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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. January's Theme: "Our Relationship with Earth"
Volume 3 Issue 2 ISSN# 1708-3265
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War Revisited
by Gisela Ko

A few years ago the German Archaeological Institute sent my brother to do some research in Southern Russia. While digging and supervising there he found that he was very close to the village of Latonovo, where our father had died during WW2. He told his Russian colleges, and they were very willing to take him there to see what had gone on so long ago, and so far away from home. Maybe not very long ago for Archaeologists, but it was certainly the known or unknown past as far as family history went for all of them.

So, on a sunny day in August 2001, they drove to Latonovo on peaceful country roads, through fields of blooming sunflowers and ripening corn. My brother had always envisioned the infamous Russian winter and soldiers freezing to death in those days of an unwinnable war against communism. Now he realized that it was during summer we had lost our father, because it was in August of 1943 we got the dreaded news of the father who died there… so far from home. At the time my little sister was just 6 weeks old, my brother was 5, and I was 7 and a half. Mother was all of 27 then, and she remained a widow for the rest of her life.

As my brother and his Russian friends approached Latonovo, monuments appeared by the roadside. Thousands of names on cement plaques, erected by the former Soviet Government to honor Russian soldiers for dying for their country in one of the bloodiest battles of WW2. Thousands and thousands of German soldiers also died for THEIR country, but they, understandably, didn't have any plaque or memorial.

My brother found it hard to fight down his tears. Here were the best, healthiest and strongest men of a whole generation of 2 countries who had fought each other to the death on the orders of their own governments. The Germans were told to fight communism and "defend our right to freedom" the so called preemptive strike -- and the Russians were of course told to "defend their country from the Nazi invaders".

Nazi is by consensus a bad word. But hardly anyone knows what it stands for. It was a political party, NATIONAL SOCIALIST, and the German people actually voted for this party only once, but afterwards the people found that at subsequent elections amazingly the vote came out to 99% for Hitler (NS), even if they had voted against him. Surprise!!! What's more, the army was certainly not Nazi, as most of them were not members or sympathizers of that party at all.

But back to my brother's trip in Southern Russia. Passing all those monuments and endless memorials they finally came to the village of Latonovo, in the middle of a now peaceful countryside. They questioned the elected officials, but nobody knew much about events of WW2. When they asked if there were any memorials for the fallen German soldiers, they were told "Nyet!" They did find an old man who had been there, and he remembered a German military hospital. When they razed this abandoned German M.A.S.H. Unit to build a school for their children a few years later, a lot of German soldier's bones, uniforms, letters from home and personal items were found. A common grave was dug for them in front of the newly built school, and junipers, pines and flowers were planted over it. Walking by these flowerbeds, my brother was brought to tears. These were ALL our fathers, husbands, sons and brothers; lost in these seemingly endless wars.

The mayor of Latonovo asked my brother if there should be a memorial or plaque to also honour the many German soldiers who given their lives there… but my brother saw the children coming out of their school, laughing and running around, and he felt this place had seen enough horror. It was healing now, and there was no good reason to stir it all up again. He also took great comfort in seeing the flowers and little trees growing and blooming in front of the school, over the communal grave for the German soldiers who were buried here. He thanked the mayor for his concern and advised him to forget about the war and allow life to go on.

Personally, I feel that a little memorial for the German soldiers who died there wouldn't be such a bad idea at all. It would give a more complete picture of what really goes on in wars, not only the side of the "winner". But I can also see my brother's point. Maybe it is time to let bygones be bygones. After all, my father is living on in his children and grandchildren. I just feel very sorry for all those 17 and 18 year old boys from BOTH sides who died there and never had the chance to carry on through their children.

When I got the letter from my brother telling me about his trip to Latonovo, a lot of memories welled up in me. Memories of bombs coming down for years on end, and sirens, wailing every night. Those dreaded sirens sounding; everyone getting out of bed, grabbing their basic necessities and hurrying down 4 flights of stairs into the basement and listening to the banging all around. Staying there until the "all clear" siren indicating the danger was over. Then we could get back upstairs and into our beds, or stay down there for fear there might be another air raid, which often was the case. Many civilians were buried alive or crushed under collapsing buildings or drowned by bursting pipes. I remember how after one night of carpet-bombings Darmstadt, a medium sized city of less than 100,000 had to bury 12,000 citizens. All women and children, of course, because the men weren't there. They were away, fighting the war. The mass grave in their cemetery can still be viewed to this day. The much bigger city of Dresden lost more than 100,000 in a day and night of firestorm bombing. Again, mostly all women and children and a few old men, because the able-bodied men were all at the Eastern and Western Fronts, Germany being crazy enough to try and fight the world. My sister was born in Berlin in a small hospital during an air raid. The hospital was spared that time, but 3 weeks later it was flattened with all the patients and staff in it. She considers herself a "holobomb" survivor.

Of all the men sent off to fight, of course only a scant few came back, -- shell-shocked and mangled in body and soul. I lost my father and all my uncles in that horrible war and lots of women lost their unbelievably young sons. When the war came closer and closer to the end, there were no more men to be drafted, 14 year old youngsters were manning the flak-guns; the high reaching cannons designed to shoot down those dreaded bombers. And in the end, 12 year old kids were sent out to try and stem the tide of Russian, American and English troops coming in. (Editor's note: I can't imagine my 12 year old son leaving home to fight in a war.)

Berlin is situated in the flatlands. But now there is a man-made mountain there, where people go skiing and tobogganing in winter. It's made from the rubble from all those bombed out buildings, painstakingly sorted, cleaned and then everything non-reusable trucked to the dumpsite by women for years after the war was over. They call this mountain "Teufelsberg" (Devil's Mountain). And indeed you could walk for miles over rubble fields in ALL German cities after that war, even the small towns who didn't have miles of city limits!

It was a woman's world growing up for me. That by the way is the reason why I am not a feminist at all. I don't even know what they are talking about, having seen the women of my community doing everything that needed to be done, and without any "leadership" of the stronger muscled men. To this day I get a feeling of nausea and horror whenever I hear a siren, even though as a small child it appeared to be an experience of excitement rather than one of terror. I guess that is the way children of war survive.

We all were glad when the Hitler regime and the war, were finally over. Many of us had survived, many of us hadn't. But having gone through that kind of a harrowing childhood made it especially hard to understand, why after getting a small taste of what it feels like, the US would then go and do it to others in "retaliation"! In my long life I have learned one thing for sure: trying to force issues with sledgehammer methods usually achieves the opposite of what was intended! The most blatant example is that of Adolf Hitler, who achieved the opposite of EVERYTHING he tried to cram down the world's throat. Terrorists presumably never learn this, -- and neither do governments of this world, or so it seems. Please prove me wrong!!

A friend of mine had a vision of what the "Spirit of War" would look like. She saw men in business suits with money spilling out of their pockets, completely unemotional and ice-cold. Power over others and monetary gain was their game. They were playing this world like a knock-em-dead video game, and their own sons, daughters, children and grandchildren were most certainly NOT drafted into the "Defense of their Country"! But we, you and I, are the ones who always lose all these wars. We have to pay for them, with our brothers, sons, husbands and fathers!! - AND our hard earned tax dollars as well!

Gisela Ko is a shamanic healer within her community in British Columbia. She is known for dealing with "impossible" cases successfully and treats people and everything else.

You can contact Gisela at: 1-250-442-2391 or via email.
Please visit her website today.

Republished with permission. Originally published in Body Mind Spirit Magazine.

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