Ruptured landscapes: reclaiming the memorial sites of Ravensbrück and Flossenbürg

Pastor, D. and Kent, A. J. (2018) Ruptured landscapes: reclaiming the memorial sites of Ravensbrück and Flossenbürg. In: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, 28th to 31st August 2018, London. (Unpublished)

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"It looks too nice here" is a sentiment often expressed by visitors at the German concentration camp memorials of Flossenbürg (North Bavaria) and Ravensbrück (Brandenburg). Both sites saw extensive alterations after their liberation in 1945: Flossenbürg's barracks were removed in favour of a new housing development and the creation of an industrial area to provide much-needed employment, while Ravensbrück was converted into a Soviet army base leaving only a small area to establish a memorial. Although both memorial sites have now been re-modelled to bring them closer to their wartime appearance, nature has reclaimed these spaces giving birth to landscapes that are almost picturesque. Yet, the visitor expects a memorial site to be 'dead' and signs of life are met with disapproval. Moreover, visitors project their own emotions onto the landscapes, describing the 'aura' as negative and dark. This sense of place is reflected in the aesthetic of the sites’ official visitor maps, which aim to encourage these particular emotions in situ and direct what the visitor ‘should’ be feeling. Instead of being ‘objective’, passive guides to assist with wayfinding, these maps are active agents of affect.

In our paper we discuss the emotional engagement of visitors with memorial landscapes drawing on visitor research at Flossenbürg and Ravensbrück memorial sites. We will also illustrate how the design of their official visitor maps has evolved, adding to the complexity of how these landscapes are perceived.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DD Germany
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Human and Life Sciences
Depositing User: Dr Alexander J. Kent
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2018 08:28
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2018 08:28

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00