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  • The first thing I noticed about the Wannsee Conference House was how absolutely gorgeous it is. The land is surrounded by beautiful foliage, gardens, and architecture. At first look, one likely would not realize that this house held one of the most horrifying meetings in human history. Even when you get inside the layout and architecture of the building is overwhelming in its aesthetic qualities. But once we got on the tour I began to realize that there was something horrible that lurked under the physical appearance of this house.

    I tried to distance myself from the current appearance of the house and the history is housed. Not only is this difficult, it’s almost undesired. When I think of the Holocaust, I imagine decay and horror, but in reality much of this is veiled over by a false sense of normality. Only once we began our tour and entered the room did I quickly realize the reality of where I was.

    We were also invited by the director of the house to be given the history of the Wannsee Conference House. This was extremely insightful, because we were given explanations of how the Holocaust has been expressed in different medias throughout the decades. It was fascinating to see how the opinions of the Eastern and Western Berliners viewed the situation and how they represented it.

    Coming to realize what happened in this room is extremely unsettling. If I had just walked into this room without having any context, I would have just thought it was a nice place with beautiful architecture that I wouldn’t mind having be part of my house. This comes back to the idea we have been throwing around in class about what a certain sight means to memory and how they can be interpreted. Is it the room itself that harbors the memory of the initiation of the Holocaust? This idea was examined a lot in Ghosts of Berlin. As Germany tries to progress and deal with the past simultaneously, it is hard to know if keeping a site preserved or not will affect the memory that lies with it. In my opinion, I don’t believe a place harbors memory without context. Once the context and facts are given, a place takes on a new appearance and summons new feelings. Once our guide explained what happened here and showed us the documents regarding the action, I suddenly felt like the façade of this house was beginning to crumble away and revealing its rotten interior.

    This is the place where millions of people were signed to their deaths.
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