On February 1, it was time to say goodbye to my friend G. We had a great time. I took her to Tegel airport and we had a light-hearted goodbye, because I will be back in Vancouver myself in just two weeks. We know we will see each other back home soon.
G. had seen a poster on the way to the airport announcing a showing of art by women of the Berlin Secession. I had not even heard of the Berlin Secession, so as I was taking the train back into Berlin, I googled it as well as the exhibit and found out it was at the Max Liebermann Villa in Berlin-Wannsee. I went to my Berlin public transit iPhone app which has been a fantastic tool for me here and quickly found the quickest train out there. Before I knew it, I was in Wannsee. Hurray for spontaneity!
The sad story of Max Liebermann is that his art was considered degenerate by the Nazis, he was forced from his official duties late in life, and he died in 1937, deprived of a dignified old age. After his death, in 1940, his widow had to sign over her home to the Nazis. In 1943, as she lay bedridden from a stroke, a letter arrived announcing her imminent deportation to a concentration camp the next day. She took an overdose of pills and died a few days later. It’s one of many tragic human stories of that time.
I felt a great sadness as I walked around this beautiful villa by the lake and thought of the many crimes against humanity committed not only by Nazis but around the world every day. There has got to be a small thing everyone of us can do to not let these things happen anymore. Maybe we can start by allowing the people around us to be themselves and not try to force our beliefs on them, be it a religious belief or the belief that you must not leave a pair of dirty socks on the floor for even an hour. We can also start by allowing ourselves to be ourselves and not be swayed by the opinions of others.
Later in the evening, I did some work and then cleaned the apartment because my cousin V. is arriving from Cologne early in the morning on February 2!