One of the brilliant things about being a Mom is that you learn so much from your children. Would I know anything about bagpipes, would we have even been to the Eifel, if not for Robin? And would I have done my best to conquer my fears of octopus, or fallen in love with jackfruit, without Laura?
“No!” is the resounding answer to those questions. So when Laura told me that she enjoyed using twitter, and found it informative and interesting, I realized I should re-think my previous reluctance – I had joined in 2013 but rarely popped by. Now I follow loads of interesting people, including the new German Ambassador to the UK, Andreas Michaelis, who last week shared a clip, with the comment ‘…a memorable exchange in German airspace.’
The occasion was a plane from the Israeli Air Force entering German airspace for the first time, and it took my breath away. I immediately forwarded the clip to one of my lovely students who is an air traffic controller, and he immediately answered that he was indeed involved in the planning of all this: the Israeli Air Force was here for training with the Luftwaffe, and later that day the two air forces would be performing flypasts of various symbolic sites, including Dachau, together. In friendship.
Gosh, what that means, what patience and forgiveness and tolerance and kindnessand hard work. over years. that means.
Many years ago, we saw a programme on TV about an apple tree called ‘Korbinian’. It is named after Korbinian Aigner, a Catholic priest who was imprisoned by the Nazis in various places starting in November 1939. In 1941 he was deported to Dachau, becoming prisoner No. Nr. 27,788. He had an apple with him when he entered Dachau, and he planted the pips and grew four trees, which he named KZ1-4. (KZ means ‘Konzentrationslager, Concentration camp.) KZ3 is available as a tree commercially, called ‘Korbiniansapfel’, and of course we knew that we had to have that apple tree in our garden. You can see it in the header. The apples are not especially delicious, but for me they have the echo of what Martin Luther may have said, “Und wenn morgen die Welt unterginge, würd ich heut noch ein Apfelbäumchen pflanzen …” (‘And if I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would plant an apple tree today’).
This week we have been watching clips of the Democratic Convention on twitter, and feeling stirrings of hope. As Maureen Dowd writes in The New York Times, “Joe’s Fearsome Weapon Against Trump: Simple Decency.
“Biden stood with a full heart before an empty hall to accept his party’s nomination.
“This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme,’’ he said, using the Seamus Heaney line alluding to the Irish finding a way beyond the Troubles to peace.
But there’s another Heaney line, the one the Nobel laureate chose for his gravestone in County Derry, that suits the moment even better: “Walk on air against your better judgment.”
After the flypast, there was a short memorial ceremony at Dachau. When that had finished, the Israeli AF commander Major General Amikam Norkin beckoned Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz over: the President of Israel was calling, by mobile phone, to send them both his best wishes. Israeli and German, standing together in front of KZ Dachau.
“Walk on air against your better judgement.”
“If you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ll find the way.”
“History says, don’t hope ….
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave.
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme”
( Seamus Heaney, The Cure at Troy, 1991)
The Cabin Fever part: