We walk through the Juedisches Museum in Frankfurt, Germany. We read the sordid history of exclusions, pogroms, restrictions, occasional freedoms and, finally the Death Camps. The helicopter hovers overhead. It’s monitoring a demonstration of neoNazis. I remember a tale often told of the person who each time the authorities come for someone, breathes a sigh of relief. Then,one day, the authorities come for her or him. Then I wonder–how far from home am I really? How far is Frankfurt from Charleston? How far is an anti-Semetic culture from a racist culture?
Little plaques in the pavement mark the places where Jews once lived. All part of the official German commitment to never forget. And still the helicopter hovers. Still the sound of police cars rushing another demonstrator off to jail.
We leave the museum and walk back towards the center of town. We turn a corner and find ourselves facing a long wall. All along it’s face are small gray markers. On each a name, a birth date, a death date and the camp in which they died. We run our fingers and our eyes over the markers. We come across a name we know: Anne Frank.
I begin to wonder–perhaps we also need to vow to remember. Remember those who resisted, remember those who told their stories even though the telling hurt like hell, remember the Confessing Church–a model of following Jesus by standing in opposition to the state that oppresses, remember the acts of solidarity.
Still the helicopter hovers. A reminder not to forget. Not here in Frankfurt; not in Charleston or Ferguson or Albuquerque or Atlanta or Anchorage either. And a reminder to remember all those who resisted; all those who spoke out; all those who walked along side.