THINGS I REMEMBER — not an outtake   6 comments

I remember my student tour of Europe in 1951. Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, England, Holland, Belgium. Eveywhere we met people like us. And everywhere except Switzerland we found bombed out buildings. I remember Germany especially, men without arms and legs making their way by new businesses trying to get a foothold in any corner where temporary buildings could be erected. Most of all I remember thinking “all these people are just like us” as we communicated through gestures and what minimal knowledge we had of the language of the country we were visiting. I remember our twenty cent packs of cigarettes were worth 60 cents for just one cigarette. It was our medium of exchange for tipping. Let me repeat. I remember the people we met were just like us.

And I remember the student guide who said to me as we tried to understand what had happened, “This will come to you someday in the United States.” Yes, more than remember that, I have never forgotten it.

I remember an 8-year-old Mona (me) in 1937 thinking Hitler must be a nice man, because I saw a picture of him smilingly accepting a bouquet of flowers from a little girl my age. I remember practicing a speech I would deliver to him explaining why he should be nice to other people.

 

Years later, I remember a client whose family was left behind in a country cruelly dominated by the USSR. In her distress over their situation she wondered, “How did they let this happen to them?”

I love traveling, and everywhere I go I meet people who are just like me – trying to make a good life.

I remember wondering how people could let it happen to them.

How could it happen? Could it happen to us?

I remember, and I wonder.

6 responses to “THINGS I REMEMBER — not an outtake

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  1. This is so very alive and it touches me to the core. Thank you dear Mona

  2. Mona,

    Think of you often. I read much of what you send. Always glad to see an email and know you’re still trying to make the world a better place. It’s a struggle some times!

    Warmly,

    Lucy

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. Yes, it CAN happen here, and it has. I never believed it possible, including when I lived in Germany for 3 years in the late 70’s, a time when Hitler wasn’t taught in German schools. And when, in the early 21st century, when I taught at a large CT high school. One of my colleagues had emigrated from Germany as a young child. Her father had been in the Wehrmacht during WWII, and her mother was a Pole…who had hidden her father from Nazi hunters. She asserted disturbingly often during faculty room chats that “Nazi fascism can easily come to this country. You think we are immune, but we are not.” Her comments always struck me as German rationalization/apologism, the same kind I’d heard when I lived there – nothing more, really, than the ardent, very deep nationalism I’d witnessed in the 70’s (and I worked with German nationals who spewed the nationalist excuses). I have sadly learned that, excuses aside, my colleague was absolutely right. The fertile ground for fascism was present and, horribly, has been successfully exploited by Trump and his sycophants. It must be stopped, and, I hope, reversed, in the coming election.

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