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Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 ... Witness to History

Deutsche Version dieses Blogs hier.

A date that has become an icon like probably no other date in recent history ... September 11th, or 9/11.

It has been only nine years ago from today, since the events happened that make this date so oppressive. Not even a decade ... and yet, I hardly can remember any more how it used to be before the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on the morning of this day in late summer 2001.

I remember that I was at work that day. At some time between 3:30 and 4:00 p.m (GMT +1) I received a phone call from some customer, who was waiting for a weekly report my company still had to deliver. I thought he was calling me for this reason, and basically, he did. But he started the conversation with

"Did you hear that there has been a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center?"

I thought this man was making some kind of drastic joke, to emphasize that he really needed the report we were still to hand in, and made up some crude story, like "... and that could happen to you, too, if I don't get that report finally!" Well, this guy indeed could be funny in conversations, and we often would have a good time, even if we only had to discuss business matters ...

I replied that we would probably get the report done and delivered to him within one or two days, even without him taking such drastic measures.

On that day, I had not heard yet, what had started happening some 45 minutes before in New York, at 8:46 a.m. EST.

The caller informed me that NO, he was NOT trying to be funny here or make an ironic whiplash to motivate me - but that there really had been an attack on the World Trade Center.

The company I worked with at those days, had no TV set anywhere in their rooms, and the only radio we had was in the bureau of the chief of the accounts department. I informed my colleagues, and we were trying to get some news footage on any of the stations there.

It was the year 2001, and so, Internet news coverage was not yet as developed as it is today. We really had a hard time finding a station that reported about the incident; indeed, we had to wait for the full hour, to listen to a regular scheduled newscast. And there, we heard that indeed something had happened. What we did not know was, how immense and terrible the consequences would be.


When I got home some hour after that, I immediately turned on the TV, and I would not turn it off any more before I went to bed, which was after 3 a.m. that night ... I had to get up early in the morning, but I simply could not stop watching, although the images shown after some time started repeating, and there were only a few real news updates on what had happened, once in a while, and how the catastrophe developed.

It was still going on ...

The Twin Towers attacked by two aircrafts, the Pentagon obviously attacked by one aircraft and a fourth machine that did not reach it's appointed goal, whatever it was, because it was brought to crash, when the passengers and crew had started to fight the hijackers.

Mind you, I am only writing here what, back then, was said in the news, and what reached my brain and crashed into my heart. I will not go into any of the "What really happened - or did it at all?!" stuff that went on in the years to come. I am not interested in possible conspiracies or lies here, in schemes and plots from terrorists or possibly politicians or business people. Not in this blog.

I only remember how this day brought me into a state that lasted for a whole week ... a state of shock.

I was feeling like everything around me had gone dark, was shadowed ... like my vision was kinda blurred (I had a hard time focusing on things, as my mind wandered), and my hearing seemed obstructed too, like after a loud bang (I could not really follow what was said for more than a few seconds, as my mind wandered).

I had the hardest time understanding myself during the days after 9/11 ... I simply was not functioning, although basically nothing had happened to me personally. The sudden death of almost three thousand people had hit me full force, but it took me days to understand that ...

I was grieving for them.

Without knowing any of the victims personally, without having lost personal friends or relatives ... I was grieving.

And I still, for all that time, that whole week or so, I could not really believe that those things had really happened. But still, they had.


After that first week following the events at what would be known as Ground Zero from then on, and at the Pentagon, I finally started to feel ... different. Not really "better" ... but matters shifted more and more back into perspective, so I would "function" again - although processing what I had been witness to on that day still took me a long time.

It had started like a kind of bad joke.

Then it had turned into something that looked like something from a Hollywood action movie.

And then, finally, the mechanisms of re-adjusting my taking in of events (by filtering and trying to bring some meaning to them I could identify by knowing them) wore off, and I was left with the reality, which was something unseen and never before experienced for me, and probably to most of us who have not been alive during a World War or any other man made Armageddon that our race inflicted over the centuries on their own people.


One year later, in September 2002, I discovered the documentary 9/11 by the filmmaking brothers Jules and Gédéon Naudet on TV. I had missed the first 10 minutes or so of the broadcast that night, I guess ... well, that's what you get when you just zap through your TV stations and don't use a TV guide.

As soon as I saw the first images and realized what this documentary was about, I was ...

... I was back in pretty much the same state I had been on 9/11 one year earlier. Almost all of how I had felt was back. I was sitting in front of the TV and was all but petrified, did not move a muscle, but watched the complete documentary until the very end.

By this film, I went back in time, and went through the feelings again that had hit me on 9/11 2001. But I did not watch it from afar this time ... I was there.

This documentary is something that you need to watch.

"They say that there is always a witness for history, I guess ... that they are chosen to be the witness."

By this statement, Jules Naudet pinpoints what had happened, and what he and his brother Gédéon Naudet had done - they had been chosen to be the witnesses of history on 9/11.

And by what they filmed on that day, and during the days and weeks to come, still, they have created an immensely important document ...

... they make us all witness to history.

Jules and Gédéon Naudet

(2001 / 2002)

Region Code 2 
Sound: German, English, Spanish, French, Italian
Subtitles: English



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