Do we Germans live, but do we live as heirs of the National Socialism? In spite of all our years of inner healing work, is our doing or being still not sufficient to counterbalance what happened and to keep our family tree alive? Are we – the now 35-, 40- and 50-year-olds – still part of the genocide even if we do live, because past events were so pervasive and have caused fateful generation-fragmentation and intergenerational burdens and blockages?
This morning, suddenly and surprisingly, I was overwhelmed by a strong wave of depression, but I realised quickly it had nothing to do with my personal circumstances. In parallel an email landed in my mailbox, with an article by Hergen Junge, titled ‘How did Germans feel right after World War II?’ The mail was from an old acquaintance who wrote to me after a long time, today, and it contained important information which I could immediately place in relation to the heavy cloud that surrounded me: the historical German war trauma, which unfortunately lives on in many Germans, because it still has not been properly healed.
So what does this have to do with me? Well, on the one hand there is my own background as a German-born and on the other hand there is also this aspect: if someone has already transformed a lot of their own individual and ancestral issues (through holistic healing work and spiritual practice), it is not unusual that he / she receives, out of the blue, a package from the collective consciousness in order to look at it and hold space to facilitate a transformation process.
Many individuals of my generation are aware of having inherited a lot of baggage. And sometimes, our lives and our healing efforts do not seem to be sufficient to balance out the damages that have occurred in the bodies / hearts / souls of our predecessors during the world wars. The energetic heavyweight continues to be huge. Almost like a punishment. And the national, German tendencies – admiration of intellect, pragmatism and reason, as well as the sometimes extreme preference for technically sophisticated engineering (‘Made in Germany‘) – are an almost welcome distraction to avoid looking inward and truly feeling what’s going on. Germany is in many ways a highly potent nation, but unfortunately still in a state of denial and emotional paralysis. Monuments and holidays as well as school curricula serve to “never forget” what has happened, but in the end they are only superficial patches for a much deeper damage.
Some time ago I wrote an article about the impossibility of living functional and happy relationships when the psychological wounds of destructive childhood experiences, and their ensuing soul fragmentations and regressive behaviour patterns, are not healed. The same applies to war traumata with their implications for all involved (whether perpetrators, victims, saviours, martyrs or observers). Especially if the grandparents kept their experiences (well-intended) in silent suppression. It is precisely those denials or secrets that lead to the transgenerational transmission of trauma experiences.
There exist a huge German dilemma: all emotional pain and shock experiences that our fathers and mothers did not heal but oppressed and ignored, have landed on / in us. Whether we are aware of this, or not, our cellular memory and subconscious minds hold and store all the arduous data, until we acknowledge and consciously release it. This phenomenon is also known as unconscious debt entanglement.
“Traumatic experiences, which do not get processed and integrated by those affected, not only remain a lifelong burden for them. They also show up in the dreams, fantasies, in the self-image, emotional experience and unconscious behaviour of their offspring. Transgenerational transmission phenomena in subsequent generations occur in cases of mental illnesses of parents, abuse, torture and war experiences. This effect has been particularly evident in the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors since the mid-sixties, when the second and third generation of young adults increasingly sought therapeutic help.”
– Ilse Grubrich-Simitis in ‘Extremtraumatisierung als kumulatives Trauma’ (english: Extreme traumatisation as cumulative trauma)
“If in the second generation the mysteries can not be solved, and the unprocessed traumatic impressions can not be integrated and coped with through grieving, then the third generation also experiences feelings of something dark, enigmatic, incomprehensible, which is in its affective quality irritating, depressing and alien. At the same time it creates an indissoluble bond with the parents and / or grandparents and their secrets. (…) That the transmissions of unconscious traumatic messages from victims or perpetrators to successive generations would weaken, could not be confirmed in the investigations by Rosenthal et al. (1997, 2002). On the contrary, there is an amplification of tendencies in the third generation. Little is known about the implications for the fourth generation, but insights reveal that these too are affected by the unconscious messages which were left undigested by the previous generations (…) The grandchildren often have deep fears, insecurities and inner conflicts. Feel torn between their loyalty and the desire for distancing themselves. They swing between wanting to discover more and conceal everything. Some of the grandchildren interviewed showed clear tendencies towards self-punishment.”
