A day ago I received a comment from one of my readers which raised a subject that triggered the thought for this post. I contacted the reader to ask for permission to quote him and he graciously agreed:
” During the late 1960’s I was an American soldier serving in what was then known as West Germany. I had a German friend who told me on several occasions that I could not understand what those times were like for those people. I am still trying to understand that and other things he told me. Just finished Children To A Degree and find that you have advanced my understanding remarkably. Thank you so very much. I definitely want to read the other books in that series. Gary”
The core of Gary’s comment was something that I encounter very often. People ask me or write to me that they have a hard time to understand the Germany of the 1930’s.
When I wrote my books I never considered that there would be questions in this regard. Please let me explain. First of all, the 30’s are now about 80 years behind us and as a reader of today we tend to look back with the combined knowledge of today. In other words we take phones, radios, television, internet and other means of communication and INFORMATION for granted. Not to mention the social networks.
Secondly our upbringing was totally different from today. I will try to paint you a picture.
All of our information came from Newspapers which were controlled by the government. Free speech was unheard of and there was zero tolerance for offenders. As a role model we had only our father or grandfather ( from fathers side of course, because our mother and her line of parents would never be considered). Female authority figures was a contradiction in terms. Radios were extremely expansive. I didn’t know of anyone owning a radio, besides my father. We were taught to respect our father and grandfather. However, to ask any question was a privilege which had to be earned. Speaking without being asked was unthinkable. None of my classmates parents nor my parents owned a telephone. Religion was not being taught. In school we were not only expected to excel, but is was demanded. Any kind of a slacker was severely punished, bordering on cruelty, or for that matter simply expelled from school. I could, without great effort, paint you a grimmer picture, but then you might think that I am pushing a personal agenda.
Not so. I merely try to point out that all of the above was the result of the mindset of our elders, and the rigidity of their upbringing made the atrocities of the Hitler regime possible. The technical lack of communication was another contributing factor.
Presently, I am working on a book which deals, in part, with the culture shock Karl experienced when he came to the USA. Not only in terms of the unbelievable wealth of the ordinary citizen but also in the freedom of expressing opinions.
Fwiw. My first book of “Harold” named “Postwar Drifter” is now with the editors. However, I am still struggling with a fitting name for the series.