Introduction

I became a Canadian citizen on April 20, 1970.  An RCMP officer in red serge represented law and order and a black robed judge spoke serious words about freedom and democracy to somber people who were trying hard to hide their happy smiles.  I was instructed to lay my hand on the Bible and to swear loyalty to the Queen.  These symbolic actions expunged my German citizenship.  I felt good.  But I knew that back in Germany my mother and my father did not feel the same way.  They were sad, if not hurt, that I had decided to no longer be a German.  I am very sure that my mother also acknowledged the date – April 20th – Hitler’s birthday.  He would have been 81 years old on that day.  The irony of it – I thought – and smiled.  I suspected she still somehow marked the day.  Well, so had I.  Yes, so had I.  And I smiled some more.

When I learned about the Third Reich and its part in German history my soul became mired in outrage and confusion, then pain and shame.  I could not understand.  I knew my parents were good and intelligent people – how could they ever have been the passionate Nazis they told me they had been.  How could decent people ever allow to happen what occured?  Even though nothing indicated that my parents had been participants in atrocities or even condoned the holocaust, I perceived a conflict that bothered me greatly.  Subconsciously I must have reck0ned that I would solve my problem by running away and leaving things German behind me.  I married an Englishman and immigrated to Canada.  For years I never volunteered the fact that I was German.  If  Canadians wondered whether I was aboriginal, or Russian, or Slavic, I laughed and often did not enlighten them; everything was better than being thought of a German.

Almost forty years later I still feel good about being Canadian but I am now also comfortable with the fact that I was born a German.  I do no longer feel a need to apologize for my father, my family, my people, my country of  birth, for things that happened there before I was born and during my childhood.

This introduction is part of my book “A Duty of Remembrance”.