Historical me – why write about it?

We are all the result of our history. It can be what happened to us, what we read throughout our life and who we meet. But a largely overlooked part of this personal history is the actual history -may it be the history of our country or the personal history of our ancestors and their families. I was reminded of that last week after discussing how I perceived WWII with Jonathan who was alive at the time (of WWII, he is still alive and kicking now of course) and remembers it from an English point of view. We discussed howit had changed his view on war and its consequences and how growing up German had formed mine. It was a really interesting conversation and since I often experience British people to remember both WWI and II in a heroic, very patriotic light, and it really, really annoys me (more about that later) I was very happy, almost relieved to hear someone talk about it from a different point of view. Jonathan even almost apologised for everything the British army had done to the German people, which threw me completely because, like most people, I view those things in comparison to what the German army and SS did and, well, the British win. He in turn was completely surprised when I told him that most German people would say that we were liberated by the Allies at the end of WWII, since none of us today would like to have grown up under a Nazi regime and are quite grateful for their sacrifices. He said: “That is an amazing show of forgiveness.” I don’t know if it is, I still think the benefits of getting rid of the Nazis far surpass much of the suffering of being defeated in war. But looking back at my family’s experiences, there are some stories that would likely, taken by themselves, make me agree with Jonathan. Then today, I read something that made me bristle with indignation simply because it seemed to show the Nazi regime in a slightly favourable light and I was full of indignation and even anger, that in hindsight, was probably a bit of an overreaction. However, it gave me the idea of exploring my personal history and look at why I feel so strongly about some things and why there are some buttons very easily pushed. So over the next few weeks, I will tell you about what happened to my family (as far as I know, but I think I know quite a lot) and how it shaped me and my beliefs in right and wrong. I am lucky because I got to meet most of my grandparents and even two great-grandmothers. Some of them were more forthcoming with their stories than others but all of them helped me to become the woman I am today and I am very proud to be their descendant.

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