By Sharon Machraz with an
Introduction by Liron Dorfman
ORT Comprehensive High School
Kiryat Motzkin, Israel
Sharon Machraz is a twelfth grade member of our team. She is a smart 18-year-old student who was part of the "Israel-Germany Exchange Students Program" of our school. When a group of German students came to Israel last year, she hosted one of them. After that, Sharon went to Germany and was hosted by the family of the student she had hosted in Israel.
Flags of Germany and Israel
Long ago we were asked about this exchange program and about this relationship between our two countries. I got the feeling that some people think that this link between us in Israel and the Germans is very strange because of past history. We understand that, and I must mention that even many Israelis can't accept this relationship. But, our city is trying to find the "new German nation," and we have three "Sister Cities" in Germany: Bad Kreutznach, Bad Segeberg, and Hasbrage.
Sharon decided to write about this whole subject and explain her point of view. In case you have questions after reading her article, please don't hesitate to write us. Sharon would be pleased to answer. In this way, more people would know about this interesting relationship fifty years after the Holocaust.
Dedicated to Anja,
My Friend in the Big World
I am not going to talk about the Holocaust, and I'm not going to judge anybody. All I'm going to do is to tell you about relationships between Israelis and Germans. It all started in school, near my teacher's office. There it was on the wall, written in big black letters: "An Exchange Group is Coming from Germany!" The minute I saw it, I felt an inner feeling telling me to go for it and to have one of these German students in my house. Today, exactly one year later, I'm very happy that I had followed this feeling, and I am also proud of myself.
In the beginning, there was a little bit of embarrassment between Anja, the German student who had come to my house, and me. However, "the ice" broke very quickly. We talked about everything and told each other almost everything about ourselves. Still, there was a small distance between us which wouldn't break down. I had the feeling that something was bothering Anja, and I was right.
One day, a week after she had come to Israel, she brought up "the" subject. She started talking about the Holocaust in general and later on, she talked about it more personally and about her feelings connected to this subject. She told me about her grandparents, who had been against everything that happened in their time and had been almost punished for that. Then she said that her parents had been talking with her about the past before she flew to Israel, advising her to talk with me about the Holocaust as much as she would be able to.
I was shocked to hear the next thing she said to me that night. She said that she was ashamed to be part of the German people and ashamed for what the previous generation had done. She actually didn't know what to do with these feelings of hers. She was very serious while saying this, and later on, she became very sad. At first I was, as I said, very surprised, and I didn't know how to respond. After finding the words and the strength to talk, I started talking to her and she began to cry. I told her that she wasn't guilty for what happened to the Jewish people, and that she must not be ashamed. I hugged her and we were closer than we had been before. It was clear now that nothing was standing between us anymore.
Later, before Anja went back to Germany, and we said good-bye, I felt that a piece of my heart was leaving me together with Anja. I started counting the days till our flight to Germany.
Finally, the big day arrived and we Israeli students went to Germany. Anja was waiting for me in the airport. The time in Germany was the best time of my life, and I enjoyed each minute there. I wished the great time would not come to its end. We went to parties, restaurants, and had the time of our lives, but then came our last day in Germany. We drove to the airport together with our German friends. They walked with us until the final gate. Then, the drama began. Everybody, knowing that this was the last time we would see each other, started to cry. With tears in our eyes, we said good-bye. The best time of my life was definitely ending.
Now, I would like to say few things about the German youth nowadays. These teenagers don't have to be ashamed for what was done in the previous generation. The catastrophe that happened then was because of inhuman people with inhuman thoughts. It does not have anything to do with the people my age in Germany nowadays. The shame should be for what happened, but they don't have to take the blame and to be ashamed for being Germans. The people I met are part of the new generation in Germany. They are people just like us, and they will lead Germany to a better future. According to the lovely and charming boys and girls I've met in that country, I can now definitely say, that they are just the same as all teenagers in the world and even special in their own unique way. Like all of us, they are interested in everything, are good citizens, and want only love and not war.
With this universal desire for love and peace among all the teenagers in the world, there is going to be a great future for all of us on this planet.
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