Home > History, Random Thoughts > History Remembered or History Class?

History Remembered or History Class?

As I continue to hear different reactions to Zamir‘s trip to Berlin (tomorrow!!), it strikes me that people probably have much different baggage than I. People around me, people traveling with me, remember the history of Germany and Berlin from the Nazi Era, the Cold-War Era, the Segregated City Era, as if it were yesterday. They remember hearing about events on the radio, or watching them on the news. They remember the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989.

1989. I was two years old then.

Truthfully, Berlin has not been the focus of any of my memories. Nothing about Berlin has made the history books since I started knowing anything about current events. I have a vague memory of the first Gulf War which is perhaps only from hearing about it later, and I don’t even remember Clinton’s first election into office in 1992 (I was four then). I think the earliest “current event” to which I remember being attentive was Yitzchak Rabin’s assassination in 1995. I remember, around the same time, the verdict being handed down in the OJ Simpson trial. I remember the American military’s entree into Afghanistan a few years later. And, of course, September 11th, 2001.

All of this means that my perspective on traveling to Berlin is different from those who remember distinctly what I do not. What I know about Berlin I know from history classes, from books, from stories I’ve heard. Nothing first-hand. The prejudices and grudges some hold against German people are not entrenched so deeply in my heart as they might be for others. Sure, I have studied and continue to study the Shoah, between traveling to Poland as a high school student on March of the Living, what I’ve learned through my grade school and college history and literature classes, and what I’ve heard from my grandfather about his childhood in Europe. But most of what I’ve learned about Berlin and Germany at large is about the reparations, re-education, and continuous support for the State of Israel in which the German people have been actively involved since 1945.

Perhaps this is why I am more open to forgiveness, or at least to set aside my prejudice. Perhaps that’s why, when we were asked to go to support the Jewish community in Berlin, there was no question that the answer was anything but “Yes, thank you for the invitation.”

We look forward to meeting our international compatriots in just two days!

Categories: History, Random Thoughts
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