Tamara Hill Murphy
May 9, 2016
When traveling to places marked by a dark past, we must bring an attentiveness beyond morbid curiosity.
Before I was even a "born-again" Christian I experienced this in Berlin while visiting sites where the Nazi regime held their offices. The atmosphere was thick with sorrow and I cried for the three days we were there even though there were many celebrating the fall of the Wall. It is a memory I will live with forever and it has impacted my life as an intercessor.
Great article. Thank you for bringing this back to my attention.
I hadn't heard the term "Dark Tourism" before - but I have definitely experienced it in the town of Tombstone, Arizona. It's a town known for a gun battle, and they certainly know it. The only reason to visit is to see where two rival groups (gangs, essentially) fought for territory. The place has a decidedly macabre air about it; signs in the streets identifying the dates and circumstances of old west deaths; even the cemetary is famous and well travelled by strangers.
But also, when I was 16 I visited the concentration camp Dachau, and it had a huge impact on me. And although it certainly saw more death and suffering than Tombstone, the quiet terror of that place didn't inspire the same twisted voyerism. Instead it was emotional and dreadful. Even today, visiting heads of state are compelled to visit "Yad Vashem", Israel's Nation Holocaust Museum at least once. It is a beautiful and somber collection of displays and monuments that reveal one of the darkest chapters in world history. In many ways, you can't understand national Israel unless you know more about the Holocaust and what jews have suffered in the last century. But there are critics of this policy who accuse Israel of guilt-tripping and emotional bating.
In Reply to Carmen (comment #28197)
Carmen, what a perfect example of making holy out of a desecrated place. I am touched by your story. Thank you for sharing it.
In Reply to Dave T (comment #28198)
Dave, I hadn't heard the term "Dark Tourism" before reading the Nat'l. Geo. article either. The two places you mention are perfect examples. I think the contrast you mention between Tombstone and Dachau make an interesting conversation. Almost as if one were a gratuitous revoking of darkness, and the other ground embedded with darkness. Thanks for sharing the examples. As I was writing, I was wishing for the opportunity to hear where others had experienced this sort of experience.
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