Sunday, 9 March 2014

Memorial to Conscientious Objectors, Bernau

A beautiful sunny Sunday today, with the promise of Spring in the air and carpets of crocuses out. Time to get the bikes oiled and tires pumped and head out into Brandenburg.

We cycled to Bernau, where I was struck by the poignancy of a memorial to all conscientious objectors, which had been erected next to the reconstructed town walls.

The memorial reads:

allen Deserteuren und Verweigerern,
deren Heimat die Mutter Erde ist,
die im Feind den Menschenbruder erkennen,
die statt auf Generäle auf den Befehl ihres Gewissens hören,
die nicht an Ideologien, sondern am Leben hängen,
deren Angst kleiner als ihre Liebe ist.“
- Bernau 15. Mai 1998

This roughly translates as:

"Dedicated to
all deserters and conscientious objectors,
whose homeland is Mother Earth,
those that recognise the human brother in the enemy,
those that hear their conscience rather than the commands of the Generals,
those that adhere to life rather than ideology,
whose fear is less than their love".

It is unusual anywhere I think, not least in Germany, to see a memorial to those who died for their conscience rather than kill a fellow human at the command of the military. Its positioning beside a rather pompous and overblown Wilhelmine war memorial provides an ironic contrast.

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