Soon two became friends. Tomas confided to Ludmila that his now-deceased grandfather was an air-force pilot under Nazi regime. He learned that his grandfather was shot down over Minsk, while taking part in an aerial bombing mission. Though severely wounded, he miraculously survived after being infused with huge amount of blood in a Nazi-run hospital on the ground. Ludmila remembered how her now-deceased grandmother used to tell all the grandchildren about her wartime experience in an orphanage in Minsk, both parents being on the frontline fighting the enemy.
On a bright Sunday afternoon, Tomas invited Ludmila to show her the modern Reichstag (German Parliament) building, an architectural marvel. On the way, they passed the ruins of the old one. The spray-painted graffiti by the Russian soldiers could still be seen. They were the first Allied soldiers to enter Berlin, bringing demise to the Nazi-s. In the new structure, an enclosed glass elevator, protected by the security guards, took them to the roof of the building where the dome rested. With other visitors, they circled around the dome to experience aerial view of Berlin from different directions. Coming down, they were instructed not to avail the elevator, instead led to a walkway spiraling down and around the main chamber of the Reichstag. From each point of this journey, the entire hall was visible. Thus, when the parliament would be in session, the politicians would be aware that their actions being watched by the world citizenry. Tomas chimed in “Given the dark history of our nation’s past, this was the only way to make the political process transparent.”
Ludmila began to shiver. Suddenly, she remembered the black and blue permanent marks on both arms of her grandmother. Only when Ludmila became a teenager, her grandmother confided to her a dark secret: in her childhood orphanage, the German doctors would regularly separate out a group of healthy children to draw out blood to infuse into their wounded soldiers in the macabre belief that such infusion would make their recovery faster, while gaining strength. Ludmila looked at Tomas and wondered whether his grandfather was such a beneficiary in Minsk.
Ludmila then pondered whether the country’s history textbooks remain transparent to all the committed atrocities from past, not to repeat them.