP a year and a half ago about her work using art in prisons to help offenders in their rehabilitation. Today she returned, to speak about her work researching her mother’s family’s German ancestry, and particularly her reflections on her grandfather’s career as a Wehrmacht general. He fought heroically in the German campaigns in Russia and Italy, before being captured and kept as a PoW, first by the Americans, and then by the British until 1948. Subsequently he was a broken man…

Angela wanted to find out how complicit her grandfather was in Nazi atrocities, to what extent he was a ‘true’ Nazi, and why he was so broken after the war. She found much ambiguity, and no clear answers, but her discussion then spread out to cover Germany as a whole, and the wounds she still has from that terrible period. She showed pictures of modern memorials to the victims of the Nazis, not, as in Britain, statues of heroic soldiers which one has to look up to, but upside-down monuments, or towers which sink into the ground, or Jews’ name-plaques in pavements polished to a shine by pedestrians’ feet.

It was a very moving afternoon, made so not just by the subject matter, but by the clarity and depth of Angela’s responses to what she has discovered.

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