Impression on the Western Europe
Before arriving in Germany, someone told me that the German tend to isolate themselves and be aloof. But I changed my opinion when I experienced something in Germany. On February 18, 1991, I reached Dusseldorf, Germany. At that time, the Gulf War was ongoing. On the streets and lanes in the city, you could see various anti-war banners and anti-war parades organized by many groups.
In front of a shopping mall at Essen City, I saw a teenager boy signing his name on a slogan “We are against any bloodshed war”.
In front of the Cologne Cathedral, several middle-age men sat on the floor and protected an anti-war slogan written on the paper in different languages. They did not pack up the slogan and left the square until it was nearly dark that the characters could not be seen clearly.
What most moved was the mothers’ wish. On a small square at Hamburg Germany， there were beautiful flowers spreading around and a black veil hung among the flowers. It read clearly on a piece of white cloth: Kids, do not slaughter each other for oil, and think of the dead people for peace. —— Mothers love you.
The Germany sense of participation in Gulf War was reflected from their hate in wars. However, their passion for life could be seen from the daily life.
At one time, we rode a bike and toured the Rhine bank with three other local people, and one of them was Kramer’s mother at 88.
During the springtime, there was full of green grass and flowers along the Rhine River.
Kramer’s mother narrated her terrible memory about the war when she was young. Looking at the pleasant scenery and free tourists, she signed with emotion: “How nice it is! The people are free to walk around the street and plant flowers in front of the door…Hope no war any more. Then both your country and our country would be rich. How nice is that you are so young!”
When she spoke of this, her every wrinkle was mixed with deep exclamation. From her eyes, you could see an infinite attachment to life from an old. It impressed me a lot that she was grateful for the finished war and cherished for the tiny things. This emotion was also inherited by the young generation. We came across a group of drunken teenagers on the most prosperous street of the old city. One teenager wore a hat made from paper with a paper note. It is said that the son of every people served in army should wear that kind of hat. Upon the service end day, the paper note should be cut short every month. And the last one should be cut when the service deadline finished. At that time, the teenager wearing the shortest paper note was really excited and the others felt happy for him. But a teenager rushed to us all of a sudden, crying out with his arms opening: How miserable I am. I am going to serve the army.
I had no idea why they were so unwilling to serve the army. My German friend Kane said that serving the army was a duty for every German citizen and they should do that no matter whether they are willing to join the army or not. For the German teenagers, some thought serving the army was so bitter that it would influence the college entrance examination, while some others were afraid to go to war.
Kane was born in a small village. When he was a little boy, his father often narrated his feeling during the Second World War and told his children that they should prefer a common life to a war when they grew up. Therefore, Kane was afraid of serving the army from his childhood, but he could not avoid it when he reached the regulated age. However, he was lucky that he did not go to war during the service. And he believed that serving the army was a good lesson for one without the fear of going to war.
I made fun of him: Are you afraid to die?
He said with his head shaking: I am not afraid to die. Death and war are different.