The reconciliation – a story about Lübeck

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So here I am, sitting in a cafe located in the Old Town of Lübeck, watching the people pass by, overhearing a language I have no knowledge of. Thinking. It is the result of a spontaneous act. Lübeck is not an island associated with fabulous sunset scenes, the deep sound of waves, and the wind that blows gently on the beaches in half-darkness. It is not like that. 

The waiters are handsome and attentive. I am not hungry, just thirsty after a few hours’ wandering in the town. The sun is  shinning on my pale skin. Not as pale as it was supposed to be. The heat waves hit Norway as early as in May this year, it seems to have settled down since then. The climate change it says, it must be. 

“A cup of tea.”

“Fruit tea, green tea?” He wonders, smiling. 

“No, English breakfast tea, with a little soy milk.” Would the word “English” create some kind of associations? Unpleasant ones?

“Sure.” He gives me a nod, smiling again. 

What brought me here? The mind starts to wander. 

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  • Lübeck is listed as a World Heritage Site because of its extensive gothic architecture. 
  • During WW2, Lübeck was the first German city to be attacked by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) on the night of 28 March 1942 after towns and cities in Britain were devastatingly bombed by the German Luftwaffe. London was systematically bombed by Luftwaffe for 56 days. Numerous buildings in the city of Coventry were in ruins, and the symbolic Coventry Cathedral was destroyed.  

All my sympathies have been with the British, but is it biased?  The German people suffered too, the people in Lübeck. 

Those words from a pastor I encountered during a church visit are returning:

  • Lübeck was under air attack that night, people were killed, churches and cathedrals were severely damaged. You see the gaps between the buildings, those with a more modern look were built in 1950’s. It was all very sad, the war. 

From behind his glasses, he looked at me gently, his voice soft, no hatred to be traced. 

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Then my mind is turning to another direction. A different event. 

I passed by the Herz-Jesu Kirche (Sacred Heart Church) when I was having my first jog in Lübeck. There was a picture featured four men hanging on the front door. Who are they and why? I turned back, it read “Memorial to the four Lübeck Martyrs murdered by the Nazi Regime on 10 November 1943”. 

Entering the church, I was surrounded by emptiness and silence. No, not completely silent. Someone is praying, a woman in the corner, with her head bent over and her hands folded. 

Could I hear the mourning? The church, together with the people of Lübeck, witnessed the brutality nearly 75 years ago. 

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On 10 November 1943, the Roman Catholic priests Johannes Prassek, Eduard Müller, Hermann Lange, and the Evangelical-Lutheran Pastor Karl Frederich Stellbrink were brutally executed at Hamburg’s Holstenglacis Prison, with three minutes between them. 

They lived and worked in Sacred Heart Church, and were later found guilty by the Nazi Regime of “defeatism, malice, favouring the enemy and listening to enemy broadcasts.” 

On Palmarum (Palme Sunday), right after the bombing raid on Lübeck, Pastor Stellbrink delivered his sermon “God has spoken in a loud voice and the people of Lübeck will once again learn to pray.” This sermon led to his arrest and later execution. 

People suffered and sacrificed their lives during WW2 independent of their nationalities. 

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I have noticed that my tea cup, a mug, is now empty. How long has the mind been wandering? It carries on running into another scene. 

That morning, I spotted two flags hanging on a window when jogging alone the seaside. A English flag and a German flag hanging on the window of a cafe which was closed at that time. 

A cafe that offers English and German cuisines? Or is it a symbol of reconciliation? 

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Pushing open the door, my hair flutters in the light breeze. The town is covered with a glorious sunshine. It all looks so peaceful and harmonious. In Lübeck. 

With love,

Isabelle ❤️

(This post was drafted on 10 July 2018 and completed on 31 July 2018. Photos taken in Lübeck, July 2018)

Some afterthoughts:

St. Mary’s Church in Lübeck was severely damaged by the British air raids in 1942. The bells fell from a height of 60 metres into the Tower Chapel. 

As a symbol of reconciliation, the church received a cross of nails in 1971 – a monument to the cross that was created in 1940 from nails of the roof structure of Coventry Cathedral, which was destroyed by German bombs. (Source: St. Mary’s Church in Lübeck – http://www.st-marien-luebeck.de)

Author: Isabelle

Literature & language enthusiast 🇬🇧🇳🇴🇨🇳 Dedicated runner & passionate traveller 🏃‍♀️🏝 I am Isabelle and I live with my family in Oslo, Norway. I have three children, a girl and two boys. My educational background: Master’s degree in English Language Bachelor’s degree in European and American studies (language, literature and area studies) Bachelor’s degree in International Marketing Key words: Creative writing& Professional writing& Text analysis& Content editing& Linguistics& English teaching

32 thoughts on “The reconciliation – a story about Lübeck”

