Letter: Shame to the third generation

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your article 'Spielberg brings Holocaust home to Berliners' (5 March) recalls to mind a visit my wife and I made to Berliner friends last summer. I asked their daughter what she was doing for her summer holiday. She said she was going to Auschwitz. I'm not sure exactly what young Germans do there, but clearly it is an act of atonement. I replied that I didn't think that is what a girl of 16 should be doing for her summer holiday.

Even her father was a small boy in the War. He pointed out to me the park where he used to run about. I can't properly imagine what it must have been like to be a small boy watching a city destroyed around him, with almost inevitably family friends being killed. Nor can I imagine what it must be like to be 16 now and know that the world is still not letting you off something that happened half a century ago.

Your article quotes one middle- aged Berliner coming out of Schindler's List and saying 'I have never felt the horror of the Holocaust so acutely, or . . .' (and here we have it) ' . . . felt so ashamed to be a German.' In effect we already have Germans feeling the shame unto the third generation; Spielberg is making them feel it more acutely.

It is time to let them off and to turn our gaze elsewhere - to the West Bank perhaps.

Yours sincerely,




5 March