Some days are better than others.  I try not to lose it in my German class, I really try – but today, I just couldn’t take it anymore.  When the Russian said Nazis were better than gay people, I just lost it.  Okay, let me start from the beginning…

We are currently learning about German history, including its legal and political structure.  I find the topic very interesting actually, but I could tell this was going to be a tough time with my classmates – well, I guess only with the Russian.  Every 5 minutes, he interrupts the teacher with “In Russia, we do blah blah..” and “In Russia, blah blah”.  Okay, of course I’m interested in also learning about how things operate in Russia – but not now – not when we are supposed to be learning about Germany and we are supposed to cover quite a lot of material (a high school history class) in about 11 days!

Soon enough we started talking about personal freedoms and we started discussing the NPD, the Neo-Nazi Party here in Germany.  It’s actually pretty astonishing that it still hasn’t been banned (there has already been a couple unsuccessful attempts to ban the NPD and another one is just awaiting the Constitutional Court’s decision). For the first time, the entire class seemed to be on the same page re the Neo-Nazi Party and certain class members shared some very moving stories about their own personal encounters with Neo-Nazis in Berlin and around. 

Still talking about personal freedoms, one student asked about the Gay Parade in Berlin and how that was permissible considering the costumes people were wearing.  I mean, how could children see those kinds of things?  I held back from rolling my eyes. 

All of a sudden the Russian got very excited and he said “Nazis are better than gay people.” – I couldn’t believe my ears.  Say what?? ARE YOU SERIOUS?  I mean, most of us roll our eyes at his comments anyway and we just let them slide – but not something like this.  I asked him what he said and he was hesitant to repeat it – he sort of danced around the subject but then blurted out that he had two sons and was against “it”.  I told him he was speaking such stupid nonsense that I didn’t even know where to begin.  Welcome to Germany and welcome to the wonderful laws that exist in this country where everyone’s freedom is protected, thank goodness, from people like you. 

How do you knock sense into someone this late in the game? He’s around 50 years old already and so stubborn.  Is it my job to educate him?  Is it my job to inform him that homosexuality isn’t a choice?  Is it my role to explain this all to him in a language that I don’t speak fluently yet? I know people have some messed up opinions sometimes, but either they keep them to themselves (which has its own issues) or they learn to adapt to the new culture and laws of the country they are living in.  (Homosexuality is still “illegal” in Russia)  I got so frustrated, it took me over 30 minutes to calm back down again, while the teacher just calmly kept on going with discussing maternity laws and pension benefits.  I really wonder how she keeps her cool sometimes. 

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

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  1. HelloBonjour says:

    Just a note: This situation doesn’t mean that I think all Russians are homophobic – nor do I think this Russian in my class is a terrible, evil person – it’s just sometime so frustrating to deal with these kinds of opinions being thrown around a German language class, especially when you have such a diverse mix of backgrounds, education levels and experiences.


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