Steps of Reconciliation in Plauen
Reconciliation is an important issue in our whole life. In September 2018 five people from Plauen attended the international conference of CCN and met with many other representatives from Cross of Nails centres worldwide. During this conference we were deeply moved by listening and sharing experiences of forgiveness and reconciliation. We also told our own story and why we applied to receive a Cross of Nails for our town on Good Friday, 10th April 2020.
In the city of Plauen churches, the city council and various organizations have founded a network called “Remembering – Reconciling – Raising Awareness”.
One member of our network is a historian at the “Vogtland Museum” who did research on Plauen especially during World War II. In the archives of our town he accidentally found a letter from an American soldier called Frank Clark. Around the same time he also came across an article about this American soldier in the magazine „American Heritage“. The result of his research we will present to the residents of Plauen in a lecture on 19th March 2019.
Letter of excuse by Frank Clark - Air Force Pilot in World War II
“He spent his tour of duty bombing German cities and made it home only to discover he could never leave the war behind him. Then, a lifetime later, he found a way to make peace.” (American Heritage)
Frank Clark was born on 17th October in 1925 as the youngest of nine children. When his father died he was 13 years old. At the age of 18 he became a soldier in the Air Force of the US Army.
On 19th and 26th March 1945 he was involved in the bombing raid of Plauen. In his personal logbook he wrote: “The town must have been important to rate two missions.” (American Heritage)
After World War II he wasn´t able to be still a soldier. Soon he married Ruth and didn´t tell her about his experiences. Later, in 1981, his heart fell ill.
In the morning on 16th May 1987 he woke up with an idea: He wrote letters to all towns in Germany he had bombed. His postman had advised him to address the letter “To the Public Officials in …(Town)”
Seven Letters came back – unopened. He didn´t know the difference between East- and West Germany. But soon he got answers from towns and citizens all over Germany. His letter was published in lots of newspapers, printed in the FRG (Federal Republic of Germany).
The Lord Mayor of Plauen had written a concept for an answer. But we are not sure if he had sent it.
In 1995 Frank Clark died. So he wasn´t able to read his story in the May/June issue of magazine “American Heritage”, in 1995: “He would have liked to thank Kathy A. Johnson for her help in preparing the initial manuscript, which he had called Pilot for Peace.”