Cleaning …

Sitting and watching a bar slowly moving from the left to the right … I think any computer user is familiar with this image on the screen, be it a download, an upload, installing something, or as in this case, running maintenance. Now and then it’s necessary to look after the computer and clean out a bit. The operating system is a bullet proof xp, slightly modified by some people who knew what they were doing (if it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for me), but nevertheless the registry becomes a little bit “fat” over time. I use a registry cleaner and the ccleaner; earlier I had the program from this Finn whose name I forgot, very detailed and useful, but it’s not necessary anymore. Defrag the hard drives and shredder the free space; now and then it’s necessary to wipe the free space, nothing is completely deleted with the normal commands, just written over, so this wiping is a like ploughing over the field. I use the simple three times version, nothing to hide here. Makes the machine run a bit faster, less hard drive activity. This machine is old, I do not believe that someone recognizes the name of the cpu – Sempron anyone? -, the hard drives are two trustworthy Winchesters with 20 (!) GB each, and for the RAM we just grabbed what was in the box, a little bit more would be no mistake. The graphic card is from stone age and I want my friend to put in another one with a bit more ka-humpf, let’s see what parts she has collected over time.
Of course all this is “displacement activity”, Übersprungshandlung, I should do something else. I should worm meself through the tons of pictures with old handwriting we collected over years and make a page on the business site. I should make my way back to g+, worm meself through the circle with the genealogists  and start to look at all them blogs, starting to “network”.
But most important of all, I should turn my stool around, sit at the old kitchen table of my grandfather to my left and face the small package of letters I was given some nights ago. Given by a man my age, or a bit older I guess, written by his father. The handwriting, of course. Reminds me of the hand of my father. But he was younger, born 1930. These letters are written by a man in his very early twenties serving in the Wehrmacht in the East, in Russia. I do not expect sensations to be revealed. I fear the “normal horror”. As I understand from the conversation with his son, he was no Nazi, but a normal young man who went to war and wrote letters to the girl he loved. They married in the end of ’45. Yes, he came back, he lost a leg somewhere in Russia, don’t know when, and she accepted him back wounded as he came.
This damn war seems never come to an end. Some say that a war is “finished” when the last survivor dies. For WWI it would mean this or last year, when the last serving soldier finally died, an Australian I think, but I may be wrong. For WWII … my grandfather on maternal side died in 1988, and his memories and stories, his fate, is still “alive” with me, I know it and saw, what it made to him and the family, my grandmother and her daughter, my mother.
No, I do not “fear” to read these letters. I know that he survived, I know his son – and he’s a good man – I fear to see and understand – what … how it is, and how it should be? What life, forces, authority did to a young man of twenty one years – is it Mitleid? No, I don’t think so … I can not name it, have not thought it through, or better: felt it through. I’m just getting ready to start to read. And as I know from experience, it will suck me in.



I just have to start.


12 thoughts on “Cleaning …

  1. lx says:

    “Some say that a war is “finished” when the last survivor dies.”

    I agree with that 100%. In my family, I have two uncles still alive (both in their late 80s) who fought in the Navy in the Pacific in World War II. One of them survived a kamikaze attack that killed almost a third of the crew of his destroyer.

  2. The war that was supposed to end all wars –DIDN’T! There is a program here that takes veterans on a flight for a day to see the memorial in Washington. There are quite a few veterans that are waiting to take that trip. December 7, Pearl Harbor, was the official start for the U.S. except for the Flying Tigers that got into it earlier. “War is hell” Don’t remember
    who said it.

  3. What do I say? Those things that happened were all a long time ago.Given the circumstances, who’s to say, what is right and what is not?
    being distanced, objective is impossible, yet, for what it is worth, mister mago– good luck

  4. Have you read the letters now? It will be plain scary to read what authority did to a young man of twenty-one, especially with the benefit of hindsight. Let us know how you get on.

  5. Thank You All for your friendly words and good wishes.
    I unwraped and counted them (he was a busy writer!), and put the dried flowers in a pergamin couvert – yes, we leave nothing out here. I started to read and slowly become familiar with his handwriting, a bit unconventional. I think it’s possible to do it in one go, editing and correcting in a second step.
    St.Nick did not bring candy, LX but a surprise with my bank, but all is sorted now. I will go now and buy a leftover Nikolaus and bite his head off. Nothing personal, just a tradition 🙂

  6. The second world war finished in my father’s family when his brothers came back from the war.
    They never spoke about it, never wrote about it, never even joked about it.

    They’ve been dead for years now, and all I know is they were in North Africa somewhere.

  7. Hello Pearl, welcome, and thank you for your first comment here. I know you from MsScarlet and I think from Eryl’s too.
    We once translated a letter from a father (in Franconia) to his son in America. An answer to an earlier letter, in which the son seemingly had described his Heimweh. The father wrote – I only memorize – “throw your Heimweh into the water where it’s deepest; if we could, we ‘d follow you.” He described how the village became poorer and poorer, I found it very touching. BTW I understand meself to be very “honoured” (don’t know whether it’s the right word) to be allowed to read these letters, regardless whether they are from the 19th or 20th century, after all it’s all family affaires and private, it’s all about trust.

    It did not end in my family, when my grandfather came home, Macy. You remember me to look for these photographs again, I finally have to search for them. Some interesting researches in the 90s showed, that those people who saw serious action, were not the ones bragging about their heroe-ness or heroism “am Stammtisch” (sorry, am too tired now to translate this correct and meaningful), simply: The loudmouths most often were sitting somewhere behind, those who survived being shot to pieces didn’t talk much about it, no matter whether they won or not. They shared the experience of surviving. I’ll never forget a tv feature about WWI, must have been 1988 or 1984 I do not remember. Surviving French soldiers were again in Verdun and the old men slammed themselves into the ground, showing how they survived: They were there again, for them it happened again. As it did for my grandfather in his last months, when he was in Kursk again, driving his last tank.

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