So. Awhile ago, the news broke that a romance between a Nazi and a female jewish prisoner had finaled in the RITAs. I hadn’t planned on writing anything, but then yesterday Bethany House posted a non apology. And well, I changed my mind.
I don’t speak about my family history online, but this time I will.
While I am not Jewish, my father is, as is my aunt, uncle and several of my cousins and most of my extended family on my father’s side.None of them is practising. But my father is, even if no one in his family is a practising jews.
My great-grandfather and his siblings brought their family to Sweden from Poland before World War I, when the pogroms were common. They were choosing between Sweden and the US, but they settled on Sweden since it was close and they had already visited once. (If you want to get a hint of how bad things would come, I recommend The Crime and the Silence by Anna Bikont. I haven’t gathered the courage to read it, yet.)
I have lost count how many times I have heard about how my grandmother had a bag packed during the war, in case she had to flee when the nazis invaded Sweden. Yes, it is humbling to hear those stories when you are a teenager.
On the other hand, I also grew up with my non-jewish mother’s hatred for Poles, since they had managed drive away all their jews. Yet, I was taken by surprise when I idly mentioned to Father that I was considering going to Riga for my birthday. He patiently explained that Riga had been emptied by jews, and he would prefer to not go there. Which is one reason why my family doesn’t go to Eastern Europe. We go to Western Europe, and Southern Europe but not Europe. There are simply too many places were there used to a flourishing Jewish population, but they were either driven off or departed.
And this is almost 70 years after the war ended. I don’t know how it is in other European countries, but in Sweden the war is remembered. I was ten or twelve when I first read Anne Frank. I also saw it as a play. Other classes go to Auschwitz, though I never did. The takeaway is that it will be remembered for a long time, since Europe wants to avoid another war like it.