Not quite two weeks after Ahmet’s disappearance we lost another dear family friend.
Erich was one of the firsts friends my parents made when we moved back to Germany. At the time I was still a kid and didn’t know what an internationally renown academic he was- oh, I can’t quite get used to past tense!
His academic qualities as well as his passion for peace (especially between Jewish people and Christians) have been and will be praised by more eloquent (and better known) people than me, but should you be interested, you can find countless of his highly interesting publications available.
To me he was this friendly man (always more on the bigger side of thin), full of laughter, who used to come round regularly for meals.
He was my first Italian coach: he spoke the language fluently, starting with – I believe – Nozze di Figaro: at that time I used to sing operas front to back and all characters. He listened for hours to my singing – believe me, I did sing operas hours on end as a child! I also used to teach adults with no knowledge about opera about how great operas are – I know, I was a weird child.
Erich never considered himself as too good to teach me (or actually anyone around who was willing to listen) what he knew or was passionate about – and he knew a lot. He taught me how to write my name in Hebrew (which I shamefully admit I forgot). He was full of interesting stories, but never too snobbish to join in games with me and my little sister. There exists a rather interesting picture of him at our dinner table (I think it was for my Dad’s birthday) wearing a suit and my little green woolly ear flap hat. I can’t remember which opera character I got him to play in-between courses.
Somehow I know that he’s happy were he is now – he’ll spend the next 150 years debating all those questions dear to him with people he’d always wanted to meet. And he couldn’t possibly have chosen a more symbolic day than Easter to pass away, but I’m still going to miss him, miss his knowledge, his passion for teaching, passion for food and good company.