Sydney – Geographical Distance Creates Mental Distance

The geographical distance creates mental distance. Sydney and Kiev are 9,286 miles away.

Australia – a planned trip, almost six weeks, to visit our daughter, who lives and works in Sydney. After the pandemic-related closure and reopening of the borders and after long months of waiting, finally a reunion!

Instead of iPad FaceTime – real hugs, lively conversations on site and the “live view” into the immediate living environment – for the first time for me here in Sydney.

My feelings accompany me: Is it a holiday? Rather not. It almost feels like a part-time move, a commute between Sydney and Frankfurt, even if the commute takes almost two days.

Or is it an escape from a Near-War-Country? Frankfurt – Kiev is 960 miles as the crow flies. That’s not so much. Kiev – Sydney are almost 10-fold 9,286 miles.

In the city of Frankfurt, I have seen more and more often cars with Ukrainian license plates. And the first loose contacts with a Ukrainian family have arisen: a young mother with her two children and her father. The husband is not there, for known reasons. Support trough needs-based shopping: diapers, baby food, baby care products.

I follow the Moskva. Down to Gorky Park. Listening to the wind of change. An August summer night. Soldiers passing by. Listening to the wind of change (Scorpions, 1991) – a turning point (Zeitenwende).

When I woke up the morning after November 9, 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world had changed. A miracle from my point of view, unimaginable. Growing up during the Cold War, I always had the scenario of a nuclear threat in mind for the first 30 years of my life, so close to the Iron Curtain.

Gudrun Pausewang’s novel ‘The Last Children of Schewenborn’ had triggered nightmares in me. The political debate and the peace demonstrations at that time about the implementation of the NATO decision of stationing of US medium-range missiles in the Federal Republic of Germany fascinated me.  This was about the Euromissiles Crisis and the End of the Cold War.

And now waking up the morning after February 24, 2022 – a turning point (Zeitenwende). The wheel as if turned back. ‘Forward into the past’.

I first have to gather myself to find words. The perceived powerlessness is a shock. I am very grateful for the – in the truest sense of the word – boundless solidarity, also and especially towards the people on the run. I would like to express my special thanks to the people of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and the Republic of Moldova! And my utmost respect to the people of Ukraine.

A déjà vu for our parents’ generation. Escaped, survived, found a new home, traumatic bombing nights in their childhood. All these images are now coming back to life for them.

I know it’s a big challenge to keep a lot of balls in the air at the same time. But once they have been dropped, one by one, it is much more difficult to get them out of the maelstrom of the vortex. That is now the task that lies ahead of us. I took the photo at a small lock on the Nidda at home in Frankfurt during a morning run.



Now in Sydney: The geographical distance creates mental distance.

Take a deep breath, think, let the feelings speak. And my feelings tell me to be patient with my topics so high-ranking to me before. Other priorities seem more important now.

Also in Sydney, 9,286 miles from Kiev, the Ukrainian flag flies in the wind at the city hall.


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