‘’Mom, which language do you think I should take?’’ Louise asks her mother as she was filling out her paper for high school.
Sally was twisting around in the kitchen getting dinner ready. There would be steak with sweat potatoes and some vegetables like most nights. She stopped, placed both hands on the counter, putting all her weight on them and said, ‘‘If you want help from me, take French. I took four years of Latin and had a very good teacher. Latin is the base of all languages.’’
Kelly, Louise’s sister disagreed, ‘’Take Spanish, everyone takes Spanish. You need it more than French or German.’’
‘’Spanish is popular in the south, because southerners want to understand their neighbors,’’ thought Louise.
Louise considered German…
Two world wars were blamed on Germany. Hitler, leader of the Nazi party, was responsible for concentration camps, causing the 2nd world war. She remembered the raging voice of that one man, who inflicted so much pain. She shuttered remembering the many pictures she had seen on the Internet of naked almost dead humans piled on top of each other like garbage. And a documentary she watched about concentration camps, where people talked about seeing their neighbors disappear. It scared her so much that she couldn’t sleep without having nightmares of being pulled out of her house at gun point by the Gestapo*. She didn’t want to believe the things that she had seen. Why would anyone do this? How could this happen?
She asked her parents, ‘’why?’’
Her grandparents, who lived through the Second World War, ‘’What was it like?’’
She remembered the stories her Grandfathers told at the table on Sundays. About life as a soldier. About Germany.
And she knew instinctively which language she would choose. Not out of fascination, but out of fear. She figured; if this country could start two world wars, then it might just start a third one.
She thought of the saying, ‘‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’’.
She wanted to learn this language, so that she could help her country if need be.
Going against the suggestions her mother and the reasoning of the sister, she decided to learn German. It is a language that sounds more like a series of coughs than communication.
Little did Louise know, what this decision would teach her. It changed stereo types, it taught her to challenge common beliefs and history books, and it humbled her in more ways than one. It took her on a journey of a life time.
*Secret state police of the Nazis
© Rebekah Schmidt and Ten Years in Germany 2013, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rebekah Schmidt and Ten Years in Germany with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.