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When History is a thing of the past
The new generations of Germany and Israel are learning to forget the past

‘James Baldwin had penned the famous quotation: ‘People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them’ in Notes of a Native Son, which perfectly exemplify the manner in which mankind has always been a prisoner of his tormented past and has allowed that to dictate the future course of events. Enemies remain enemies forever and past hostility seldom paves the way for future friendship, as the lessons of the past are passed on to successive generations. Amidst all of this, there are some who still display the courage to change course. Putting aside the agony of the Holocaust, the American Jewish Committee has been working with the German Bundeswehr (Federal Defence Force) for more than a decade to educate young German army officers to understand better the Jewish culture and history of the Holocaust. On December 15, 2004, The Jerusalem Post reported about similar initiatives by a German lady Christiane Walesch-Schneller. In 1999, she founded an organisation called The Society for the Promotion of the Former Jewish Community in Breisach. The Jerusalem Post report states: Walesch-Schneller is part of a growing grass roots movement of Germans seeking to understand their past by reaching out to former Jewish citizens and their descendants, says Werner F. Frank of California, who fled Germany with his family in 1937 at the age of eight.... In January of 2004, Walesch-Schneller was one of six non-Jewish Germans who received the Obermayer German Jewish History Award in the Berlin State Parliament for work done to revive Jewish history. The increasing cooperation between Israel and the German Bundeswehr, especially during the routine Israeli-NATO military exercises, vindicate that all is not yet lost for mankind. History has been testimony to this, notwithstanding the unification of East and West Germany, trauma of the Holocaust and tension of the Cold War. Are the Indian and Pakistani leadership listening?

Pathikrit Payne

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