Zwei Brüder

„Lass die Schienen in Ruhe!“ schreit der Junge seinen kleinen Burder an. Aber seinen Bruder kümmert das nicht. Er verschiebt die Schienen, und der Zug entgleist erneut. Der Junge glüht vor Zorn. Er nimmt sein Spielzeugauto in die Faust und schlägt seinem Bruder damit auf den Kopf. Der kleine Bruder fängt zu heulen an. Er blutet aus einer tiefen Kopfwunde. Die Mutter ist schockiert über das, was sie gerade erlebt hat. Ihr kleiner Liebling hat es wieder mal von diesem Hitzkopf ausgeteilt bekommen. Der Vater hört das Geschrei und kommt in die Wohnküche gerannt. Seine Frau versorgt umgehend die Wunde ihres kleinen Lieblings und schimpft dessen älteren Bruder aus. Der Vater findet heraus, was passiert ist, und jetzt schimpfen, predigen, drohen, klagen beide Eltern an. Der Junge ist zusehends eingeschüchtert. Sein schlechtes Gewissen wächst immens. Und dies wahrscheinlch, weil er diesmal ausnahmsweise nicht körperlich für das gezüchtigt wird, was er angerichte hat. Er wird sein ganzes Leben lang nicht vergessen, wie gemein, böse, brutal er gerade zu seinem geliebten kleinen Bruder war. Er wird dies nicht nur auf ewig bereuen, sondern er beschließt zudem, von nun an lieb zu seinem Bruder zu sein, so gut es ihm möglich ist. (Nun, abgesehen von den üblichen Streiterein zwischen Geschwistern :)) [Ich war damals glaube ich gerade mal 4, mein Bruder 2 1/2]

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Die zwei Jungen verbringen fast jede freie Minute zusammen spielend im Hof. Das Grundstück des Ferienheims, das ihr Vater leitet, ist ein Paradise für Kinder: ein Wäldchen, Büsche und Hecken zum drinnen Verstecken, zwei Spielplätze, ein Plantschbecken, alte, verfallene Häuser zum Erkunden, jede Menge Obstbäume zum Draufklettern und davon Essen, ein alter rostiger Ford Transit zum Spielen, zwei hölzerne Indianerzelte, Hühner, Truthähne und sogar Schweine – also gut, von denen halten sie sich besser fern. Diese Tiere sind dann doch ein bisschen zu groß.

Heute ist es der Pflaumenbaum beim unteren Spielplatz, auf den der Junge klettert, während seine Geschwister im Sandkasten spielen. Aber nach einer Weile langweilt ihn dieser recht kleine Baum, und daher kommt er runter und benutzt die Rückenlehne der Bank, die neben dem Baum steht, als Stufe. Aber sein Fuß verfehlt die Rückenlehne. Er kann sich am Ast nicht festhalten. Er fällt. Wie ein Hammer schlägt die Ecke der Rückenlehne auf seinem Hinterkopf auf. Irgendwie gelingt es ihm, sich auzurappeln, aber der Schmerz ist überwältigend. Er schreit laut auf. Seine Geschwister haben Angst und rennen so schnell sie können weg, zurück nach Hause. Der Junge fängt ebenso zu laufen an, aber seine Füße tragen ihn nicht so schnell. Ihm ist schwindelig. Seine Geschister rennen außer Sichtweite. Er müht sich ab, und nach einer Weile kommt seine Mutter um die Ecke gerannt. Sie weiß bereits, was passiert ist. Seine Geschister habe es ihr erzählt. Sie nimmt ihn hoch und geht mit ihm zurück nach drinnen. Später diagnostiziert der Arzt eine Gehirnerschütterung. Der Junge muss nun ruhig im Bett bleiben, was am ersten Tag kein Problem ist, da ihm ohnehin nicht danach ist, sich zu bewegen. Aber am dritten Tag, bei solch schönem Wetter, hält er es nicht mehr aus. Er fühlt sich schon wieder gesund, und alle anderen Kinder spielen draußen ohne hin…

„Mama, bitteee! Ich bin doch wieder gesund!“

Nachdem sie sich dieses Betteln mehr als eine Stunde lang hat anhören müssen, gibt sie schließlich nach und erlaubt ihm, sich anzuziehen und nach draußen zu eilen. Aber draußen wartet auf ihn eine Überraschung. Während der letzten zwei Tage hat sein Vater das ganze Grundstück abgewandert und alle Äste abgesägt, die ein Kind erreichen könnte. Etwa 300 Bäume haben ein ganze Menge ihrer unteren Äste verloren! Der Junge ist schockiert. Einige seiner Lieblings-Kletterbäume sind verkrüppelt; die besten Äste zum Schaukeln und Wippen sind weg! Und schlimmer noch, dies heißt offenbar, dass er nicht mehr klettern darf. Oder etwa doch? Keiner hat ihm irgendetwas gesagt. Oder hat er es nur vergessen?

