As I gaze out my cabin window this morning, I look out on pure fairytale forests. The river Main is glistening in the morning sunlight and Dad and I have indulged with breakfast in bed and we finished watching the movie we began watching last night.
We laughed, Dad coughed, he’s still coughing but seems to be on the improve. He’s so brave. He’s such a gentleman. Dinner in the dining room is difficult when he wants to join the conversation. It makes him cough, when he speaks. Today seems better. Maybe because it’s just been us. Or maybe, he’s really on the improve. I hope the latter is the case.
Yesterday was lovely.
Yesterday was more palaces. The Prince-Bishop’s palace in Würzburg. Because, after all, being bishop isn’t enough for some, he wanted to be Prince as well. And if he was prince, then he needed a palace. The painting of fresco ceilings was stunning.
And yes I would still like a palace…at least a ballroom and an orchestra…Please Daddy, I want a palace!!!
We left the guided tour a little early and ambled our way through Würzburg.
Stopping along the way for the perfect affogato!
This city was such a welcome relief after the trip, two days ago, to Nuremberg.
Nuremberg is city where Hitler held his rallies to inspire the people with a common hatred for a common enemy.
I can’t help but compare the similarities between then and now with how much the ‘othering’ of people is illuminated. Whether they be brown or black, Muslim or Christian, Jew or Asian or indigenous to any nation. I wish I had the words of wisdom for this and so many other issues.
Standing exactly where Hitler stood to give those speeches was strangely upsetting. I’m not sure I have to words to fully express the electric pulse of hatred I could feel standing in that spot.
I know, I’m usually far too vain to include of photo as unflattering as this but for the sake of the story, it must be included.
See how my hands are behind my back? I had just touched the railing around the platform. I felt it. Like a surge, not a spark, nor a shock, but a surge of years and years of hatred. My eyes already begun to well with tears. A friend asked if I wanted a picture. I replied with,
“Sure, take it but I won’t pose. I can’t even move.”
I’m grateful I have the photo though. It bears witness to the fact that I was really there.
That feeling of power combined with loathing is really quite terrifying. No matter how global or personal, power and hate is a lethal combination.
After this we headed into the documentation centre, which is now a museum. This is the building where the trials for WWII war crimes were held. I’m no historian and while my memory of my own experiences is pretty good but the history of other countries can take time to sink in.
For those of you who read a couple of days ago…remember Johanna. She was there. Her memory is personal. Though she wasn’t in Nuremberg, she was is Austria. She told me about Anschluss. She told me about the parades through Vienna. The way she had to cheer and
‘Heil Hitler’ with everyone on the streets. If you didn’t then you were ‘gone’
Johanna told me about her beautiful piano teacher. One day she didn’t have lessons anymore. Another day she walked along the street and there was her lovely elderly piano teacher on her knees, cowering on the footpath, as the gestapo ordered her to ‘scrub the ground, Jew!’
These are the things I’ve seen in movies but this was her life. Johanna told me that if you showed resistance, your neighbour would report you to the gestapo and you too would be GONE.
Much later, after her piano teacher and her husband were ‘gone’; Johanna found out that this couple took their own lives rather than be taken to the camps. She was only nine years old when this evil took over her life. She survived but not without the emotional scars that last a life time.
If you, or people you know, lost so much more then I apologise if it sounds like I’m making light of your suffering. I can’t imagine your pain. I want to honour all the families who lost so much and even now the ones who still bear the scars.
I hope we can learn. I hope that by seeing this pain; this level of hatred and violence we can learn what it is to stay silent. Even more, I hope we can learn to speak up. For some, it might cost their lives; for others their position, even their family. But if we as individuals can say out loud
‘That’s not ok!’
‘No, you can’t do that to me or to my friend!’
Maybe if enough of us stand up we can make a difference and these kind of atrocities won’t happen again.
Maybe we can be brave.