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What I expected: Throughout my life, I had been educated about the Holocaust and Germany's devastating persecution of so many people. I was hoping to be open-minded about the trip, but I was uncomfortable and anxious about my negative attitude. And I was embarrassed about it. I am generally a very open-minded person who enjoys and seeks out new experiences, differences and diversity. But this time, as they say, not so much.
What I found: From the moment we arrived in Germany, I found myself listening carefully to nuance, looking over my shoulder and, particularly in the beautiful forests, thinking about the many people who had hidden and died there. At the same time, I continued to meet people of all ages and despite language differences, was able to connect with them. I found them curious, interested, open-minded and just as devastated about Germany's past as we were. The forests, castles, rivers, architecture and parks were overwhelmingly beautiful in their serenity and grandeur. I fell in love with Germany. I'm convinced that the more people travel and have the opportunity to interact with others, the more appreciation, understanding and respect will be gained.
Arlene Antonoff, Malibu
Pictured: The German parliamentary library