Maria Fischer, Germany •
Holocaust Memorial Day, January 27, 2024, a bright sunny winter day. As I drive to the nursing home, the home where my sister lives since some years, as I do every Saturday, I hear on the radio about the many demonstrations today against right-wing extremism, against xenophobia, against anti-Semitism, for an open, colorful, diverse democracy. And I regret that I didn’t take a few hours off work on January 22 to attend the demonstration in Bonn. Thousands were there. At the end we sang the Ode to Joy: All men become brothers. Goose bumps. —
I’ll be in my town next Wednesday. I think of my grandfather who, as the brave mayor of his small village, stood up to the Nazis (and soon later to the Communists and the officers of the Red Army). And of our founder, Father Kentenich, who warned so early against this ideology and ended up in a concentration camp. I think of the caregivers in the nursing home, from Germany, from the Middle East, from Eastern Europe, from Africa… And I think of the people there, my mentally handicapped sister, the young women with multiple sclerosis and ALS, the old lady with a brain tumor who always greets me with a smile, the men and women with dementia and those who are simply dependent on help. Will they be next when the “remigration” is done? Will these brown whippersnappers and all those who only “inform” themselves on Facebook and blindly parrot the disinformation that floods the networks then decide which, or rather whose, life is worth living? And what will I do when the time comes? And what am I doing now?
In the midst of these thoughts, my journey comes to an abrupt halt. Roadblock. The police send me into a side street, and as I’m driving back to the nursing home, where I can’t go any further, I see them: a large crowd of people on the “Platz der Menschenrechte” Place of Human Rights” in front of the city hall… Carnival parade? Even if it looks colorful and there is even a “triumvirate” in full regalia – for the non-Rhinelanders: the carnival authorities of the Rhineland: No, this is a demonstration against right-wing extremism, for diversity and democracy. The march through the city center ends here.
I briefly consider changing my plans and joining them, but someone is waiting for me…
The view from the window
From the window of the nursing room, I could see the demonstration, which seemed to be almost over. My sister always looks where I’m looking, so I say: “They are demonstrating against right-wing extremism…”.
She looks at me and then, with concentrated, explosive certainty, she says: “A demonstration against the brown sauce? Maria, we have to go!”
Ten minutes later, we were in the square in front of the town hall, she in a wheelchair, I full of pride. “Democracy is the political form of human dignity,” says Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, a member of the Bundestag. She is glad that so many people got up from their couches to set an example for democracy.
It’s almost over, people are already leaving to go back to the carnival in the town hall across the street and to the surrounding bars and cafés to warm up.
We were there. That’s what counts.
When I got home, I found an e-mail from Sister Elinor Grimm, the “Dachau correspondent”. “Tomorrow there will be a demonstration in Dachau by a broad alliance against right-wing extremism. I support everything, but you can’t be everywhere at the same time. I think prayer is very important from our side. I continue to trust in Regina Pacis, the Queen of the Dachau Camp.”
This morning at Sunday Mass, our parish priest invited us to participate in the demonstration in my town on Wednesday. I’ll be there.
Original: German. Translation: Maria Fischer @schoenstatt.org