  1. Isabelle, what a beautiful and interesting post. As you stated, people tend to forget the people of Germany suffered too (as do the innocent people of all countries involved in wars). This was a wonderful journey through time, your sweet mind, and a lovely peaceful town. What a pleasure to read. Be well my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Touched by your kind and thoughtful words Andrew. Most places in the world have a history if only we take time to explore and give it a voice. Lübeck is a beautiful coastal town with friendly people. But if we look carefully, there’re traces of the past. The evidence of the war. It was a wonderful journey, which opened my eyes and reminded me to always see things from a different perspective. Thank you so much. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this Isabelle. I confess I wasn’t very aware of Lübeck and its own story before reading this. How easily we can fail to remember that war tears at everyone it touches. The broken bells are so poignant and quietly demanding in their sadness. And you wrote it all with such a lovely soft touch of compassion and kindness as you always do. A beautiful read, take care, suzanne❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Neither was I Suzanne. I wasn’t familiar with the history of Lübeck until a few days before departure. We were planning to take a short trip (last-minute trip) when the school summer holiday started, and I came across Lübeck by chance. Drawn by the beautiful view of the city and I started googling it. I came over the historical facts and the decision was made instantly.
      It was a wonderful journey, deep and insightful. It’s been lots of wandering and exploring. It was a powerful feeling standing in the middle of St. Mary’s Church, studying the broken bells, and feeling the silence. Thank you so much Suzanne, I’m touched. You too, take care❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t been through WW2 and I think for those who suffered or lost their loved ones during the war, the wounds might never be healed. I feel for them and fully understand that.
      I started to develop an interest for WW2 when I was doing the subject of British Civilisation. One of the major topics was of course, the devastating impact of WW2 on British people and Britain as a whole. The Dunkirk evacuation was also discussed in detail. It all made a huge impression and I got very emotional. I used to live in Leeds and London when I was a young student, and I love the country dearly. It wasn’t difficult to sympathise with Britain. In this post I wanted to make a little point that although Germany initiated the war, there were innocent people in Germany who were against the Nazi and sacrificed lives for their beliefs. And not least, how ordinary German people suffered from WW2. This is a long comment Neil, thank you so much for the chat. I appreciate your words very much. Isabelle

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beeing true that German people suffered at the end of teh WW2 I think you can not put them in the same level than the UK. Because German was the country who declared the war and attacket any one in Europe. 50 millions of souls cost this war to the world. It’s like a person kill another one and the police kill the criminal. The two of them died. two families are crying for their lost. But one was the victim and the other the criminal. in the war it was the same. Uk was the victim and Germany was the criminal. It’s not the same. However, The plan Marshal helped Germany and any orther country to recover from the war restoring all the cities and industries.

    Anyway, great post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for letting me know your opinion on this post, Ptholome! I agree with you that a victim is different from a criminal and they should not be treated equally. But the ordinary people in Germany should not be seen as criminals, the farmers, the teachers, the factory workers and the children. Not every German supported the Nazi ideology. There were German people who fought against the Nazi and sacrificed their lives. It was the Nazi who carried out the crime but not the whole nation. And again, thank you for the discussion! I appreciate it very much. 😊

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      1. Surely not the entire nation, but on the other hand you can’t absolve them completely.
        The important thing is to not to presume the younger generation of any nation is the same as their ancestors, I think.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Absolving them from what they did to Britain and Europe as a whole wasn’t the intention behind this post. The point I intended to make was although Germany initiated the war, there were German people who were against the war and sacrificed lives for their beliefs. There were ordinary innocent people who suffered and got killed.
        The past, the devastating impact of WW2 on Europe shouldn’t be forgotten. And yes, I agree with you completely, “never presume the younger generation of any nation is the same as their ancestors”. Thank you so much Basilike, for taking time to share your thoughts with me. It’s very much appreciated.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good to hear Lana 😊 I’d love to visit Convent Cathedral. My daughter and I are planning to take a trip to London in December, and I’ll see whether it’s possible to include other places in the trip. Thank you for the comment. Appreciate that! 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so lovely, Isabelle. Your thoughtfulness. It was truly lovely that You talk of the hardships of everyone, on all sides during war. It’s easy to look at situations sometimes and demonize an entire society because of their leaders. So much more there. Sad. Sweet that You took the time to write all of this. To really listen to the place. You words are a beautiful reminder. Ahhhh. Thank You. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Katy, for your thoughtful words ❤️ Sometimes we make a meaning about something quickly and we stick to it. In the case of WW2, who are the evil ones is obvious for most people, but there’s still a story behind the commonly acknowledged facts, which I think is worth being told. It was a wonderful trip, loved wandering on my own. Thank you for the chat Katy, take care.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Always my pleasure, Isabelle! Your posts always so easily spark conversation. And yes….how wonderful to wander on Your own. Just rambling. Exploring. I’ve not done that in a long time and there is such wonderful medicine in that. Hmmmm. You’ve got my wheels turning! 🤗 Thank You for the chat as well! Sending Huge hugs. 😊💖🤗

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The same here Katy! Always a pleasure to have a chat with you. You’ve got such an enthusiastic and light tone, not to mention your good sense of humour. Wandering on my own is so soul-comforting, no rush, no interruptions, I just indulge in my own thoughts at the most desirable pace. Wishing you all the best Katy, you deserve it! 😊💜🌹

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the comment! You also touched on the subject of WW2 in some of your posts, the role Belgium played during the war in particular. Great and insightful posts! I’m fine, thank you. Hope all is well with you too.

      Liked by 1 person

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