Brigitte Bergengruen (name changed by the editors) wrote about an exceptional encounter:
Although it happened many years ago this experience will always be very clearly on my mind: One afternoon when I took my plum pie from the oven, the door bell rang. I quickly rushed to the door and opened it. There was a young man with a selection of magazines. Since I had been persuaded twice in the years before to take out a subscription and the magazines were lying around unread, I refused a further contract. The young man explained his distressing situation: He needed to have subscriptions or he would be dismissed and he did not know how to finance his existence. I stuck to my refusal and asked him for the reason of his distress. “I have been in prison for a long time and I’m on probation”, he confessed. “I’m not signing anything, but would you like a piece of freshly home-made plum cake?” I offered him following a strange feeling. He beamed: “I haven’t eaten such cake for a very long time. Oh yes, I’d love to!”
I took my guest upstairs, asked him to take a seat at the kitchen table, whipped up cream and made coffee. We talked of former times. He especially talked about his mother who was an alcoholic and didn’t care much about him. He obviously enjoyed both the warm cake and our conversation, however, he had to leave soon and I accompanied him to the front door. He told me how much good it did him and he said: “I wish I had a mother like you. I don’t know how to thank you. May I give you a farewell hug?” I agreed, however, I asked him spontaneously why he had been in prison. “I killed a woman. I’m a murderer”, he answered quietly, “I guess now I’m not allowed to hold you anymore.” I briefly hesitated. But when I looked into his eyes, I knew without a doubt that I was his mother at that moment. I let myself be embraced then he turned around and left. I could still see him wiping tears from his eyes.
About a year later, a police officer rang our doorbell. “Did something happen?” I asked excitedly. “No, no” he reassured me. “Here is someone who is being taken to prison in Munich. He had one more wish to say goodbye to you.” Further back in the prison car there he was, the magazine advertiser, in handcuffs, guarded by another policeman. I agreed, and they let him come to me. “What has happened?” I asked him “I’ve relapsed,” he said depressed. “Would you embrace me once again?” Without hesitation, I took him in my arms and squeezed him from my heart.
What might have become of him?