A trip from Esslingen to Schiedam

The children who accompanied us were all 16, 17, 18 years old and they are being prepared. We informed and looked after the children two or three evenings over a period of weeks. Even once for a weekend in Obersteinbach, which is a camp, a house, about 70 or 80 kilometers away from Esslingen, where the Esslingen district built a house where the young people could stay with them over the weekend.

And we tried to show the young people who traveled with me to Holland, to Neath, to Udine, what we are there, namely ambassadors. Ambassadors of Germany in foreign countries who want to look at us with curious eyes.

And I thought I had prepared the young people well and then got off the train in Holland to Schiedam and was very surprised when a man with a microphone ran up to me and asked me, he recognized that I was the head of the circle and me asked what I felt as a German in a country that Germany invaded.

And I wanted to lead with good courage and a good example, but the question totally surprised me because I didn’t feel like a guilty German. I was just over 20 years old at the time and knew nothing about the war. I was born in 1944, so I knew that Germany was heavily responsible here and had invaded Poland, Holland and other countries. But I personally didn’t feel responsible for it.

But I said, that’s why we’re coming to Holland, to show that the younger generation is not the generation that invaded Holland, that invaded the other countries. The reporter was somewhat satisfied with this.

But it was an important encounter for me because I noticed that it wasn’t that easy to go abroad as a German and then I didn’t understand that many of my other people of the same age didn’t want to know anything about the war and even then I was there. In hindsight, I’m a little less surprised that my history teachers in high school history classes kept stopping at the First World War and then the school year was over and we usually didn’t get any further.

When I was a teacher myself, I tried to cover the year 1945 whenever possible so that my students would at least find out what was happening in the world in the German name.

Richard from Esslingen