I led a tour of a project I curated (organised) for a London based study group and an invited German one. I usually don't have much contact with Germans, and have felt vaguely threatened in the past whenever I met any especially older ones because of my family history but, maybe because of this project - or maybe just because of life experience, I have come to see them as human, a nation with blood on their hands. Blood is also on the hands of the English, Australians, Israelis, and most other nations on earth... but Germans are perpetrators of crimes that affected my family as victims. Who I am today is in direct consequence of the Nazi Holocaust, and so it has taken me a long time to be able to be near, respect, or see as human any German person.

Two people I met were interesting in this diary sense.
One asked within minutes of meeting her, why - though I have travelled quite widely - have I never been to Germany? She knew the answer, before I said it. She carried a great deal of guilt. She is early-20something. I said that we are each of us responsible for the crimes we commit. We must own our histories, what our families and nations have done to others, we must not pretend that crimes never happened. And we can perpetuate the past by our current actions, inactions and prejudices, but we are not to blame for our grandfather's crimes.

The other one talked nervously of Germans' small c conservatism, the battle mentality of conservatism. He wanted to be ethical, but the aethetics of the left are wearying and dull. He wanted beauty and sparkle. He felt the burden of history in his choices in life. They seemed so German in their ethical intellectual dilemmas.

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