grandmothers & trauma …

I’ve just watched the second “Hannibal” episode with Francis Dolarhyde where we see a short flashback with young Francis at his grandmothers table. Checking my WordPress reader I also saw a new post from “The Book of Esther” who is reporting from her holiday in Czech Republic here.

Which leaves me with mixed feelings…

It’s only a 2,5 hour drive from Nuremberg to Prague. I once even overheard an American at Nuremberg airport, while obviously answering the question on his cell phone where he was at the moment with “in a small town in southern Germany near Prague”. I think actually the majority of Nuremberg’s citizens have been to Prague at least once or even go there regularly for a weekend trip.

I haven’t.

Maybe this has to do with my Bohemian grandmother, who had to leave her house and all her belongings in Czechia and flee with her mother and my baby-aunt (her husband hadn’t survived Hitler’s Stalingrad siege) during WWII.

I’ve often tried to imagine the horror she must have felt – from the few stories she told over and over when I was a kid. How would one feel getting a note of one’s husband’s death, with a newborn baby, that will now never see his father? Also her mother – my great grandmother (who I only got to know as a sweet round little old lady) was many times illegally crossing the border at night, WALKING from Eger to Nuremberg (this is a 1,5 hour DRIVE now) to maintain contact with relatives during wartime – and my gran always dreaded that something might happen to her too …

When the war was over – from the moment it became possible again, my grandmother regularly went back on day trips, to gaze at the house in which she grew up, lost in memories. The one time, I accompanied her, witnessing how she invaded the privacy of the people now living there like: walking past the picket fence back and forth, craning her neck, pointing with her finger, commenting on building alterations that had been made – made me feel really uncomfortable. Of course I felt for her – she clearly never got over these traumatic events: there she had seen her father happy for the last time, before he’d returned broken, from years in a russian prison (I can tell you that in reality this looks nothing like “Lucas North”). By the garden gate she’d received her first kiss from the husband who then went to fight for Hitler’s mad war and never returned. Somehow all of this always tainted my interest for visiting the Czech republic – despite loving the wonderful Czech children movies from the 70s 😉

So, this daytrip with my then 70 year old gran, about 25 years ago, really has remained my only visit there. Something deep within still makes me NOT want to cross that border again. Funny enough – my great grandmother NEVER went back there as long as she lived. So – in a way – todays musings fit perfectly with the Dolarhyde story: trauma our ancestors leave us with.