This is written in response to the many emails I received from my readers.
When I started to write the ” degree” series I planned to conclude Karl’s story with my fourth book. I wanted to phase him out and at the same time starting to feature Harold and his interesting life.
It seemed that I succeeded because one reviewer remarked that I shifted “seamlessly from Karl to Harold.”
However when I showed my wife the many emails suggesting, and in some instances almost demanding, that I continue with Karl’s story, she said: “You should continue to write about Karl’s life…..(at least to a certain degree) because you are abandoning your readers”.
Now, this is the last thing I wanted to do. I thought that continuing with Harold was the right thing to do because his actions and viewpoints, during the cold war, were remarkable.
While I was a pastry apprentice and learned how to make butter cream and wedding cakes and eventually became a pastry chef, Harold learned additional languages and became a cunning international businessman. All the time being under the protection of the political Soviet Kommissar and the almighty Soviet State Police, he also became a political agent .
In addition, he avenged his mother without directly killing anyone. He made them all wish that they were dead..
Plus, he traveled with Stalin’s team, and later on with Khrushchev, as a translator, to many Eastern conferences and all during this time he kept me up to date.
For example: He knew more about the American nuclear submarine Nautilus (you remember the first crossing of a submarine under the northern polar ice) than the American public.
So, while I was thinking of continuing my books in accordance of the historical events at that time…… my readers and my own wife tells me: “No. It is not the history or WWII with which you connected with your readers ……. It is Karl they want to know about.”
I never thought about this when I was starting the series.While I was writing about a time span in recent history and about my experiences during this period it never entered my mind that a reader would be interested in Karl’s life after the war.So now, as a writer, I would be stupid not to listen to my readers and I decided on the following:
- I will finish my first book about Harold, because I am writing already the final chapters. Off course, the book still needs cover art and (yes, a title) and to be edited and formatted. However my VA team with Chris Haas from zenithbusinesssolutions.com is already working on it.
- Secondly, I am starting on a follow up with Karl’s life. At this time I intend to write about him until he entered the United States.
At the present time I cannot predict how my readership will react to it, because I also received many requests to keep on writing about the cold war and Harold’s experiences.
Due to the fact that I met with Harold many times and in many different international locations it is entirely feasible that from time to time I somehow merge again the two characters in my future books.. We hardly ever acted together, but our viewpoints clashed on many subjects. However, they never impaired our friendship. Somehow, I think, this could evolve into interesting books.
Time will tell.
Just a note to say how much I have I have enjoyed your work. Thank you for the time and effort you have put into them so the rest of us can learn about the time period, history and enjoy a good read. Sometimes when I remember this really happened I am aastounded . Just wanted you to know. Can’t wait to read Partners to a Degree! Keep up the good work!
You are very kind to post on my website.
Thank you very much. I am happy to read that you enjoyed my book.
For a writer, it does get not much better than that.
Keeping up my writing? Well, I promise to do my best and thank you for calling it “Good work”
Should you have any questions, regarding the subject matter of my books, please do not hesitate to ask.
I’ll be happy to answer.
Take good care,
My father was born in Frankfurt Germany in 1935, he never spoke of the war and we only got bits and pieces about life during the war from him while he was alive. We have tried questioning relatives (his sisters and brother) but no one wants to speak of what happened. I understand why, but it is still history. I really enjoyed your books and from what I have learned, Berlin was the hardest hit during the war, frankfurt did not have the damage and destruction as Berlin did during the war. My fathers childhood home is still standing and my uncle resides in it now. When I asked what our family did during the war, all I have heard is that my grandfather was a motorcycle mechanic. We did learn that we are or were Jewish, but they don’t speak of that either. PS My father trained to be a pastry chef as well and baked his entire life.
I respect the fact that you are writing about what happened during the war, history should be shared whether it is good or bad.
I am also presuming that most German Citizens did not know what Hitler was doing to the Jews during the war, please correct me if I am wrong, but what I gather from the book is that you were not aware of the concentration camps, so I would presume not many were.
I can’t wait for your next book.
All I can say is “Wow!” What an incredible life Karl and Harold have had. I just read through your four book series in about a week and am really looking forward to the next installment. I have some questions though. Whatever happened to the healing liquid that the submarine commander gave Karl? Did it ever come back to him after he loaned it to the Russian officer for use on his daughter? And what happened to the Beckers?
