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Germany's grief.

* Thanks for sharing Michael Scott Moore's Viewpoint, "Germany's Unspeakable Collective Grief" (NCR, June 3). The topic of German suffering during and after the war is so complex, so mined with sensibilities, it's a wonder that anyone on either side of the pond ever writes about it. I found the piece well explored and highly relevant.

I do take issue with Moore's statement, "The problem is for Germany to outline its loss without pretending to be victimized." Surely many Germans --young, elderly, infirm or handicapped--were innocent of both genocide and the waging of aggressive war, yet all were victimized without distinction in the carpet bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, Cologne, Essen, Wurzburg, Pforzheim and many other cities.

I lived in Wurzburg for three years in the early '70s as military wife, mother of a young son and member of a local charismatic Catholic-Lutheran Gebetskreis (prayer community). Wurzburg, a medieval city of no strategic importance, was destroyed by RAF incendiary bombs on the night of March 16, 1945. Five thousand German civilians died as well as 10 Allied POWs. Nine thousand were made homeless.

Twenty-five years later, the bombing (and the starvation after the war) was still widely discussed by local citizens. There was no taboo about the topic. Some elders simply volunteered the observation that bombing a city full of schools and hospitals made no sense. I didn't disagree with them. Others asked why the Allies did this. I had no answer. Younger Germans, while conscious of their parents' suffering, were in a very different place. Still these stories were passed on in families. In my opinion, some Germans still want to hear British and American leaders say that the gratuitous targeting of civilians was a moral mistake.


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Title Annotation:LETTERS
Author:Vera, Louise Barnes
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Jul 15, 2005
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