She volleyed staccato bursts of German at me, before squeezing the English counterpart in between; her accent dense and heavy, as if it had been rolled in a vat of stones and dust.
She was travelling through my sunshine town, warming her wizened bones on a wending trip North. She sat near to me at a small round table, coffee in hand, eyes on the horizon. She smiled. I smiled back. Her fervid spirit sprang large, making her age seem interminable; was she in her 60s? Was she in her 90s? Her skin told more, hugging her bony contours with cream-soft folds and lilting lines.
She was a story teller, and cut a few out now from the quilt of her memories to share. I sat sifting through her words long after she’d gone.
“When I was a little girl of 10, I was conscientious. I had long blonde plaits and bright blue eyes. I did what I was told. My dutifulness saw me appointed as leader of a youth group. The group?
We learnt what it was to be ‘Nazi.’ We were cultivated in the defective ideals of what it is to be ‘superior’ and to be part of ‘The Chosen.”
She confided, leaning forward with the weight of her memory, what it felt like to see herself as contributor to a future cleaved through with bloody axe.
“The worst thing is, I had fun. I enjoyed that youth group. I felt important and like I belonged. I didn’t question what we were taught. I saw through the eyes of the guileless. Only later, as the culture changed, when I grew into an adult, and travelled the world, did I come to realise the depravity of what I’d been schooled in. Only after many, many years, did I forgive myself. With age I realised what a terrible cause it was for a child to be ‘called to.”
She spoke about how, in her lifetime, she continues to witness the cycle.
The cycle of implied superiority because of one’s religious subscription, race or philosophical position. Of the perpetuation of violence in the name of an unseen entity. Of the extension of war through a prism of collectively distorted perspectives.
Before this Beatific Crone left to continue her journey, she assured me she would write her learnings down for thirsty minds to read.
In case she doesn’t get around to it, I wrote a few of her words here to share too.