The relics of the past are hardly ever a silent partner. They resonate through our lives, even if today’s interpretation of what they actually stand for is more a version of the truth than the absolute truth.
The remaking of the past, to better serve today’s needs is a common enough practice. Propagandists all through history have been happy to hijack any legend that might serve their contemporary ends.
Last year we saw how very potent memory, contrived or credible, can be. During a year when the events of 1916 were marked, symbolism was an active actor and, in the vast majority of instances, it was used to tell a positive story, one that could stand moral scrutiny.
One story that does not stand moral scrutiny is Hitler’s Germany. Nevertheless, that terrible time sustains a morbid fascination for some people, one of whom just paid €230,000 for a phone used by Hitler.
It may be difficult to argue that buying an item like this, or dressing up as SS officers in some sad re-enactment fantasy, is not an endorsement of some kind. However, it is equally difficult to argue that it is not.
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