Dear Mr Petersson,
I have read your work on the humiliating military medicals and would like to thank you for your commitment and incontrovertible words.
To talk about this subject is especially difficult because of the shame the victim carries with him, the depth of the mental wounds and because every attempt is likely to be met with a ‘do-not-want-to-know’ response. All this has made open conversation impossible.
I am 44; my military medical induction took place 26 years ago. The experience of the humiliation has left behind an unhealed mental wound. It would have helped me a lot had I only been able to talk to somebody about this traumatic experience, if only for a single time. But with dread and panic all my attempts have been met. I have the impression that the subject for all those affected [i.e. almost all men in the German society] is associated with so much pain that they prefer to leave it untouched.
You are now breaking the silence. As I read your text it was for me as if the bandage on the wound slowly was coming off. After all these years, it was as if I wanted to see if the wound finally had healed. With every sentence of your text layer after layer was removed. However, in this process it became clear to me that in my soul there was a part that was frozen. I had completely strangled, sealed and cut off that area.
As I read your text my hands started to shake. In the internet café there was a complete silence. In the room there were only three or four other people. I read your text and all of a sudden I found myself crying. I saw my wounds. My soul had been ripped open. Instead of a scar under the bandage I finally saw an open heavily bleeding wound.
How can human beings be helped, people whose lives have been totally overshadowed by what happened to them? I think the people who took part in this abuse of other human beings now must face their responsibility.
I didn’t refuse. Instead, as a sheep I let the state violate by body. Being only seventeen [underage, legally a child] I was too much of a coward too defend myself as I in 1985 stood there in the KWEA [conscription office] in Recklinghausen. But how would a young man [boy] have been able stand up against such state power?
My despair when it comes to getting to terms with what happened has led me to following conclusion: no law in this world should be allowed to be above human dignity; no law should be allowed to violate it. We all have a duty to protect the dignity of others.
This country has brought so much suffering into this world. You, Mr Petersson, have written about others in this country who had to pay with their lives for showing courage. Personally I didn’t have the courage to resist; I did what they requested of me. I turned up as ordered and like a sheep I let them do what they wanted with me.
Mr Petersson, don’t give up, keep researching. Finally somebody broke the silence.
(I received this letter in 2010. I have reacted the text, translated it and removed personal information. Original slightly redacted text here)