A Christmas Wish List to the Chancellor of Germany from Ingo Fuchs, 9

Weihnachtliche Wachsfigur von Angela Merkel in Berlin

Translated from the original

Dear Chancellor Merkel,

I know Saint Nicholas and Santa aren’t real, so Poppa said I should ask you to help. Here’s my wish list for Christmas.

Recently, my school class began a project to learn about government. It is boring for many. But not me – I like it. My Poppa talks about politics often at dinner. My mommy does too. My older sister just rolls her eyes, but I listen to what they say.

Poppa says that governments should do for the people what they cannot do for themselves. This sounds very good. Since we cannot afford a Porsche, and my Poppa wants one, can you get him a Porsche for Christmas?

You are the only leader of Germany I have ever known, though we did learn about some man from Austria who did many bad things. He had a funny moustache and I can see him on the TV every weekend when my Poppa watches it. My Poppa watches because he is fascinated that so many smart people followed the man with the funny moustache. I think the name of the Austrian man was Rudolph Hitler.

My Poppa says that you can become one of the greatest chancellors in the history of Germany. I would like that very much. But Poppa says you have much work to do. I may not recall everything he’s said but I will try and remember.

Young mother sitting at desk using phone while son sits on lap, holding sword

Firstly, our internet is too slow for Poppa to work at home comfortably without stress. He works at home so Mommy can continue her career. It is very difficult for Mommy to work and have children. She says some people call her a ‘Rabenmutter’. I don’t know what that is exactly but she doesn’t like it and she says English swear words to the people who say it to her. Can you fix the internet and make it easier for women to have children and careers? We don’t have enough children from Germany anymore. Can you make it easier on women and give them more incentive to have children? Maybe more people could work from home like my Poppa.

My Mommy works for a transport company. She says it now takes two hours for some trucks to drive 30 km because the bridges don’t support heavy weight. Can you fix that?

Merkel besucht Integrationsprojekte in Hamburg

Secondly, my Poppa says that too many people are afraid of immigrants. He says that we need immigrants, so we can become stronger like America. Poppa says that many immigrants who come here have a university diploma (he says that’s good), and are able to bring many skills to Germany. This sounds like it might help Germany. Poppa says that many people who come to this nice country don’t feel welcome enough. Can you help them feel more welcome?

Poppa also says that the European Union (EU) is good. I don’t know what a union is exactly, except I know you’re in a Christian Democrat Union, and Mommy’s favorite politician ever, Franz Josef Strauss, was also in a union. So unions must be good.

Poppa also says that for the EU to work properly, Germany has to take a more leading role. Germany should take the lead in policy, in military, in economics. If the rest of Europe doesn’t like it they should do more. But Poppa says since we have the strongest economy and the most money, we get to drive the car. 

Father and son on a wind farm

Thirdly, we need to continue to help the animals and the planet by being green. Mommy says it may cost more money ‘upfront’, but the long-term benefits of using renewable energies are big. Mommy also says the less gas we must buy from Russia the better. She says we should also continue to try and influence other eastern European countries to join our union.

Finally, Poppa says generally we Germans need to be more assertive, and not so risk adverse. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but Poppa says it often. Can you be more assertive? Our history is just that. We can expect to be included in all the important decisions of the world. Decisions not only in Europe, but in Asia and Africa too. We should show the world how we Germans can do things. But it will mean that we must do some things in the world that cost us money and maybe even some soldiers’ lives. I hate war, but Poppa and Mommy say sometimes it is necessary. Can you help?

I know that this is a long list of things that I would like you to do. If you can’t do them all, can you at least try to start them so that maybe the person who becomes chancellor after you can continue them? That would be great.

I also want to say that Poppa told Mommy that he had never been prouder to be a German than he was right now. He said it had to do with 25 years of East Germany and West Germany being reunified and all of the things that Germany did correctly, but the list is too long and you are very busy. Mommy said Poppa was proud to be German because Germany won the World Championship in Brazil. Mommy is usually right more than Poppa.

I wish you a very happy new year.

Yours sincerely,

Ingo Fuchs, 9

Tiefenbach, Upper Palatinate, Lower Bavaria, Germany

Kept Secrets

A typical August Exter house in Pasing

A typical August Exter house in Pasing

Cody enjoyed walking down August-Exter Street in Pasing, on which whose eponym had built some of the loveliest century-old residences in west Munich. Many of the houses he designed are famous for having a round tower in one corner of a four-sided structure. Cody’s customers who he was meeting in a few minutes had told him all about the man and his specific style, and it was information like that which made Cody glad he was an English teacher in Munich.

He rang the bell at exactly the appointed hour. Within seconds he was buzzed through and was met by the smiling faces of Edeltraud and Franz. They were always smiling when he met them for their two hour English lesson.  They were not typical Bavarians. Their son, who was a pilot for Lufthansa, had married a woman from Jamaica who bore them two grandchildren with cappuccino-colored skin.

