A few years ago I saw a play about two men, one a Jewish lawyer, one a Neonazi - who was his client. The play touched me so deeply that I approached the actor who had played the lawyer to talk to him. He happened to be a Jew in real life. A few hours later we sat over drinks, sharing stories: He, that his grandmother had fled the Nazis, got caught and survived five camps. Me, that my grandfather had joined the war at the age of 17 and had his blood type tattooed on his upper arm for the rest of his life, a symbol of SS members.
To me, my grandfather was the most loving and warm person I could imagine.
Still, the grandmother of this actor, he said, wouldn’t even talk to me today, given my family history.
Today we remember the liberation of the biggest KZ of the Nazi regime, Auschwitz-Birkenau where more than 1 million people were killed.
75 years later the things that happened to our grandparents and the things they did, are not forgotten. They are alive within us. They have been passed on to us as the traumas, fear and pain of an entire generation. And it is our duty to work through this heritage, each one of us individually as well as all together - and turn pain into understanding, trauma into compassion and fear into openness.