Marione and her husband Daniel are dear friends who are frequent visitors (and occasional subjects) on this blog. We often get together, and they tell me about their many interesting endeavors.
The photo above was taken a few days ago when we had lunch after an unusually long absence. The Ingrams spent the month of January in Hamburg, Germany, where Marione spoke at five separate "author talks" to promote the recent release of the German-language edition of her book, The Hands of War.
The original English-language version was published two years ago to rave reviews. The memoir opens with eight-year-old Marione attempting to revive her mother, who had attempted suicide after receiving a concentration camp deportation notice. That event occurred just as Allied planes began their destruction of Hamburg in ten days and nights of bombing, the most devastating single air raid of the European war... and the greatest man-made firestorm the world has ever seen.
Marione has recounted the story of her mother's attempted suicide many times. But as she began to tell this story to one audience at the start of her author tour there, Marione started crying and was soon sobbing uncontrollably, an outpouring of emotion that lasted over a minute. Soon, half the audience was also in tears. Sharing the story in the city where it happened 73 years ago proved cathartic for her.
Marione and Daniel were blown away by the warm reception they received in Hamburg. It was standing room only at every event. There were great stories in the newspapers about Marione and her book. The Ingrams had the sense that many Germans were consciously trying to do penance for the sins of the Nazi years.
Many expressed gratitude that Marione had experienced the horrors of those years without being consumed today with hatred, anger, and bitterness.
While the Ingrams were sharing their account with me, I was thinking how much it paralleled our second story.
Story #2) Yousef Bashir and The Words of My Father
Yousef is my new friend with a unique story that -- like Marione's -- could have left him angry, bitter, and consumed by hatred.
Marione's memoir, The Hands of War, recounts her childhood years growing up as a Jew in Germany during the time of the holocaust and the height of Nazi anti-semitism.
Yousef's memoir, The Words of My Father, is scheduled for publication later this year. Yousef's family home in the Gaza Strip was occupied by Israeli soldiers for years, from the time he was 11 years old until he was 15. Yousef was shot in the back by one of the Israeli soldiers but this was followed by the months of compassionate -- even loving -- care he received from Israeli doctors and nurses in a Tel Aviv hospital.
Marione came to the United States after World War II and became a civil rights activist who ran a Freedom School in Mississippi in the 1960s. Yousef came to the States to attend the "Seeds of Peace" summer camp in Maine for children living in areas of conflict, and he now has his undergraduate degree in international affairs from Northeastern University. Last summer, he received his master's degree in conflict and conciliation from Brandeis University. For an update on Yousef, click here.
Both Marione and Yousef credit their fathers for warning them against letting these traumatic incidents trigger lifelong anger and hatred,
I have had the good fortune to hear Yousef and Marione engage in a spirited and informed discussion about the complicated issues (about which they mostly agree) in the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. Their assessments stood in sharp contrast to the mindless pledges of support for Israel -- at all times and on all issues -- that we heard during this week's debate among the Republican candidates for president.
Any suggestions on how to get the attention of 60 Minutes or other media outlets, so a much wider audience can hear Marione's and Yousef's compelling stories?