A trip to Verdun (non-fiction)


Following the chronological order of my texts, I would be posting part no. five and part no. six of ” A night – somewhere, some time” in these minutes. But sometimes, there’s nothing such as a normal structure, sometimes our lives are interrupted by small events turning into big ones.

Two days ago, I visited Verdun – maybe THE symbol for the disaster of World War One, or in other words, The Great War. I had imagined the trip to be hard – both physically and emotionally  – but my imagination had been wrong: I have been to places such as Buchenwald and Dachau before, stood in a small room where innocent people had been held for many years in isolation, looked into the eyes of a former prisoner of a concentration camp when he told me that he had been the only one from his Family to survive the genocide on Sinti and Roma during World War Two – but I have never been touched like this before in my live.

We stood inside this fort where approximately 300 German soldiers had died in 1917 because of a fire and I could literally feel how they had fought for their lives, had tried to escape from under the ground. Everytime, someone stepped on the medal plates  on the ground, I almost jumped because of the noise. After 40 minutes, we went upstairs. Outside, the contrast made me shiver again – never before, the sun and fresh air had felt both strange and beautiful.

Yesterday, back home, I suddenly saw my flat with different eyes: In my living room, about 40 soldiers would have had place to sleep. What would they have done for the possiblity of taking a shower? When did they have the pleasure of enjoying privacy? Did they long for the taste of fresh fruit while fighting for their lives? I could go on with these comparisons for ages and  I know that my words – from the perspective of someone who has experienced war – must sound like lame bla, bla, … –  but having been in Verdun, I now feel how privileged I am.

In German, we have the beautiful word “Demut”: While saying it, you almost bow your head because of the sound of the syllables. Yes, having visited Verdun, I only have one word left to say: Humbleness

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