Tuesday, 30 August 2011

German guilt

I've just finished watching 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas'.

Currently bawling my eyes out and feeling 'German guilt'.

As most of you know,my father is German and all his family are still over there and I have a German passport.

We never,ever speak about the war and even the Berlin wall.My father only mentioned it once when we were on the East Side visiting his Grandpa's old house.He said he used to come and visit his Opa in the summer when he was a child and one day there were big trucks coming down the road with massive blocks on them.He asked his Opa what they were for and he replied that 'they are building a big wall'.That summer was the last time he saw his Opa.

We get wee fascinating snippets here and there when my Dad has had a few Jaegers but as a whole the wall and the war are never discussed.When I was younger I never used to understand why my Dad was at times seemingly ashamed to be German.I thought,it was in the past,people know Germans aren't like that nowadays.But then I met Germans my age when travelling and even they would say they were Scandinavian instead of German.

I never understood until I went to Auschwitz - Bergen Belsen myself in 2004 and felt an overwhelming feeling of guilt.Everything was set out so efficiently and orderly and so German.Think Germany and what's the first thing most people think of?

I have so many questions that I wish I could ask my grandparents or even my father but I know it's still too sore to ask about.I have travelled extensively around Germany and it's an amazing country with brilliant people.Of course there is good and bad in all races,but Germany is at least facing it's past head on and trying to reconcile for the future.

I had the chance to see an amazing exhibit called 'Hitler and the German People' at the German History Museum which explained how scarily easy it is for such a monster to come into power and then beat it's people into submission with fear which then leads to the horrors of Hitler's time.We need only look at Cambodia and it's killing fields or even what's happening in Libya at the moment.


Tim said...

I really want to visit Auschwitz and the Polish Ghetto's in Poland.

I've been to Holland and see Anne Frank's house and seen the Jewish quarters in Venice where they used to have synagogues hidden in tiny rooms in the attics. It's so surreal and hard to imagine what life was like back then.

I used to sit next to a lady who was brought up in East Germany and it was so fascinating hearing how life was so different to West Germany.