Victor Grossman, BERLIN BULLETIN No. 114 July 26 2016 (Written in haste)
One two three four – so many killing scenes in Bavaria in little over a week. And that against a backdrop of terrible, even worse killings in so many towns and cities elsewhere.
My main reaction is sorrow! Sorrow for the innocent people who only took the train, went shopping or went to a concert and then never came home. And even more sorrow for the families and friends for whom they were irreplaceable. Among the many, many flowers, candles and toys placed at the sites of the killings one word is often repeated: “Warum?” – “Why?”
In the hunt for answers we must look first at the perpetrators of these killings. Almost all, we find, were young men, whose feelings and psyches had been twisted into hatred. Some were truly ill mentally, had even been in treatment. But even those classified as normal were also ill or they could not have done such terrible things.
We need not look all too far to find possible causes of such hatred or, frequently, of distorted despair. I think of what so many – literally hundreds of thousands – have gone through. War-torn home towns, shootings, explosions and bombings in their native Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, a terrifying flight to get away, to find some haven, some place where they can escape and perhaps even realize their hopes and wishes. Desperate voyages across deadly waters, with drowned victims in all their thoughts. On arrival in the expected haven only the beginning of a long, desperate trek in heat or freezing weather, muddy tent camps faced by barbed wire, visored, baton-swinging police and clouds of tear gas. For those who reached the Promised Land, Germany, some were lucky and found some of the many warm-hearted people who welcomed and helped them. But all too many were met with callousness, rejection, neglect and greed, even violence, and the constant threat of being sent back to ruins and poverty. In even the best cases there were the problems of finding oneself in a strange land, with a strange language and very different customs. This is enough to twist the minds of many people, but not least of all those of young males barred from work and dignity, from family, from women. Yes, my sorrow extends to all of them, too – and to the tragedy of young lives distorted by such experience, lacking guidance or a chance to fight back properly, often so very much alone – and then meeting a young death, tragic for them and for so many all around them.
I cannot absolve them of guilt. But I can find guilt elsewhere as well. How many of the good, peaceful people in Bavarian towns and cities – or in other peaceful places – know or care about the killing in the homelands of these people – and who has been responsible for it? Who has conducted war in Afghanistan for 15 years? What was the punishment for the German colonel who ordered the bombing in Kunduz in 2009 which killed up to 100 civilians? Or was it 150? Who cares, really – except their families? And they, after all, received a full $ 5000 for each death. Colonel Klein, who ordered the raid, was promoted to general a few years later.
Who still cares that in 2015, also in Kunduz, 30 or 40 medical personnel or patients, some of them children, were killed by an American war plane in repeated “mistaken” bombing attacks despite immediate pleas to desist. This time relatives were paid $ 6000 for each family member killed. After all, one must not disregard inflation!
How many hundreds of thousands were killed in Iraq after a war based on conscious lies? The counting has not been so accurate as in the sad Bavarian massacre. How long have US weapons and German weapons been used to kill civilians in Yemen, in Syria, in Somalia? How long have American weapons and military assistance been used in the destruction of Gaza and repression in Palestine? Most Arab people certainly know of all these things – and do not easily forget them. How many Bavarians are aware of them? Or Germans? Or Americans? Is it difficult to understand that such killing cannot successfully be confined to the distant lands where it takes place, but will return to the sources, to the countries which send Special Troops, and which supply the bullets, the shells and the drone rockets fired at militants who somehow believe they are defending their poor countries – or fired, in other occasional “unfortunate mistakes”, always sincerely regretted, at wedding parties or the like.
No, they are not so easily forgotten by sons or brothers. Is it surprising that some seek retribution, even blind retribution? Sadly, very tragically, the ones to suffer and die from such retribution are sometimes peaceful citizens of Arnsbach, Munich or other cities, who are just as innocent of any wrong-doing as those in Kunduz or in Kirkuk. And, until the shots or blasts can be heard and felt, just as uninvolved.
This means that everything must be done, wherever we are, to get as many involved as possible. Not only must we oppose the bloody attacks from the sea, ground or air, but also the shipment of the utensils of death to those areas, indeed, to any areas! We must let the people of other countries solve their own problems – without our pressures, our interference, above all without our weapons.
My sorrow extends even further, to much of what I see in the world which leads to death thoughts, large and small scale. I firmly believe that we must oppose the cult of killing which pervades our entire culture, the war films, the video games and the media heroics which idolize “Western” snipers, torturers and killers of all kind while detailing over and over the misdeeds of a tiny number of immigrants. Selling guns, whether pistols, assault rifles or warships, brings money, lots and lots and lots of money. They must constantly be modernized. When they are used up or destroyed they must be replaced, and that brings more money – in the billions. Their crooked influence is related, in no small measure, to the killings of all kinds, whether by a mentally twisted, distorted youngster on a peaceful street in Bavaria – inspired or not inspired by ISIS leaders – or committed by a handsomely uniformed and decorated general and his men, praised by their imbedded journalists as heroic saviors of our civilization.
Indeed, they and the men behind them in their skyscraper boardrooms or their private jets and yachts are, directly or indirectly, the truly guilty ones, for the wars, the waves of refugees, the misery and countless personal tragedies. Can they be removed before we all kill each other off in some final hungry desert – or in a sudden final atomic blast?