“Our history lives in us and affects the choices we each make. We need to talk – being in conversation with each other about our difficult history can be freeing and healing”.
My book “Can we Talk… Will you Listen”? – is a non-fiction narrative. It describes my personal journey towards the healing power of dialogue, both as descendent of Nazi Germany and today as benefiting white in South Africa.
I describe how life in South Africa becomes increasingly challenging and leads to the realization that post-apartheid white society shows many of the same patterns as post Nazi German society: resistance with regard to facing and owning past destructive choices, defence mechanisms such as denial, blaming and self-victimizing; avoidance behaviour that divides rather than unites.
I share my experience of engaging in dialogue for several years with young South Africans of diverse backgrounds. The book captures moving testimony by participants in response to the open and intimate sharing of my life journey. Dialogue participants have often said that they felt encouraged by my narrative to touch their own anguish and confront conflicting feelings and challenges about their families and communities.
It is the purpose of this book to inspire open conversations about discrimination and stereotyping, racism, perpetrator – victim dynamics and the trans-generational impact of a traumatic or shameful history. The ‘Born Free’ in South Africa are born burdened by the trauma of their parents suffered during Apartheid, and by their white contemporaries repeating their parent’s apartheid attitudes and behaviour. ‘The Born into Peace’ (instead of war), young white ones, are shackled and psychologically imprisoned by their elder’s silence, denial and resentment.
My book offers opportunity and is an invitation to come together, talk, listen, acknowledge, make peace and build together as a constructive path for a healthy unfolding of the ‘Born After’.
How to Purchase
For South Africans, Loot.co.za
Purchase your e-copy of this not-for-profit book on kindle here for only US $5.70: Kindle e-book.
Or purchase the hard-copy on Amazon (US $9.50)
Reviews:“As a descendent of parents who were swept up in Nazi ideology, and having become an adult during the height of silence about this past in Germany, Elke was conscious of the need for dialogue about the past in South Africa, especially at a time when issues of race are dominating public debate. She started an initiative in partnership with the education desk of the Cape Town Holocaust Centre to facilitate inter-racial dialogue sessions with school groups (teachers and scholars). She has also been involved in creating forums for dialogue outside the Holocaust centre”
Professor Pumla Gobodo – Madikizela, Research Chair Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation, Stellenbosch University
"CAN WE TALK…WILL I LISTEN?"
A moving and sensitive testimony on how Elke overcame the haunting and painful memory of her past, and the integrity of self. The story of her life reveals the traumatic impact of being the daughter of Nazi supporters, and ways in which she endeavours to overcome the tortuous terrain of memory. This book is a compelling history of a sensitive and compassionate woman who shares her story with diverse school groups, university students, educators and individuals, and through meaningful inter-racial dialogue she has made a significant contribution towards harmony and reconciliation.
Marlene Silbert, Founding Education Director of the Cape Town Holocaust Centre; Director of the Interfaith Intercultural Youth Programme
“Dear Elke, I have finished reading your manuscript. It was very moving and is well written. You have written about a painful history, but also captured the beauty of the human spirit in the search for goodness. In so doing you have revealed the beauty of your own soul. Thank you for sharing your story with me. I see now how each story shared forms a tapestry of hope for a shared humanity. With much love, Joline “
Joline Young, Historian, UCT – history of slavery walking tours in Simonstown
“Hey Elke, I just wanted to leave you a very short note to say how much I am enjoying (if one can call it that) your book. I am astounded and deeply touched by how personal it is, how honestly you share, how much I previously did not know about you, and how much of it hits home with me. The German and Nazi heritage has been bubbling up in me for some time, and reading your book is bringing it to life and making the questions, which clearly float around somewhere in my consciousness or subconscious, more urgent and real.”
Julia Willand, Founder and Chairwoman IMCOSA – Immigration Consulting and former Olympian
Hazel Jacobs, Management Consultant SACTWU and co-organizer Cape Town Jazz Festival
Ever since I met Elke Geising a few years ago I have been impressed with her passion to advocate for women in South Africa and equally for her commitment to dialogue as a key to reconciliation.
When I read her book I understood why.
You will be touched by her honesty about her life with its painful past and how that past spurred her first to a very successful career and then to where she is today.
Wendy Ryan, Washington D.C.
Elke's powerful narrative of her life's journey is a rich record of often sensitive and sometimes uncomfortable experiences. Her extensive experiences form the context for the logical progression of her life to where she is now and what gives that life meaning.
Mathokoza Nhlapo, founder and CEO Sithabe African Crafts
I found this a moving, gripping and impressively honest account.
David Brokensha, Professor Emeritus Cultural Anthropology, Santa Barbara, California