Yesterday I went to my local doctor for a checkup. I haven't been feeling my best lately and have felt some pressure in my chest so wanted to check my heart. As I sat in the waiting room an elderly lady came in to pick up her coat. It's been freezing the past couple of days here in Munich and after three years of living here I don't think I will ever get used to it. Anyway, the elderly lady sees me sitting their waiting, I'm guessing I am her "project" for the day because she starts a conversation with me with a heavy Bavarian German accent.
The difference between German and Bavarian is immense, almost liketwo different languages. When I moved here in order to get German citizenship I was required to learn the classic "high German" as well as the more common German which I'm still not good at and it sounds funny when I speak. So the elderly lady starts telling me how wonderful the young doctor is and how great it is to have such a good medical services in Germany and how in her days there was no good education because of the war. Then she paused, as a good and polite citizen would do, and waited to hear my point on the subject.
I always get nervous at this point because I know that because of my broken German people know I am not from here. She then realizes that she has been talking for half an hour with someone who only half understood what she was saying (I also make it look like I understand every word and hope they don't expect me to answer) and on top of this I will have to let her know I'm from Israel (they always ask "where are you from?" when they notice an accent) and she was just referring to the Second World War which is always ... awkward.
I looked at her with a smile and told her that I also appreciate the German education, then I let her know I'm from Israel and that in Israel its different because you first join the army and then you go to study so the younger generation in Israel is always a bit older when they start their education.
Her initial facial reaction seemed as though she regretted ever starting up a conversation with me. I could sense the regret and even a little shame in her voice. She began apologizing and saying how she was
only four years old when the war ended and how she saw the trains passing through with the hungry people coming out of Dachau and how her family were trying to feed the people on the train with water and potatoes because they looked so hungry and thirsty. She said she remembers their skinny faces until this day and that her father died in the war and that her family didn't want anything to do with the war. She told me she feels very ashamed of it.
I looked at her with a smile and told her she shouldn't be ashamed, that the past is past. She smiled back at me with twinkling eyes and was going to say something, but I was then called in to my appointment.
By the time I saw the doctor, my heart was already feeling a bit better.
||Moriel on the right doing Purim in Munich
I hang out a lot with the younger German generation; the generation who perhaps do not carry the shame from what has happened. But this fine elderly woman was still carrying stuff, and it is for these kind of encounters that I feel I'm here for.
Moriel Beth is a 30 year old artist who's moved her life from Israel to Munich in the name of love. Lover of God, her German husband and all things beautiful.