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June, 2005 - Nr. 6


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GS Hospitality Connections


The Editor
The Youth Forum
Rachel Seilern
Zurich Connection
From the Locker Room
Vienna Connection
EU! Meet the Europeans
Berlin-Vergewaltigte Stadt
An Italian Straw Hat
KW & Beyond
A Memorable Gala
Concordia opens Patio
Kumar liest Kumar
Festival of Chefs
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
Healthy Heart
Rallies for Human Rights
Top Honors for Niebelungen
TSO & Soulful Strains
TSO & Impressionist Music
TSO & Star Wars
Canadian Opera Company
National Ballet of Canada
Academy of the Arts
15th Wine Auction
Eurovision Song Contest
The "Grandpa Gang"
Gärten für Deutschsprachige
Invitation to Dancers
Parenthood on a Low
New Arena Dazzles
Celebrations in Praise
Rare Books Returned
Common German Words
Potsdam Pool Designed
Water Got Cleaner
100 Millionth Volkswagen

Letter from the Editor

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister  

Dear Reader

This last month was exciting, to say the least. The many commemorative events largely unfolded as celebrations, creating much dialogue, some of which was appraising and appeasing, factual and also speculative; some of it was emotional and some of it was cool headed; but all of it was hopeful and often almost rejoicing, rejoicing in the fact that all these things are behind us, that a new dawn has been dawning and old adversaries have become even good friends, as the Consul General of Israel said at a concert opening to commemorate 40 years of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel.

In not forgetting the unhappy past and the oppression it levied on so many millions of people of so many countries in the last century and in celebrating the end of a political era of human suffering in the heart of Europe we can gage the level of civilisation we have achieved.

It must be said that mankind is wearing a very thin mantel of civilisation over its barbaric core. How else do we explain the continued onslaught of violence in our world before, since and until today?! Lest we forget: the Third Reich was not the only regime in which many millions lost their life inhumanely, unjustly and certainly unnecessarily. Russia is drenched with the blood of its people to the degree that one nearly finds new reasons why communism is associated with the colour red. Similarly this is true for China, which also held and perhaps still holds life not as dear as we do now. More recent history has revealed, even in Europe and certainly in the Middle (Iraq) and Far East (North Korea), in Africa, that there the price of life does not rank very high even now.

How do we compare the suffering, how do we rank it from one bloodbath or killing spree to the other?

After my last editorial I received nothing but congratulations and consent from our readers about my editorial and the front page, conceived together with someone who is happy to be alive and still here after the horrible upheavals that were experienced. Truth be told, there was one letter that objected to the viewpoints I put forward and scolded me for even considering that the German people suffered too and that their plight was anything even close to those of the Jewish people and how dare I compare them…?

I had permission to print this letter and chose not to, certainly not to protect my point of view, but that of the individual who probably did not quite get what was being said there. Even the choice of a male German soldier on the tombstone and the image of someone’s old mother was misunderstood and I was asked if I was going to put Mother’s Day together with the memorial of 60 years since the end of WWII. The writer had obviously no idea that Mother’s Day was not an invention to sell more flowers but was begun by Julia Ward Howe as an anti-war holiday in 1872. The Renoir like meadow with its poppies certainly has symbolic value, which has become universal by now.

There are losses, those "Other Losses" that James Bach so eloquently wrote about in his book by the same name; and there are stories, which I was told by what was left of my family after the war, one of which was my father, who was there. He corroborated these stories to me from his own experiences long before I came to Canada.

The writer felt that coming from Germany to Canada we should have understood that this made it a given that it was a German’s lot here to experience hostility from members of an "allied country" and seems to forget that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does apply everyone.

While I can understand such a singularly make-wrong point of view from a victim of the Nazi regime, pushing the collective guilt button to the fullest, I cannot agree with it. Then and now does need to be separated. The facts and findings need to be reassembled and re-assessed. There are many open-ended questions. Dresden and its destruction has recently become again the subject of much scrutiny. The figures, depending on who tells the story, are just too far apart to be even close to the truth. Deniers of valid criticism could do the research and find what others have found.

We live in a time far enough away from those happenings to re-evaluate all the data logically and analytically in a new unit of time, namely now, to satisfy the doubters and to close the book on the dark chapters of history. But our fascination with the dark side of life will not let us do it. If we could turn our backs more on the past and look more forward to the future we would have only 10 or less percent to write about and make movies about.

And were does all this posturing get us?

The assertion of one man’s feeling of rightness over another man’s spells nothing but a standoff in opinion.

While we do not want to forget entirely what happened and while we want to guard against barbarism again rearing its ugly head among us, we must look forward with a forgiving heart and a helping hand in co-operation for mutually better survival. This planet has many problems that need to be addressed by all of us, victims and victors of past and present transgressions. Thus it is also fitting to celebrate all the things we have in common in any way we can. The European Film and Music Festival was just one of the highlights.

Hopefully the trend continues.

Until next time

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister


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