Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Travelblog 6:Crossing Borders 2: Nordham, Germany

A few kilometers over the border between Holland and Germany is a small city called Nordham. It is not a very important town, apparently. I could not find it by search engine. I barely spotted it on one map of Germany after painstaking search. The search engines all wanted to direct me to Northheim, a city much much farther to the south (500 kilometers, to be exact). Perhaps this is a good thing for Nordham. The city can remain a bit sleepy, a sort of oasis for the farmers in the region. It is plenty big to entertain a lovely centrum with many shopping opportunities, plus a very large Costco-like single building shopping arena that does not require a membership card to get in. There is little to make Nordham special in my memory. A river runs through it, a very small and narrow river that branches off and makes the centrum virtually an island. I never learned the name of the river. Ducks, however, love it. There is a very large and impressive church on one side of the centrum, and the center itself is lined with stores, a bakery, and a few nice places to eat. We stopped for coffee at one, sitting outside along one branch of the river. The waitress was very pleasant, but all she spoke was German. She did not speak English, or even a little Dutch. At that moment I felt far removed from the world I know, like a real tourist out of water. It was a refreshing experience. There was one remarkable thing about Nordham that I will always remember. In two separate places there were plaques to show where synagogues stood before the War. The synagogues did not return in peacetime, but the people of Nordham decided that it was important to remember where they stood. It was another example of holding onto memory, even horrible ones. Perhaps it demonstrates that level of cultural maturity that seems to run through Europe at present, the same sort of maturity that has allowed the nations on that continent to form the European Union. War may not be completely a thing of the past for the Europeans within that union, but they want it to be. Honoring the memory of the victims of past wars is an excellent way to promote peaceful cooperation among generations who otherwise might never know about events like the Holocaust. These people do not forget their history; they embrace it, even in small places that Google cannot find, like Nordham.

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