“How do you guys always seem to be in such a great mood, in such great spirits?” asked Cody.

“We sleep in separate bedrooms,” replied Franz. He had a very quick wit for his seventy plus years. “It’s the secret to a long and happy marriage.”

Edeltraud smiled and rolled her eyes. She was about ten years younger in appearance and shared his playfulness. She offered Cody coffee, tea, and juice as usual.

After a few minutes of pleasantries, Cody explained the difference between the present perfect and the past simple tenses. He also told them that that was where the better English teachers made their money because it was a difficult concept for Germans to get. “Ich habe gemacht in German does not translate to I have made. It translates to I made.”

They were both retired, yet they treated these English lessons as if they were studying for a university entrance exam, sort of.

“Edeltraud, you’ve travelled all over Europe and you told me last month that you really enjoy visiting palaces and such. See how I used the past simple with last month. What’s the nicest palace you’ve ever visited?” asked Cody. And then whispering, “in your life up to now?”

“That’s easy, Charlottenburg, near Berlin. Here, let me show you.”

Edeltraud then got up and walked to the largest book shelf in the living room and pulled out her picture album of Charlottenburg. Though she pulled books and albums often, neither Cody nor Franz tired of it. She was a former history teacher after all. Edeltraud then explained in much detail the palace and its former residents, the Hohenzollern. Cody did not correct now, and rarely did in such situations, as he felt he had become the student and his pupils were the purveyors. She ended with a lovely few minutes on Fredrick the Great.

“Fredrick’s homosexuality was an open secret,” said Edeltraud. “Charlottenburg is the nicest palace I ever was in.”

“The nicest palace I’ve ever been in,” corrected Cody.

“His homosexuality is a fact,” said Franz, “that the Nazis forgot.”

Cody felt his chest tighten. In the ten to twelve odd lessons he had had with Edeltraud and Franz, he had yet to broach the subject of Nazism with them. This was about to change.

Like many Americans, Cody was fascinated by the whole Nazi period. The best-selling biographies from year to year were not about Jefferson or Lincoln or Washington or Kennedy. They were about Hitler. The top walking tour at Radius Tours in Munich was invariably the Third Reich Tour. How such a cultured and educated populace had been hoodwinked and bamboozled remains one of the most researched ‘case studies’ of the 21st century.

“Franz, are you sometimes frustrated that many people in the world only think of Hitler and Nazis when they hear  the word Germany?” asked Cody.

“What can we do?” Franz asked rhetorically. “It’s the biggest thing in Europe of the last one hundred years.”

“I once read that Albert Speer not only designed his buildings for the moment, but he planned on how they would look in ruin a thousand years later,” said Cody.

“Yes, that’s right. And he had rally big plans for Munich. Did you see them yet?” asked Franz.

“Have you seen them yet, Franz. And no, I haven’t,” replied Cody.

Edeltraud then stood up and walked over to a different shelf. It was smaller than the shelf with the photo albums. She blew off a bit of dust from the top of the book after she had pulled it out. She opened the book to a page that looked a lot like Google’s ‘Earth’ view, only it was in black and white.

“This is a look at how Speer wanted Munich to look like. He wanted to move the central train station two and a half kilometers due west to Laim. The area between Laim and our present central station was to be a wide street with neo-Classical buildings on both sides. It was to be a sort of, what’s the word, Umzug, place,” said Franz.

“Parade ground,” said Cody.

“That’s it,” said Franz. “But they never got to it. I (sic) show you something.”

Franz got up and left the room. Edeltraud and Cody continued to look at the book. They could hear Franz in the other room searching for something. After a few minutes he returned. He was also carrying something wrapped in an old towel or rag.

“Here it is.” Franz unfurled it. “It was given to me by my father’s sister. I don’t even know what I should do with it.” The object was also a book, but the title was difficult to discern. He opened it to the title page. Cody read the words and audibly gasped.  Mein Kampf.  Below those words it said Kopie Nummer #324.

Mein Kampf

Cody felt a wave and a rush pulsate through his body. He hoped that neither of his hosts noticed his excitement. His mind raced. All of his desire to come to Munich, the early home of the great man, the place where it all started, the birthplace of the Reich,… ‘That’s the reason why I came here,’ thought Cody to himself. ‘And now I am looking at one of the earliest copies of the Hitler’s words. Somebody who knew him personally, or Hitler himself, probably handled this book,’ thought Cody. His whole reason for being and leaving Mississippi to come to this cold wet damp place was realized in that moment. Oh how he wanted that book! If only his Aryan Front brothers and sisters could see him now!

“I didn’t know you had that,” said a surprised Edeltraud.

“We all have our secrets,” said Franz.

“Yes we do,” said Cody, as his cheeks flushed red. He felt the twin swastikas tattooed on the inside of his cheeks burn.

“Yes we do.”