I am in Essen, where my great grandmother was born and buried. I am comfortable and uncomfortable, staying with relatives and struggling to be open to their generosity. The family is sweet, so sweet. They have given me a room for these days, with its own entrance and a key. I dream there, praying each night to strengthen my connection to this place. The first night I dreamt of home, of my people moving north, of the cold and of love. My dreams are full of love, birth and death, and I am grateful for their strength and memory.
Yesterday I visited the Dom in Koln, or the Cathedral of Cologne, with two relatives, Uschi and Laura. It was really amazing--- began in the 1400s, and it took centuries to build. I was awed by the size and design, reverent to the work and dedication. Later, at the Holocaust museum, I saw photos of the city in ruins all around while the Cathedral stood unscathed.
We visited the museum of the Gestapo, and I was deeply moved. The museum was recently opened, as the people don’t seem to want to remember the dark days. This was the first my relatives, one 20 and other in her 50s, had ever come into contact with anything related to the Nazis. We saw the prison cells which were overcrowded with people from all over Europe, and we sat in a memorial space while names were displayed and stories told. “..died 1943, in Auschwitz, persecuted for being a Jew.” Laura led me to a particularly ´scary´place, a small dark cell, used for isolation, interrogation, and abuse. I felt a deep pain there, and it moved through my whole body and lingered, sour for hours.
The site is special in that the basement was untouched until the museum opened, and thousands of messages and drawings were left scratched into the walls. There were expressions of hope, longing, fear, despair, and anger. I was so moved by it, especially the beauty that came through a time of such unknown misery.
Love is a present of nature on the whole world,
and without it one cannot live.
All people live from love,
allow, life to love you, too.
-Volodza und Nadza, Russian