Lecciones de un maestro de escuela en el Rin

Pienso en mis mejores recuerdos europeos y en mis europeos favoritos, incluido el Sr. Jung, el profesor de alemán recientemente fallecido. Cuando cierro los ojos, todavía puedo imaginar al Sr. Jung guiándome por su ciudad natal… y todavía puedo escuchar la voz de su amable maestro.

Cuando conduzco por el romántico Rin en Alemania, siempre me detengo en mi ciudad favorita en este río legendario: Bacharach. Una vez próspero en sus comercios de vino y madera, este bonito pueblo con entramado de madera y laderas cubiertas de vides ahora trabaja duro para mantener felices a los turistas.

La escena junto al río es relajada. Parejas de alemanes jubilados, gordos de una vida de cerveza y papas, marcan el ritmo de un paseo tranquilo. Miro por encima del Rin. Perdido en pensamientos sobre Bacchus y Roman Bacharach, estoy en otro tiempo… hasta que dos aviones de combate de una base militar estadounidense cercana rompen el silencio.

El valle del Rin está marcado por la guerra. Mientras que las campanas de las iglesias tocan alegres cancioncillas en Holanda, aquí en el Rin suenan más como martillos sobre yunques. A medida que mueren los últimos sobrevivientes de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, los recuerdos se desvanecen. La guerra que partió en dos la Europa de nuestros abuelos se convertirá como una foto en blanco y negro sobre el manto de un pariente desconocido y muerto hace mucho tiempo.

Me detengo en el antiguo monumento a los caídos en la guerra de Bacharach en la orilla del río. Sus enormes ladrillos de arenisca, marcados con una cruz de hierro y flanqueados por dos cascos, fueron erigidos en 1914 para honrar a los veteranos locales de la entonces actual Primera Guerra Mundial y cinco guerras anteriores… pero los nombres y fechas inscritos ahora son en su mayoría ilegibles. Todo el monumento parece ser ignorado deliberadamente tanto por la ciudad como por sus visitantes.

Bacharach es probablemente mi ciudad favorita en el valle del Rin porque soy amigo de Herr Jung, el maestro de escuela jubilado de la ciudad, quien me lleva a dar un paseo que invita a la reflexión cada vez que lo visito. Se une a mí en el memorial y le pido que traduzca las palabras aún legibles grabadas en la piedra.

«Para recordarme los tiempos duros pero grandiosos…» comienza, luego murmura, «Ahh, pero eso no es importante ahora».

El Sr. Jung explica: “Nosotros, los alemanes, estamos dando la espalda a los monumentos de las antiguas guerras. Tenemos un día al año para conmemorar a los muertos en la guerra. Debido a nuestra complicada historia, no llamamos a estas almas perdidas héroes de guerra, sino «víctimas de guerra y tiranía». Aquellos que han perdido hijos, padres y esposos tienen un memorial en sus corazones. No necesitas esa piedra vieja».

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Mientras reflexiono sobre el memorial, cita a Bismarck: «Nadie quiere la guerra, pero todos quieren cosas que no pueden tener sin la guerra».

El Sr. Jung mira más allá del castillo del pueblo donde la cresta del barranco se encuentra con el cielo y dice: “Recuerdo el cielo. Era una alfombra en movimiento de bombarderos estadounidenses que venían sobre esa cresta. Las madres corrían con sus hijos. No había más hombres. En mi clase, 49 de los 55 niños perdieron a sus padres. Mi generación solo creció con madres”.

«Recuerdo los bombardeos», continúa. “Tumbado en nuestro sótano y rezando con mi madre. Yo era un negociador enojado con Dios. Todavía puedo escuchar las armas. Día tras día veíamos pelear a los aviones estadounidenses y nazis. éramos chicos Nos montamos en nuestras bicicletas para ver los restos de los aviones estrellados. Yo era el especialista en aviones de combate del vecindario. Pude reconocerlos por el sonido”.

“Un día un avión muy grande fue derribado. Tenía cuatro motores. Fui en bicicleta al naufragio y no podía creer lo que veía. ¿Era este un avión con un enorme ala vertical en el medio? Entonces me di cuenta de que esto era solo la sección de la cola. La unidad de cola estadounidense era tan grande como un avión alemán completo. Entonces supe que íbamos a perder esta guerra”.

Los años posteriores a la guerra fueron años de hambruna. «Me desperté en medio de la noche y revisé los armarios», dice. “No había manteca, ni pan, nada. Lamí el grano derramado del armario. Teníamos amigos de Nueva York y enviaban café que podíamos intercambiar con los agricultores por grano. Siempre estuve agradecido por eso.” Luego, suavemente me dejó mirarlo a los ojos y terminó su historia: “Cuando pienso en lo que los nazis le hicieron a Alemania, recuerdo que una buena sopa, cocinada por 30 personas, puede estropearse por un hombre con un puñado de sal».

Mientras estoy allí, con aviones militares sobrevolando el cielo, y contemplo cómo el Sr. Jung ha dedicado su vida a compartir la dura historia de Alemania para que otras naciones (como la mía) aprendan de ella, me comprometo de nuevo a aprender las lecciones que los viajes nos pueden enseñar a compartir tanto como sea posible.

Este artículo fue adaptado del nuevo libro de Rick, Por el amor de Europa.

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