Response to Belonging

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    • #31831

      First, I apologize that I am a little behind schedule! Our kids are still in school and I just ran senior week and senior graduation. We have kids through this week and teachers through the 19th! So I am a little behind.

      Belonging was a beautiful book. I was first struck by the graphic nature of it. What is a more beautiful way to show this need for connection to the past than with images and texts from family past. The scrapbook nature of the text was inviting and helped me better connect to Krug and her desire to understand where she came from.

      One thing that really resonated with me was on a page where she talks about this German word, Vergangenheitsbewaltigung. She talks about the meaning being “coming to terms with one’s political past” but that in Germany, it really has come to mean “the process of struggling to come to terms with it”. This is something that really struck me, as I also have been reading another text, “Learning from the Germans” by Susan Neiman, which was suggested to me by a close friend, Martin. Martin grew up in Germany during the war and speaks to my students about overcoming hate and coming to terms with his family’s (and especially his father’s) past and connection to the Holocaust. I can see her struggle in his. I can see her struggle also in our own country. I am often struck by the unwillingness of those here in the United States (not everyone, but I definitely have encountered my fair share here in NH) of people that are not willing to go through this process and examine and accept our own past. I think that it is a powerful term and a powerful idea that there are places in the world that are working towards accepting that their past is not “pretty” and that there have been traumatic things that have occurred that we have to take responsibility for. It also then begs the question about guilt versus responsibility, which is a conversation I have had many times with students. Who is guilty when speaking of the Holocaust? Who do we hold responsible? And for those that are taking responsibility for their past today, when they were not alive in the 30’s and 40’s, what is their role?

    • #31841

      Hi Ashley. Great post. I like how you mentioned guilt versus responsibility. They do have to be examined because they are two entirely different “animals” for a lack of a better word. It does beg the question with Krug’s graphic narrative. Do the Germans born after the WAR come into the world with collective guilt for what others had done before them? I believe not. Yet, I do find that there is responsibility in claiming your own identity within a country that participated in mass atrocities. Educate yourself on your family’s history and the history of your country. Krug displays this with her graphic narrative. You should be an informed citizen who is able to take responsibility for not allowing such inhumanity to rise up in your home country or anywhere else. That is a human responsibility, not necessarily a German one.

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