30) The Journey of a Wallet

“Now I also have a story 🙈

A friend and I are currently travelling in South- East- Asia and are hitchhiking at the moment through Vietnam. Yesterday we forgot a wallet with a drivers license and a credit card in the car of our ride share. We only noticed 100km later, when we were already in another ride share. We knew nothing, no name, not even the number plate or where the car went. Therefore we hitchhiked back those 100 km and asked the people from the town, where we had left, if they knew the driver or if they could help us somehow. They shared our problem on facebook and that way the message was spreading quickly, that two foreigners from Germany had lost a wallet. At the same time, our driver had found the wallet and posted as well, that he had the wallet of two foreigners. After we had been invited twice for food, we eventually got over several ways and people and with a lot of help and friendly locals our wallet back. A bus driver brought it to us.

I hope this is understandable explained 🙈😂 It was really confusing and we also don’t know exactly how the wallet found back to us 🙈”

This is a story in which humans actually act better than I would expect- that is wonderful to hear. Communication is everything.

29) Act to impress?

These stories stimulate some thinking- where does humanity start?

“Thanks to the one story I came to the idea to tell you an event that has some similarity. I do run the risk of spread the uncomfortable smell of self-praise. In fact, I’m concerned with the question: Why do humans do something “good”?

My uncle Karl, who lives in Tanneberg in the Erzgebirge [at the Eastern border of Germany] survived the first world war safe, his sons however not the second one. One died in France, another one in the Ukraine and the third one starved to death in Soviet captivity.

Decades later I visited him in Tannenberg. Uncle Karl, by now over eighty years old and widower, showed me a letter from the German War Graves Commission, that notified him that the bones of his son, who died in Le Havre, were moved to a central German military cemetery 150 kilometres West of Paris. I said: ‘uncle Karl, we are going there’. As a retired man, he was allowed to visit us in Stuttgart [the narration takes place in the time before German reunion, where this was not self-evident] and together we went on a big journey through France. We stayed over night close to Sacré-Cœur, visited the Eifel tower and other sights and found after our continued travel the grave of my cousin on a huge field. Somehow we also had the desire to get to know Le Havre. Close to the beach we found ourselves in a festival-like event. It was the annual celebration of the D-day.

On the way home we stopped another time in Paris. In a restaurant we witnessed how two waiters took of the coat of a poorly looking guest and wanted to keep it, because he could not pay. Spontaneously I intervened, asked of how much they were talking about and payed the sum. Later I asked myself whether I just did that to impress my uncle Karl. At the beginning, I denied. As a former member of the Hitler Youth I traveled in my younger years always full of guilt abroad and would have used as a patriotic thinking person every opportunity to show a more positive sight of us Germans. But if I had been sitting alone in a German restaurant, would I have acted the same way? I don’t know. I really don’t know.”

28) Does it still make sense?

To admit that you were wrong or did not act well at a certain point in time is not an easy thing to do. Overcoming yourself and your pride, admitting a mistake to yourself and others. Not everyone does. And not in every situation.

I believe in sayings of the kind “better late than never” and “it is never too late to be the person you would like to be” (even though I don’t remember who said those first). It might take some time, but it is still worth saying it, if you came to realise you did a mistake.

Without going into detail, I recently experienced that when someone was telling me after months about being unhappy with the own behaviour and expressing the wish to explain it. It did sound like an apology. I appreciate that.

27) Delivery from Hamburg to Hannover

Today I witnessed an unusual delivery- not via post service, but with the German Railway.

While passengers entered the train in Hamburg, one slightly distraught man tried to reach a friend on his phone. She was working in a film project and had forgotten the charger for her camera- at least it was in the hands of the aforementioned man and she was in Hannover. Now he was thinking out loud to leave the charger in the entrance of the carriage, so that his friend could take it out of the train at the track in Hannover. There two young people jumped in to help him. The woman, whose partner had helped her to carry the luggage into the train, offered to take the charger and give it to the person in Hannover, if she was there in time at the right track. Within a short time the man decided to accept, in the last minute they came to an agreement. The train number was quickly written down, phone numbers were exchanged. The train was full, ready to leave.

In Hannover the helping woman was ready and left for a short minute the train, holding the charger high up, while new passengers entered the train. Immediately the thankful recipient was found. A warm “Thank you”, a “You’re welcome”, and then the woman reentered the train. And the journey continued.

An advancement of trust can pay off. Good actions don’t have to cost much or be exhausting or complicated, But they can make a big difference.

26) Good intentions

“Out of personal experience can I tell of something, that can be seen maybe not necessarily a human action, but at least a human stance. It refers to my mother, who unfortunately became only 45 years old. You probably heard of the unsuccessful assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler, that, if it had succeeded, could have saved the life of probably millions of people. it is known, that from the 20th of July 1944 until the 8th of May 1945 more humans lost their lives than in all the years of war before. The course of human world history often depends on the most banal coincidence, that is showing again and again.

My maternal grandparents and their relatives lived in the Erzgebirge between Annaberg-Buchholz and Geyer. Even though the distance from my birthplace Eppendorf was only around 40 kilometres away on the road, we had to take two light railways and one normal railway train to get there. For me as a child, it was exciting every single time and I was looking forward to it a lot. After the attempted assassination of Hitler, a Carl Friedrich Goerdeler was wanted. He has once been city major of Leipzig and was designated of as a provisional state leader in case of a successful assassination. A million reichsmark were promised as a reward for hints, that help to his arrest.

