Last year, at this very time of the year, my family and I were in Germany to celebrate the holidays with family and friends in Berlin, Dresden and Weimar. Before we made our plans, we spoke about whether it was actually safe to travel in Europe because of terrorist activities that had been happening in Europe. My son urged that we continue to live our lives in spite of terrorism, because ” that is exactly what they want. They want us to stop being able to enjoy the things we love….” It was a compelling enough argument to convince us to go. (You can find my posts about last year’s visit at BarbaraSut.wordpress.com.)
In a nutshell, we had a fabulous two-week stay in Germany. One of my most compelling desires was to visit some of Germany’s world-famous Christmas markets. I had a German calendar a relative in Dresden had given me with a picture of the Dresden Weinachmarkt that so entranced me, I couldn’t wait to experience one. In fact, we probably went to about six markets, each one charming in its own way. We now have six gluwein mugs to remind us of the delicious mulled wine we drank at each of the markets we visited.
Fast forward to this week. Someone drove a tractor-trailer sized truck right into the Christmas market adjacent to the very symbolic Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, damaged by the bombing of Berlin at the end of WWII.
We were stunned at the news, remembering the joy we experienced exactly a year ago visiting several such markets in Berlin not far from where this tragedy took place. I remarked to my family that I was so grateful we had the opportunity to visit the markets while they were still in their age of innocence…so we could experience them as they were meant to be: joyful, playful, beautiful, magical. Now, like so many other cherished venues around the world, they will be cordoned off by security barriers and special forces to protect those who will be brave enough to visit them. Slowly, terrorism is closing in on our freedoms, checking another target off its list of places people go to enjoy themselves.
Sorry to be such a downer during this pre-holiday week, but this one just hit too close to home. We have since learned that everyone we know in Berlin is safe, but one person did have two nieces who had just left the targeted market only 15 minutes before it was attacked. My son had arrived to begin his year of study in Berlin just a month before the NYC terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. Berliners were very sympathetic with what had happened to America and demonstrated their grief and solidarity in great numbers at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. It’s been fifteen years of enduring these random acts of terrorism which are making the world seem smaller and smaller and less and less safe.
Peace on earth seems more than ever unobtainable.