Man Leben – on the way

Mit dem Tod der andern muss man leben [1]

With the dead of others, one must live

You continue with your two months’ hike:

“At the end of the summer I abandoned my existence as a farmer. Now my godmother lived in an apartment and the farm was transferred to the new owner for renovation to a holiday farm. The hike would go by the chapel Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France to Dachau, Germany. In Dachau my mother died in 1944 probably due to a disease and exhaustion during the other regime in Germany.

With my backpack filled with another set of clothes, a sleeping bag, a bivouac bag and a small stove I left for this luxurious hike. I also had the necessary payment cards and my health was excellent. I crossed the border with Belgium at “De Plank”. After a few miles I passed the war cemetery Henri Chapelle where about 8000 soldiers were buried [2] [3] who died during the Ardennes offensive.


My hike would lead me along many war cemeteries, because I walked along the French – German language border to Ronchamp. On the first part of my trip I stayed mostly on the French-speaking side, as in South Limburg I had also lived just on the French – oriented side. On many parts I followed the GR 5 unless the detour was – in my opinion – not on my route.

For two months I was tramp, but a luxury tramp. Until recently my rhythm was determined by my work in Amsterdam and by my living on the farm. Now, the weather, the road and the environment cared for the rhythm. Several hundred years ago the landscape was in a similar way densely populated with travellers [5].

As solitary hiker I was never alone. Almost always the wind was my companion and at night in an open sky the moon and the stars were my company. Claim with others was simple. Almost everyone was interested in the tour. The basic questions: “Who are you? Where do you come from? Where do you go? “, are simple and at on a basic level quickly answered. But for the answer to “Who are you?” in the full width, you and I will look for on our Odyssey. After this proposal round we will depart on our Odyssey again.

Especially I got to know the wind and the moon on this hike. In the following post I will give an introduction on the moon. I noticed that the wind was always present; it was my constant friend. Just as water is the last thing that a fish will discover, I discovered the wind on this hike with the always moving air that was my constant company.

Later during my study of Sanskrit I learned two words for wind that show my experiences.

The first word for wind in Sanskrit is “marut” [6] meaning “wind, air, breath, children of the air or ocean, living in the North, and golden wind”. This word is composed of “ma” [7] meaning “mine or of mine” and “ruta” meaning  “sound, loud, shout, roar, hum of bees, whistling of birds”. This word is very special for me, because Ruth is my mother’s first name. She is named after the book of Ruth from the Old Testament. The name Ruth means in Sanskrit “of a man” and the statement made by Ruth in the book Ruth “where you go, I will go” is used in the Jewish, Catholic and Christian wedding service [8]. As during all my life, my mother accompanied me on this hike.

The second word for wind in Sanskrit is “va” meaning “wind, ocean, water, stream”, and the verb root vâ meaning “to blow, to give by blowing/breathing”. Derivatives of these words are “vada” meaning “to speak, giving wind/air” and “vâta” meaning “wind god”. The words “vada” and “vâta” sound like the word “Vater”  [9] or father in German. With the ubiquitous wind, my father went with me on this hike – such as during my entire life.

The ubiquitous wind – named “marut” and “vâta”, but in reality nameless and name of all – made it possible for me to say the text of Kaddish. In the course of the hike the wind took the place of the Biblical father figure whom until then I had identified with “he” and “him” in the text of Kaddish. The biblical father figure from the pastoral world – to whose image men might be created – had always caused difficulties for me, but the wind was inevitable and fleeting present. The wind became the “he” and “his” in the text of the Jewish remembrance of the dead. On the way to Ronchamp, I started reciting this text for my parents, for my aunt and for my godfather.

May his great name exalted and sanctified

in the world he has created according to his will.

May his Kingdom be recognised in your life and in your days

and in the life of the whole house of Israel,

soon and near future.

 Now say: Amen

May his great name be blessed now and forever.

 Blessed, praised, celebrated, and high and exalted always honoured,

Glorified hailed be the name of the Holy,

 blessed be he,

high above each blessing, every song,

 praise and comfort said on earth.

Now say: Amen


May there come many peace from heaven and life!

 Over us and all over Israel.

Now say:  Amen


He who makes peace in his high spheres,

 will also make peace for us and for Israel

Now say: Amen [10]

Via the Ardennes, Luxemburg, Northern France, the Vosges with Route de Crête, I arrived in Ronchamp. There I visited Notre Dame du Haute designed by the architect Le Corbusier. In my “Jaguar years” we had in our house a chair designed by him in 1928.


Now in other circumstances, I walked uphill to the chapel.



In the chapel the light was wonderful and colourful. In one of the towers I looked up. As in so many churches what a beautiful light from above.











In Ronchamp I wrote the poem:

Wind takes you along

Volatile and fatal

From Hades realm.

Heaven nor earth

May exist without you

Ascent in the void.

The following post is about the journey from Ronchamp to Dachau”, you say.

[1] Part from:

[2] See also the post  “Remembrance of the fallen” from 16 Augustus 2011 and the posts about “A War like no other” from Augustus and September 2011.

[3] Source image:

[4] Source image:

[5] See also: Robb, Graham, The discovery of France. London: Picador, 2007

[6] See: elektronische versie van het woordenboek Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[7] “Mama, Mâ and ma” is the genitivus of “aham” meaning “I”. Source: elektronische versie van het woordenboek Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[8] Source:

[9] In the German word “Vater” the Indo-European words “va” and “tr” may be recognised that mean  in Sanskrit “wind, ocean, water, stream” and “cross or pass”.

[10] Source:

[11] Source image: Ngv_design,_le_corbusier_%26_charlotte_perriand,_LC-4_chaise_longue,_1928.JPG

[12] Source image:

[13] Source image:

[14] Source image:


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