a bit of history

Traveling in Germany is often disturbing, at least when you go look up the history of where you’ve been. I spent yesterday on a cruise down the Rhine; I’m downloading pictures and will do a writeup on the other blog. But while it was interesting and understandable to see a big statue to Kaiser WIlhelm on Koblenz and a monument to the local soldiers who died in the Somme in Bingen (even if they were on the other side of that war) it was a little upsetting, when I googled to find why “Bingen on the Rhine” had a resonance for me (turns out it was this poem) to learn that the Jewish community, my people, were expelled from Bingen not once but three times, with extortion by the local archibishops and whatever torture that entailed in between. The final expulsion was of course in WWII, when in 1942 the 169 remaining Jews who had not managed to escape before then were deported to concentration camps. Only four ever returned.

I’m not sure if that makes me feel more ignorant or more triumphant, as an American Jew, to be able to go and hang out on a light-hearted excursion with other visiting Americans in that area and not even have to think about any danger.

(To add a bit of perspective, Jews were not even allowed to settle in the city where I live until 1796. But counterbalancing that, it seems to have been a bit of a haven for us just before and after WWII. Maybe I should have said that ust being in Europe is troubling. But I feel it most in Germany.)

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