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|XYZ - After the Tears,
By Alfred Opp, Vancouver,
Edited by Connie Dahlke, Walla Walla, Washington
World War II caused many scars and unfolded a drama
that was shameful and unjust to millions of people.
Men, women and children fell victim to the cold-blooded
massacre of war, and hate touched the lives and souls
of people all over the world. War leaves no winners
- there is bloodshed for all. Many areas of the world
were left in shambles. I personally experienced the
devastation of Europe, especially of Germany. It seemed
that every living person was hurt by the war and walked
around showing no feelings. For thousands of Germans,
the suffering did not end with the war. Many ended
up outside their home areas and were unable to escape
from the rapidly on-coming forces. They got caught
and were held behind barbed wire on charges of guilt.
In the East where we were as the war ended, women,
children and seniors were held in detention camps.
The treatment we received was inhumane. We were given
almost no food, and after a time we were simply let
go in humiliation. Christians turning against fellow
Christians - how could that be justified? How could
this be done to children who cannot understand what
got them into this situation? How could people see
the looks on the faces of these children as they cried
out for basic sustenance, for human love and kindness,
and walk away with no response? These also became
the walking wounded - wounded in their souls for life!
During the war, the War Lords brain-washed the common
people into believing that their neighbors could not
be trusted. Your neighbor could be your enemy, and
even cast you as a traitor. The level of distrust
became so bad that people turned against one another.
That was the worst of times. In the end, we lost the
ability to reach out to one another. Some even gave
up on God, and thought that God had given up on them.
The war at last came to a merciful end.
Eventually we started to pick ourselves up and began
to walk away from the ashes. We had to learn to go
on and live in peace. This was an important step -
one that we had to make on our own. No-one could do
this for us. We could not give up our love for the
Fatherland and become something we were not. We are
born to the land, and so were our ancestors. We were
in need of our identity. Our forefathers had been
beaten down before and had gotten up. It was now our
duty to do the same. With nearly half of the population
of Germany homeless and on the move, the first focus
was the search for family members. Bringing relatives
back to the family circle was a struggle. To deal
with the missing was painful. We had to look past
the ruins and the crosses to find the rising sun.
The war taught us the lesson that we make a choice
as to how to deal with difficulty. Then we live by
our choice. If we live by the love, kindness and the
heart for forgiveness that is offered to us, then
we can rebuild our lives. It didn't take long for
people to open their doors to reach out to one another.
There were beautiful, heartfelt and unforgettable
moments on the road to our new life. What seemed lost
to us, we were able to recover. The sky began to open
up to us, and we came alive again. Not all is lost
in a war. We learned to appreciate that which we had
nearly lost - the gift of life. Many of us came to
realize how important little things are. Values that
we previously didn't see are now important elements
in our life. I would not be the person I am today
if I had not learned faith from my ancestors before
I experienced life to those depths. Thank you, God,
for keeping me safe.
Alfred Opp is the author of "Pawns on the World Stage" - the memoirs of his childhood in Teplitz, Bessarabia and the experiences of his family in war-torn Europe (Poland during 1941-1945 before they fled to East Germany in 1945, then the reconstruction of West Germany 1945-1955).
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