– Angela Moré in Journal für Psychologie (English: Journal of Psychology)
I have spent more than half of my life abroad and the distance to Germany helps me to see how Germans recycle the same topics over and over again. However, it is not a solution to be constantly reminded of the atrocities of the past and to affirm “German guilt and shame”. It also of little use that we are learning more and more about past events and accumulate KNOWLEDGE. The only way forward is to become more conscious and pay attention to how we FEEL and to what painful imprints are stored in our subconscious that limit our life quality. What lies buried in our systems has to be lifted into the light of awareness: limiting beliefs and life patterns, fears, emotional wounds and explosive reactivity, as well as diffuse energies, be they inherited from our ancestors, from our parents, or from the German collective consciousness field. Diseases, insomnia, relationship problems, partner- or childlessness as well as latent anger or irritability can be symptoms that lead the way towards (self-)healing, reconciliation and completion.
It is high time to abandon the same eternally repetitive considerations about the German past and to create something new and fresh. However, it requires a conscious new decision (from each individual!). Yes, there may be blood on the hands of our ancestors, but there is none on our hands. We are not the people who committed or supported the atrocities of the wars. We not only have permission to be free, it is even our right to feel light and happy!
And although a new conscious decision represents a crucial step, also actual holistic healing work is required. The two world wars caused countless traumata – individually and collectively. It is unimaginable how much soul fragmentation and dissociation must have occurred both in the victims and the perpetrators. Maybe exactly because of this, only a few of our grandparents and parents have started healing and processing the experiences. Usually it is the younger generation (“Kriegsenkel”, English: war grandchildren), that tidies up family disfunctions and begins therapy to help themselves. Which ultimately benefits their ancestral lineage too.
I believe that Germans must first allow themselves self-acceptance, before deep national healing can take place. And then open up to an honest review and the sober realisation that not everything was perfect during their childhood years and in their emotionally paralysed families. This is the beginning of healing one’s own emotional database and early relationship with the parents – with the mother (and her manipulations) and with the father (and his absence). Essential in the process: mourn, cognise, forgive, respect – and move on.
The horrors of the war were part of a collective consciousness within and outside the German borders, as other nations were involved as well. For the Germans it is certainly important to realise this and to immunise themselves against the pressure to constantly apologise for their past.
It helps to focus on and work with positive German characteristics. As only by regaining their dignity, accompanied by a conscious exit from the cycle of inferior or superior behaviour, Germans will be able to truly liberate themselves. And to turn their attention from outer engineering towards inner engineering – for example towards the exploration of the meaning of life and human self-realisation. Towards the connection with their own bodies and minds, with the inner knowing and luminous heart, with nature and the cosmos – and ultimately with the benevolent, higher, divine intelligence, which flows through and vitalises our lives.
Recommended Literature (mostly in German):
Die Erben der vergessenen Generation
by Sabine Bode
Die vergessene Generation:
Die Kriegskinder brechen ihr Schweigen
by Sabine Bode
Ohne Wurzeln, keine Flügel:
Die Systemische Therapie
by Berthold Ulsamer
Warum der Krieg immer noch in unseren Seelen wirkt
by Jens-Michael Wüstel
Acknowledging what is:
Conversations with Bert Hellinger
by Bert Hellinger and Gabriele Ten Hövel
Are there any blockages from your past or repeated conflicts with your parents that prevent you from stepping into your full life potency? Then my work might be right for you. Just browse this website and see for yourself.
Image: unknown illustrator
Original post in German: “Einbeziehung des Deutschen Herzens”, 22. March 2019