Speaking and writing in German.


There is a way we all speak and write, it reflects upon origins, education, the environment a person lives in and of course a state of mind.  Only few people know, that there was a time when I refused to speak or write German which went on for several years…  I found out recently that it can be a often found feature of German Jewish people who or whose parents were shoa survivors or refugees and who live outside of Germany.  Luckily I came out early enough from this period and still managed to write for a national paper, but it has taken away a little bit of the former freshness of my German.  This is thus not just rustiness (by which I mean I can’t throw around with cool terms like my fellow colleagues and sometimes have to think a little longer how to put something) but also result of a very deliberate emotional temporal disconnection with German and Germany.  Writing for a German newspaper for me came as part of my own personal ability to cope with Germany and the German language again, but also I fear to say with my disillusionment that the British would judge me precisely on grounds of the German tone of language.  Given that there was no escaping the fact that I was born and raised in Germany, I began to look at the positives of that circumstance rather than the negatives alone.   I still prefer English, my fourth language,  and would call my relationship to German language as still “in rehabilitation modus.”  But the patient is getting better thanks through the life support infusion by the German paper I write most for, TAZ, the largest left of centre German daily with a traditional strong anti-racist stance, where I know some editors seem to have a feeling of comprehension and duty to Germany’s past and how it translates itself today.  I like to take claim to especially the spirit of the 1970s, and the legacy of the 1960s in Germany amongst some progressive educators and thinkers, a period itself I hear is no longer what defines Germany today.  Hence it is important that those of us who carry the legacy of the shoa as part of our family constellation remain conscientious writers and speakers and in German and to Germans and beyond in the way that only we can.

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