World Community Day
WORLD COMMUNITY DAY
Wording of an address delivered by Hanni Lohmann at a Celebration of IWCA in Wilmington/Delaware in October 1951
It is a great privilege to be here today, and to celebrate World Community Day with you. I heard about this day and its wonderful spirit and services, when I visited the State president of the Council of Church Women of Ohio a week ago, and I was greatly impressed by this symbol of good will, by the fact, that you work hard and efficiently in order to show people in less fortunate regions of this globe that you realize their plight, and that you want them to feel your sincere desire to help them.
As a visitor from Germany I know, it will never be possible to tell our American friends that their readiness to help us after the war has saved us from despair. You may often have heard this, and yet you will never be able to realize how much not only the actual help, the food, clothing and the many wonderful things you have sent over have meant to those, who had lost everything in one of the worst wars in history. You cannot realize the spiritual relief, which a friendly letter or a kind remembrance, the fact that old friends had not forgotten us through all those dark years, and the fact that so many people, even if they had never seen our country, felt compelled to help us get our daily bread, have meant at a time, when we had to realize that our life was too short to even try to undo the wrong, which in our name has been done in this world by a group of people, who had the power to say that they represented the ideas and the ideals of all Germans.
Coming from a continent where with every step you still stumble over traces of the past war, it seems somewhat frightening to see the world getting ready to rearm again at a scale, which has never been heard of in the past. Those countries, which have not lived in war areas, have possibly been ready earlier to realize the necessity of being strong in order to protect the Western world against attacks on its freedom. Those, who had the war over and in their countries have been more reluctant to accept this theory.
Our country, which has the border line between the Eastern and Western world in its own territory, where we know that an open conflict will mean that Germans have to fight against their German brothers, is still divided in its opinion. On one hand, we know from our own experience what it means to have no protection for our population. No one was there to save the lives of the millions of Germans, who died on their flight from Eastern territories, we had no power to insist on the return of our prisoners of war, nor to protect our property. We can do little for our brothers in the East, who live under great pressure, we can only let them know that we feel united with them in Faith and that we pray for them, but maybe prayers alone are not strong enough to fight the evil spirits which have broken loose.
But money and arms alone are not strong enough either to break the powers of evil. They are necessary when we deal with those who understand nothing but the language of power and strength. And yet the possession of power and arms must never make a group so strong that they invite the abuse of the power, which they create, the way it happened in our country in the hands of Hitler!
The lesson which we have learned in going through the past years is this: that the power which arms and a strong economy give us, will not help us, if it is not paired with the wisdom, which only Faith and the courage, which grows out of Faith can give us. It is this Faith, which we need in order to overcome Fear in our life. When you have lost your possessions, you realize that maybe formerly they seemed too important in your life, and that the fear of loosing them had made you a coward. Possessions and everything, which was invented in order to make life agreeable must never become so important that they will dominate you.
If all people of good-will realize these things and are united in their sincere belief, that Faith as their religion teaches it, protected by power, which is only there to protect, not to govern, and the love of our neighbours, which teaches us to understand and to help them, are the important factors of our life, there is still hope, that we can make this world a place in which our children can grow up happily and without fear.
This is the hope which should live in us on a day when we think of this world as a communitv, and when we try to find the best way of serving this community.