She gave her brother the plan for letter-writing, making sure they kept in touch. She has spent a good paragraph every letter on logistics of who should write when and how they should send it and how often. It makes me laugh. She was a planner. She even alluded to the fact that she wouldn’t be writing about things of much interest since she would be writing so often.
However, Helene reminded me of the censorship that we often put upon ourselves in scary times. I can’t decide if it is self-imposed out of fear or hope. Maybe it is both. Either way- Patti knows that war is inevitable. She knows that Jews are not safe. She knows that Europe is an ever-expanding battlefield. But she chooses, out of hope or a desire to forget the fear - to talk about her fun weekend. Her life cannot simply be put on hold for fear- so neither are her letters. There quite possibly was an understanding between her and Opa that they wouldn’t dwell on the hideous, but rather speak of what is good and well in the world. There are moments when they ask the other to speak earnestly, and maybe that is permission for the other to be honest in their fears. But yet they still write about the normal things.
The most honest statement I heard by a young German was our tour-guide at the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg: “It is hard to understand how Germany went from being a civilized country to complete barbarianism in the short fall of 13 years. People are still trying to wrap their heads around how that happened.” And this is so true. My experience of Germany was amazing. The people are fantastic. Yet, their family members were Jews, Nazis, Soldiers, Quakers, country folk, city folk. There was nothing inherently obvious that would separate them out right now. The shock of the war and all its atrocities isn’t a shock of a people who were oblivious… rather it is the shock of someone who doesn’t know quite how to deal with the reality that surrounded them, that they knew and saw happening before their eyes. It’s a stage of grief. A loss of innocence. Somehow their wonderful civilized country fell into evil for… love of country, need of food, hope for power, thirst for revenge. I don’t know if there is a single answer appropriate to answer the “why” - and there are only fleeting guilty faces to answer “how.”