Nissinen_Maisema muisti ja maan povi.pdf - Helda

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Nissinen_Maisema muisti ja maan povi.pdf - Helda

HELSINGIN YLIOPISTO – HELSINGFORS UNIVERSITET – UNIVERSITY OF

HELSINKI

Tiedekunta/Osasto – Fakultet/Sektion – Faculty/Section Laitos – Institution – Department

Faculty of Science

Department of Geosciences and Geography

Tekijä – Författare – Author

Päivi Nissinen

Työn nimi – Arbetets titel – Title

Landscape, Memory and the Beyond: Iconography of Identity at the War Cemetery of Halbe

Oppiaine – Läroämne – Subject

Human Geography

Työn laji – Arbetets art – Level Aika – Datum – Month and year Sivumäärä – Sidoantal – Number of pages

Master's Thesis May 2013 83

Tiivistelmä – Referat – Abstract

The battles leading to the end of the Second World War in Europe were mainly fought between

Germany and the Soviet Union in the eastern parts of Germany. The battle of Halbe was a part

of the Red Army’s battle for Berlin. Around 40 000 German soldiers and civilians were killed

during the battle, and they are nowadays buried in Germany’s largest military cemetery in

Halbe. The aim of this thesis is to study the collective identity of the German people and the war

crimes of Germany represented in the landscape of the cemetery, and to define the role of the

cemetery as a war memorial and a place of memory.

Landscapes and places of memory are important media of collective memory and

identity in geography, and they can be used to study what a certain society values.

Interpreting war memorials contributes to knowledge of especially the national identity

and the meanings of past phenomena to a society.

The cemetery is approached as a landscape, which is interpreted using hermeneutics and

iconography. The data was collected by observation and the remarks were illustrated by

photography. The cemetery was decrypted into analysis units and the units were then divided

into categories. A three-level iconographical analysis was then conducted within each

category applying also perspectives of, among others, semiotics and feminist analysis.

A wide perspective on the constructing and moulding factors of the cemetery is reached

through analysis. Power relations between state and church, scales of human life from

individual and local levels to societal and national levels, and problems in attitudes towards

the dead of former Nazi armies are all well represented in the controversial attributes of

the cemetery landscape.

It can be stated, based on the analysis, that the Germans mourn bravely their own war losses

at the cemetery of Halbe. The Second World War was a tragedy to them as well. At the

cemetery there are no clear national symbols, which might have easily been translated as

references towards the Nazi past especially during the first decades of the cemetery. National

ideals of fortitude and ruggedness do, however, distinguish in the style, architecture and flora of

the cemetery, and these can be interpreted as expressions of healthy nationalism.

Despite the national rituals held in Halbe, its label is strongly local and emphasizes individual

grief and remembrance. The cemetery doesn’t tie itself to the context of the Second World

War, but tells a story about one aspect of war: a local tragedy that touched ordinary people

regardless of their reference group. It also doesn’t include links to Germany’s war crimes.

According to the landscape, the Holocaust was not the sole tragedy of the Second World War,

and the other stories deserve to be heard as well.

Avainsanat – Nyckelord – Keywords

cemetery, collective guilt, Germany, Halbe, identity, landscape, memory, the Second World War

Säilytyspaikka – Förvaringställe – Where deposited

Kumpula Campus Library

Muita tietoja – Övriga uppgifter – Additional information

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