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On Being German: A Personal Journey Into the German Experience
by Doris Pena-Cruz

Published: 2018-08-20T00:0
Paperback : 428 pages
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In the second half of my life, my thoughts and feelings have centered around one thing: the Holocaust. In my younger years I avoided that subject, be it in literature or in entertainment, whenever I possibly could. That was not easy. Television was full of programs in which Germans looked stupid ...
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Introduction

In the second half of my life, my thoughts and feelings have centered around one thing: the Holocaust. In my younger years I avoided that subject, be it in literature or in entertainment, whenever I possibly could. That was not easy. Television was full of programs in which Germans looked stupid and heinous. My own children watched these things with glee; I fled into another room. Since I have always read a lot, I was at least aware of the avalanche of books that were published about the Holocaust. Still, I kept my blinkers on. I firmly told myself that it was not my business, since I was just a child during that time. Sooner or later such an attitude will have to come to an end. It did for me after I fled a difficult marriage and finally began to examine my life. This was a slow process, aided by a patient psychiatrist. Now, years later, I want to write about my life and about the conflicted feelings such a search will cause in a woman of German nationality.

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Discussion Questions

Do you believe that individuals are as responsible as their nation’s leaders for atrocities committed during war? Is generalized historical guilt justified?

Can you ever forgive a soldier for doing his duty when that includes committing acts that you consider immoral?

What do you believe is the best way for a nation to face and overcome a troubled past? Is Germany different from South Africa after apartheid? Why or why not?

It’s been said that the divisiveness of our current political situation is similar to what happened in German society as Hitler rose to power. Do see parallels? If so, in what ways?

Do you think we can learn any lessons from how the Germans experienced the war and how they dealt with its aftermath?

Do you think it’s better to openly air our struggles and grievances, or is it just better to get on with things and leave the past behind us? When we sweep things under the carpet, can there be healing?

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