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November 2006 - Nr. 11


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GS Hospitality Connections


The Editor
At Lake Huron
German Gala 2006
German Pioneers Day 2006
An Evening in Vienna
KW & Beyond
SOS-Herwig Wandschneider
Bitzer Event 2006
Diaspora Conference
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
German Christmas Cookies
Heaven or Hell
TSO November Listings
Christmas at the TSO
Forte in Formal
Despite Kyoto Rift
Eggs Can Be Good
Schumacher's Farewell
Canadian Ski Areas
After the World Cup
FIFA U-20 World Cup
Canadian Holiday Stamps

Letter from the Editor

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister  

Dear Reader

It is with the greatest of pleasures that I note the fact that being German is becoming more and more fashionable in our political climes.

You might wonder what compels me to make such a statement, when you either think you know that this is not true, or you never noticed that there was a problem for Germans anywhere in the first place.

Let me enlighten you from a personal point of view, being from Germany with a German accent has not only brought about pleasurable moments during my now 38 years in Canada. I had my share of discriminatory occurrences. Some of them where as mild as being called a happy Hun, others labelled me Nazi as soon as my accent became audible.

During the showing of "The Holocaust" on TV I was asked by my employer to stay home as not to arouse any undue upsets among the clientele.

Often I was simply put in the unenviable position of having to defend a position, which was impossible to sustain in the political climate of this country. I heard many such stories when I helped found the German Canadian Congress in Ontario. Some of them made me wonder if we actually live in a democracy.

But always, always someone came to the rescue whenever I did not back off and pointed out that, yes, there is a past, and then there is a present and if we handle this present correctly we might have a crack at a pretty good future.

Today there is a generation of young people out there, also or especially in Germany, that demand to know more about what happened, how it happened, and how can it be that we are still feeling the need to discuss this behind closed doors, rather then out in the open. For too long this has been a taboo subject. Unconfronted it will continue to fester and cause problems.

Even though that unpleasant past, which haunts most Germans living here to this day is not my personal past, I was born just before the end of WWII, Mr. Bubis, who was chairman of the German National Jewish Council in Germany, is largely responsible for opening the door to intellectual discourse on the subject of Germany’s past. He explained publicly during a visit to the University of Toronto’s Department of Foreign Studies, to a question when the reparations to the Jewish community would be complete, that one has to liken the historic situation to inheriting a house from a grandfather, which has a mortgage on it. With the inheritance comes also the responsibility of paying the mortgage off. This is an easily understood example, except there is one small difference: in the case of the mortgage one knows exactly when it is paid off. And that I think is what has folks so upset, not knowing when is the debt to society paid off?!

It is this subject that keeps creeping into conversations even of the most intellectual nature.

It is of course a bit like the biblical question: Am I my brother’s keeper? And if we understand the people of earth as a big brotherhood, then we must take responsibility for each other as individuals and as nations, which is why we have the United Nations convening on the affairs of the world.

We at Echo Germanica, as individuals, not as a company, are once again involved in a project surrounding the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In dealing with the issues and reviewing the materials, it becomes very clear how important such a project is. Without knowing what the rights and freedoms of a nation are the people are not free in any sense whatsoever. This is an important ongoing educational effort everyone needs to get involved in somehow, somewhat.

In the meantime we can observe changes in our daily lives. We find it easier to speak to people about certain subjects, the media is suddenly a bit more friendly, German arts are being more celebrated - see Wagner’s Ring at the Canadian Opera Company – an impossibility even a couple of decades ago - German cultural and social events – see the German Gala Ball - carry more weight, politicians come out to celebrate a German Pioneers Day, a German Flag is being raised at Queens Park!!!

German Pioneers Day ceremony at Queen's Park, Ontario

Yes, the German flag has been raised in the presence of the German Consul General and several German Canadian community leaders. This was well publicised and everyone was invited, however, the attendance was simply shocking, as the pictures will tell.

There is much that has changed in the last decade, as we can tell by the increase of interactions between Germany and Canada. We shall keep on reporting as much as possible the important events and the impact these changes have on our society.

I hope you enjoy this month’s instalment.

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister


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