The Ghost of Hitlerjungend Past
"Knapsacks are a bit Aryan...." --Mary Jackson
One thinks of the Hitlerjugend, and the cult of sun-worshipping youth in the past, and now, even now, of those unpleasant reminders of that past in those groups of remarkably self-satisfied, joking, radiantly healthy, utterly oblivious to that past that no one, and least of all they, should be allowed to forget, blonde young Germans sunbathing naked in the Englischer Garten in Munich, towel-draped as they take a break from working on their tans to visit, in a jovial loud-mouthed group, the beer-garden near the Chinese Pagoda, carrying their clothes and other items with them in a knapsack, or rucksack.
"Come along and tramp the heather/With the good, the hearty guys/Come along and march together/Where the field mouse screams and dies."
Yes, that's what a simple knapsack can summon up, involuntarily, in the minds of those who are committed to memory (whatever they have committed to memory), whenever they catch sight of, those knapsacks on the heedless-of-the-past backs of wandering, wanderlusting, volkswanderunging German youth in train stations and bus stations throughout Europe, or on a hilly trail overlooking the sea, say in the Cinqueterre, but especially, perhaps, in a Bavarian beer-garden.
Posted on 05/22/2007 7:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald