I’ve been living in Brussels – the capital of the European Union – for nearly three months now. According my study plan I should take courses on EU-journalism, but mostly I have sat on trains, walked around and met people in front of the old and beautiful cathedrals.
Once while being drunk, I decided to travel to Netherlands to meet my friend. I got stuck in Antwerp, where I drank more. In the morning I went to eat some kosher food, planning to clean my body and soul. At the restaurant an old lady was surprised what a Muslim boy like me was doing in a kosher place. I laughed and asked why she thought that I was a Muslim, because I could also be a Jew by my appearance. Her answer was that I looked too enthusiastic to be a Jew and the Jewish kids don’t do kosher anymore.
I sat down and while asking for suggestions I mentioned about my background. She sat next to me and showed her arm. It had a tattoo of number of series. She said that it was a mark of the day when she lost her name and the value as a human. She poured me some wine, got me some brandy and told me what had happened when she was only eight years old.
While she told me her story, I couldn’t be more ashamed about how Finnish history research has seen the role of Finland during the Second World War. According to that we were not in the same side of Germany, Japan and Italy – we just made friendly co-operation against Soviet Union.
I tried to please my self-conscience and tell her that the Roma, Jews and queers fought beside the other Finns.
Of course she was aware of all that and knew that Finland handed over people to concentration camps. I felt even guiltier, but she smiled to me. I swore that I wouldn’t ask about the acts and policy of Israel against Palestine, but just noticed that my mouth is faster than my brains.
”Oh dear boy”, she said and poured more brandy for us and after few glasses she looked at me and smiled with her eyes shining love and care.
After that she put my hand on her breast and said how guilty she felt. She just hoped that all of us would live happily together and never forget the heritage of Second World War. She wished that the Israel wouldn’t repeat the cruelties of its own citizens.
In the evening I got drunk again, this time in Brada, Netherlands. Somebody had found a marker pen and we drew different kinds of moustaches to each other. Suddenly I noticed how a German girl had an uncomfortable look on her face. Somebody just drew Hitler’s moustaches to another kid. Apparently feeling guilty about things that we have not even done ourselves is not that uncommon. The European heritage lays somewhere between Nietzsche and shame.
The writer is a student of speech communication.