THOUGHT ON BEING GERMAN // back to speeches
Thoughts on Being German
BY: ERIC BRAEDEN
At no time during my 44 years in this country have I felt a greater need for communication and critical discourse than now. After the tragic events of 9/11 I asked the director of CBS News why in heavens name did they not have more extensive coverage of the deeply felt and spontaneous demonstrations of sympathy and empathy with the American people by hundreds of thousands of Germans in cities and villages all over the country who took to the streets in candlelight vigils. Because I felt that by not showing it, the media irresponsibly and unnecessarily contribute to a feeling of isolation in America, a feeling of paranoia and even xenophobia which then leads to an acceptance of unilateralism, of preemptive strikes, a foreign policy of exclusion an abandonment of international treaties, the idea going it alone with all of it’s dire consequences. No one country can go it alone, no matter how militarily strong and seemingly invincible and omnipotent, but together, this great country of America along with a multinational and democratic Germany and Europe we can address the many and complex problems of the world we share with everyone.
In my sojourn in this country I’ve learned to deeply appreciate it’s political and philosophic foundation, learned to be in awe of the brilliance of it’s founding fathers, learned to love California and L.A. But part of my heart will always belong to Germany, Schleswig-Holstein, to my village of Bredenbek. It is there that I learned to fight and endure, to love and respect. It has always been my fervent desire to strengthen the many cultural and ethnic ties between our two countries. For that purpose a few friends of mine and I have founded the German-American Cultural Society. We want to preserve the histories of German Americans and their immigrant ancestors,.
Our formerly divided Germany had become one again: let us not forget Reagan and Bush, Baker and Mitterand, Kohl and Genscher, and Gorbachev and Shevardnadze, who made the seemingly impossible a reality, and the thousands of brave East Germans who courageously cried out for freedom. Because of our historical legacy, we Germans have a profound responsibility to be tolerant of others and to cooperate as equal partners in this world of many peoples. Tonight, let us remember the many positive contributions the Germans have made to mankind. What does it mean to be German? It means that we are part of the community of mankind, with a specific and complex heritage, and I am proud of that heritage.