Friday, December 01, 2006


My mother-in-law, Ilona, grew up in Germany after World War Two. As a teenager she discovered that her father had been drafted into and fought with the combat arm of the SS. Her life has been to some extent devoted to resolving for herself the implications of that knowledge. As an adult she helped found an organization that recognized the clinical similarities between the children of Nazis and the children of their victims. And for the last many years she has worked to bring together these two groups as well as similar groups from other conflicts. The aim of their work is peace.

Ten years ago the South African government created special courts where perpetrators of racial violence under apartheid could confess their acts and receive a pardon. The aim of these courts was peace.

In recognition of her work, Ilona was invited to participate in the ten year anniversary of the reconciliation courts in South Africa. It is a singular and historic honor. I was at her house the day before she left and could feel the greatness of this moment for her and for all of us. The Government of South Africa and Ilona Kuphal have learned something that often only great suffering can teach, that War and Peace are matters of the heart, and that there is no Peace without unconditional Love.


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