A while ago, I gave a talk to a high school class about my parents and their experiences under the Nazis. I talked about my father’s four years in Buchenwald and my mothers two and half years in various slave labor camps in Germany.
During the Q & A after my talk, a young man asked me a question. I’m sure it was in part sparked by the Christmas season, the talk that you hear at this time of year about “Peace on Earth and Good Will to all Men.” He asked me whether or not I forgave the Germans for what they did to my parents.
The question stopped me. I haven’t thought about it before. Of course, I had thought about whether or not my parents forgave the Germans. My father never met a guard he would forgive. They were brutal men who beat him and killed his friends for no reason. One sub-zero winter night, these guards ran roll calls over and over. Hundreds of prisoners in pajama thin clothes stood outside in the cold and snow. By morning, about a hundred prisoners were dead.