There are few subjects me and my German partner decline to talk about, one of them is the Second World War. My attitude is that it happened nearly 70 years ago and the seeds of the Holocaust were sown at Versailles, not only did we reap what we sowed but so did the German people. My partner has been taught guilt about his history, which really became apparent when we were talking about the subject on a train in Netherlands and his comment he felt very self-conscious about discussing aloud the occupation of Germany after the War. The problem we really do need to talk about, not so much to rehearse the rights and wrongs of the Third Reich, but move it all forward. to learn and apply the lessons we should have learned.
Whilst we were in Osnabruck we started talking about the Palestinian / Israel issue (I am not sure how) and the comment that ‘I feel that I can’t criticise Israel’ hit home – because of German history they feel unable to criticise Israel for anything for the fear of being called anti-Semitic, this echoed an article that I had read in The Guardian a few years ago about a ‘new Jewish museum’. The writer commented that the Museum wasn’t really that good, a flawed idea, but the German State had to stump up the money for it because if not it would be accused of being anti-Semitic.
The only two Jewish memorials I have seen in Berlin, well Germany for that matter, was a rather kitsch statue outside of Friedrichstrasse Bahnhof which showed the well-dressed Aryan Childrem of the Reich walking in the opposite direction of the children of the Holocaust being moved onto a cattle truck – it was kitsch, childish and not deserving of acting as a memorial; the other memorial was the ‘Jewish Memorial’ which is described as 2,700 slabs of concrete opposite the Tiergarten. When I was there in the summer of 2012 it was used by people to have their lunch on or sunbathe (the Homosexual Memorial is in the Tiergarten, one concrete block to represent the murdered and persecuted gays), but it was ‘Jewish’ so they got the money and real-estate for it.
I mention this because after the War the Jewish people managed to get their own homeland and proceeded to persecute the people of Palestine, but Germans couldn’t say that.
We need to talk about the war waging in Palestine and Israel, we need to talk about people treat each other and how people of different faiths and cultures need to talk to each other and learn from each others experiences, more than anything the Hamas need to stop lobbing missiles at Tel Aviv and the Israelis’ need to stop responding with overwhelming force. The past few weeks have seen hundreds made homeless, killed and maimed in Palestine yet the story is about Israel being attacked, we need to hear both sides of the story, and learn from them.
I think it was Archbishop Tutu who said ‘in the world of an eye for an eye everyone ends up blind’ Of course I can understand Israel being fiercely protective of its borders, and I can understand that its defence of its Cities are legitimate, but I cannot understand why the Palestinians are strangers in their own countries, prisoners in their own towns, why food is rationed more severely each day, why Bethlehem is little more than a detention centre; is there some ideology that says if we treat people like they will become better people and live peacefully; is there a plan that this is how dialogue happens, is dialogue from behind the barrel of a gun the only option?
In 1919 the Americans wanted to create a Germany that was independent, that would become part of a European and world community – a part of a federal Europe, but France and Great Britain wanted blood money, it wanted reparations, it wanted a Germany down at heel and subservient, never again able to function entirely as a State (in 1923 France invaded the Ruhr to ‘appropriate’ goods in lieu of reparations that Germany could not pay); it was the humiliation that bred the rise of fascism as then, as it is now, when we are being stretched it is the rise of the Right that is the beneficiary.
We need to talk about the war and see how we can avoid another Holocaust.
We need to move on from the killing.