Google+ Followers

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

A Sense of Shame

The pavements of Berlin today, showing the path taken by the Wall 

I am a guest of Brick Lane Publishing's blog today, talking about the German sense of collective guilt following WWII. I recall life in a West German bedsit when the country was still coming to terms with Hitler and the Holocaust, and, of course, with living in the chill of the Cold War.

6 comments:

  1. The only time I travelled to Germany was when I was a 14 year old, actually at the time when the Wall was built. I was staying with an elder sister and her husband who was a major in the British army and was stationed at Bad Oeynhausen. Memories are faint, being over 50 years ago and both sister and brother-in-law are dead. I remember asking them to take me to see one of the dams that was breached by the Dam Busters. They did - I think it was the Mohne. The 'patch' in the wall was clearly evident. And I remember a little mouse that snuck out of the grass and had a nibble at one of our picnic rolls. Apart from that, I remember nothing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for commenting. I enjoyed reading about your memories, especially the little mouse and the patch in the wall. I often recall these poignant detail from my own childhood and use them in my writing.

      Delete
  2. As always, Joanna, a most interesting piece. I have just returned from Poland, where I visited Auschwitz, and learned that German school-children too visit as part of their curriculum. It is something that needs to stay in our collective memory past the life-times of those who lived through it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for commenting, Lindsay. I'm really pleased you found it interesting and your trip tom Poland must have been very moving. One of my daughters recently visited Auschwitz. It affected her deeply and made her much more aware of that terrible period in history and the need to avoid repeating it. I so agree with you that now there are very few people who lived through it to remind us, it is vital to keep the memory alive.

      Delete
  3. Many years ago when I studied the Holocaust at University we visited Bergen-Belsen. I remember it was a bitter cold day and the atmosphere eerie. I was reminded of this experience when the Queen visited it during her recent stay in Germany. It was an emotional day for me and my fellow students and tears did fall. During the same academic year, we also visited Beth Shalom, the National Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire and met a living survivor of the camp. She was an incredible woman and shared her experience with poise and dignity. I feel extremely lucky to have met her. I will never forget.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you so much, Nicola, for your very moving comment. I really appreciate it.

    I know that when my daughter saw the pile of shoes in Auschwitz, it was too much for one of her friends to bear and she had to go back to the coach. My daughter, who always keeps a pretty tight rein on her emotions, was very shaken too and, like you, will never forget what she saw, and how she felt in there. And that is what matters - that we never forget. xx

    ReplyDelete