As a child, the columnist often had to go to the Maifeld in Berlin. There she saluted a queen who was not hers. It was somehow always clear to her what she owed to her and the other "Allies". But she is only really grateful today.
These days I have to think a lot about the past. How I grew up in a divided city, how grateful I was as a child that it was west Berlin where I happened to be born, how unfair life can be, how beautiful it is at the same time, and how much an old lady I love at the moment that is like old, good wine. Although that's nonsense, of course, sometimes old wine just tastes like old wine, or vinegar. But you know what I mean. We are of course talking about HRM Elizabeth II, who I have seen live a few times.
As a child, I felt like I was bored to death all the time, but I had to go with them. On the Maifeld, there the "Trooping the Colors" parade was held, in honor of the Queen, which at that time - more than forty years ago - already seemed ancient to me. My parents were invited there, a lot of hands were shaken, here and there a far too wet kiss landed on the back of my mother's hand, who discreetly pulled out a cloth handkerchief, man - and woman - wore an unusually large number of hats for Berlin standards and drank champagne or whatever thought so.
We children, my younger brother and I, were dressed up (we thought each other ugly, which luckily has subsided) and greeted the adults, who all did very well that day. And then she came! the queen There are many queens, but only one is "the queen". She came to tell us incarcerated West Berliners that she was thinking of us. That we are free, that we can drive, walk and fly wherever we want. That nobody should be intimidated. That the rest of the world hasn't forgotten us, on our small island in the middle of the German Democratic Republic. Berlin was the capital on the other side of the Wall, but here, on the Maifeld, there was the free world, free West Berlin.
I still get goosebumps when I think that there were other countries that could easily have given up the few square kilometers of a former proud capital to us Nazi successor generations. But "man" doesn't have it. Decades later, our brothers and sisters over there, our relatives and friends, made sure that this city, this division and this disproportion is not really forgotten. Then came 1989.
Right now, in these difficult times, I often think about how we are going to deal with Ukraine: are we going to save Kyiv and give up the rest of the country? Will we send candy bombers and build air bridges? Will we have destroyed all castles in the air by then? Are we going to accept that not all Ukrainians are flawless democrats and not all Russians are assholes? will we stay open Or just wishy-washy like most of our politicians? We have been helped, we have an obligation to help others. It's ingrained in my DNA without having to have a Mother Theresa complex. Because where would I be if my parents, when they were children, hadn't been provided with Allied packages full of food and other supplies, candy and cigarettes?
I might never have been to London, where I stayed one day with my older daughter when she had just turned 11. She said at the hotel that we should go and visit the Queen. I said well, let's do it, I already informed Lizzy that we were coming. We quickly bought a stuffed corgi from reception, called a cab and drove to Buckingham Palace. Just as we arrived, the gates opened and the Queen drove out in a carriage, waving. With her guest she made only a small detour, because shortly afterwards she came back, the gates opened, she waved her incomparable wave - as if she were screwing a lightbulb into a socket with a light hand - and whoosh, she was gone again, swallowed up by her vast palace.
I would rather continue to build castles in the air than air bridges, I want Ukrainian women with their children to visit London and the rest of the world. Not because they have to, but because they want to. Therefore: "God save the Queen" - and everyone else too!