Heroes and Villains

Today, as I’m writing this, it’s Sunday, February 25, and it’s been 75 years since Sophie Scholl was executed for her part in the Nazi resistance. 

It’s hard developing a healthy identity growing up in Germany when you’re insistently told your ancestors were all monstrous criminals. You grow up carrying that heavy burden on your shoulders, because it is placed there, lest you forget. 

The history books are written by the victors. Great pains have been taken to paint an accurate picture of the terrible crimes committed by the Nazis, and, naturally, each year this chapter was given predominance over everything else that took place in thousands of years of human history. 

Yes, they mentioned the resistance. I remember the tiny paragraphs that summed up the heroic deeds of Sophie Scholl and von Stauffenberg. 
Those were the only two mentioned. We read them within three minutes and moved on to the inhumanities committed. What the history books said to me was, “You’re a descendant of despicable monsters, of cowards, never for a moment forget that.” 

It would have meant a lot to have been allowed to celebrate those of my ancestors who were courageous, and were fighting the regime nail and tooth, in the face of great danger. Risking their very lives to help their families, their friends, and utter strangers. 

I don’t mind looking at all the horrors. They happened. They’re real. But wouldn’t it have been so much better to spend at least an equal amount of time looking at the lives of heroes. To say to young people, “You’re also descended from brave people, who were not afraid to fight and die for what’s right. Don’t you ever for a moment forget that.” 

 

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