Dark times breed ‘dark tourism’

Dark tourism is more important now than ever
Visiting the sites of past atrocities is vital in an era where politics is so divisive, says one ‘dark tourism’ specialist. Going to sites with a morose past, whether it’s mass murder, genocide or nuclear disaster, is now more important now than ever.
“As is often said: those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it,” says Peter Hohenhaus, 53, who spends much of his time visiting such sites and museums.
He runs the website dark-tourism.com and claims to have visited 90 countries, more than 100 cities and 600 or 700 dark tourism sites.
“If you learn about, say, the Holocaust or other genocides and atrocities of the past 100 years or so, it does sensitise you to current affairs,” he explains.
“For instance, when you’ve dealt with the mechanics of propaganda a lot – be it Nazi propaganda or Communist propaganda or Hutu anti-Tutsi propaganda in Rwanda – then you see through it in the present day more easily.”
He describes the Murambi Genocide Memorial in Rwanda, which displays corpses of the victims bleached white by lime “in horrible contorted shapes” as “heart-breaking and gut-wrenching”. The memorial is designed to prevent genocide denial.
Among the most respectful and informative sites, he cites the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York and the German Military History Museum in Dresden, which is “nothing short of stunning”.
Tourists at such sites should “be respectful, be restrained, show a genuine interest”, he says – and should put away the selfie sticks.