Yet I felt that it was close to me. I have often been welcomed as a member of the German Academy by my German colleagues, but I never felt such a sense of belonging. I was always an outsider, a Jew.
While I was in Poland, I came to Lodz, and for the first time I saw in a big European city Jews celebrating a Zionist festival, wearing badges that proclaimed them as Jews, marching with Jewish banners openly through the streets, declaring: We are Jews! They were not ashamed of it as we German ews wereâ€”as I was. I bought one of the flags, but I did not dare to put it on in the street. Not until I was in the train did I put it in my lapel, and I felt that by that action I had finally bound myself up with the Jewish people, that I was one with these Polish Jews whom we in Germany were trying to keep at arm’s length. I want to tell you this, because I want you to know that this was the beginning of my return to the Jews. I am not a Hitler Jew!