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Photo: Christina Strotmann

5,972 kmfrom home
“My grandmother doesn’t understand why I am here – she fled from the Nazis.”
Current Country: 
Country of Origin: 
United States

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[Für die deutsche Version klicken Sie hier.]​

“I grew up with all the Nazi-stereotypes. Even though I had studied German and knew it was not 1944 anymore, I was still surprised how content I was here. I felt very comfortable straight away.”

“I was in Germany for the first time in 2008 as an exchange student, then in 2010 as an Au-Pair and since 2012 I am back to study for my master’s degree.”

“My grandmother is from Friedrichshain, Berlin and my grandfather is from Austria. They both fled from the Nazis when they were young. I grew up with them and always knew they had an accent, but it was never discussed at home. I was raised with this demonised view on Germany. Nazis. Full stop. And with a lot of Holocaust history. And then, when I started college, I wanted to annoy my family, or to push the conversation, and I started to learn German. All hell let loose. By now my parents even visited me here. My grandma still does not understand why I live here. Our conversation always ends with ‘Do not marry a German’. Well, that’s the way it is. She is 90 years old.”

“I had only studied German for two years before I arrived and all of a sudden I was at University with everything in German. I could hardly say a sentence and was very embarrassed.”

„I notice that as a white female American I am privileged when dealing with authorities here, like the Aliens Registration Office. But they call out my family name, which is clearly Jewish, there is always that funny moment: I know that you know, that I know….and I can see it in their eyes. But by now I expect this, it has never been bad. Only that ‘aha-experience’, this ‘Oh…are you okay in Germany’, this little ‘Sorry’- Moment.”

“The culture in which I grew up had less boundaries by far. There it is more like ‘We’ll see, let’s just try’. I hope my readiness to do so is sometimes helpful.”

If Alissa is ever to return to California, then it would be because she misses her family and the attitude towards freedom. To her home simply means ’love’.


This is a story by Christine Strotmann

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