German Hamlet of Asia

The silent waves of Gulf of Mannar towards the sandy shores of Marawila, a western coastal town of Sri Lanka was creating a symphony of ecstasy, made by mind often in a state of standstill.

Watching the horizon of the shiny blue sky, above the Indian Ocean, while sipping blended coffee is always an unforgettable experience at the beach-end restaurant of Aquarius Sports Resort Hotel, which is surrounded by greeneries of scenic view, which is unique only to this Island-paradise.

More than enjoying the taste of the nature’s gifts around there, conversing on the issues of world affairs focusing Germany and rest of the Europe will become always a hot topic in the restaurant and will make at times, the environment into a German hamlet of Asia.

The Aquarius Sports Resort Hotel, which hosts the Asian-German Sports Exchange Program (AGSEP), a Non-Governmental Organisation, operating in the development political sector with a partner office is in Essen, Germany.

The Resort also accommodates the Sri Lanka division of the International Institute for Ratings and Consultancy (IIRC), a German based Think-Tank, which facilitates surveys and consultancy and currently carrying out a survey on the tsunami devastations for presenting donors around the world.

My association with these institutions after the tsunami disaster has made me visit often there and gave me a chance to know more about the German history, economy and cultural issues through my conversation with students of leading German universities who are in their exchange programs and doing their undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the fields of economics, political science, social science, engineering and other disciplines.

Dietmar Doring, the founder/director of the AGSEP and the country director of the IIRC was an amateur national coach for the table tennis team of Sri Lanka and could be proud of his decision to use the sports events as a medium for encouraging peace in this island, has gone a long way.

He has salvaged his personal trauma of the war-torn experience by the decades-long civil war in Sri Lanka and beyond that by the lasting trauma caused by the destructions in Germany in the major world – wars.

The dedication of Dietmar Doring and his AGSEP students who have done a memorable service to this Island in the tsunami period and thereafter, by importing goods and medicines directly from Germany which is worth more than US$ 5 Million cannot be forgotten by Sri Lankans forever.

Their kind and caring nature has prompted me to associate with AGSEP in number of ways and it is an unforgettable experience in associating with them.

Recently we had a joint event of the AGSEP and the PDIP: A Think-Tank on Post Conflict, Economic and Gender issues at the restaurant of the Aquarius Sports Resort Hotel, the “Night of a Thousand Dinners”, an initiative of Adopt-A-Minefield, a program of the United Nations Association of the USA and the Canadian Landmine Foundation that began as an opportunity for people and institutions globally to come together on a single night, enjoy a meal and help solve the global landmine crisis with discussions on world affairs.

The event was observed a couple of years ago first time in Sri Lanka by the PDIP with the participation of its Patron Dr. James W. Spain, a former US Ambassador for Sri Lanka and the UN with a global participation of the US State Department and its embassies, the Canadian Foreign Ministry and its consulates, the American Chambers of Commerce and Rotary International.

The event has given me an opportunity to address and share various international issues with German students and others and has taken me back to the Second World Era of Germany.

Even in Germany there had been acts of resistance against the Nazis by individuals or resistance groups throughout the years. They came from all walks of life. A bomb attack initiated by Graf Stauffenberg and other resistance fighters on July 20, 1944 failed: Hitler survived and had more than 4,000 people executed in retaliation. The war continued, claiming huge casualties on both sides, until the Allies occupied the entire German Reich. Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945 and a week later the darkest chapter in the history of Germany was brought to an end with the country’s unconditional capitulation.

The hardship, which German people suffered and underwent thereafter, has left them into a lasting trauma, which is so difficult to overcome even in the next centuries.

When I was quoting in my brief speech at the dinner that the tragedy where by March, 1945 as the advancing Soviets under the slogan, “There will be no pity. They have sown the wind and now they are harvesting the whirlwind” tortured at east two million German women in an undisciplined advance that is now acknowledged as the largest case of mass violation against women in history, I too experienced the horror of many decades back in Germany through the eyes of those young female German students who were participating in the event.

Now the search for inner-peace by finding peace in other countries and helping others who are affected by the war and natural disaster, is the only objective for these young Germans.

Consequently achieving a positive contribution to the re-establishment of peace in the war-ravaged country with the help of sporting events the AGSEP aims to help the divided ethnic groups to become closer together and to give an impulse towards peace and spread the message beyond the shores of this Island.

Natasha M. McKnight

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