Monday, July 21, 2008

Even German Girls Get Kinky



So I got a really interesting response from a reader of my new memoir, Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain. A German woman in her mid-50s just finished my book. She lives in Milwaukee and is the mother to two grown children and a teenager.

She knows my mother and called her to tell her how much she loved the book and that she really identified with my feelings of not quite belonging in my suburban, White world. I was intrigued. How did this German heiress feel alienated in Wisconsin, AKA, little Germany? Where Bratwurst and beer are the local favorites and Oktoberfest is a real holiday?

Well apparently it wasn't in Wisconsin where she felt the sting of rejection, it was in France. She commented that whenever she goes to France, which is often, she can never get over the feeling that the French are still clinging to their hatred of Germans. This woman is very fair-skinned, blond and I guess looks stereotypically German. If you ask me she could pass for Norwegian as well. But she says that people in France are rude to her, won't help her with directions and one time, someone actually spit at her in the street.

She also told my mother though that she understands their hatred of Germans, obviously from the wars. And she recalled how during WWII, French prisoners of war were actually treated like slaves and made to work in German homes. This woman recalled that her Grandmother had "French slaves" in her home but she, despite the laws of the land, tried to treat them humanely. Even though she did not allow them to eat at her table, she did allow them to eat the same food. Even though that was verboten! I was shocked by this story. French prisoners of wars as slaves!

I obviously knew that there wasn't much historical love between French and Germans but I never knew that it was so intimately felt and that the hatred is still so raw. But why not? It wasn't so long ago.

I am overwhelmed and overjoyed to know that so many different types of people are reading my book and that it is sparking these thoughts and discussions. I couldn't have hoped for more. It is my intent, with my words, to bring these issues out into the open so the healing can begin.

Let me stop here before I go all Kumbaya on you people.

But I have to know. Do other Germans-Americans feel discriminated against in France? Are there other historical sins that cling to us that do not allow us to travel freely? I'd like to hear your story.

Peace.

4 comments:

glamah16 said...

Never really saw that when I lived there. But who knows. I know my German doesnt particularly care for France. I dont think it goes that deep, but he's just a snob. I know the Austrians hate the Germans, and vice versa. They each blame each other because Hitler was Austrain and caused all this.

campbele said...

I had your book!! I was ordering books to leave gift to my school in Taiwan and I decided to go ahead and purchase your book. Daggone if I didn't leave it on the plane from Changsha to Hong Kong! I suppose you can call that free publicity! I will be replacing it so that I can finish. I'd only gotten as far as your return to private school.

A better question may be who doesn't feel discriminated against by the French.

Dee said...

Hi!!! I just stumbled upon your blog. Find it very interesting..Yeah I think there is still major discrimination in France against the Germans.I see it all the time...but this PALES in comparison to the discrimination black people face in Germany. It's just way too overwhelming and too blatant.

Kohana said...

I'm not sure if this is relevant, but I think that Germans probably feel ambivalence or resentment across Europe. When I lived in Holland I heard plenty of anti-German sentiment and never heard it challenged in any way.