Yesterday I received the following comment from a valued reader:
“I am also a Vietnam veteran and just finished all three of your books, and loved them. Personally I would make them mandatory reading for all 14 year old boys today if I could. I think you have a lot that could be taught to them.
Here is my answer of today, you can also read it in the comments below my post : “Sitting on a football”
It is nice to hear from another Vietnam veteran and I am honored that you like my books.
Yes, sometimes I think that I should send the book “Loyal to a degree” to a school administrator and ask him if he would be interested to give me an hour to talk to their history class.
It would be interesting for the children as I am one of the few who lived through 1945 and is still around to talk intelligently (or so I think) about these times.
One the other hand I am sure that you, as a Vietnam veteran also have interesting stories to tell about a terrible war.
It was all about survival, wasn’t it?
And today? Does it matter anymore?? It’s a loaded question, isn’t it?
I am an American citizen since 1959 and I like to thank you for your time serving our country. Take good care of yourself.
Yes, as an Author, writing about forgotten times, I can’t help wondering: “Why I am writing this stuff?”
“Is anybody interested enough to read about it? “
Based upon my recent book sales and comments, the answer is: “Yes,” there are readers who I am able to “touch.”
Thank you for all your kind comments. They keep me writing.
However and finally, tell me dear reader: ” Does it matter anymore?”
Yes, it matters very much! “Never Forget” will mean nothing without such stories.
The most striking part of your story, to me, is how poised and thoughtful you were for your age. And thoughtful about others. And able to think ahead. These qualities seem to be sadly lacking today but perhaps would come to the fore in an emergency.
I am SO hoping you will write another book, so we can follow your story to the US and also…..find out what happened to Harold?!
Thank you very much for chiming in on this subject.
And, Thank You, for your compliments. They really show me that I am able to strike some chord of mutual values with my readers.
They also help me to sit down and write another book.
See, Robbie, you said “Never Forget” and if you travel to Moscow, Stalingrad, Berlin and all the other cities which were part of this insanity, you will find many, many monuments and memorial centers which echo the same sentiment. It is more than just sad that none of them and none of the books written on this subject will be a sufficient wake up call.
Why? Is it because we participants fade away and the new generation wants to make their own mistakes?
Or, is it, like my grandfather said that the switches are always set way, way before the events take place?
It would be nice if we would be willing to learn, (I mean we could, couldn’t we?).
The lesson I personally learned is very simple:
If we all, I mean everyone of us, would just be willing to take care of ourselves, and one other person….. this would be all we need to do.
We can only hope, but we need to remember that “hope” without action does not work by itself.
In regard to your question, Robbie, yes, I will write more books, especially about Harold.
I loved all 3 of your books!..& cannot wait for the 4th, “Partners…” In another post under another sub-title, someone asked if you are Karl. You did not answer, so I’m thinking you would prefer not to. Perhaps an extension of that is this question: Did you experience all of these that you tell in the books, or are they compilations of several youth at the time? Sometimes the events seem so fantastically unreal, but I don’t doubt their authenticity.
I concur with what Robbie wrote you and also your replies to him: Hope by itself doesn’t work by itself; one’s actions validates his own hope and models it to another.
I love what your dad told you–“Your decision will be based on how much you value your values.” You lived that way.
I so love these books that I am recommending them to my oldest brother–we were both born during WWII (in IL); he is a Lutheran pastor.
Thank you, Horst; keep writing!! As a former educator (taught Englsish & Spanish)myself, I think your idea of having history classes read these is an excellent one.
I look forward to Karl’s and Harold’s life experiences.
Thank you for reading my books and a special thank you for recommending them to your brother.
I really appreciate your comments as well as your questions. As I stated in an answer to a different reader.
“They show me that I am able to connect on some fundamentally equal value with my readers.”
They also give me guidance and energy to keep on writing.
Now, to your questions. I thought that I answered the question if I was Karl. (I must have answered it in an email)
Yes, I don’t mind telling you, as well as my other readers that I am Karl. I changed the names of myself and my characters in the books for very personal reasons.
