This I Believe

Matthew - Brookline, Massachusetts
Entered on September 24, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: legacy, race

The part of my own culture that I defend and treasure the most is my heritage. I am German, and that is a part of my identity. Strangely it is somewhat concealed and most people would never guess it of me. I was born in Hamburg, Germany in December of 1992. My family lived there until I was 2½ years old, when we moved to America.

I have always had a strong pride in being German and I always saw Germany as a great country with a rich culture and history. My heritage was a factor that set me apart from the other kids in my point of view. I recently took German language courses over the summer to develop myself as a German and I am consistently interested in my home country and its culture, past and current. Of course, I have been in some difficult situations due to Germany’s grave recent history.

During a normal day in a normal History class in 5th grade, something oddly memorable occurred. When one of my classmates was asked “What was the Holocaust?” by the teacher, she replied “It was when the Germans killed the Jews.” I felt horrible inside. It felt like something was wrong. For the few instants that seemed like eras to me, I mulled over in my head that oddly calm response and pondered on why someone would even say something like that. I sat there, quiet and observing, as there was nothing I could do.

In the end, my classmate just made an honest mistake, but the problem was that she did not know any better. She should have. The American history lessons always teach how the Nazis always oppressed the Jews. Kids in 5th grade never learn that absolutely everyone in Germany was living in fear. There should not be any priorities in what happened in history. My father once said “people who write history can write it however they want to.” I believe that people should be able to overcome this ignorance and give the whole story, all of the whole stories, in order to eliminate all of those awkward and hurtful situations for everyone. History is about events in the past, which involve everyone, not select groups of people.