Nicht was wir verlieren, sondern was wir retten können, macht den Sinn unseres Lebens

By Ana Barrena (1996), DSB Bilbao/Spain.

Last month, due to my participation in the “trait d’union” Editors’ Meeting in Šilutė, I had the opportunity of travelling to Lithuania and discovering lots of interesting places. Apart from that, I could work in international groups of teenagers, from whom I have learned a lot about life because of their different points of view. But they are not the only people I am missing, also Aurelija (my exchange partner) and her nice and helpful family. They have shown me how their country is and the most important thing: they explained me the Lithuanian past. These stories were really fascinating. This is why I didn’t think twice and when I came back to Spain, I asked a “German” woman, called Marianne Schmidtke, who was born in Klaipeda/Lithuania, about her life. At the end, the result was this interview: (part 1) and (part 2)

Marianne presents her old country as a place, where the forests and beaches are amazing and life is hard. She can’t remember much more because she had to leave Memel (German name for Klaipeda) at the age of three. Although this last thing makes the comparison more complicated, the information that we get is enough. I can say, life has changed in the last 70 years in Lithuania so much as in all European countries, but we can still find some villages with lots of big and successful farms.

After having heard her description, I imagined a beautiful and peaceful landscape and this is exactly what I saw during the Comenius-week and I can say that Marianne’s opinion is completely wrong when she thinks that nobody will never find the places that Germans left when Russians arrived. From my point of few, I say that this is a subjective answer, but this is the unique thing of interviews, we learn about topics and also how they influence people.

This time it has helped me to discover that the biggest change in this country are Lithuanians. None of them would say that life was better years ago. So many changes are unimaginable. However the Lithuanian people have always stayed together and neither the different ideas nor the thousands of invasions have been strong enough to destroy this union.

“Your homeland is there, where you feel happy and save” is one important lesson I will never forget. After the Second World War lots of Germans lost everything they had, but they kept it forever in their memories, and their nationalities are now one thing that they could create from the small pieces they went putting in their suitcase. This fact made them learn to tolerate. And this is why we should forget borders and start thinking less about patriotism and more about how to help each other. I think this could be the solution to conflicts and wars, such as those that the Lithuanians suffered.

The interview links: (part 1) + (part 2)

Nicht was wir verlieren – Ana Barrena, DS Bilbao