Fifty years have passed since I sat talking to a bespectacled young man in a café on Berlin’s Kurfürstendam. I was in the city to talk of Faulkner’s America at the urging of my friend Heinz Scheer. Long before he had settled into his role at the Amerika Haus in Freiburg, Heinz had served as a sixteen-year-old soldier with the Wehrmacht on the Russian front. He had been visiting in New York when, at lunch on a spring afternoon six months before I was to leave for the Netherlands for a second Fulbright year, I suddenly began to savage Germans for the murders of those uncles, aunts, and cousins whom I knew only as stiff, brown photographs clinging like moss to a mountain wall in the apartment I lived in as a child. Heinz listened silently until I finished. Then he said, “Come meet our young people.” I shrugged, then grudgingly nodded. A bargain had been struck.


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