I ask friends for help with the scattering of the bags for the From Berlin With Love project. It is expression of my belief that once you allow yourself to be drawn into the diversity of people you are less likely to fall for stereotypes and populism. A wide network of friends might not prevent wars, but – well: back during WWII my non-Jewish great-grandfather rescued my Jewish great-grandmother and their children by sticking around and refusing divorce. And then Easter 1944 he died in an accident and my great-grandmother received a letter with details about her deportation to a concentration camp. But for the people around she was not a faceless Jew. So, the local SS doctor certified her unfit for transportation because of a non-existing issue. The hotel owner in their street told my grandfather to drop by the back door every day after school with a pot to pick up food for the day. The owner of a local company made it possible for my great-grandmother to work from home for money. All of these were forbidden acts. And I don’t think these people ever questioned the policies until the faceless mass had a face.
So yes, I ask friends and hence every single bag, every single place they turn up is special for me. And then there are those that are even more special because the story I am waving is shot through with threads of these friends and altered.
In Fort Worth, TX the story told by the bags is one of life and death and memory. It is the constant theme of any war when people shoot at people to protect life. Life that we want to celebrate is cut short, it’s permanently altered through injuries to the body and the soul. Orphaned parents, children, partners are left behind incomplete. They sacrificed themselves for us, lest we forget – to life and to learn.
There are fights worth fighting, only very few of them are actually fought with guns and weapons. These are fights fought purely for the sake of life and the enemy are altered cells, bacteria and viruses. We still loose too many of those fights daily.
So Forth Worth, your bags are in memory of Lela’s mom, who lost her fight with cancer earlier this year. Lela brought her bags to the school, where she taught for the last eight years and shared the scattering with her students on her last day. Thanks you, Lela for adding this special moment to the project.
(PS: This is one out of three sets of bags with the same theme, hence stay on the lookout for their siblings.)