This place of contemplation is located on the European Long Distance Trail on a hill adjoining Bensheim, Germany. From here you can see the Rhine plain with the city of Worms. The three cities Worms, Speyer and Mainz are known as the former "Jerusalem on the Rhine". The spacious ensemble consists of the large round Friedensmal, framed by the Garden of Freedom, as a symbol for the beauty and dignity of life. At its entrance and border is the Stone of Encounter. Right in the center of the Friedensmal one sees the Blossom of Shalom. Here Hebrew letters in marble stone form the word Chai, meaning alive.
Love is the only revolution
Our society needs reconciling symbols for positive cultural identification and for change that give support and encouragement. TheJerusalem Peace Memorial on the Trail brings people and cultures together. It encourages standing up for the values of freedom and life, and it gives strength to the belief that it is love that liberates. Love and peace are intensely felt at this place of power. Love creates a revolution in the heart, the only revolution that can liberate the world.
Do not forget Jerusalem (Psalm 137)The Jerusalem Peace Memorial shows a path of healing and new life in awareness of past suffering. Without light, life and hope, it is impossible to overcome a totalitarian spirit that binds us to the past and causes it to repeat itself in a different guise. The admonishing memorials of the German Culture of Remembrance represent a confrontation with death and past suffering. As essential as they are: they touch feelings of guilt and shame, show the discord and an ideological captivity. However, an integration and thus a "learning from the past", i. e. a liberation from this ideology, does not take place in this way. This was the motivation to build the Friedensmal (monument); it was created as a private project in many years of voluntary work.
Coming to terms with the past can be much more profound if it meets the person positively, if it addresses dignity instead of merely feelings of guilt and shame that make one powerless. The "lesson from the past" may arrive as a change in the heart. It needs the real insight and a change within oneself.
"Learning from the past" can mean so much more than the state-imposed "fighting evil." It should be about enabling people to recognize evil even when it disguises itself as good and gives the impression that the majority agrees with it. It takes insight and a change within oneself. For every human being carries good and evil within him or her. Evil can never be eradicated, but we can learn to deal with it in such a way that it does not dominate us and we are free from it in our decisions. It is a matter of inner liberation from the totalitarian spirit that worked in the past and still has influence now.
The Jerusalem Peace Memorial recalls peace in the name Jerusalem. The name translates as: site of peace. It is an encouragement to bring light into a dark world and life into a culture that has focused too much on death and increasingly reduces the human being and human existence to the functionality of a machine. It's only right that it starts here: in Germany with its past, in which the life of "Jerusalem" was denied. The name Jerusalem Peace Memorial with the religious background of the Heavenly Jerusalem and the Holy City is associated with a high claim. Ultimately, religion with its metaphors and stories is to be understood as an inner happening in one's own soul. Here, the sacred happens in silence and humility. The choice of location for the memorial is an indication of this truth. “He did not appear to Moses at the Pharaoh’s palace, but in the country, by the wayside.” (Kochavim)
Awakened to life„Dear hiker, be aware that the world is illusion and entanglement, and full of beauty that wants to be seen. You are either a prisoner or a dancer on the playing field of freedom. The world becomes a mirror of your consciousness where you touch it. Know yourself in this garden, touch and let yourself be touched. This place of peace on the long-distance hiking trail is your inspiration and encouragement on your way to yourself. Take the time to pause. Because only in this way peace and freedom begin in you.” (From the text of board C at the Peace Memorial site) - The reader without time will find here as a short summary of the project the German texts (PDF) of the three information boards on site: Board A - Board B - Board C This website consists of 103 webpages.
The attempt to create world peace from outside bears the danger of ending in totalitarianism. „Peace begins in the own house”, according to Karl Jaspers. That is already a more realistic claim, worth striving for, but still very difficult to realize. In fact, peace and freedom can only come from within, and so peace begins with oneself. Here, „dust turned to light”. This is a quote from the Jewish poet Nelly Sachs, who survived the Holocaust, and who captured her effort to sift through the pain in lines of great beauty and poignancy. So the whole passage reads, "Who do not raise a murderer's hand, but who do not shake the dust from your longing, who stop where it is turned to light."
