This is an experience I had many years ago in Frankfurt Airport.
I had flown there via Lufthansa, which is an airline I avoid, if possible. This is no reflection on them as an airline, or on their staff. It is just difficult for me to hear so much spoken German and a pilot who starts his announcement with “Achtung! ”
I arrived at the transit area and happened to pass a boarding gate for a Tel Aviv bound flight.
This was the era before electronic baggage checking. All luggage had to be opened and physically inspected. With the usual German efficiency, tables were prepared on which travellers placed their open suitcases. Dozens of Israeli bound Jews were waiting in line for the inspection.
Suddenly I experienced a frightening sense of deja-vu; even though I had never been in a similar situation before.
I formed a mental image of Jews with suitcases being checked over by uniformed Germans.
It’s true that it was not an SS uniform. But there were similarities. I especially remember the caps. I wished the designers of the security garb could have been more creative.
Loudspeaker announcements blared out “ Achtung!, Achtung! ‘ with alarming frequency. The security staff called out “ Shnell! Shnell! “ more often than seemed necessary. And the Jews, as their ancestors before them, meekly complied.
I know that this may seem to be an irrational response to an innocent situation. But I could not prevent this thought from passing through my mind.
What were the parents or the grandparents of the oh so efficient security staff doing 40 years ago?
Paranoid? Perhaps. But why do I feel SO uncomfortable in Germany? The language? The people? I don’t have a logical answer.
After all, I never knew any of the relatives I lost.
Maybe I’m just not good at forgiving and forgetting. Seems like letting them off the hook too easily.
And , as a footnote, I feel it’s ironic, now in 2011, that the nation that lost the war militarily, now dominates Europe financially. How many more European countries will beat a path to Berlin.
Begging bowls held out, beseechingly, in front of them!
Andyboy – Telling it as it is!
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