Vacation is synonymous with the collection! Collection of memories, and then mostly good memories. This summer I have collected many, but one is more special than the others. A memory for contemplation, wonder and joy - a memory that makes sense to share further. Yes indeed something I am committed to providing further.
We stayed in an apartment on a farm near Lake Constance. There were a total of seven holiday flats on the farm. It lived German families in the other six. Everyone was friendly, polite and easy to get in touch with. Particularly two families, who were there together, we got familiar with.
One night as we sat outside and grilled together, it was so that one of the wife and I got to ride a bit for ourselves and talk. What she then said to me, was something that was not meant only for me but for all Norwegians. I can not reproduce the conversation verbatim, but I will try to render it as truthful and straight as I can manage.
Anna and I had talked about this and that. Anna became suddenly a little more quiet. She looked down, and I sensed that she was searching for words. When she turned to me, I got a little startled, for her face had a mournful puffs and her eyes were full of tears.
"It's something I want to tell you that it's very important for me to say," she said quietly. "Some time ago I read a book. This book touched me. Yes, in fact so strong that I decided that if I got into a conversation with someone from Norway, I would use this opportunity to apologize. "She put a hand on my shoulder, and said strong and determined:" Excuse! On behalf of Germany, I must apologize for all the things we did to you during the war. It is so painful for me to think that we were so cruel to you! "
I became dumbfounded! I had not expected this . I wanted to say that there was nothing to forgive. She was not part of the war. Nor was I. What did I have to forgive? But I felt her hand on my shoulder and noticed how important this was for her. "We live in a time of forgiveness and reconciliation," I replied. "It happened, we can not do anything about the incident, but that's history now. Something we shall leave behind us. "
I saw that my words made her well. Then she told about the book. It involved a Norwegian woman who had fallen in love with a German soldier. It turned out that this man was a Jew, which literally was crucial to keep hidden. The book depicted their history, but also how the Germans had behaved toward Norwegians during the war. Anna had been shocked by what she read about how the Germans had taken their place. They had occupied the houses and farms, stolen food, forced Norwegians to work for them, and used threats and violence. At school they had learned about the war, on where the Germans had been and what had happened, but not how they had behaved.
"War is always horrible," I said. "War leads moreover that bad people often get wide latitude. But it was also painful for many of the young German soldiers who were forced into the war. Grandma was one of those who were forced to wash for German soldiers. A German department had occupied the largest farm in the parish. She told me that many of the young soldiers were very unhappy about having to be there. Several of them were no more than 16 years. One evening she had finished the job and should go home, came a drunken Germans after her.
The road went through a forest, and it was evident that he had not honest intentions. Grandmother was small and derision, but with the bone in the nose. She had turned against him - a great and strong soldier - and taunted him all she was good for. Finally, she had said: "If you want to shoot me, then you can do it now, but something else you do not get from me!" Then she turned from him and went, - convinced that her last hour had come. The soldier fired. What he hit she did not know, but he did not hit her. If he missed because he was drunk, or if he just shot in midair is not easy to know. But the other soldiers at the farm had heard the shot, and when he came back, they were sure that he had done something bad against grandma, so they beat him up. They knocked him properly !! "
Anna laughed at me. "He got what he deserved!" "Yes," I replied. "And it shows that many Germans also had its heart in the right place. As a teacher I know that in a class, it is often the troubled pupils who get the most attention and become talked most about, but the MOST is both kind and conscientious. They're just not as much seen and discussed. War is cruel. Also what happened in Norway during World War II created a lot of pain for many innocent. It is difficult to understand how people can be so evil against one another, but we live in a time where we should be allowed to put this behind us. We will carry with us the lessons, but go ahead. "
We got the chanse to talked a lot that night. It surprised me how little Anna knew before about what had happened during the war, but I was really touched by the strong guilt she carried. A burden that was not really her. I would therefore, for Anna's sake bring her words widens, to all Norwegians:
"Forgive us for all the evil we did to you during the war. I'm so sorry - so very sorry for all the pain we brought into your life! "