• looking to the future

    The day after Remembrance Day in 1982, Eric Henderson - the Headteacher of a school in Northumberland - wrote to Herbert Sulzbach to say,

    'I have been playing your message of peace from the tape, “Just for Today”, and the children are writing their thoughts and impressions of what you say.'

    Sulzbach and some of the men who had once been held as German PoW in nearby Featherstone Park kept in close contact with the youngsters at this school for several years. They sent messages by tape, wrote to the children, and visited when they were in the area. Remembrance Day was precious to Herbert Sulzbach as a reminder of past conflicts, but his focus was on the future – on the coming generations who could avert war and build peace. As a man who worked with him at the German Embassy explained,

    'Mr Sulzbach loved young people. He invested his time in young people because he said, “They are our future. If we can make them understand what wars can do, and not forget, we can make better people for tomorrow, and they have to understand the suffering. It's the attitude of the people that has to change.” Mr Sulzbach was thinking about the future.'

    Those who had been so much influenced by Herbert Sulzbach when they were prisoners agreed with him. Kurt Schwedersky was also in contact with the school children and after Sulzbach's death remembered how,

    'We used to speak of the Sulzbach spirit. We felt obliged to transmit this spirit and we tried to do it again and again, especially to the next generation. I myself could visit a school in Northumberland, and I was able to speak to the pupils about my experiences as a PoW at Featherstone Park and about the Sulzbach spirit. It is so consoling to know that Herbert Sulzbach has set in action something which will be continued beyond his death.'

    Another man, Engelbert Hoppe, who had been inspired by Sulzbach at Featherstone Park insisted that,

    'These stories should be told, because they show the spirit that Herbert passed on and that the torch has been passed on from people to people - from man to man, and to our generation.'

    (photo: Herbert Sulzbach (lt.) and Kurt Schwedersky at Haltwhistle Church, 1982)

    ©text Ainslie Hepburn ©photo Thomas Schwedersky


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On my blog I write about biography, Anglo-German reconciliation, and the life of Herbert Sulzbach.


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