Was Nelly Sachs writing these lines for people then or people now? Why has so little dust turned to light in 77 years? Perhaps we live in a "wrong world". Maybe the individual people you meet, and yourself, are much less to blame for this than we are led to believe? To recognize this also means to awaken and to become whole: this world shaped us and became a prison for us.
However, every person who experiences an inner healing changes the world and thus helps peace. The Friedensmal should serve a healing in the collective consciousness (shadow) and release the energy needed to positively shape the future. It stands for the new world in which dust is allowed to change into light.
Perhaps today it is not so much a matter of convincing an "old world" of new views, but rather of leaving the playing field of an old corrupted system in love, in order to really live, in order to build the new world with like-minded people. This vision of the Friedensmal that has come into being is also a response to the nihilism in Western culture today.
Living the freedom - overcoming the fear
Even in 2022, many people are still bound by the spirit of unfreedom and totalitarianism. Although it is vehemently fought against today, it is only related to the past. We may let go of it. This is what theJerusalem Peace Memorial stands for: Remembering alone is not enough. - Each individual must free himself in order to stand upright and with courage for freedom, justice and life.
The most effective way of looking away from one's own responsibility is to look for the evil, "the Nazis", on the outside, in order not to have to see the evil and immature in oneself. This, too, is done in the name of remembrance and responsibility, and it is a corrupted form of coming to terms with the past that fosters anti-Semitism and also that the past is repeated in a different guise.
Today in Germany, people with a "wrong" opinion are once again marginalized and defamed. The burdened German past must not be instrumentalized for political purposes. However, this is what is currently happening when critics against government measures are very quickly and without proof labeled as politically right or anti-Semitic. The Jerusalem Peace Memorial was inaugurated in 2015 with a plea for freedom of expression. This cautionary speech at the inauguration is now highly topical in 2022.
The Friedensmal is framed by a Garden of Freedom. This place can liberate people to stand upright and with courage for freedom, justice and life in our society. What else should "learning from the past" mean for us? We must also be careful that this past is not instrumentalized for political purposes. "Taking responsibility" certainly means much more than people following an ideology of a "better world" imposed from above and being praised for it by politics and the media.
In the culture of remembrance, we have for too long been concerned exclusively with horror, death and guilt, overlooking peace, life and the release from the evil of the past. Building admonishing memorials about the pain of the past is important, but if there cannot be a Friedensmal in relation to them, they would ultimately be meaningless. Coming to terms with the past, like life itself, is a process. Only love can be the way and the goal here to really "learn from the past".
Restoration of relationship(p>
Art can give an impulse to society. TheJerusalem Peace Memorial carries an impulse of life and freedom into the German culture. It was inaugurated on September 27, 2015 in Bensheim, Germany.
Within the Friedensmal we come back into contact with ourselves (inside). We become aware of our own hurt soul and the violation of the world. The way inwards is followed by the turn outwards. We open ourselves - respecting the boundaries - for the encounter with the other person and his world. This is the theme at the Stone of Encounter (outside).
Through inner clarification and free encounter, we as a society recognize those ideas and behaviors that are hostile to life and to which we have already become accustomed.
The Jerusalem Peace Memorial is about the restoration of relationships. But the idea must come to life and materialize in the world. If one stands behind the "Blossom of Shalom" one can look from this center of the Friedensmal into the Rhine plain, where once the Jewish "Jerusalem on the Rhine" was located. With this location and name the Jerusalem Peace Memorial can have an impact also on the sorrow-laden German-Jewish history; the worst trauma of our country. More about the subject can be found in the chapter „Living the answer“.