This million would have been tempting for me as a twelve-year-old, but my mother told me when we started our travel to the Erzgebirge, that, should he sit in our waggon, she would never betray him. She did not tell me a reason for this, because it was in that time very dangerous for parents, to tell their children about political topics and opinions. They easily told things to teachers or Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth) leaders or were tricked by suggestive questions to tell things about adults.”

Despite the fact that the mentioned Goerdeler was eventually caught and executed, it is still a good thing to know, that there were people who would have protected someone like him.

25) In the queue to help

A while ago I received this message:

“Your entry of last week remembered me of a situation at the butcher last week:

A long queue on the shop counter for a hot meal was waiting for their lunch. Next to it, a petite, foreign looking woman, around her a fidgety little boy, looked at the dishes. You could see, that she was calculating in her mind. Her clothing as well were not speaking of wealth. It took quite a while. When she gave her order to the sales assistant, the sales woman starts weighting the different meatballs- and shakes the head once in a while, because they are all to have for the money that was placed on the counter. She is still giving one to the woman. But the question for a bun she answers with a no- “I have given too much meat already”…

A man in the queue spontaneously shouts from the back: “Just give her the bun, I will pay for it!” He was faster than me, because I had the same in mind…”

And that is how stories are spreading and they let us notice other positive things. How beautiful to see!

24) A huge parking site

It is always wonderful to hear of positive events and happenings. And I enjoy that they are now so often forwarded to me, as was the case last week:

“Ah, you always need stories, right:

The evening before yesterday, it was already dark, I was on my way home, there was a woman asking me if I was well versed in Erfurt. Of course I do know the streets around here!

She had left her car on a big (what is big?) parking site and could not find this site anymore. I was alone this evening, had time and therefore I went with her on the way to find the car. If you know where in the city centre the common parking sites are you will find the right one after a while.

She was so happy about it.”

23) Baptised with Charity

The retired abbot of a regional, still active monastery enjoyed his well deserved vacation on a sunny park bench. An elderly lady joined him, making a well-groomed impression on him. After a while he asked the lady if she believed in god. Puzzled, she wanted to know the reason for the question. The abbot answered with a smile; „One must have a very good relationship with the Lord God to be endowed with so much beauty“. The conversation took its course and the abbot told of his monastery and the efforts it had cost to make it worth seeing. Even the baptismal font of the church was renewed. Now only a special stone figure was needed to complete the baptismal font. Smiling, the interested listener mentioned that she could possibly help, since she was artistically active in this direction. That would hardly be possible, replied the abbot, because the financial resources of his monastery would not exceed half of the expected price of the work of art. Thus, the unobtrusive cleric wanted to end the subject. But not the elderly lady. She had taken pleasure in the conversation and her heart opened spontaneously. They agreed on a friendship price and the order was agreed „bank-conform“ on that park bench.

Meanwhile, the work is completed and decorates the baptismal font with the words: „AN ACT OF CHARITY“

22) Streetdance in Vienna

It is mid-autumn, in the evening around 7pm it is already dark and Vienna is only enlightened by bright lanterns. Thousands of them, just like the people that fill the city centre also during weekdays. We drive a few stations with the underground, then we leave at our station, step on the escalator, go up one floor. There we can see the staircase that leads to the exit of the station. And we see an elderly woman dancing.

The exit area of the underground station is reserved as a space for street musicians. This evening a rapper took the space. But more attention than to him is although paid to a woman of older age in a bright-pink jacket, who is moving careful but with a lot of enthusiasm to the music. While most people just pass, maybe smile for a moment, she is enjoying the music and dances. For herself and for others. She raises her walking stick and moves it in time with the music, she is approaching a group of younger people who are happy about her and invites them to dance with like her.

When do you reach a point in life where you do not care about what others think, but where you are truly yourself? This woman has certainly made many people smile on this evening.

21) My English Teacher

This is a more historical story from the years of WWII- a friend described it to me and I will try to recite it for you.

The story is about a special case of neighbourly help. Or, to be more precise, the try of neighbourly help.

„After the Second world war, in the by Russia occupied area of Germany there were radikal measurements against former NSDAP party members. Public officials, that entered the party in the third realm to be able to continue working as teachers or civil servants, lost their jobs, were conscripted for hard works or imprisoned. Out of this time stem many stories of espionage and betrayal, even among families, friends, acquaintances and neighbours. But there are also examples of unexpected help and about this is the family I will tell about today.

H. was an English teacher at the local high school and was one of those teachers, who only became a member of the NSDAP to be able to continue teaching. Therefore he was later forced to work in coal mining. He was known, also in later years, as sealed, dotty, and unsociable, not as that kind of person who you would expect a brave, altruistic action from. And still, he did put himself in danger for the sake of his neighbour. Without the existence of an especially familiar or friendly connection, it was not more than correct, but a cool relationship. But still, he tried to help.

H.’s neighbour W. was imprisoned, because of his NSDAP membership that he had to have as civil servant. W. was known as a person, that could never hurt anyone.

Only after H.’s it became know through his estate/legacy, that he has been trying to fight for the freedom of his neighbour W.- without making this known, without being in a friendship with him. Vehement and with an extensive reasoning he argued for W.’s release. And even though he was not successful, solely the fact that he tried was not self-evident in the situation in this time. But a surprisingly selfless action for someone he knew.

Later generations cannot really imagine, under what pressure especially in the years of war and those following stood. Who dared despite the threat of punishment to defend or help another human, is therefore someone special.“