Er braucht ein paar Stunden, um herauszufinden, dass man auch dann auf Bäume klettern kann, wenn man vom Boden aus keine Äste erreichen kann. Man muss nur wissen wie. Nach ein paar Tage sind alle Bäume wieder einsatzbereit, und jetzt kann er sogar besser und noch waghalsiger, höher und riskanter klettern. Und er ist stolz, seinem kleinen Bruder zu zeigen, wie man es macht. Jetzt haben sie zusammen ihren Vater ausgetrickst. Sie verschwören sich gegen dessen Plan zur Zerstörung ihrers Lieblingszeitvertreibs! „Nun,“ sagt er zu seinem Bruder, „ich denke, das ist so ziemlich das Gegenteil dessen, was unser Vater erreichen wollte. Und es macht Spaß!“

Der Junge wächst mit Herausforderungen. Und er ist unglücklich, wenn er keine Herausforderungen finden kann.

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„Wir kriegen Euch!“ rufen die Nachbarjungen. Unsere zwei Brüder wissen, was das bedeutet. Sie rennen so schnell sie können, aber sie sind einfach zu klein. Die Nachbarjungen sind 11, mehr als drei Jahre älter als unser Junge, und fast fünf Jahre älter als sein kleiner Bruder. Webzulaufen klappt einfach nicht. Aber nach Papas Hilfe zu schreien hilft. Unsere zwei Brüder rennen und schreien daher zugleich. Freilich holen die großen Jungs schnell auf und packen sich unsere Brüder und lassen sie es spüren. Der Grund für diese Kraft- und Machtdemonstration ist lächerlich, falls es ihn überhaupt gibt. Die zwei Nachbarjungen sind schlicht ungezogen, aggressiv und suchen nach Streit, wo immer sie können. Manchmal kommen sie mit unseren zwei Brüdern zurecht und spielen zusammen, aber oft verdreschen die großen Jungen unsere beiden Brüder. Vielleicht verübeln sie es, dass der Vater der Brüder es sie ab und zu spüren lässt, dass er der Chef des Ferienheims ist. Und genauso auch diesmal. Der Vater der Brüder bekomm mit, dass die Nachbarjungen wieder hinter seinen Söhnen herjagen, und er reagiert umgehend – und erstaunlicherweise mit Zustimmung der Eltern der beiden älteren Jungen, die Angestellte des Vaters unserer Brüder sind. Große Buden verdreschen kleine Buben, großer Mann verdrischt broße Buben. Die Welt is seltsam. Unsere Jungs sind entsetzt über das Verhalten dieser älteren Jungen, das sogar noch schlimmer wird, als sie 13 und 14 Jahre alt werden. Sie fangen zu rauchen an und werden immer aggressiver.

„So werde einige Jungs nunmal, wenn sie in die Pupertät kommen“, versucht ihm seine Mutter zu erklären.

Weil er nicht solch ein Arschloch werden will, wenn er in die Ppertät kommt, entscheidet unser Junge insgeheim, sein ganzes Leben lang ein Kind bleiben zu wollen…

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[Übersetzung in Bearbeitung]

After their parents moved up on the hill into that isolated monastery they had converted into a restaurant, neither parent has time for their kids anymore. They struggle for financial survival. Hardly any of their schoolmates ever visits them, nor do the two brothers visit their schoolmates too often. They simply live too far away from the village. And nobody can blame their schoolmates for not visiting them: Why bother to have a friend two miles away on top of a hill, when all the other schoolmates live right around the corner? So our two brothers depend on each other to spend their spare time, and they know how to fill it with the kind of excitements boys in that age love so much: they start conquering the wilderness they live in. Their world consists of earth borrows, tree houses, spending nights on high stands in the forest watching deer and wild boars, sleeping in tents – or just in a sleeping bag under the sky – in the backyard or somewhere in the middle of nowhere, spending uncounted nights sitting on camp fires singing songs, telling stories, and watching the stars, climbing on every tree that is a challenge, building hidden fortresses in the underbrush, exploring caves in the northern valley, building dams at the creek, exploring the rooftop of the chapel right next top their home, and felling trees over at the rotten oak woods. Our older boy’s baby brother is more of an introvert, so he can get along without much social contact for a while, but not so his older brother who needs social interaction. This difference in social needs causes some friction once in a while, but then again, there is their older sister who may very well fill the gap once in a while.