The Friedensmal - for the inner path to life
When rounding the Friedensmal, you arrive at the same spot again and again. You circle around yourself until you finally stop and walk into the inner to the Tree of Life. For that, you have to walk over the two encircling steps. It is the Threshold of Humility (and high spirits) with the inscription „Recognize the sacred in your midst”. In the picture you look straight on the Tree of Life as a relief in the monument circle.
The meaning of the Tree of Life within the Friedensmal (monument) is described well with the words of Eckhart Tolle in his book "Stillness Speaks": A dimension of consciousness that reaches deeper than thinking, one could call it awareness, presence or unconditioned consciousness. It is the very essence of who you are.
11 large stones in the "dark ring" symbolize the blockades and entanglements that stand on man's way to himself between him and his freedom. It is the mind of the traumatized person. Unfree people are identified with their entanglements and this is exactly the reason, why the world can be in a state as it is today. The liberation from the entanglements is symbolized within the Friedensmal by the Tree of Life breaking open the dark ring.
The 12th stone, the Stone of Encounter (in the outer), stands outside the monument circle at the European long-distance path E8. It represents a responsibility for peace and freedom in the external world. It is „…a call full of love for the freedom of man” (inscription).
The Friedensmal - A detailed description of its symbolism is provided here.
Garden of Freedom - the frame of the project (1:1 פרקי אבות)
A Garden of Freedom with its outer border gives the space and framework in which the Friedensmal as a peace memorial can take its place. It's about the space we create together to make it happen. This space is a call for peace, freedom and new life. The framework is a culture of freedom that we want to live together.
With its two "angel wings" a Garden of Freedom is framing the 26 meters large Friedensmal. At the border to the European long-distance path E8 (the way through the world) there is the Stone of Encounter with the inscription Yerushalayim… (Hebrew for Jerusalem) on the "side of hope". On its other side suffering, both past and current, is addressed. Below it a slate stone in the ground with the inscription „Where dust is turned to light” is pointing in the direction of the Friedensmal.
Projects Framework - A Garden of Freedom forms the framework of the Friedensmal (monument). This allows contact with the environment, even where the memorials of admonishment in Germany because of their high number and their form language already cause a defensive stance of the people. This chapter, with an overall view as well as an explanation of the individual elements of the design, serves as a solid introduction to the understanding of the project.
Stone of Encounter - the dark and raw side
This is the 12th stone, the Stone of Encounter. We look at the past, remember who we truly are, and confront the present. Life happens in the present: Where do we experience war and restriction instead of peace and freedom today, in our own lives? Where can we assume responsibility for a more beautiful world? Where does our responsibility begin? A threshold of slate underneath the Stone of Encounter refers to the Friedensmal located to the right of it, with the inscription „Where dust is turned to light”. It shows visitors the way to the path inwards. It signifies a peace that can be found in oneself and which one will carry outwards into the world.
Local Past - The 12 years of Nazi rule, a collapse of civilization in the end, is a wake up call for a life in freedom; beyond the borders of an ideological prison.
Stone of Encounter - the light and smoothed side
Inscription: „Yerushalayim - A call full of love for freedom for man. That we recognize the fences in our dealings with one another and do not seek our life in the past". The Stone of Encounter stands for coming into relationship with the counterpart and it shows the holiness that lies therein. In the encounter, the mere idea about the other melts. Life is development. The picture shows the old version of the inscription, which lasted 7 years: "... that we overcome the fences in our dealing with one another and do not seek our foothold behind fences of ideology". Back then, when we still wanted to overcome the borders in our dealing with one another, the stone was called Border Stone. With the new version, the claim to overcome captivity in ideologies comes to life. Now the stone already shows in the name an openness for relationship. To recognize boundaries shows that the other may think differently and have different ideas about the world. This is an interest in the Other and his other view and knowledge of the world.
