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April 09, 1993 - Image 101

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-04-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

e Chaos Below

"

Artwork by Matt Mahurin. Copyright° 1990. Matt Mahurin. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

Ten thousand
miles can't
always bridge a
wall, a void, or a
generation.

DAN SCHOENNOLZ

SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

D

ad and I arrived in
Borgendreich in
the late afternoon.
It had been a love-
ly drive; the rolling
German landscape was a
soft, downy green, in
contrast to the bristly
yellow California hills
we had so recently left
behind; fields of corn,
destined to fatten the
Westphalian hogs which
would one day become
bratwurst, hugged the
rising and falling con-
tours of the countryside.
The sky was overcast,
but the sun shone
through a hole in the
clouds like a spotlight.
Two weeks of looking
in similar villages had
taught us to go directly
to the gasthaus, which
we found near the end of
the cluster of half-tim-
bered buildings that
comprised downtown
Borgendreich.
"There it is," Dad said.

"Park."
"OK, OK," I replied
irritably. I swore at him
under my breath, but I
did as he said. It was
amazing how five years
of living on my own had
evaporated after two
weeks on a trip with my
dad; he told me what to
do, and I resentfully did
it. I had traveled 10,000
miles to become a teen-
ager again.
We stepped out of our
rented Audi. Dad
approached the gasthaus
door and gave it a tenta-
tive push; it was
unlocked, so he pushed
harder and we stepped
inside. Though the light
was dim, I could sense
the eyes of several peo-
ple immediately upon
me; the weight of their
gazes forced the blood to
my head, and I felt
myself flush.
Gradually, I made out
a couple of sturdy-look-

ing villagers in overalls
sitting at the bar. Both
men had half-empty beer
steins in front of them,
but they had stopped
drinking to turn and
stare at Dad and me.
A, dog lay on the floor
next to them, his head on
his paws; his ears were
lifted a bit, and he occa-
sionally raised his tail a
little before changing his
mind and letting it fall
to the floor with a thud.
Behind the bar, an old
woman looked at us
questioningly.
"Guten tag," said Dad.
"Guten tag," replied
the woman.
"I am American," Dad
said. "This is my son."
All eyes shifted momen-
tarily to me before
swinging back to Dad.
"Americans!" the
woman exclaimed. "My
God! What are you doing
in a little village like
Borgendreich?"

The two men
nodded a little, as
if they had been
wondering the
same thing.
"My grandfather
was born here, and
his parents were
buried here. I've
come to visit their
graves. Do you
know where the
Jewish cemetery
is?"
The men at the
bar looked at each other,
then back at my father.
The dog yawned. "Yes,
come here and I will
show you," said the
woman. I wasn't sur-
prised. In the past week,
we'd met many women
like her; women who,
through their stubborn
refusal to stop breathing,
had earned the position
of town historian.
Invariably they knew
where the Jewish ceme-
tery was located; for
when they were young
women, Jews in little vil-
lages in Germany still
died natural deaths and
were buried by their
own.
"We share our Catholic
cemetery with Luts-
cheneder, the next vil-
lage over. The old Jewish
Cemetery adjoins the
Catholic cemetery. It's a
short walk down that
street."
This news was a pleas-

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—J

CC

101

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