|Everyone thinks that I hate my father and that my whole life has been spent in denial of him and of his legacy. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's just that my Dad is simply so awesome and epic that I really cannot comprehend him and integrate everything inside of me. Sometimes I wish he were in front of me so I could pound on him and punch him and yell "I hate you! Why did you do all of those awful things that you did?!" And other times I want to cry and kiss him, and tell him that I love him and beg him to never leave me again. My feelings are very complicated and sometimes I feel so confused. One day I might be giving a speech at a Neo-Nazi rally and then the next day I might be helping to construct a shrine and museum to the Czechs who murdered my father. Should I feel guilty about my last name and my connection to somebody villified by history? I do feel guilty. But no; wait a minute. I don't. I didn't do anything at all and neither did my siblings, and our father was never anything but a wonderful father to us. That's something that the history books don't want people to know.
When I was little my brother Klaus and I could hardly wait until our Dad would get home from work, although sometimes it could be late because he spent many hours working hard for us and Germany. We would race to greet Vati and he would put me up on his shoulders and he'd hold Klaus by the hand, and we'd excitedly babble to him about how our day went. Even though his head was no doubt filled with all kinds of horrible and heavy responsibilities, Dad would always listen patiently to us and nod his head. Then Mom would come out with little Silke and Dad would hold her close to him and kiss her and call her his little Princess. Klaus and I were secretly a little bit jealous of Silke. If it was still light out,she would lead Dad out into the back garden by the hand and pick him bouquets of flowers which he received from her with gracious thanks. I remember one time Silke made father a little paper crown which she had stuck flowers in and in glittery writing she had inscribed it with "Daddy" across the front. Mom had explained to her about how Dad worked in a castle and so Silke was convinced that he really was a King and she was a princess. Dad was so proud of that crown and he kept on top of his bedroom dresser. Those were happy days.
But then it all changed; Dad was attacked on his way to work one morning and after a week in the hospital he died. It took us kids a long time to comprehend that he was never coming home again and Silke would sit by the window waiting for him to come up the drive once more. And after the War was over things REALLY changed. People who had been our friends suddenly distanced themselves from us. The SS people still stood by us and never left us, but everyone else seemed to suddenly despise us. We were no longer "royal" children. As if somebody terribly evil had waved a magic wand all was transformed and people hated and rejected us; we were despised as objects of scorn and ridicule, scapegoats for everything that our father had done as a part of his job. "He was a soldier" mother said "he followed orders and did what he was told." She would say no more and we could tell that she felt bitter by the betrayal of the public that had once supported him and all of us. The other children made fun of us and we were spit upon and sometimes even beaten up. In a way we were thankful that Klaus had died in that bike accident a year after Dad died because at least then Klaus didn't have to experience this. But we missed him terribly. We also missed Uncle Heinz who had shot himself when he found out about what Dad's job entailed exactly, concerning the Final Solution, and we missed Grandma who died of starvation after the War. We were seldom invited to other children's houses and no birthday party invitations came in the mail save those from the children in SS families. I remember at night I used to talk to my father in my head while I was lying alone in the dark in my bed. I would address him as though he were there, sitting next to me like he used to be when I was little and he would read me a bedtime story.
"Why couldn't you have had a more ordinary job? Why couldn't you have been a teacher, or a truck driver or an accountant or a doctor? Why couldn't you have done anything other than what you did?!" But yet, despite all of this, I still love my father. You are still my Dad and I love you very much. And I look forward to the day when we'll be reunited and I can experience once again the feeling that happiness and safety rests in being in your arms.
© Copyright 2012 Silke Krantz (UN: neuschwanstein at Writing.Com).
All rights reserved.
Silke Krantz has granted Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.
|Log In To Leave Feedback|