Letter to the Editor

Millions complain: “After all, one can’t do anything!” – Is that true?

In 1943, when Stalingrad happened, I was called to the anti-aircraft guns, as a 16-year-old, and I ended the war by deserting. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be alive today. The 17- and 18-year-olds who didn’t run away at that time were almost all killed in the housing war in Berlin.
  I didn’t experience anything like Stalingrad, only a few, but highly dangerous situations. I remember a Russian tank that ran over a young German officer. At the very end he had sacrificed his life for the fatherland – what a madness.
  Because, on the way home, I told the Russians I was Swiss, they let me go. One of the Russians took my watch and my camera, but I forgave him because he immediately threw me some tinned food from his lorry as compensation. They were worth a lot in those days. From a human point of view, I like the Russians.
  There is a book by the Canadian James Bacques, “Other Losses”, which describes how American soldiers threw away food in their prison camps or burned it in front of the starving prisoners. Weeks after the surrender, there was still an American death camp in the Rheinwiesen area.
  After the war I asked myself: “How could this happen? I didn’t know that! No one should be able to use that as an excuse again, I want to contribute to that.”
  I joined the peace movement and the environmental protection. Wyhl was a lesson. I was there as an amateur filmmaker, for the important film “S’Wespennest” (110 minutes), 8 mm film format, I was there, I contributed twenty minutes of film. It started in Markolsheim, then in Kaiseraugst in Switzerland and Gerstheim. There we prevented an EDF (Electricité de France) electricity pylon from being put into operation.
  The time in Wyhl was one of the best times of my life. People were so united, practising solidarity against powerful opponents. “Zämme simmer stark!” (Together we are strong!)
  I try to be informed. The “annexation of Crimea” is manipulated into people’s heads, constantly repeated. That is propaganda. In the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” there was an article by a Hamburg lawyer, an international law expert: “The annexation was a secession, approved by vote!”
  Three things are important for the Americans in their European policy: to keep the Americans in, to keep the Russians out (against good cooperation between Russia and Germany and Europe); to keep the Germans down.
  The Americans exploit this where possible; they twist the knife in the wounds (for example in Poland).
  Today the Americans are setting traps for the Russians, so that Putin has to react, that is malicious. Instead, one should work together.
  If the superiors want to, then reconciliation will work. The way Franco-German reconciliation was introduced is a model.
  Learning the neighbour’s language creates friendship and serves international understanding. At the end of last year, the author of a newspaper article described her steps in learning French: she had difficulties learning the language. The author’s first teacher was a stubborn person and also grumpy, the author had got a “deficient”. And then she had a younger teacher. She knew how to motivate the pupils. And she got a “very good”. You can see how it depends on the teacher.
  Reconciliation between Russia and Germany would be the completion of Europe, as Gorbachev aspired to. And de Gaulle envisioned a “Europe of fatherlands”, without a super-government in Brussels.

Ernst Udo Kaufmann, Müllheim (Germany)

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