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Fall 1979. The mother calls her three kids together:

„Your father has left us. I will file for divorce, and we will pack our stuff and move to the city where my parents live in just a few weeks.“

The boy had heard a similar statement just a year ago. It devastated him then, but now it seems to be quite normal. How easily children can adjust. After a while all three children actually get kind of excited about the idea to open a new chapter in their lives, without a house tyrant and seemingly at a nice place which they know from vacations only. Illusory concepts of their future, for sure, but it makes it easier to say good bye.

So they move, right into the middle of a crowded German city. Asphalt and concrete suddenly surround the two boys who grew up spending most of their spare time in underbrush and woods, on trees and in caves. However, the brothers do not want to let go of their habits. Hence, due to the lack of trees, they start climbing on the neighbors’ houses. Of course, the neighbors do not like it at all. They complain to the police, and one of these afternoons, their mother has a friendly visit by two cops telling her she ought to keep her boys under control. But this isn’t the only thing. The boys were so used to throwing sticks and stones all over the place that they cannot stop this either for quite a while, which leads to some 10 broken windows in just a year, which initiates an investigation by their mother’s home insurance company.

After a while, their parents patch up their marriage, and the father is again a part of the family. It takes only a bit more than a year, and they all move to a new house right at the edge of the city, only a view yards away from a huge forest with cliffs, creeks, and the best of all: Germany’s highest steel railroad bridge, spanning a valley some 350 feet deep. Climbing within this gigantic construction becomes one of the favorite wastes of time for the two boys. Though they have now plenty of friends at hand, they still spend most of their time together. They are so adapted to each other, have developed so similar – and for others sometimes strangely wild – habits, likes and dislikes, can sense each others moods and needs instinctively that they feel like they could not do without each other. And why should they.

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The older brother is now a young man, and after leaving elite high school, he leaves his home to go to university. Both brothers suffer a loss when he leaves. How would they fill the gap?

In the following years, each time they meet back at their parents place, they again spend a lot of their time together. The old harmony does not die. When planning for a vacation, they often do it together: biking through Europe, skiing in the mountains, hiking through the Haut Vosges.

When the older brother finds an interest in history, politics, and philosophy, he starts writing his brother. Especially while at the Army with plenty of time, he tells his brother which books he just read, and what thoughts they triggered in him. He writes tens and hundreds of pages with his ideas about philosophy, about his experiences, his emotions, and his plans. His introvert baby brother hardly ever replies, but he appreciates to read his older brother’s most intimate thoughts. It is not only entertaining, it is also very instructive and informative. Their bond now extends to cover intellectual areas as well.

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„Of course I come. How could we possibly consider to join this stupid act of sabotage of our parents,“ his brother confirms on the phone. His older brother is about to marry, but his parents decline to attend the wedding and have managed to incite all his uncles, aunts and cousins not to come either. His parents are opposed to this wedding, not because of the bride, but because they think her oldest son should not marry at all, not now.

„We sent out our announcements that we were engaged last November, that is five months ago. OK, this announcement came to their surprise, and mom was upset that she wasn’t informed before this mail-out,“ says the groom.

„I remember. She was in such a bad mood, as if you had secretly married and hadn’t told her. I was really wondering what this was all about. She behaved so hostile already then. But after that, when you discussed this with her, I honestly thought things had been sorted out, and the whole family could plan the wedding, which is what happened during the following weeks, or did it not?“

„That was my impression. She never expressed any fundamental opposition against our plans,“ the groom explains.

The baby brother wonders: „I do not understand the reasoning behind it. Just a week ago everybody was planning for the wedding. But when this TV report mentioned your name, they all got excited. As if anything had changed. They all know about your controversial historical research, and they all know that this could stir up a public controversy sooner or later. So what are they surprised about?“

„To be honest, I think they are all a bunch of hypocrites. They all run just because I was unfavorably mentioned in the media. Nobody pays attention to this media crap anyway, and in a week it is all forgotten. Now it is me who is upset. How can parents dare to sabotage their child’s wedding? The media campaign will be forgotten in a few weeks, but the botched wedding will be something eternal in our memories. Particularly my bride is so ticked off that there will be no romantic all-family gathering at the wedding that this will probably poison her relationship with our parents for years to come. Do our parents really think they can prevent the wedding this way? It will be downgraded, probably just a civil marriage, but I sure will not cancel it. I will not succumb to such blackmailing.

