This issue I want to comment on the German Canadian relations
that appear to be at an all time high. This should give rise to
a lot of satisfaction in our local German Canadian community
that often in the past has communicated that all things German
are treated with disdain and unfairly, always with a look back
into history and thus tarnishing any good deeds, good will or
positive progress in any arena. That of course has been, even at
its worst time, only been partially true and only been
propagated by those that like nothing better than to keep old
wounds open instead of getting on with building a better future.
What is true these days is that so many decades after the
darkest years of the last century we have arrived at a place
where all parties involved in those past conflicts, no matter
how severe, have started to look from more than the viewpoint of
victim and victor without an attitude of blame, shame and
regret. Now more and more we are not just looking to assign
wrong doing, but also with the wisdom of hindsight that allows
looking for the good side, the good and often even heroic side
of a deed, the good person or persons in any given situation.
Perhaps one day we will be able to look at it all from all sides
and the finger pointing groups can also ask honestly how they
themselves contributed to anything that happened. That would be
a sign of true responsibility.
I know, it is a long shot, but I always have hope for mankind to
better itself. The alternative is too gruesome to contemplate.
Eventually we all have to take responsibility for the history
that is ours, no matter which side we were on, right or wrong,
by choice or by chance.
This new climate in which we live politically, culturally and
commercially has tied people together across oceans and
boarders. Germany and Canada are closer than ever before in
their relationship. This became apparent again when we covered
the recent events of German Pioneers day in Toronto at Queen’s
Park and in Kitchener, and at the celebration surrounding the 20th
anniversary of the partnership of Frankfurt and Germany.
The 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall in
Berlin also generated great interest in the Canadian cultural
arena, especially were academic partnerships flourish. However,
astounding was the lack of interest in our local German
community of individuals and businesses. The responses to our
suggestions of support for a special project of the paper on
that subject were sometimes quite rude. This response is
especially astounding as we are dealing here with a courageous
and successful fight for freedom by an oppressed German
I can understand that some people do not want to be always
reminded of the past, especially if it was painful. Yet the past
exists and unless we are willing to look at it fairly and
squarely, with a searching eye for the truth and the missing
information that was suppressed, and if we are willing to apply
some compassion and understanding to the past history, then I
believe we will free ourselves from the unjust generalities that
have been so hurtful to so many. The incorrect accusations and
invalidations of what really happened on all sides will be able
to be corrected.
I was recently sent a book about World War One and the films it
generated and how they were an example of how a society deals
with the horror a war creates. The scars of any such altercation
take many decades to heal. What would make us believe that the
Second World War with all its political and cultural upheavals
would disappear faster from our consciousness than the other big
war? As long as there are living memories around (and beyond)
there will be attempts to explain what happened, and it will be
emotional, not always analytical, and always painful. But as we
go along in our storytelling we are finding the ones that
illuminate murky memories. Stories are being told of help and
salvation by those that were not afraid but showed more than
their fair share of civil courage in the face of tremendous
adversity. Why should those stories not be told, why should they
be forgotten together with the horror stories?
For there to be a balance all stories have a right to be told
and should be told to record just accounts of history. If we do
not hear from all sides all the stories, the good and the bad,
not one point of view will ever be adjusted if it was incorrect
or incomplete. Justice cannot occur in the face of unknown
If we embrace all our history we shall surely come to a better
understanding among people and cultures. This coming season is a
good time to practice some of the charity and compassion we are
all capable of.
I for one am looking forward to getting in the mood with
concerts, Christmas shows and carol singing as an expression of
what the hippies used to call "Universal Love". You will be
surprised how many "Righteous among the Nations" you will find.
See you here, there and everywhere!