Monday, September 13, 2010

Random Observations and Thoughts - Rhine Cruise in Germany

  • We had dark, overcast weather most of our days.  This enforced my preconceptions of Germany.  My mind kept wandering back to stories that my parents told of World War II.  It will take several generations, I believe, for the strong connection between Germany and the horrors of World War II to fade.
  • Several of our tour guides mentioned that German nationalism has not been encouraged since the war.  Only recently have German citizens begun to fly their flag.
  • German law is tough!  Our tour busses had seatbelts, and the tour guides were insistent that we use them.  The fines are quite steep for breaking the law.
  • Privacy is very important to Germans. For instance, there are no public records when a house is sold nor are there public tax records. No one can find out the selling price of a home.
  • When speaking about the war years, guides used the word "Nazis" rather than "Germans."  One guide referred to the time period as the “difficult time in Europe."  My impression is that modern day Germans want to distance themselves from those who were responsible for the conflict.
  • On a happier note, we saw many people fishing along the river.  They had extraordinarily long fishing poles, maybe 15 or 20 feet!  Perhaps the fish only live in the middle of the river?
  • Wherever we go, the bread is fantastic.  I could probably eat only bread and cheese at every meal and be a happy gal.
  • I started to read Reading Lolita in Tehran on the plane. I chose this book quite by accident; it was a donation to our Oasis library and I thought I could just leave it on the boat when I finished it. It turned out to be an interesting choice.  Totalitarian regimes even decades apart have much in common.  The Nazis persecuted the Jews, and the Iranian government persecutes women.  Towards the end of the book, the author, Azar Nafisi, says, "How does the soul survive?"  Her answer is "through love and imagination."  In order to survive, one of the characters in the book paints her fingernails bright red forcing her to wear gloves when in public.  She lives in fear of being stopped by the police and having her gloves removed.  She could be punished severely, even to the point of being stoned to death.  Yet, she remains defiant.  In order to survive, Anne Frank and her family created as normal a life as they could.  They celebrated holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries with parties.  Otto Frank tracked his daughters' growth by marking their height on a wall in the secret annex.  In both cases, the human spirit refused to allow monsters to steal their souls.
  • It was good to come to Germany.  I felt safe and welcome.  I hope we can return some day.

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