However, all of the places are named correctly. They existed and mostly still exist. ( Well, the allies finally destroyed all the high rise bunkers, like the Zoo bunker and the Friedrichshain bunker, and the subway ventilation system is now changed and upgraded.)
The experiences described in the book are not a compilation. They are my own experiences and in many cases I choose d to tone them down. A lot.
I wanted to write as positive as I possibly could. There are sufficient horror books on the market.
Enough is enough.
Some of the described events might indeed seem ‘unreal’ to the reader. All I can say is that you had to be there.
Even, today, 70 years after the happenings of 1945, the victory celebrations of the Russians on the streets of Berlin, with the dead bodies of the
“retreators with ammunition” executed by the SS, young boys and old men, swaying from light poles above the cheering masses….seem very unreal to myself.
Believe me, they are very much like a bad dream.
Thanks, again, Dianne, your comments, coming from a retired educator mean a lot to me.
My fourth book “Partners” will end my story of Karl. My life became pretty normal, while Harold pressed on with his own agenda.
Enjoy today, Dianne, and take good care,
Thank you so much for providing a glimpse into life in Germany during the war for an adolescent. I have often wondered what life might have been like had my grandparents not moved to the USA before the war. My great-grandmother was able to give a glimpse of what it was like during hers–as her father was employed by Frederick, she often was required to entertain young Wilhelm and I found her comments interesting…your books are much cherished by me Danke!
Great to hear from you again. Your comments are always welcome and very much appreciated. Your great-grandmother must have been a very interesting lady.
I bet that you have great memories of her.
Thanks again, Ann, for reading my books and all the best to you,
I have just read “Children to a degree”, and evidently when getting it, I overlooked the fact it was only part of a series. I’ve not read all comments on all pages, so it may have been answered somewhere, but did you ever find any of your family? If so, do you tell of your brother and sister afterward, and whether they remained in Germany or moved away? Or did you ever hear where Rudy ended up? I read that you never knew what happened to your Opa, but did you ever discover who may have turned him in, for example…could it have been any of your friends who visited and overheard his teachings to strive to know rather than just think among other things. Do you ever address when or how you and Harold and others your age discovered what was happening to the people in concentration camps? I know you mostly avoided grotesque explanation – but what the barbarians were doing to others is such a huge part of the WWII story I really thought it should have been addressed. Were you horrified, or numb to events? or had the hitler doctrine brainwashed at least enough that kids felt as though the ‘undesirables’ were not much to worry over? Were your friend’s Catholic grandparents taken away?
And, how have your opinions through the years changed from your strict upbringing? In other words, painted faces, or a woman’s place, whether they should work if they want to? I was shocked at the distance – meaning grandparent/grandkids here are mostly very close, loving, some are huggers, some are spoilers of their grands. I’m sure this country’s ways had to be shocking when one has lived with rules and discipline. I do wish some of that were here these past decades. I fear more events you encountered as a young teen.
On the history channel, there are plenty of horrors of that war shown, but we do not get the personal reactions, and we do not get a kid’s view. We do see a few brownshirts or hitler youth in videos but they are, from what I’ve seen, only shown to explain that mentally ill tyrant left no human untouched.
Wow, Judi, you have some interesting comments and questions.
First of all I like to thank you for taking the time to post on my website and secondly I will answer as balanced as possible. Yes, I did get reunited with my family and wrote about it in my fourth book. No, I don’t know what happened to Rudy or any other of our HJ leaders. From our small district of 1700 boys in the age from 12 to 14, we could only account of 18 survivors. Nobody knew where anybody was. No communication other than finding each other by chance. Your question as to the concentration camps is well taken, because it was horrible what happened. But the first time I heard about it was during the Nuernberg trial proceedings. Since I was not aware of it I could not write about it. I learned, months after the war, that my Opa had been arrested by the SS and he died in one of the concentration camps together with the other inmates. I have no idea what or who turned him in.
