I suppose this is a topic on which so much has been written and so much could be written that a blog post is the least appropriate thing to write.
Yet, if you ask me how it is being a German 70 years after the beginning of World War II, I can only say that the concept of war is so unreal, so unthinkable for me due to the way I have been raised as a German citizen and thanks to the way in which I have become a European that I can only be grateful to be a German born into this generation.
We do not celebrate any military victory of ours, we have no stories of war heroes, no great minds and fighters, brave and strong in the face of the enemy. What we have are murderers and cowards, simple people drawn into the army, and young boys forced to fight for nothing at the end of the war. We have destruction and death, disgust and disgrace.
For me as a German, war is nothing but evil - and I am glad it is this way, because there is no single reason or anecdote in our socialisation that makes us like war, weapons, or the killing of others.
When the war started 70 years ago, my grandparents were young children or not even born. When my parents were born, over a decade had past since the end of this most murderous of all wars. When I was born, several decades had past since this 1st of September 1939 in which the myth of the nation, the ideal of the gun, the predominance of horror started to dig their own grave into which millions and millions of human beings were pulled before it was finalised.
70 years later, being German for me doesn't mean to feel guilty for the past, it means to feel responsible for the future.
If my ancestors and their friends and families were ready to go into such a war and to execute the atrocities of the Holocaust, then it could be that people like me would do it again, unless we use this pain deeply fixed into our minds to prevent this from ever happening again - not just here, not just in Europe, but anywhere where people invest most of their time, and money, and effort, and human lives to kill others for the sake of a horrible higher good, be it the nation, the race, or the religion.
70 years later, we as Germans cannot make the past undone, but we can use our collective memory to tell our story, a story in which we win by losing, in which we are happy not to be the winners, feeling ashamed for what has been done in "our" name in the past.
70 years later, I am European because I was raised as a post-war German in a Europeanised and re-unified Germany, and I live in the hope that anyone coming after me will still be post-war and never pre-war again.
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