Wie haben sie das geschafft?

Wie haben sie das geschafft: sich zu behaupten, für sich zu sorgen, für sich zu kämpfen, ohne ein Schwein zu werden, dem die anderen egal sind?

Bernhard Schlink, Die Enkelin

Translation: ‘How did they manage to assert themselves, to take care of themselves, to fight for themselves, without becoming a pig who doesn’t care about the others?’

Having just witnessed yet another grave abuse of power by a figure in authority who should have known better than to act in the way they did, i.e., without any apparent care for those they were hurting, Schlink’s question is a pertinent one for me.

It is when noting the traces of little tokens of the deep humanity among the inmates of Ravensbrück concentration camp that the protagonist of Schlink’s novel asks how they managed not to lose their humanity even in an extreme situation like that.

It is our ongoing challenge that – whatever the hurt, whatever the abuse – we manage to assert ourselves, take care of ourselves, fight for ourselves, without losing our own humanity in the process.

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