Why My German Great Grandfather Died In A Gas Chamber

Yesterday, I had a conversation with my mom about what happened to her and her family during World War 2 in Germany. We talked about my Great Grandfather Heinrich, who disappeared. And we talked about her upbringing in desperate poverty.

Even though the war experiences were always at the dinner table, there is only so much that, as a kid, you’re able to really comprehend. Everybody was in the same situation, all men had beed drafted, everybody was bombed out (my home town Cologne was 90% destroyed), everybody was hungry and poor, trying to build something out of nothing. There was only one way, and that was up.

There are many stories she told me that now, as an adult, almost moved me to tears. But there is one story that happened that hit me like a lightening bolt:

We talked about my great grandfather Heinrich. I always knew that he had been well of, owning and renting out a number of beautiful apartment houses at the turn of the century. They were in a part of Cologne that didn’t get completely destroyed during WW2, but he had unfortunately sold most of them right before the recession hit in the 1930. When money became less and less valuable (people were eventually buying with billion Mark bills for bread), he lost all his fortune.

He became depressed.

Who wouldn’t?

He blamed himself for the bad timing of his decision to sell.

Eventually, they put him in a mental hospital. It was the 1930, and that’s what they did with depressed people.

As a kid, I knew that he had sold the houses and that he never overcame this. But yesterday, my mom asked me if I knew what really happened to him? I said No.

She said that when the family came to check on him, they were told that he had been “moved”. They never saw him again. What happened was that Hitler had declared people with mental issues as not worth living, and put them, and my great grandfather in a gas chamber.

I am crying as I write this.

My mother mentioned that there is a small chance that maybe they shot him instead of gasing him, but they just don’t know. They lived with this knowledge for years to come.

I have no words… What does one say or think after learning this?

It is hard to comprehend what war and dictatorship does to people. How they have to live. How they raise their kids. The deamons they struggle with every day. All wars do things to people, to families, to children for generations to come.

Most people struggle and suffer silently. “That’s how it was back then.” is all they share.

They are right. That’s how it was. But what can we do to change this?

Curiously, when I got my business degree, the company I worked for was at the corner of Kuehn Strasse, where my great grandfather Heinrich had owned his houses. They are still there.

When people survive war, they suffer. They need help. They stuff things down. We don’t need to check for a diagnosis to understand this.

I am grateful that EFT can help take the charge out of haunting memories.

We need to do something to change the suffering.

I will tap on My Great Grandfather’s death in the gas chamber soon.

But today I want to honor him by grieving.

I am so sorry that this happened – to him, and million others who were loved and cared for.

So sorry.

We must never let things like this happen again.

EFT is a way to end the suffering of survivors of trauma and war without numbing and drugs. I am grateful that more and more people are now using it. We can shift trauma. And we have to to create a future that can’t be build on the memories of injustice and cruelty.

To create a future built on respect and kindness, we have to stop the suffering of those who carry the memories of war. Most people have them. Time to get to work.

1 Comment

  1. Julie Vernon on July 7, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss, Ingrid. May your solid grounding in EFT serve you and your family profoundly, now and for generations to come.

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