Monday, October 11, 2010

Feeling the Love in Germany

I’m on the road this week, working from Germany and attending a conference of Travel Writers and Public Relation professionals. It’s my 4th visit to this beautiful country, and even though I’ve been lucky enough to hangout in its beer gardens, bond with the locals, boogie to the odd oom-pa-pa band - there has always been an element of Germany that I’m never really sure what to do with.

So much has happened here - it was only a few weeks ago that Germany finally payed off it’s World War 1 debt - imposed by the Treaty of Versailles - a financial obligation that was so massive, many historians credit it with opening the door to Hitler. I find all of this history fascinating, yet I’ve never had the courage to discuss it with my German friends. It’s kind of like traveling with an elephant - better to ignore than offend.

The conference is taking place in Saxony, even though I’ve never been to this area of Germany before it didn’t stop me from making assumptions....boy, was I ever wrong. I knew that the Allies had heavily bombed this area, destroying many of the cities. I came expecting to see the mammoth, concrete buildings that always seem to be a staple of Eastern Block countries. I had no idea how much time, effort and passion has gone into rebuilding and restoring. It is truly beautiful here.

More important, this place has touched my soul. The Berlin Wall only came down in 1989, which quite frankly wasn’t that long ago. The revolution started here, a small group of brave souls who brought down a regime without resorting to violence. In 21 years they have achieved amazing things - including a thriving economy.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are days when I worry about this world, wondering if we’ve already passed the tipping point. Being here reminds me that there is always hope, that it is always better to make love not war, and to never stop believing.