Have my opinions changed about painted faces? Well, let me tell you that I think that the cosmetic industry pulled off the greatest stunt in brainwashing. They convince perfectly pretty young female faces that they are ugly unless they change their eyebrows and the overall face until they look worse than a badly painted clown. And then they proceed to sell them products to get their skin back to normal………Your call.
Relationships between grandparents and grandchildren? Well, it was different. Not better, No, just different.
How do I feel about it? I think that we should teach our children to become functioning adults.
What do I see? I see parents paying for a higher education. After graduation, the “children” get married and then move in with their parents again……..your call.
Yes, the history channel shows plenty of horror and there are countless books written about atrocities. This is the reason that I don’t feel the need to write about it. We all know that war is hell. Thanks again, Judi, for your questions and for reading my books.
Please forgive this old woman’s second posted question. Some gets answered here, but I’d only read the first – Children – when I asked my question. For some reason, my question disappeared when I hit the submit button, then I could never find it nor confirmation that it had been received. I did not realize that not all questions and answers are in the same place. My mistake. Thinking it was lost in the internet monster, as some frequently are, I finally sent another question.
I much appreciate your response to painted faces. I’ve felt the way you said in the response to my question most of the time, but other times see how much a “little” can make a very plain face be less plain. Unfortunately, our family was cursed with very light eyebrows and my mother and her sisters and mother painted their eyebrows. I hated it. Family said it looked “muley headed”….don’t ask, I don’t know why. I eventually gave in and wore a little, but wasn’t a huge fan of it. I wear none, now, but probably should – but, I still won’t. Women in ancient Egypt used something similar to makeup, so I guess there have been vain people throughout time. You are right about the cosmetic industry, but the movie industry probably did as much or more damage to women’s self esteem.
I can’t say I “enjoyed” the books, but enjoyed learning about that time and you did a very good job conveying the life of young boys being thrust into horrible times. Nothing told of during that time can be considered “enjoyed” I guess. I do not know when the trials began, I was born 1954, so never learned much about that until later in my life. I was a “peace, not war” person until I realized that if everyone was that way then nobody would have stopped Hitler. So, as much as some argue with me, I don’t WANT war, but do realize that it can become a necessary evil. I appreciate every soldier that answers the call to rid this world of another tyrant which is not even a strong enough description of that lunatic that took hold of your country.
I never thought a lot of what regular citizens lived through since I’ve seen some who talked about being treated to “holidays” on government money that they had never before had the means to enjoy and could not help but feel quite angry toward them. If they truly never knew, then I apologize – sort of. I say sort of because so many were too easily led into the frenzied hatred that helped that monster almost reach his goal. He had many humans murdered. The savages employed to do this seemed to enjoy their work. It will happen again. It seems too easy to whip up a frenzy and hatred and is happening in many places.
Thank you much for answering. And I am glad I found this answer. One day, I may find the answer to my question sent much later than my first! Take care.
Thanks for your continued interest. I am glad that you found the answers to your questions.
Yes, children should be raised to act and become productive adults. The current vogue seems to be to cuddle and spoil them and then when they have children of their own …. to let them move in again with their parents. What kind of an adult is that?
As I stated before, in some other place, if this continues ….. pretty soon we have a bunch of 40 year old children running around…….
In any event, Judi, I like your interest and your various comments. Your many posts are evidence that you became a strongly engaged reader and I thank you for it.
Take good care,
OH…and can I cay PS as on the bottom of a letter?
Children are kept children far too long. Wild animals KNOW when to let their young go. Bird parents know when to push a baby bird out of the nest and teach it to fly.
Yet, even knowing this, people seem to believe they are smarter than animals. Children SHOULD be raised to be adults.
Byway of introduction I am 70 years old and an avid reader, however never have I read as fast and with so much attention as I did once I started your first book that I received for free. After reading about one half of the first book, I immediately went on line and ordered all of the rest of your books that were available. I then read the rest of the first book and the remaining 3 books asif they were one book in the span of 2 and one half days. I found it almost impossible to even break from the reading to prepare food or anything else.
