Gert Krell, December 5, 2009-12-05
A German Dream
On Thursday, December 3, we went to a concert with a balalaika orchestra of Russians who now live in Germany and a boy choir from Belarus. Parts of the programme were a little too conventional for me (Lara’s theme from the film Dr. Shivago, e.g.), but the musicians were highly professional, and some of the transcriptions for the balalaika orchestra, such as Tschaikovsky’s nutcracker suite, were congenial and sounded extremely well, and the singing was always excellent. Whenever I hear Russian musicians and/or Russian music, I cannot avoid thinking about the Nazis and their vehement and dehumanizing anti-Slavic prejudice. How could they ever believe these were “uncivilized” people, people without a culture? Belarus in particular suffered tremendously during the war. The SS burnt hundreds of villages, sometimes their inhabitants included, and the fight against the partisans there was extremely brutal. Between 25 and 50% percent of the Belarussian population perished in the war.
The night after the concert I had a strange dream. I was with a group in the countryside, and we were talking about an invitation by a Mr. SS-Führer So-And-So. I said if I were to address him, I would leave off the title [which in reality I always do with titles, and I never let myself be called “Herr Prof. Krell”]. If I were him, I would not let myself be addressed that way, I would have quit the organization anyway. Then someone said, up to a certain point in history the SS had been quite o.k., upon which I responded that 50 million dead were in between this statement and today’s reality.
We then approached a huge, marvellous castle with a large and beautiful lake. We walked through one or two rooms and then onto a large terrace near the water. I was seated at a table with four; two seemed to be the “SS-Führer” and his wife. None of them looked dangerous or spectacular. The lady addressed me as “Herr Oberstleutnant” (Mr. Lieutenant Colonel). I thought to myself (in the dream), I am no Oberstleutnant [in reality, I never was in the army], but in an aside to someone nearby suggested that for once I would like to be one. Then I discovered that a young lady seemed to want assistance with being seated near to me. I helped her with her chair, but insisted that we had to leave room in between for someone else who had withdrawn for a short while.
Are we still on both sides, on the side of the victims and the side of the perpetrators as well? From psychoanalytical literature, I know that dreams in which we are on both sides of the ramp, so to speak, are not quite unusual among second generation Germans. We were too young to have been involved in the murder machinery, but we are still connected to it, subconsciously; in some way we belong to this part of Germany, too.