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News of Bernhard's death

By Christmas Eve 2006, two days had passed without a message from Bernhard. I sent him a message that morning comprising the following text:

“It has been two or three days since I have heard from you. When you have time, please send me a brief message so that I will know that everything is fine with you. I am worried that something may be wrong.”

This message was sent at nine forty-nine that morning.

The doorbell of our house rang within one minute of my sending this message.

When the bell first rang, I was in my home office on the first floor of our home while my husband was at his computer in the lower level. Upon hearing the bell, we both sprang to answer it, both arriving at the door at the same moment.

Waiting on the outside of our home when we opened the door that morning were three strangers - a priest not known to us, a policeman and also a police woman.

As soon as I saw these three strangers, I said: “My son is dead. The Chinese have killed my son”.

My husband was stunned into silence. He said nothing. The three persons before us also said nothing.

Once again, I said: “My son is dead, they have killed him.”

My husband remained silent. One of the three, I do not recall which, asked: “May we come inside first?”

As we all came inside our home, my husband spoke his first words: “How has this happened?”

It was then that we were told that he had "fallen" on campus.

How can a healthy young man fall to his death?

I then cried out: "They caused him to fall from a window!”

- - -

Two days later, the day after Christmas 2006, Bernhard's father left for China to claim the broken body of his son and to find the true cause of his sudden death. He had only been granted a three day visa for a visit exclusively to Beijing and so there would not be much time. We agreed before his leaving that we would remain in close telephone contact throughout his journey. I wanted to be a part of all the regulations and plans to be made and Bernhard's father wished for me to as well. We wished to learn all that we could but most of all, we wished to bring the body of our son home to Cologne for burial.