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 November 2009 - Nr. 11
The edior: Sybille Forster-Rentmeister

Dear Reader

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.

German Pioneers Day: Visiting the Brunswick Regiment "von Barner" (the recreation)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 population.

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 information.

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!

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister

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As the editor of Echo Germanica Sybille reflects on cultural, artistic, political and daily events within the German-Canadian landscape.

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