Tag: fatherland

Sunday Column (500)

Today is my 500th blog post. That makes it 9.62 years 😉 Wow. I have been writing a lot. If I assume that I write about 500 words on average, that makes 250,000 words, similar to a phd thesis I suppose or double the size of an average novel. Oh I love a bit of writing. Thanks for staying with me and reading regularly, participating in my thoughts and life.

Today I want to write more topical…the heat and Brexit! The weather, the British most favourite topic, and I am seriously more British these days than German. Then I flew to Germany again this week for a farewell of an interim Managing Director position I have been contracting for. It was a nice farewell, but with over 30 degrees, just a bit too hot for my liking. Never mind, I survived. Just.

I worry about the weather and decided I write a more topical post about it next week. To spare you with weekly summaries. Maybe you have more ideas on how I can change my Sunday Column a bit, as when I originally started it was about opinions on topics. And I kind of do that whilst reflecting on the week. Yet maybe I need to research topics and give you my opinions on it? Let me think about it.

Let’s look at Brexit. There is a doomsday scenario of food being shipped to Northern Ireland, and border controls taking part of the motorway to deal with backlog of customs. Really? We are preparing for that and a potential additional 3,000 people we might need to employ in order to deal with it? But we have so far failed to negotiate anything with the European Union? The new Brexit minister inherits a tough tasks and of course opinions are divided if the new government proposal is working, but hopefully we agree something with the EU this autumn. Some people seem positive.

As a native German, a British passport holder, and someone who not only enjoys living in the UK but also has his life in the UK, I don’t want a Brexit. I want more freedom for Britain to be in charge of what they can negotiate, and I do want certain rights, but I am not an advocate to leave the EU. Not currently anyway, over time this might be different, as I have been saying for 20 years that the EU will fall apart. But there are so many positive things about it, like the agreements around healthcare, free travel, custom union, cultural exchange, people exchange, and Europe coming together in any aspect. Think about agreements to work with other companies across Europe to foster innovation in healthcare, technology etc., Airbus being a prime example. Wouldn’t it be awful to isolate ourselves?

I am hopeful. I am positive and usually an optimist. Things will be ok, as most people don’t want to be in a worse situation than before, e.g. they will make sure Brexit will work. Will Brexit mean Brexit how 50+1% of the population wanted it. Maybe not. Maybe Brexit 2019 will be a first step towards a new way of working with the European Union which then will continue to be negotiated over the next few years to come. Who knows at this point in time. Stay positive.

And of course we have asked the question whether to leave the country. We have friends that did. But I am about to start a new job. My sons are going to be in a good school, and they have their friends. On the other hand they could benefit from learning another language and getting different cultural influence. This isn’t an easy decision and we decided to stay. For us, Britain means home. This is where my heart is, where I feel home. I have yet to find another country I would like to live in. What I mean is that I wouldn’t want to go back to Germany which would be the obvious choice. I will always carry my accent and heritage, but a return to Germany just can’t be the solution for me. Of course we monitor things and my new job is very international, so I am sure I will be alright.

See, I can fill a Sunday Column on a topic rather than writing to you how exhausting the week was and how pleased I am that the youngest loves cycling. And we went on a cycling tour and had so much fun. That is all still happening whilst everything else is going on.

Life is full of change. Change is happening all the time and the only constant we have. Let’s embrace it and hope it is for the better.

Love and kindness from my corner of the world.

Ode to my fatherland

It has been over 10 years when I left Duesseldorf airport in Germany to go to Aberdeen, Scotland. My ambition was to finish a degree in mechanical engineering and then come back to Germany to continue my career in sales. However, things happened differently.

I was born to parents that were themselves born during the 2nd World War. My grandparents hid from the Nazis as much as they hid from the Russians. My parents grew up feeling the guilt of Germany being responsible for mass murder. This guilt, this burden, was passed on to me. I guess with my parents born just at the end of the war, and me being quite a late child, I was one of few within my generation that had this burden passed on to.

In 2006 we visited my fatherland. The worldcup was on and people in my generation were cheering for Germany. I was impressed. The majority of people in my generation were born to parents just after the 2nd world war. They carried less burden and freed themselves by being able to host an international sporting event. It was cool again amongst Germans “to be German”. To be proud of heritage and “Germaness”. Not of course of the “dark shadow”.

When I lived in the UK between 2001-2006, I believe I missed a transformation in Germany in those years. A transformation of becoming a nation, and a new “profoundness of being German”.

But years earlier, the dark shadow was lingering over myself. It was not ok to say that you were proud to be German. I didn’t like or understand that. Why can’t a 20 year old boy in a country with a bad history, which happened over 50 years ago, be proud of his country? I didn’t have anything to do with Hitler and the lot. I am not a Nazi or right wing. I really was questioning how much I could bear to live in my fatherland if I wasn’t allowed to love it.

My fatherland had changed from feeling guilty to feeling proud. The new “burden-less” generation took over and allowed for a world cup that hosted not only soccer games but became a “coming out” event for Germans to be German.

In the meantime Volker became more British. More open to new things and I started to forget about my fatherland. I didn’t forget about the heritage, the black shadow, the salvation from it in my own terms as well as freeing myself from stigmas I was carrying. Between 2001 and 2006 I not only transformed to a new life but also closed a life and chapter behind me. I grew up and became me: in a new country.

The new me was proud to be German but didn’t like living in Germany any longer. I couldn’t imagine going back to a country where I wasn’t allowed to say what I felt. So for me, I decided to stay in the UK.

I became who I am today, and with my wife being British, I feel very integrated into this society. I like Britain, with ups and downs, and have two boys for whom we decided to grow up in England. I am at home in Britain, this is somehow my new fatherland. If of course one is allowed to have two fatherlands? I chose to come here.

I still have my accent. I still speak German whilst with a slight British accent 🙂 And of course my English isn’t perfect. I also work for a German company. However, I see my current set up as being very international with a very experienced, international (German) boss: a unique setting.

It almost sounds rude that I don’t want to live in my fatherland any more: But I think it is a difference in cultures. Plus the fact that I probably never really got over the fact that my fatherland changed without me. That people moved on whilst I have been stuck in 2001. And based on that, I lost the attachment to Germany, the interest and identification. It is just another country. They now pay with a currency I never dealt with in my life before. It has changed a lot, and it changed without me. Maybe we can agree that both my country and I moved on independent from each other.

I am not bitter; I am not stateless or without a fatherland. Still, in my own rights, I value German heritage and love what I identify as being “Germany”. This “Germany” is different to most people’s Germany. These are pictures of my grand parents and their stories of clean rivers, green countrysides, honest, proud and hard working people.

Maybe people will understand that I cannot identify myself with the Germany that is any more. It must be similar to people after the reunification that lost their identity. I am surely not the only one.

In Britain I have found a new home, a country I am happy in. A country where my family and I can live and enjoy life.