Recently, the German government has removed an interesting feature in a forest in the state of Brandenberg. Back in the day, a number of larch trees were carefully planted in a 20 square meter patch of a forest of pine. In the autumn, the larches would turn yellow, vividly standing out against the evergreens. The problem? The larches were planted in the shape of a swastika.
The swastika is thought to have been created in the 1930s to celebrate the birthday of Adolf Hitler. Specifically, it’s theorized that residents planted the trees to prove their loyalty to the Fatherland after a local businessman was sent to a concentration camp for listening to (gasp!) the BBC.
The swastika survived to this day because the forest was in East Germany. The communist government never bothered to remove it. The swastika is only visible from the air, and not too many people were flying coach in communist East Germany, so, if masses of people weren’t choking on their in-flight meals because of the sight, why bother removing it?
In the 1990s, post-reunification, an attempt was made to destroy the swastika, but the trees grew back. Oops. This time, 25 trees were cut down, and hopefully they got it right this time.
For a photo, see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_1053000/1053635.stm
Storm_Damage: One of the reasons the German government destroyed the trees was because they wanted to prevent the site from becoming a shrine to neo-Nazis and anti-Semites. You have an excellent point when you say that we should not forget the sins of the past, lest we commit them again. But the way to do that is not to preserve sites that celebrate those sins. That prevents nothing and teaches no one; it only gives aid and comfort to the racists. We have plenty of other reminders of Nazi evil without preserving these trees: Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, Dauchau, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen…