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December 2011 - Nr. 12
Merry Christmas and the best of Seasons from Echo Germanica
Sybille Forster-Rentmeister, Editor-in-chief

Dear Reader

Clearly we agree, this is the busiest time of the year, and if a new unexpected wrinkle turns up then we can easily go into overdrive. We had to postpone our publication by a week due to serious illness within our small team and the many events – together with the demands that come when someone gets seriously ill, are practically overwhelming. Yet somehow we always muddle through. Fascinating how that works! We always rise to the occasion. Mankind is indeed very resilient. Necessity dictates the actions and the urge to survive makes miracles possible.

After a quiet summer the fall and early winter present us with a lot of activities, both communal and in the field of the arts. But this year we heard of a very special occasion, one I would have loved to share with my father. For him the news came much, much too late; but it is good that this occurred, even though it was highly overdue. I guess “better late than never” would be applied to this situation. My father passed away nearly 30 years ago, and much too young. He did not hear of the falling of the wall and the subsequent unification of Germany, something he believed would never happen, but it did. He also believed that the Americans would never ever admit that all was not right what happened to German prisoners of war on the Rhein-Wiesen, where he was one of the many thousands that suffered from the extreme treatment of the American’s which James Bacque wrote so eloquently about in his extremely well researched book “Other losses”. He was one of the lucky ones; he survived and lived to see another day, and meet eventually me, his daughter born just before the end of the war. His health took a severe beating during this ordeal and in the end it became the reason for his early demise.

How happy would he be about hearing that someone in the US is taking responsibility for that infamous past? I really do not know, but I do know that he held a grudge against his captors for a very long time. Whatever came out of the USA, he looked at with scepticism.

I wonder if this reconciliation that occurred only now between Germany and America would have brought a closer relationship and a better one between the two nations if it had happened earlier.

I personally welcome this official attempt in righting a big wrong. It even handles for me the upsets I experience when academia discusses coldheartedly whether Germans have the right to feel pain and grief about their personal losses, as has happened here in Toronto at the University of Toronto. It handles for me residue upsets caused by the many incidents of the past accusing me of being a Nazi, even though I was born at the very end of the war. Having a German accent seems to have been enough for some people to do that.

Along my time in Canada I made many friends of many different cultural and religious backgrounds, also those of the Jewish persuasion. Like me all those people use not their emotion to assess a situation or characterize an individual, but they do it on inspection of facts and personal experiences. We grant the other person the right to their own choices, we value every form of life, regardless of background, creed or colour. That is why we came to Canada. That is why we love this country, because it takes on those who look for freedom from a past or present that was/is unbearable.

This reconciliation, this apology will lead to even more progress in establishing a lasting peace between Germany and the USA. There is already a Proposal for peace 66 years after the end of hostilities of World War II.

I was thinking of this when we Fritz Skeries with Sybille (read: Remembrance Day Ceremony)congregated at Woodland Cemetery in Kitchener for the Remembrance Day event and I am thinking of it again now before Christmas. This is a time when we express our wishes for Peace on Earth and Good Will for all Mankind.

With that in mind I wish all of you and all of us a Happy Christmas - Frohe Weihnachten!

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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