OF COMMON BLOOD

I am sitting here today in a cafe in a side-street of the city of Bandung in Indonesia.

I sit with a man who shares my Austrian blood.  He is the son of the man who was the brother of my grandfather.

I never personally knew my grandfather.  He died thirty nine years ago in a Surabaya hospital and is buried in a quiet cemetery outside of Surabaya city.

I know my grandfather by a different name than does the rest of the world.

My grandfather arrived to Indonesia in the cold war era of 1954 and met a Sundanese woman working as a civil servant in a hospital in a remote eastern island of the archaepeligo.

They married and  produced a son in 1958.

After the death of his father (my grandfather) in 1970, the widow returned to her sundanese roots in Bandung with her young son.

My father married himself a Sundanese woman in 1982 and I was born in 1984.  I am now twenty five years old.

My grandmother, who herself died ten years ago in 1999, kept many important documents from  her late husband which enable this cafe to exist today.

This is no ordinary cafe.  This is no ordinary meeting between two men of common blood.

This is where conscience addresses history.

The world perceives the republic of Indonesia as primarily an Islamic state with eighty-six per-cent of its population muslim.

Most Indonesians even today only know the barest outline of what the holocaust was and what the words ‘Nazi’ ‘Swastika’ ‘Hitler’ represented in recent history.

The world is largely oblivious to the fact that my grandfather obviously did not die in a Berlin bunker in 1945 but escaped Europe to Indonesia to make a new life.

The world is also oblivious to the muse effected by my grandfather and his brother in Great Britain between the years 1909 and 1913 which set up the political backdrop for what would follow.

The memorabilia of this cafe is both stark and startling with its display of uniformed German officers, prisoners of war and coalition allied soldiers, weaponry and literature which would shock anyone to the core.

It is, however  just a museum cafe where you can eat and drink but which provides a window in time to events in history.

My grandmother spoke little of the secrets shared with her by her husband but what was said signified the deepest regret and remorse.

I am Indonesian.  I am a committed christian.  I am not a Nazi or a Neo-Nazi.  Never have and never will.  I bear no significant political allegiance.

There is nowhere else on earth where such memorabilia exists in one place.

There is no one living person who can make such a visually profound statement as I about this engaging topic.

I agree that the concept of the cafe is macabre and certainly controversial.

I agree that there are sensitivities which will arouse public disgust and disapproval.

People may be right to make analogies with Al Quaeda and Osama bin Laden or the current Isis trend hell-bent on death and destruction.

I am as equally disapproving of such terror as I am of what my grandfather was responsible for while he was chancellor and fuhrer of the German State.

I am not in any way proud of my heritage but I see this as a duty to do.

The idea for the cafe was mine and mine alone.

I see the cafe as a statement to the world from which a lesson in history must be learnt and never again be repeated.

I have modelled the cafe on one I saw in Paris during my student days in France a couple of years ago which resembles and typifies the type of cafe popular with German soldiers during world war two.

I ‘stole’ the final concept of the cafe from  Renee’s cafe which featured in the British comedy series ‘Allo ‘Allo in the 1980s, something introduced to me virtue of You Tube.

My Uncle has travelled halfway around the world to be here.

He has no heirs and he does not have much longer to live.

This meeting will not be repeated.  It is a one-off.

Not dissimilar perhaps with his own Father’s meeting with my grandfather in Nuremberg 1929 when a great tragedy which befell the world could have been averted.

If only the world had listened.

This is not a legacy but a meeting of minds and a sharing of secrets.

The secrets we share today will go to our grave.

This is the story of two men of common blood.

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