German Praktikum (Internship) students were keenly watching the evening phenomenon over the Jaffna Lagoon. Twilight was in its last moments of our Northern Mission for the second day.
We reached the LTTE checking point in another half an hour's time and the night was upon us. We all parked our vehicle for clearance. Though we had a clearance from the LTTE in a few minutes, the LTTE had to determine from the Army checking point which was few meters away, whether they could allow us to enter into the Sri Lankan Army-controlled territory as we were past the deadline of the day to cross the No Mans Zone.
The new development in having a direct rapport between two points of the frontiers of the warring factions was a credit to the Ceasefire Agreement between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government, which was facilitated by Norway with the backing of the international community. There were times they used to infiltrate into opposite areas and inflicted heavy casualties and losses.
We had come near the barrier of the LTTE's exit point, but had to wait as we were still not given clearance to enter into the Army's front. Some of the students got down from the vehicle. I too got down from the vehicle and went near the barrier, which was heavily guarded by LTTE male and female cadres.
Some female LTTE cadres in their unique uniform Umzugsunternehmen Berlin approached us. The German female students smiled at them and developed cordiality with them. The students gifted some chocolates, which they had brought with them to the LTTE's female cadres. I introduced the Singhalese couple to the LTTE's female cadres.
They were trying to speak to the Singhala couple with the few Singhala words they knew. The female cadres had shown more interest to acquaint themselves with the German female students. While we were passing our time so leisurely and joyfully, we could sense a fusion of the different cultures and tastes. It was a fascinating moment on our northern tsunami relief mission.
The LTTE officer in charge of the point informed us that we could move towards the Sri Lankan Army-controlled area. The German female students and female LTTE cadres greeted each other once again. Our vehicles started to move towards the military checkpoint. Two officers came towards us and Dr. Jayalath spoke to them. We were allowed to get in. Passing the barrier we stopped near a military camp.
A captain who was in-charge of the point came near us and was talking to Dr. Jayalath and Dietmar Doring. The students alighted from the vehicle and were taking in the surroundings with much enthusiasm. For them it was such a strange experience. They were quite young when the Berlin Wall, a vestige of the Second World War was demolished after the reunion of both Germanys at the end of the cold war and the collapse of the USSR. They didn't experience the hostility of the occupied forces and the trauma, which was caused by the erection of the Berlin Wall, but had only heard about it.
After the European Union emerged as the central body to keep Europe free of wars and economically united, it further removed hostilities between the adjoining European countries and to the German students the past nightmare was mere recall.
But when they were exposed to the military points and the warring hostility in a foreign land, they might have harked back to the events in Germany several decades ago, giving them a feel of the experience of a past coming alive. They were startled whenever they closed in on military camps.
We were talking to few of the junior officers about our mission. The hostile environment was still prevailing. The area was so vulnerable to confrontation though there had been a written Ceasefire Agreement with a new development where after the General Election in 2004, the Government, which signed the agreement with LTTE, lost at the polls.
The change of governmental power impacted on military affairs as well, and created chaos in the warring fronts. The Army gave us clearance and we started journeying towards Jaffna.
We were moving fast as there were no vehicles around which would have made our progress slow.
Rajkumar Kanagasingam is the author of the fascinating book - German Memories in Asia... A collection of memories by the author on Asian & European historical events especially the German since the Roman Empire era.