There is a time for everything, as the saying goes. Now is my time for writing. I don’t mean the real-time, rather the time when your heart is bursting with stories untold. ‘The old look back, the young forward’, my late grandmother used to say. Her words always accompanied by a heavy sigh which, at the time, seemed odd to me.
It is my time now for me to look back and to write. Maybe it also is my time to sigh.
With thousands of refugees at the borders of Europe, I remember a time when I was growing up only a few years after WWII in Germany. Once again, there seems to be kind of a stand-off between ideologies of the giant powers in our world. I grew up with the enemy-stereotype, or bogeyman, of communism; now it is the bogeyman of Islam and atrocities commited in its name.
Again, people are being branded in the world of the powerful and their media regardless of the fact that they are not contributing to atrocities nor silently approving of them; regardless of the fact that it is just this ‘having to be silent’, to endure, to suffer, which makes them leave their homes, families, friends and countries, places of horror. How can we not understand the search of a better place in this world to live?
Anyway, back to my time of writing. I have to mention that I also am an avid reader since my early childhood. Books like Maxim Gorky’s ‘The Mother’, Remarque’s ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, ‘The Man Outside’ by W Borchert….books which contributed to my believe that the written word has a great power. Power to accuse those who never will stand trial for things they have done or allowed to be done in their name.
When I grew up in a very little village near the French border during the early 1950ies, refugees from Eastern Europe settled at the outskirts of it. Those people were ‘outsiders’ and conspicuously watched by the natives; they had to live with jealousy and racism, were extremely poor as they had lost everything during their flight from the East. The worst thing was, they were Roman Catholics in a pure protestant community. Outcasts from a world then unknown to me. They spoke differently, dressed differently and seemed to be ashamed and hurt. They were my first encounter with people ‘from another, strange world’ to me. The more hurtful comments I heard about them, the more grew my interest in them. It still pains me thinking of their children whom I went to school with. I still can feel their loneliness, fear and irritation.
During the coming weeks I will continue my story about refugees, having their roots cut brutally; about other people who, once again, became ‘believers and followers’. I will write my story beginning with victims from Eastern Europe whom I’ve met after WWII in Germany, to victims of our days, people who are taking the opportunity and tremendous risks to put ‘things’ behind them, at least geographically, only to face ending up in makeshift-camps with one toilet for 800; no neighbours, no friends, no language to explain themselves. The term ‘Lager’, the German word for ‘camp’, once again becomes a terrifying meaning.
‘A spectre is haunting Europe‘— once again, the spectre of people fleeing their countries, hoping to find refuge at our borders.