Wagner today, Jews and Germans still trying to ‘get over it’
This article came close to portraying the difficulty that Jews and Germans still have when it comes to meeting each other up close and personal.
It’s hard to express the feelings that post war generations carry with them. Whether it’s the German who goes overboard in his love of Israel and all things Jewish, or the Jew who refuses to visit Germany or those who are against Wagner being played in Israel.
Luckily this article came up, and it got me thinking again about the chip carried by both Jews and Germans long removed from the atrocities of war. From my experience, it seems the modern relationship between Jews and Germans is still full of political correctness and reflects an inability to let go of the past.
Working with technology companies, I’ve been lucky to have spent time in Munich and other parts of Bavaria often over the years. Not only was Munich where Hitler got his political start, but the city has the added infamy of the ’72 Olympic fiasco where 9 Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian terrorists.
Visiting Germany was fascinating to me on so many levels. I’ve studied the history of WWII extensively and I also have the stories of family members who survived. Seeing all the places from the old black and white news reels has interested me since early childhood – I also collect old books, so maybe it’s just the archivist in me.
On my visits, I especially like to examine my own reactions. I’ve been lucky to become close friends with several Germans and it’s interesting to see how historical issues make both sides uncomfortable and yet in the end, I always feel I have more in common with a German who is aware of the terrible history, regardless of whether it’s a topic of discussion, than I do with the average American who has never visited different cultures. I had a German friend tell me she’d love to visit Israel, but was nervous. “Of what”, I asked. “History”, was the single worded answer that conveyed the panoramic power of a Spielberg movie.
That same friend did visit Israel eventually, and had a wonderful time. She reported never once feeling uncomfortable because she was German. I told her it’s a generational thing, and usually young Germans and young Israelis have more in common that differences. We also had a German raised in America visit our company a few years ago. When we asked him what most surprised him about Israel – this was his first visit- he admitted that he had felt uncomfortable because of his German-ness, but that his biggest surprise was how it didn’t matter to any of the Israelis he met. He was overwhelmed by the acceptance and warmth shown him.
I guess in a way this is related to my post about Palestinian bloggers. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one day Israeli Jews and Palestinians can also begin the process of “getting over it”.