Ellen Kositza

Ellen Kositza, born 1973 in West Germany, mother of seven children, publicist, was awarded, jointly with Peter Scholl-Latour, the Gerhard Löwenthal prize in 2008. Editor of the journal 'Sezession.'

Source: shutterstock Far away from Auschwitz or being gay: Playing animal shelter

A German diary:Auschwitz as Opportunity

Pretending to be gay and a compulsory blood spider

22 July – Silently we sit in a café in Katowice, Poland. We remain silent for a long time. Our silence is indiscreet. May we do that? “The eavesdropper on the wall / hears his own shame.” Is that so? And may one add: “but the conversation /was interesting?”

This can be reconstructed (in all indecency): Obviously there are five young German women from western Germany who graduated from high school a year ago and have now met again on a joint ‘trip to Poland.’

Some are already studying, others have gained ‘experience abroad.’ One of them notes that she is now starting her studies 1,200 euros in debt. She has helped poor children in India. Flight, accommodation etc. she had to finance herself. Normally, this is done through fundraising in the family, in the neighborhood, in associations. But she herself, quote, had been “too stupid” and hadn’t had the guts to do that. But today she gets “so mad” when she sees how neighbors, families etc. “blow” their money.

For a long time we hear complaints about the weather. “In Germany, they’re sweating at over 30 degrees, and here it’s constantly raining.” Many of these scraps of conversation are flanked by verbalized internet abbreviations: “LOL” says one, “ROFL” another. I have to translate for my husband Kubitschek, who is old-fashioned in this respect: rolling on the floor laughing.

Now there is a sort of dispute. ‘A sort’ because this conversation (about whether one can order an Italian dish in Poland; moral aspects are raised) taking place, takes on the form of a psychotherapeutic group meeting. Again and again, either the redhead or the harem trouser wearer steps in with: “I think you should allow X to finish what she has to say.” Or: “I feel you’ve offended Y. I don't know, how do you see that?”

Then however, during the meal, things get really wild. A potential destination is discussed:

“Well, I'm very much for Auschwitz.” – “Oh nooo! That would be another hour's drive!” – "Well, I’d be very much in favor. I mean, I probably won't be that close to it in my life again. I’d say, I see this as a unique opportunity. Let's go there.” – “Um. I don't know, Auschwitz doesn't really excite me that much.” – “Um, yes... after all I've heard, and I've done a bit of research, it’s not such a great place. Very cold, you know. Apart from the weather” – “Very cold? You ... I mean, what do you expect?!” – “No, please, don't get me wrong. I just feel that I wouldn't be able to stand it right now. I mean, for something like that you have to be prepared.”

A fourth ‘voice of reason’ pipes up: “Today Legendia [I googled: an amusement park near Katowice], tomorrow Auschwitz, hey guys, we wanted to chill, didn't we?”

As far as we could follow the discussion at the next table, the decision went 3 to 2 against Auschwitz. Strictly democratic, obviously. You couldn’t make it up.

24 July – For days now, our youngest one is playing with her friends ‘let’s pretend we have a shop.’ (Ceramic goods made from clay, painted with watercolour and offered for sale at a minimum price.) Then, ‘let’s pretend we have an animal shelter’ (walking through the village once again with the old baby stroller with kittens and baby rabbits).

And: ‘Let’s pretend we’re a circus,’ with trampoline acrobatics, bicycle acts, a goat and a goose act and of course awesomely designed tickets for all family members and publishing staff.

There is a problem, however, when friend M. suggests, ‘let’s pretend we’re gay.’

Daughter: “Mama, you probably don't think it's so great anyway, but how does one play when one pretends to be gay? M. said that you just listen to cool music [daughter knows how to do air quotes], dress beautifully and have lots of children. At least three, and from all countries. But how are we supposed to do that? And where the children are supposed to come from at all – because gay, you know... – I don't understand.”

It's lunch time anyway, and friend M. (from a traditional village household with many children) is casually asked: “Do you actually watch a lot of TV at home? What exactly? What of that do you watch in secret?”

It’s exactly how we thought.

We re-indoctrinate a little. M. finally says that she never really wanted to play being gay anyway. How would you do that anyhow?

25 July – After eliminating the playing gay option, the ‘pottery workshop’ is in continuous business. The little ones sit under the balcony in the shade and work the clay. Above them: spider webs. We completely swept them away last week, they’re back again. The friends sometimes feel disgusted. I overhear the daughter with her precocious explanations: “Well, Saint Konrad [I didn't know this story at all, E.K.] drank a cup with the blood of Christ, although there was a spider in it. But he couldn't waste the blood. So he drank it up. I always have to think about that when I see spiders: They don't do anything to us. And we don't normally have to put them in our mouths.”

The friends were impressed and continued working the clay.

Extracts from the originals (here (25/Jul/2018) at sezession.de) translated and republished with permission from Ellen Kositza.

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