YERUSHALAYIM – designates the spiritual Jerusalem. The root "Jerusalem" reaches beyond Christianity into the origins of Judaism. Yerushalayim is thus also "the other" and at the same time a root of our European culture, which has been deeply hurt. Behind the Stone of Encounter, in the direction of Jerusalem, there is a fence on the other side of the European long-distance path E8. Its symbolic meaning is: healthy boundaries. We do not put walls between us humans and we do not tear down fences. Rather, we are aware of the fences and recognize the light and beauty they protect. Freedom does not mean boundlessness. Freedom comes from within: we become aware of the inner "ideological fences" that separate us from each other; and from truth and life.
Encounter Stone - Here you will find a detailed reflection on the two sides of the large stone from Odenwald quartz: the raw side with the suffering and the burden of the past and the light and smoothed side that shows the sanctity of relationship. The name "Yerushalayim" denotes a root of our culture and it is a reference to the "heavenly Jerusalem". The stone is a symbol of healing and freedom and thus a hope for peace in the world.
Jerusalem on the Rhine - a Jewish past
View onto the Rhine Plane, where once was Jerusalem on the Rhine. If you look from the Blossom of Shalom to the west, between the two hills, the silhouette of the city of Worms (22 km) can be seen with its huge cathedral on the horizon. Worms is the geographical middle of the three cities Speyer, Worms and Mainz, who formed in the high Middle Ages Jerusalem on the Rhine. Because of their vital importance for the Jewish congregations in Central Europe, they are considered the birthplace of the Ashkenazi Jewish culture in the High Middle Ages.
Jerusalem on the Rhein - Here you'll find more information about this Jewish history.
The Blossom of Shalom - for a living heart
The Blossom of Shalom bears the Seed of Life. Shalom means harmony, salvation, wealth, and peace. The Jewish poet Nelly Sachs described Shalom as „a butterfly zone of dreams“. Shalom begins in one's own soul. The Blossom of Shalom consists of twelve white petals and a star resting on it (heart chakra): A living heart! The hexagonal star symbolizes the connection between "Heaven" and "Earth", between spirit and matter. Together with the centre point, it is a symbol of Shabbat, which also means the "coming to oneself" of man. The blossom is located in the center of the Tree of Life within the Friedensmal: man can connect "heaven" and "earth" inside himself, similar to a tree.
The Blossom of Shalom - Here you can find pictures and texts of the inauguration of the Blossom of Shalom on May 17, 2012.
The placing of the "Chai" - because life is sacred"But the idea must come to life and become concrete in the world" - I had written at the beginning of the page. The idea is becoming clear and concrete in the world at this location in Germany with the topic "Peace in the German-Jewish relations". It concerns the deepest trauma of Germans and Jews. If the frozen traumatic energy were released, it would be free to serve life again. To serve life would be to learn from our past.
Peace for the individual:I perceive the pain, grief, fear and anger triggered by the memories and thus walk a path of peace. This does not mean peace with the injustice, but it means that I face these feelings. When I do that, they are held in love and in the hope of new life.Making relationship: The Jerusalem Peace Memorial on the hiking trail in nature gives a space for a deep encounter with fellow human beings. This is how to overcome the "Terror of Loneliness" programmed into our society. Society needs cohesion rather than division. Understanding the Peace Memorial means "to refuse cooperation with madness" (Rubikon).New Life: A recovery would become visible in people being awake, responsible and freedom-loving and in the symbols for life, which are created in a culture. How does our country deal with such a peace monument?
The entire design consistingof the Friedensmal in a Garden of Freedom and the Stone of Encounter on its border was given the spiritual name Jerusalem Peace Memorial on March 22, 2013. The name was published on the front pages of the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz as the inauguration of the project in Israel.
The Turning Point with the inscription "Chai", Hebrew for "alive", had been placed by Rabbi Mordechai Mendelson on May 14, 2017 (Jewish calendar: 9 (Iyar), 18, 5777) in the center of the Peace Memorial. From this one point, the whole monument had been measured and constructed. "Recognize the Sacred in your Midst" is the inscription on the entrance to the Friedensmal (monument). - Living (chai) is sacred.
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