When I started this blog a couple of years ago, one of my early posts is called A WOMAN FROM THE EAST.
It’s Klara’s story, but also mine.
1945, fleeing the Russian attacks of their hometown near Breslau in the historic region of Silesia, a trek of refugees from the East swept into our village. Accompanied by Stefan, her father, Klara reached the West with nothing more than the clothes on her back. No one had any idea how their future would play out. She was simply shell-shocked and distraught to have not only lost her home but many relatives in the turmoil of WWII.
As years went by it became clear that she could never return home. Her father passed on and Klara lived the rest of her life in my grandma’s house. She witnessed my birth, was a God-sent for us and became a family-member-by-love. Yet, the horrors of what she had experienced during the war never left her. They haunted her dreams every night.
2022, I follow the events developing in Ukraine with a sorrow-filled heart. In a weird twist of fate, I watch Ukrainian women and children fleeing their homes and arriving in Breslau, the very place from where Klara fled the Russian army seventy-seven years ago. Breslau has become Polish territory since the end of WWII and today, it’s a safe haven for Ukrainian refugees.
And tens of thousands more sweep into my native Germany where, once more, people open their homes to take them in and provide shelter.
History of the worst kind is repeating itself. My heart is broken to see the Ukrainian people have to endure a war they never initiated. Old stories are coming back to me that were told in Klara’s kitchen when her fellow refugees came to visit. Stories filled with the horrors of bombs, death, rape, violence, maimed bodies, and men missing in action. My mother was a refugee, and my grandmother was killed by a Russian bullet when they trekked down from Pomerania fleeing the Russian army.
I keep remembering my father’s PTSD that stemmed from his fighting in a war he did not sign for but ended up as a prisoner-of-war in France until 1948.
Seventy-seven years after WWII I feel nauseous to witness scenes we thought belonged to the past. Speechless and in disbelief, all I can do is pray that this craziness ends, that people can return home to live their lives.
Those of us, who have seen the aftermath of war, cannot fathom that such horror is being played out again. On the soil where our ancestors died and their descendants vowed to keep the peace.
There is no justification to start a war, none. Obviously, it takes only one power-drunk person to light a deadly fire.
Lord God, have mercy on us.