Monday, January 19, 2015

At night at the German Embassy

Tonight, Lili was invited to attend one of many events commemorating the Holocaust Generations Conference.  As her "plus one", I had the privilege of accompanying her to a cocktail party at the private residence of Germany's ambassador.

I go to these events with her as a family representative of the "2nd generation" of Holocaust Survivors.  The more of these events I attend, the more I realize that the survivors are all getting on in age and there is an urgency for their stories to be told and not forgotten to history.   It behooves their children and grandchildren to carry on the legacy of telling their stories that we may never forget the horrors they suffered as a result of anti-semitism, particularly as rears its ugly head once again, 70 short years on.

The German ambassador, Dr. Peter Ammon, gave a moving speech on the occasion of the liberation of Auschwitz at the end of January, 1945.

He spoke of the Nazi regime as being "utterly criminal". As the former ambassador to the USA & France he said "we must & will stand united against the forces of evil" referring to the recent tragic events in Paris.

Many of the attendees had spent the day at a lengthy conference and closed the event out at the embassy.  It was interesting to hear some of the European jews speaking in hushed tones how they never thought they would be invited let alone attend an event at a German embassy. Most of the ones who directly suffered in Europe during WWII are required to present themselves once a year to prove they are still alive and therefore still eligible for reparation or restitution monies owed to them as decreed and agreed by Dr. Konrad Adenauer in approximately 1950. 

Dr. Ammon's words were warm, welcoming and contrite, firm in its apology for the past and reassuring that today's Germany is a safe place for Jews to call their home.

It was freezing cold inside.  No heaters were on in the magnificent Belgravia mansion, as seen in such great classic BBC series as"Upstairs, downstairs".  To make it worse, the front door was open and there was a nasty draft blowing through the rooms.  As the speeches came to a close, we were pleasantly surprised when we were invited to an ante-room which had a most delicious buffet with some much appreciated hot pumpkin soup - how Germanic.

The irony was that pumpkins represent one thing to me: Halloween and carving.  Not one for dessert, I have never had pumpkin pie in my life and rarely ate the seeds.  But the frost bite that was overtaking my toes screamed "eat it" and I was more than pleasantly surprised! Not only was it piping hot, but it has given me a new soup to make.

January 18, 2015

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