You know what is kind of funny, or perhaps even absurd?“

„What?“

„Do you remember a few years ago when our cousin Markus was about to marry?“

„I sure do. It was a nice wedding, but he had trouble with his mother, too, didn’t he?“

„Exactly. His mother Monika was opposed to his wedding and planned to leave the country for a long vacation during this time in order not to be forced to attend. I remember how our mother reacted when she heard about Monika’s plans. ‘You will not prevent this wedding, but you will poison the relationship with your son and daughter-in-law for years to come, if not eternally, so please do not makes this huge mistake. Attend the wedding!’ Such were her words. Now look what she does!“

„It is incredibly stupid, and it is frightening to see how all of her relatives join into her plot. What ever you will finally do, our sister and I will be there. We will not let you down!“ confirms the baby brother.

„Thank you for sticking to us. Our sister has already called and confirmed that she will come under any circumstances. It looks like you two are going to be the only members of our family who will be present. What a blessing it is that we siblings are so close to each other.“

„You are more than welcome. It is the natural thing to do. Everything else would be an abomination.“

Almost 9 years later, during a Christmas visit in our student’s new home in Chicago, his mother gives her version of this event of sabotage:

„No, it had little to do with this media report. Do you remember those weeks when your then bride was in the hospital and we came down south to visit you? At that evening, your father and I went out with you to a pizzeria. And it was there where we had our first intensive talk about what you were doing, about your political views. We both were so shocked about your statements that we decided that this is not having any future, that we could not endorse any wedding under such circumstances.“

The son stares at her in disbelieve:

„I do not remember any of this. I remember many heated exchanges we had on history and politics, but I cannot remember any argument in a pizzeria.“

To which his mother replies:

„No, it wasn’t an argument. You simply held a monologue and we listened.“

„And without discussing anything of what I said to you, you simply decided behind my back to take this as a reason to sabotage my wedding? What exactly was it that upset you? What did I say?“

„I do not remember it anymore.“

Her son tries to give an explanation:

„Well, when going back in time, late 1993 and early 1994 was a year when I was going through a lot personally and also learned a lot about the German repressive apparatus, both by personal experience, experiences by friends, and in the media. And my bride was always a part of it, knew exactly what was going on, and I had the full support of my future parents in law. So for them it was not a big deal. But for you my perspective must have been an epiphany.“

„You sure were under a lot of pressure then, and I understand now that this might have been a reason for your statements“, his mother replies, to which he responds:

„In early 1995, when testifying in front of this show trial, you yourself experienced how the German censorship and kangaroo trial system works, didn’t you? I mean, at that time you were politically very active in Germany’s biggest political party, and you were a lay judge. But you were absolutely shocked about what you experienced there, right?“

„That is right, and this is the reason why I pulled out completely, left the party, and stopped volunteering as a lay judge“ she concedes, to which her son reacts:

„So maybe you simply misunderstood my statements in 1994?“

His mother ignores this statement, as she is already one step ahead at what really bothers her:

„What is it exactly you wanted to change politically when it comes to Germany’s political system, if you had the power?“ she asks him with a vibration in her voice, indicating that she is a little scared of what her son’s answer would be.

„This is a bit academic, since I will never get into such a position. But very well, the answer is simple: I never had the intention to change any system. It might not be perfect as it is, and it sure needs reforms as every system once in a while. But I think it is generally a good one. What I criticize is that those in power break their own rules. They are the ones who do not abide by the laws. All I want is that they obey international and constitutional law, primarily when it comes to freedom of expression, freedom of science, and other civil liberties. What upsets me is the violation of human rights, not the system. Maybe I didn’t make that clear enough. But after all I have experienced and learned during the past ten years, and you can confirm it by now, I do have a point here, don’t I?“

Her son’s answer takes the heat out of this discussion, and she finally relaxes. What was she thinking anyway? That her son had turned into a revolutionist, a guerilla fighter, a terrorist? No, he is just an intellectual rebel, an ardent supporter of justice and civil rights.

„I am still waiting for an apology, mom!“ her son continues. „Whatever the reasons, hardly anything justifies the sabotage of a wedding, and I still do not think your reason does.“

„Maybe I was wrong. I am not perfect either.“

Matter closed!?