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A Good Weekend for Survivors

This dialogue is fictional:

Shit on That Shit
| >Shit on that shit! By Detlef.
What’s going on in Darfur? I mean: a state butchering its own citizens!” he asks me and is clearly moved by the latest tv-coverage.

You don’t have to go to Darfur to meet a state butchering its own citizens. You may take this state and go back 70 years in time.

I hit a nerve there. He falls silent for a moment, looks over to the neighbor’s car, looks down the street with the new traffic calming areas, which utterly fail to calm traffic but produce an extreme level of noise, causing fury among the residents. They resent having to pay for this senseless building activity which severely cuts the value of their real estate. Even those with impaired hearing can’t sleep in the rooms facing the traffic calming areas.

He turns his head into my direction: “Those traffic calming areas! You know how many times I tried to talk to city council? How many times I tried to talk to my councilman? Nothing is going to happen. Do you read this in the paper? No, all the big advertisers are councilmen and councilwomen. There is a wall of silence. This is dictatorship.

By Detlef.
He lowers his voice: “I started to work at the railway in 1941. I was 16 then. I was lucky I got that job and had the opportunity to become a railway man. A civil servant. The trains to the concentration camp in Bergen-Belsen stopped at our station. Do you think I didn’t notice what was going on in the livestock wagons? They were full of people. Men, women, children. Little children. What was I to do? What the hell could I do? Should I open the doors and shout: “Out! Out everybody! Run for your lives!” Where should they run to? Where should I have run to? But I saw them. And after the war I travelled to Belsen and to Auschwitz and I saw what  was going on there. I realized where these people in the livestock wagons were going to. I saw the ramp where these trains came to a stop. Out! Out everybody! But I knew right then and there as a 16 year old boy that what I saw was wrong and terrible and inhuman. My boss would say: “Son, your are not supposed to talk about what you see on duty. You’re a civil servant. If you want to keep that job, if you would like to avoid travelling in those wagons yourself: you keep your silence.” Which I did.”

An awkward silence follows. I want to tell that I never visited a concentration camp. At school we went to Berlin to visit the places of the German resistance. We didn’t travel the 25 kilometers to Bergen-Belsen. Not part of the course of instruction. Our teacher told us about his adventures as a flak officer in World War II. How they accidentally opened fire on a herd of cows. “Those cows looked ugly – afterwards.

I decide not to share this. “Hey, do you know how Hamburg did play today?”

Do you see the Hamburg-flag in in Walter’s garden? He raises it only when Hamburg has won.

So this is a good weekend.

Indeed, it is.

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