Teaching the war : reflections on popular uses of difficult heritage
“I wouldn’ t do anything differently,” said Breanna Mitchell unrepentantly about her smiling selfie at Auschwitz (Daily Mail, 2014). 1 The Alabama teenager defended her photo against negative responses on social media: The trip was in memory of her father, who taught her about concentration camps. Although we do not know Breanna’ s personal circumstances, one thing we know for sure: Her action is part of a growing trend to take selfies at memorials of genocides, wars and disaster. Is it also conceivable that people would take selfies at the Wall of Mussert in the Netherlands? Recently, a discussion was held in Dutch media about whether this wall should be turned into a heritage site. Anton Mussert, leader of the Dutch National Socialist Movement (NSB) and loyal follower of Hitler, presented his speeches from this spot to thousands of supporters between 1936 and 1940. The area is now a camping site where Polish laborers temporarily stay, hardly aware of its historical background. A decision has to be taken, because the wall is crumbling. Whereas the campground owner does not want any change at his site, local authorities believe that the wall should receive the status of heritage because it is one of the few remains of “fascist architecture” in the Netherlands (Van den Boogaard, 2015, p. 9). Historian Kees Ribbens argues likewise that the Mussert Wall belongs to “perpetrator heritage,” which should be preserved and equipped with explanatory texts, as it confronts the Dutch with less heroic deeds from the national past (Van Rein, 2015, p. 27).
|Organisation||Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)|
Grever, M.C.R. (2017). Teaching the war : reflections on popular uses of difficult heritage. In Teaching and Learning Difficult Histories in International Contexts: A Critical Sociocultural Approach (pp. 30–44). doi:10.4324/9781315203591