Statues in Disrepair

I would propose a lesson from postwar Germany, whose Nazi predecessors built monuments to themselves so large and ambitious that nothing short of aerial bombing could destroy them. We obliged in some cases. But one of the grandest Nazi dreams—the Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg, site of the patriotic reverie Triumph of the Will—is still there, undisturbed. It is about five times the size of Monaco, and near downtown Nuremberg. You can visit it anytime you like.

It is not, however, lovingly maintained. There are no ticket-takers, and no guards in sight. Large portions are overgrown. Chain-link fences make it difficult to reach the central grandstand. On the structures, weeds grow up through cracks between the stones, and almost no signage notes that where you are standing, the Reichsführer and his deputies once inspected zeppelins and Hitlerjugend. You can take out your phone, find out where Hitler sat, and go spit or fart in that exact spot. No one cares. The experience of being in the presence of evil may still be emotional, but it is nothing like Dachau or Auschwitz. You could easily forget where you are, and imagine that you are in the ruins of Phoenicia or Nabataea, civilizations that would be missed only by a few archaeologists if the deserts were to swallow up their last remnants. The rally grounds are preserved not in amber but in pathos.

Wood, Graeme. (2020, June 8). A Solution to the Confederate-Monument Problem. The Atlantic.

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