I must congratulate you for your writing skill and your command of the story tellers art. You have opened my eyes to a different interpretation of a period that I thought that I had completely studied and will be forever grateful for this. I gave
I gifted all of my grandchildren Kindles for Christmas and will make sure that each one receives copies of the books and that they will hopefully learn many of the lessons of life that you have so brilliantly set forth in your writing.
Once again thank you so much for sharing this great story of life and its true meaning with all of us, without ever having met you I feel that I have been exposed to one of the great individuals of the last century.
All of my best wishes for many more years to you/
David V. Andrews
Thank you so much for your very enthusiastic comments. You pretty much stumped me with your compliments and I still don’t know how to respond. You are really honoring me by gifting your grandchildren with my books and I am with you by hoping that some of the lessons of the past will not be forgotten. Since you are a senior citizen yourself, you know first hand how often our words are dismissed as “not pertaining to the present time”. We both know only too well that this is not the case. However, we have to allow that it is in our nature that we all want to make our own mistakes. It seems that this is the way we are progressing.
And, thank you David, for your kind wishes for my future, I feel that I made a friend. and I wish you too many more years of good health..
Be good to yourself,
Dear Mr. Christian,
First I would like to say I was greatly moved by your four “To a Degree” books. I could not bear to put them down, and read all four in the space of three days. I am very grateful you shared these stories of your experience.
My grandparents on my mother’s side were Jews. My Grandfather was born in 1893 in Poland (as per my mother’s birth certificate), and my Grandmother was born in 1895 in Austria. My Grandfather arrived in the United States at the age of 8 on the SS Königin Luise in 1903. He is listed on the ship’s manifest as being a Russian of the Hebrew race, from the town of Łódź. I have no record of when or how my grandmother arrived. Obviously my grandparents avoided the turmoil Europe experienced in the both World Wars, but I do not know how any of their relatives they may have left behind fared, but I can imagine, and I find it very difficult to watch films about the camps.
I was born in 1951 and never knew my grandparents, or my mother’s brother, in fact I barely knew my mother. Although postwar America had little more than the faces of the wounded and memories of the dead to remind them of the horror of the War, the War did change the core of American society dramatically.
I feel a connection to the Jews of Eastern Europe, and your stories connected with me as well. I am grateful that I now have a deeper understanding of the mindsets of the people involved. I am fascinated by history and read a great deal. It is little wonder that most Americans are unable to comprehend how the Germans were manipulated into the war because I believe very few Americans even understand their own country’s history and its creation. What we were taught in school with regard to the issues that the Founding Fathers faced, and our relationship with England, were heavily filtered and edited – even the term “Revolutionary War” is far from accurate.
I am especially looking forward to your thoughts on modern society. We seem to be in a time where political correctness is taking over in America, and it is my personal belief that we are now experiencing the worst of Capitalism, the worst of Socialism, and the worst of Democracy. I wish I could believe otherwise, but I fear that future generations of Americans will have much less freedom than my parents did, and few people will be aware of what is lost until it is too late. The rights that our fore-bearers sacrificed so much for is being surrendered to the gods of political correctness. The film and television industries are huge culprits in shaping public opinion – distorting history and pandering to the bigotry of the masses in order to make huge profits. Politicians are no different, and the motive is the same: greed.
Please forgive my pessimism and the length of this letter.
I have barely begun to absorb the content on your website, and greatly look forward to your next and future books. I do not believe in a “higher power,” but if I did I would pray heartily for your good health and continued efforts in sharing more of your wonderful stories and insight.
Most Gratefully and Best Regards,
Thank you very much for taking the time to share your views with us.
Your thoughts are well taken and I think that they resonate with many of my readers.
But, on the other hand, Harold, the “greed” which you describe so well, was probably always a part of human nature.
However, I give you that is was never so obvious as it is today. Modern mass media is without a “conscience” and the younger generation will have to start thinking. (for themselves) The sooner the better.
Thank you Harold, for your kind thoughts and the gift you send me. It is very much appreciated and I will contact you shortly to see if we could possibly meet. It would be nice if we could share a cup of coffee.
In the meantime take good care,