Sunday, November 11, 2012


Eleven days in and I'm already falling down on the job, but there'll be 2 posts today to make up for it.

Today is Remembrance Day, and although I won't be going to a ceremony, I will be thinking of all those who died in all the wars, soldiers and civilians alike. My parents were German immigrants, so it's awkward for me - my dad was a bomber pilot for Germany in WWII, my grandfather fought in WWI, even my mother was a member of the Hitler Jugend (to listen to her describe it, it was like Girl Scouts, with a little propaganda thrown in). These were things never discussed in my family, so I never knew where they stood on any of the issues. Here's what I do know:

My mother had her ancestry traced back 4 generations, so they could get the "pure Aryan" designation; apparently there was someone named Sara, but they called her Klara, to make it sound less Jewish. I have thosse papers still. My dad never spoke of the war to me, except to say he was drafted and had no choice, but he did get drunk twice, once with each of my ex-husbands, and they have some of the story, but they never shared. My grandmother told me of being horrified by the news of the concentration camps when the war ended, saying that they really didn't know....

So I think my family was like many of the time, with their heads in the sand, perhaps willfully, perhaps not; afraid to take any action. I can say that although some of the most shockingly racist things came out of my mother's mouth, in practice she was extremely kind and generous to all around her. She was interested in different cultures, and would often ask people bluntly where they were from (especially if they looked "different", oh dear) - but then she would usually be able to astonish the person by actually knowing where their little corner of the world was, and being able to discuss some of the history.

....when I started this post, I had no idea I was going to end up here, but it's not really surprising, I guess; my thoughts about this time of year are always laced with guilt by association. And I wonder what I would have done, in that situation - I like to think I would have stood up for what was right, but in that culture, in that time, would I even have known what was right? I really hope so. I really do.

Anyway, I am remembering today, difficult as it is.

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