Piecing together a historic puzzle
By Pastor Kara
In November 1989, I was a sophomore at Luther College. My main concern that fall semester was making friends.
My freshman year, I had suffered from an extreme case of shyness — so much that, during the fall semester of my sophomore year, other students asked if I was a transfer student, because they had no memory of me being on campus the year before.
Needless to say, when the Berlin Wall came down that month, I was not paying attention to that major world event. Honestly, East Germany had been a country my whole life, so I really didn’t understand that Germany had not always been divided. There was so much I didn’t understand at that time about World War II and the Cold War that followed.
Now that I have gone to Berlin for a J-Term study tour covering Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the turbulent times of Germany, my understanding of that piece of history has grown immensely. I know there is much more to learn, and much that I will never fully understand.
I believe the learning that I continue to do, along with the 17 students and my teaching partner on the tour, Professor Rom Maczka, will be enhanced by the fact that we stood in places with historical significance.
Before departing, we watched the docudrama “Conspiracy” about the meeting at the Wannsee House, where leaders in the Nazi government put forth what they called “the Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” On our second full day in Berlin, we traveled on the wonderful public transit to the Wannsee House. It is now a museum that tells the story of what happened there and its impact on Germany and all of Europe.
It was there that we learned Hitler was democratically elected on the platform to dismantle democracy and make Germany great again. It was there that I was reminded, in the most powerful way possible, that none of us can be passive in our political system.
Experiencing the Wannsee House, then the concentration/labor/death camps that carried
out the evil plan, then seeing the wall that cut off East from West, helped me to connect the dots of history in a deeper way than I ever could have by simply hearing about it in a classroom or reading a book.
I was thankful that I was able to have the classroom learning/teaching experience. Then to have the chance to witness what we learned come alive was truly priceless.
The trip was amazing, and the students who took the course soaked up every moment and every experience. There is so much more to tell, and I haven’t even touched on the Luther pilgrimage of our time in Germany. That will be another time, another article.
The Carthaginian is a magazine for Carthage alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends of the College. It is published three times a year by the Carthage Office of Communications. Read the Carthaginian online at www.carthage.edu/carthaginian.