Friday, April 4, 2008

Thanks Indiana

Watching Indiana Jones (of all things) last night with my husband I was reminded of one of the more memorable places I’ve ever been.

I was 21 years old and on my first trip overseas. A Contiki tour through Europe – comprising something ridiculous like 13 countries in 5 weeks. Many would say, not enough time to enjoy any of it and I might agree but for the fact that at 21, I had no idea what in Europe I wanted to see.

Sure I had vague images of the Colosseum and the Eiffel tower but aside from these bastions of what Europe was in my just post teenage mind – I was stumped as to what I actually wanted to see. So I just went with the flow. Loving almost everything I was, albeit briefly, exposed to.

Of all that I most adored on this trip: cobbled streets in Florence, friendly bocce players in Barcelona, the hushed silence in Notre Dame, one place chilled me but also stuck with me in a really memorable way.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade reminded me of it last night in a scene where an Austrian woman (a bad-guy mind you) holds back a tear at a Nazi book burning site in Berlin.

When I visited Bebelplatz, Berlin at first I didn’t understand what the empty shelves illuminated underground meant.

I didn’t realise I was standing up on the site where Nazis burnt over 20,000 books in 1933. (

The monument is elegant and simple and is something I’ll never forget. Nearby to it there is a plaque which quotes Heinrich Heine, a German poet: "Where books are burned, in the end people will burn."

Thanks Indiana Jones for triggering a memory so powerful. Thanks to the tour guide who adequately explained Bebelplatz to me. Thanks to a world where, thanks to the internet, expansive libraries and blogs like this – we are all free to read, grow and learn.

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