This will not be easy and is most likely a rather unpleasant topic or difficult and controversial. Nevertheless I feel it’s worth writing. I suppose every country has similar problems but being German can be very tricky sometimes. In some ways we are still the murderers from the 3rd Reich even though that happened over 60 years ago. Please don’t misunderstand me! This time of our history is nothing to be proud of, it is a horrible piece of shit that happened. Such cruelty and despair this little man named Hitler brought upon Europe and the world. There are no words for it! I’m deeply sorry for the men and women who were killed, brutally murdered but there are only so many times a girl can be reminded of these events all these years later.
I was never more ashamed to be german than while I had to watch Schindler’s List in school. It was in 10th grade and I remember coming home that first day and wanting to pack my things, leave this horrible country and never speak the language again. I wanted to never ever acknowledge again that the blood of this nation runs through my veins. Later, naturally, I learnt that this is not the country anymore that it was then. We came a long way since then I think.
Nevertheless this nation, at least to me, never seems allowed to breath freely, whenever a comment slips a persons mouth that could be interpreted the wrong way, like
today yesterday, the soccer player who referred to military helmets and caused a huge controversy, it is taken the wrong way. Even though most of the 82 million people living here were born after the war.
We had nothing to do with the horrors of then. Yet, we still live under it’s ugly dark shadow. Politically we are not allowed to have opinions that differ from those of the Israelis. Again, please don’t get me wrong. I like Isreal, it is a beautiful country, I’ve been there twice and even had a pen friend for a number of years but whatever the Isreali government decides to do, the Germans have to stick with them or else they dig out the Holocaust and Fashist card and we are the bad one’s again even if our motives are good this time.
I feel that we are not allowed to criticize, or our government at least is not allowed so. I’m not en expert on these subjects (this is just my very limited opinion) but whenever I watch or hear the news (I don’t do it too often cause of various reasons) I get frustrated. Of course I don’t know enough about the conflicts in the Middle East but I’m also not sure if anybody really understands anymore. They keep fighting because they’ve always been fighting. And Germany is the Israelian ally, always, along with the US. No matter how stupid the thing is in my opinion.
In school we learnt about the horrors of the WW2 and it’s ramifications. Not only did we discuss them in history class, no, we also did so in german lit, english, french and religion. For me, this was too much after a while, this repetitive stuff. I didn’t want to hear it anymore. I couldn’t take it anymore because whenever I hear/read/watch about it, I feel for these people, even writing this I feel the tears coming to my eyes. We can never right this! Never ever!
But Germany isn’t the only nation to have been so terribly wrong in history. I read Tim Weiner’s book about the CIA, read about the Vietcong and many other similar events in history. Maybe their terrors haven’t been as massive as ours but they definitely exist. Hell, Hitler wasn’t even german, he came from Austria. What about Mussolini, the axis Rome-Berlin? We were not alone in this, we just did a more thorough job. Sorry for this choice of words.
Will we ever be able to treat each other as equals, Germans and Israelis? Because I don’t feel like we do now. Or is this just my narrow german view? How does the rest of the world see us?
Teaching about this in schools is of the utmost importance but maybe not in the hyper-way I had to endure the drill for years. Maybe I just got too much teaching sprinkled on me during my school years, making me so aware of this and it’s totally possible I am wrong. To me, being german means to always be hyper-cautitious about what you do or say, to be ashamed of what my countrymen did. I’m just sick of being responsible for something I didn’t do, for something I know my granny and her parents believed was wrong at the time.
My granny’s father wouldn’t allow her to go to the Nazi-stuff all her friends had to go to because he thought it was wrong what Hitler did but he had a family to support so he never protested openly. Neither did the catholic church might I add! My great-grandpa was no Schindler (though he looks a little like him) but I know he tried to help others. When the prisoners of war who had to work with him were not allowed to go into the bunker during air strikes he let them into his cellar because it was rather massive and better then anything else available to them.
So, will we still be the bad guys in another 60 years? Or will the following generations grow up without feeling guilty for something they did not do? Is it even possible to not feel guilty and still be aware of everything that happened? Will it ever be ok to be proud of being german? Because right now, it’s still a very difficult feeling for a lot of us.