“I knew my loss / before I even learned to speak” I've been thinking a lot about this Smashing Pumpkins line. I doubt it’s what they had in mind, but it really speaks to how I feel about generational trauma. I think, not to put too fine a point on it, that Germans lost something too, when their ancestors murdered away the entire life-world of our ancestors. I think they too are born into a wordless loss. Perhaps the whole world is. But I do not think they can know our loss. It might sound parochial, and maybe it is. But I suspect that every group touched by historical calamity and atrocity lives in a loss unknowable to all others, despite similarities, kinships and solidarities. Such loss is experienced only in and through a specific context. But the loss German society lives with is one that does not have space to be articulated, because the collective experiencing it is also considered responsible for it, and really shouldn't be such a whiny little shit about it, so to speak. Fair enough – but hardly healthy. I suspect a lot of Germans, admirably trying to right wrongs and empathize with their ancestors's victims, end up assuming they can know our loss. Partly because they know a lot about it, partly as a legitimate substitute for the intimately related loss they actually live with. But sometimes, I find it offensive when Germans suggest or presume they understand what Germany did to the Jews. They merely know about it. Those who did not live it cannot know it, but growing up in its wake, we know our loss – a loss I think can only be known from within.