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.“

20) Civil Courage

This story is mainly about civil courage as it is written in a book.

Just a little while ago I read in the news again, that filming accidents instead of helping  is increasingly a problem. A few days later I experienced although, that it can also be completely different.

We were three friends, on a cycling trip for a few days. On the second morning it was raining cats and dogs, but a bit after nine o’clock the rain became less. After it had stopped, we made ourselves immediately on the way. But thanks to a conjunction of unfortunate circumstances we did not even make it out of the village. The street that was still wet from the rain, the steep descent, the sharp corner, the one-sided loaded bike with out mountain bike wheels- it looked like in a movie, when you see in slow motion how the wheels slide away and my friend landed on the street. And if out of three people two are wearing a helmet, then it will certainly strike the one without. Incapable of compensating the energy of the momentum, she hit with the back of her head short but heavy on the ground.

That is the first moment, where you still hope that it was not that bad- until you can see the blood and know that you now have to help quickly. We were immediately next to her side- one called the ambulance, the other one helped our friend. Supporting her and with red hands, I tried to stop the bleeding, but after that I also did not know for a few seconds how to continue. In the first few moments you react automatically, until you know the situation is not life threatening and help will come. We just had to wait for the ambulance to come, but for a moment I did not know what best to do until that.

In this situation came the village community and bypassing people to our help. A woman who was driving by in a car stopped and asked if we needed her first aid kit from the car. A marvellous idea! Together with another woman, that came, she helped me to bandage the laceration. Other people offered water or tissues. Several asked if we needed more help, but also left us in peace when we explained that now everything was under control. No one was just standing around and watching, but they were also not too many and stayed calm. Someone from the village brought the bike, that we could not transport ourselves, later to the next town to the hospital.

We were not a second without support. And that fills me with gratitude and I was very happy to observe that: how without a second of doubting strangers came to our help. Self-evident we could think, but according to the news that is not always the case. But we experienced such a positive example in a moment of bad luck.

19) The Invisible Train Station Hero

Another train station story I remember, in that I am owing someone a lot of gratitude because of a happening a few years ago.

Again, not necessarily one of my smartest moves. Over night I drove by train from work back to home. There I has between 1 and 4 am a stopover in Schweinfurt. I had expected this city to be a bit bigger and the train station not to close overnight. But exactly that was the case. It was beginning of March, not below zero degrees in the night anymore, but still fresh. The first hour I could actually still rest on a bench, but afterwards it became quite uncomfortable. That is again such a story where I should say up front that I do not necessarily recommend to anyone to stay a night alone at a train station. But that is not my point, just a side note to my improvidence. My saviour for a comfortable night came in the shape of a worker on the train station, who came in the middle of the night for cleaning. He asked me what I was doing at the train station and how long I still had to wait. Then he asked me if I wanted to come into the building. He opened it and I was sitting down in the foyer. And even when he was finished with cleaning and left again, he offered me to stay until my train would come. That way I could even sleep a bit, on the floor next to the heater.

When I am thinking back, I am still thankful to the man whose face I already forgot, for his helpfulness, his trust and his empathy (and no critique). His action was not self-evidence.

18) Midnightsnack

Completely tired out I arrive in the middle of the night at Berlin Central Station. Here I will have to stay for the next four hours, until my train leaves. Already last night I stayed in various trains on my way from the North into my hometown, tonight I am on the way back. The reasons are not important for this story, but know that I happily took this effort. But I was still wondering, in the second night without a bed, with little sleep sitting at Berlin Central Station, how I am supposed to  pass the time. At least I am save from the cold of the night. I decide: if I already have all this extra effort, then I can also give myself a treat. A bakery in the central station has still opened quarter past one in the night and I get myself a “Franzbrötchen”, that I take with me to the bench on my platform. My awareness is not that attentive anymore. Therefore I do not notice until now, that I open the bag, that the guy from the shop did put two extra pieces of sweet pastry into it. I had not noticed it in that moment and for that reason also not thanked for it. The salesman completely surprised me with that present. Silent, without any comment, without searching for recognition or gratitude, not with the purpose to get anything back- he did it just like this.

Very sweet, literally.