After spending three weeks in Germany last year, I didn’t expect to come back to this country once again. I always like the country, as much as I want to study there. Before boarding, as usual I felt extremely nervous about the flights. I never had any bad or good omen but just anxiety about plane crashes. (Sorry, I’m now at Sovannaphum airport, and I don’t want such a thing to happen to me then.) Fortunately enough (or as simply as it should), my friends and I landed safely on the German land where I could see ‘ green’. Ooh, so so green, that’s our first impression word. I thought I was in paradise, except that I knew I was alive, breathing. It’s summer in Germany but it rained a lot a few days after we arrived in Munich. We went to our training centre located in Feldafing, Munich, (Bavaria State).
It’s a different sort of feeling from the last time, of course. I felt like I could spend the rest of my life living there. The small flowers of differrent colors could be seen from the field (photos next). I always imagined such a view before coming here, and now I could have it. Amazing, wasn’t it? Feldafing is a small little town in which I was told only rich and wealthy Germans (a large number of millionaires and billionaires) are residing. That wasn’t like what many Asians think about how an area for the rich should be. It is quiet, peaceful and serene. One could hardly find that quality in metropolitan areas such as Phnom Penh or Bangkok. Several alumni participants did give words of praise about Feldafing. Now I found out that it was true. I was always thinking that I could spend the rest of my life over there.
Spending 7 days in Munich, we sticked to our schedule by starting with a tour to differrent memorial sites dedicated to various resistance events against the Nazi regime/Adolf Hilter. We met a suvivor of the White Rose resistance group against Hilter. To me, he was just like Chum Mei, Bou Meng, or Vann Nath. It was good to listen to stories told by him as a prisoner of conscience. However, he was more lucky than his Jewish friends of the resistance who were beheaded by the Nazi soldiers. Isn’t it sad? Next days were spent visiting the Munich court, prosecutor, “Dachau” concentration camp. I could go on for hours describing my experience over there…but I never forget to compare what I saw to what there is in Cambodia. All I could say is that Cambodia has a long long way to go. What symbol should I use to emphasize this sentence? None, I think. Maybe you wanna know why I came to Germany this time. I was selected as one of the 23 participants to attend this Khmer Rough Tribunal Fellowship Program that tries to promote justice and reconciliation through capacity building. Of course, I always felt lucky to be chosen considering to less exposure to or experiences with the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
The next day, we were all off to Nuremberg now for two days. Right there, we visited the former court of Nuremberg Trials that prosecuted the former Nazi leaders, one judge association, and at last the documentation centre which I could say is way much bigger and more modern than the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam). I know quite well that the DC-Cam has worked so hard on the Khmer Rouge matters, only to demand more support from differrent key players such as the government and donors.
Berlin is a very vibrant city, I dare say. I felt very safe over there even though there was one time when I didn’t trust the city after a friend got robbed in a hotel lounge back in 2009. I understand that insecurity is everywhere, but this time it was quite unexpected that a robber would just go inside, struck up a chat and snatched the bag all of a sudden. Time we stopped taking tight security for granted.
Generally, people I met in Berlin are very nice, helpful and friendly. It is very difficult and usually not right to make a generationalization about one nationality, city or country itself without spending much time there. The most interesting thing about Berlin or Germany in general, for me, is the efficient transportation. I could never get lost with this ability to speak English and to read the map given for free!! What we did in Germany for more than a week was visiting memorial sites of the Jews killed during the Nazi regime, psychological (treatment) centres for victims, the ARD broadcast company, and the amazing Jewish museum that hosts great architectures to represent pain, suffering and emotions of the Jews in the Holocaust. There are times I think that Pol Pot did learn and use a lot of techniques Hitler had used during the war: Isolation and Extermination of one’s race. When I thought really hard, I realized that murderers happened to think similarly.
These two leaders went off the wrong track, and slaughtered so many innocent lives to please their fanatics. You love your life, but why take others’ if you are bored with yours? There were so many questions popping up in my mind after witnessing places and stories about the atrocities.
Now is time to stop here. I did see a lot but not enough yet. I’m fascinated by the synergy of the youth and the efforts in bridging the gap between ages in Germany and doing what they possibly can to improve their country. Ages just don’t matter, do they? They’re only a figure. People all ages are all equally important in bringing their country to the next level of development.
The exhibitions about the German history I saw really initiated my interest to start one small exhibition about the Khmer Rouge regime here in Cambodia. And I hope this will bring together young people with different talents to make this possible and come to appreciate the efforts done by their parents so that the same thing won’t be repeated. This, too, will show that the young are ready to accept the suffering of the old generations. It is still a dream to be realized, and I’ll see when it will be.
Besides all lessons learnt, I did have some fun including:
-touring the whole city and going to different tourist places: Reichstags, especially…
-dancing Tango with a friend in the evening (how incredible!)
-shopping (It’s never on the list of my favourite things to do but this time, yes!)