27 January 2012

Holocaust Memorial Day

This time, the country is deep into memorial mode. It's not only the milestone figure of 75 years. It's nasty stuff happening, the far right is lifting its nasty head in too many places here and elsewhere on the planet to pretend all is well.

This is what I wrote in 2012:

Friday evening. I am the last to go. I cycle past the lecture halls and down hill onto the round about. Very little traffic here, hardly anybody. People are at the gym, shopping, getting ready for the weekend.

Yesterday I had dinner with old friends. For the first time in so many years they were planning a holiday, somewhere warm, Mediterranean and we opened up an old school atlas and traced the shore lines with our fingers, Rimini, Greek islands, Ibiza, Mallorca, Tarifa, the French Riviera, Sicily... What about Turkey, I ask.
No way, they say, we are not going to a country with a military dictatorship. There are limits.

In Berlin this morning, an old man was invited to give a speech in parliament. An eminent literary critic, a sharp, often rude and somewhat arrogant presence in the talk show circuits and book review pages. In an interview last week he said, he was afraid of this speech. He survived Treblinka and the Warsaw ghetto. He read from his memories of death and persecution and when he finished, he looked up and said, thank you. There was a long silence.

Friday, TV dinner night or maybe out for a movie, a couple of beers. When instead, we should be on our knees, with our heads down in silence, all day or half of the day, or for an hour, ten minutes, make it one minute, just one minute of respect and shame and remembrance. Is this asking too much?
Ancient history, you say? None of your business, long before your time. And anyway, what good does it do, a minute, an hour, a day? What day did you say it is today?


  1. Oh Sabine - Yes it's worth minutes, hours. This is such a beautiful post and meditative remembrance. I'm bowing my head now.

  2. Somehow it gets harder, not easier, with each passing year.

  3. Ah. Thank you for this powerful post. Never forget . . .

  4. Thank you for this reminder and links, Sabine.

    Noemi Ban, who lives in the same town where I live, usually speaks somewhere on January 27th. Here is a video interview with her, made by local college students:


  5. Reminder-remember.

    Our collective sorrow is vast. And still we wage war and hatred against one another.

    My in-laws were survivors. Their stories haunt me always.