09 September, 2008
1965: This is how it started...
It is now more than four decades since I wrote my first Reader's Letter. This is how it came about:
One evening in July of 1965 my wife and I met a group of young back-packers at the shopping center of our Haifa suburb Achuza. They were looking for the Carmel camping site. We started to talk. Most of them were from Holland, and they seemed a nice bunch of youngsters. We offered them to put up their tents on the modest lawn of our garden that we only recently had started to create in the difficult Carmel topography behind our apartment. They accepted. In the evening and the morning, they quietly filed through our apartment, to the bathroom. We prepared for them a pot of hot coffee, and then most of them departed. This is what Yvonne & Janwillem wrote in our guest book four days later:
"... next day we left our luggage there in Achuza. But that same evening Yvonne became ill, and then (...) they let us stay in their nice home and rest till Yvonne became better ..."
At this stage you will ask, well, what has all this got to do with Reader's Letters? During those few days we started to talk with our new Dutch friends, about our respective pasts and about our opinions. It transpired that they had been hitch-hiking through Europe. They showed us their large map of Europe - with Germany blotted out with black Indian ink... We were impressed — because in those days that very much reflected our own feelings towards Germany. Those were the years after the Reparations Agreement with Germany, and the endless and heated debates. It was a month before the highly decorated Wehrmacht officer Rolf Pauls was to present his credentials as first German ambassador in Jerusalem. And that triggered my first readers letter.
The following will illustrate my point:
The photo shows the inventor of the Israeli sub-machine gun UZZI demonstrating it to the German Defence Minister Franz Josef Strauss, in 1963