A recent posting I placed on ManyRoads has provided me with some new insights into life, progress and accommodating the past. As an old adage notes, you can not control the problems life presents you with, but you can choose how you react to them. And, this is true.
The following historical facts are true:
- World War 2 involved the senseless displacement and destruction of tens of millions of people
- Germany lost the second World War
- the German people of Kreis Elbing were expelled from their homeland
- the Russians and their allies destroyed much of what was West Prussia
- the Poles were given many former eastern German lands including those of Zeyer and Elbing
- immediately after WW2 the victors made serious attempts to eradicate all traces of the region’s former German residents and history
Given the above facts, the current residents of region could readily have chosen to continue to deny the past, excuse the pain, and work to erase the area’s German history. However, over the past several years (probably since the demise of Communism and with Poland’s entry into the EU) there are notable changes in spirit and behavior including:
- improved (actually quite excellent) availability of German documents and archives (dlibra),
- active preservation, conservation and restoration of the region’s original architecture,
- a more active and accurate acknowledgement of German history,
- more public acknowledgement of the German/ Prussian historical contribution to the development of the region,
- and most importantly to me, allowing former German residents to erect memorials to their forebears (such as the new Memorial on Zeyer’s ev. Kirche Cemetery)
As a person whose forebears were from Zeyer and Kreis Elbing, I appreciate the thoughtfulness and difficulties associated with taking this broader approach. Hopefully tolerance and peace are finally finding a home in this long troubled area.