Thanks so much for taking the time to put Karl and Harold’s story down on paper, I look forward to your next book!
Thank you very much for your interest in my books and for taking the time to comment.
Holly, I really do not know what happened to the “healing liquid”.
Harold informed me at that time that Ana, (Kommissar Godunov’s daughter) took the liquid back to Moscow to have it analyzed. However, if this really happened and if there was a conclusion is not known to me. I thought, and still think, that it was a kind of plant extract, maybe a medical test product issued to the submariners. In any event, it worked amazingly well.
I met in later years off and on with the Becker family and will mention them in my future books. ( Herr Becker died in 1946 and Frau Becker outlived him by a few years.)
Thanks for your questions, Holly,
Take good care,
I have just finished reading your 4 books on Kindle. I was born in 1940 in Kansas and don’t remember much of the war. I enjoyed the books and could not put them down. I learned a lot about the German culture before, during and after the war. You filled in a lot of information that I didn’t know that I didn’t know and you filled in some history that now makes sense. I would very much knowing about new books when they come out.
Thank you for reading my books and for your kind comment.
I am happy to read that you found my books informative and that they helped you a bit to understand the German culture in the given time frame.
Currently I am writing the first book about Harold’s experiences after he teamed up with Kommissar Godunov and I hope that you find his story sufficiently interesting to keep on reading. Most certainly it were different times in Russia after the war and many of the historical events which shaped our present, are long forgotten. Based upon the accounts, left by Harold, I will endeavor to bring these times back to life.
The publication dates of the new books will be announced on this website.
Enjoy today, Bill,
I just finished reading all four books and enjoyed all of them very much. I wasn’t aware of the suffering of the German children and I am sorry that you had to go through it. You are truly a hero.
I am glad that you decided to continue to write about both Harold and Karl. Harold is very interesting and it sounds like he accomplished much. However, so did Karl. I am eager to know how he felt about America. I’m sure that it was a struggle to leave Germany and adapt to life in another country. It will be interesting to see America through Karl’s eyes.
You are very kind of calling me a hero. Lucky is probably a better description.
Your comment that it might be interesting to see the USA of 1954 and 1955 through the eyes of an immigrant is another reason that I continue Karl’s story until his first year in the US. But, I can tell you this much in advance: I never wanted to go back to Germany, not even for a single thought.
Thank you, Jacki for your compliments, they are very much appreciated.
Take good care,
Love your books! Would really want to read more about Karl’s life – please! God Bless.
Thank you for your enthusiastic comment and request.
At this time I am still a bit delayed due to some ranch work. however, I am working on both books, Harold’s as well as Karl’s.
Thank you for your interest.
All the best,
I am not sure I would have downloaded Children – had I known it would be a series and would have to buy others to finish the story. I did get the others, and did finish them all and each time I began to feel sorry for German adults, I stopped and reminded myself that it was the poor Jewish children and their parents and many other targets of Hitler’s hatred that kept me on an even keel.
Mind you, I am NOT blaming those who knew nothing. I do wonder, though, how such atrocities could occur without the knowledge of the citizens of the country? I’d like to hear a bit more of that, and even how you or Harold felt and dealt with the realization of what had happened to so many. I know there are tons of survivors’ stories, you mentioned as why you did not delve into that part, but feel it can’t be left out without the whole thing having a sense of ignoring what happened to them. The list of victims weren’t only Jews. And many did not know. But how?
I realize that during those years, parents raised their children to be adults. It was that way here, at least “to a degree” 🙂 but after all the horrors, and finally being together as a family, why wasn’t this relaxed by your father – at least somewhat – in saying you could not stay with the family and must get out on your own? The place was mostly rubble and was occupied. And, the family did what, then? Stay there, move on, leave Germany?
And as much as I became drawn into these stories, some things in my old mind that’s probably as gray as my hair just did not come together. The last of the fourth book seemed rush to complete as in a deadline. I was glad you were to see Alex again, and would love to hear more of him. How long did this gentle person live? (gentle to his friends, tho)
And one person on the reviews noted the distractions of the misspellings. The editor is supposed to do a better job and many writers do not do well at it. Most if not all of the readers would forgive that English was not your first language, but if an editor is involved, the review is toward them. The last book seemed rushed by that group, as well.
I do look forward to the continuation of this since I’d like to know of your arrival, and your like, dislike, distaste for, or whatever, of the encounters here. (I’ve not been out of America and never have been to many states, neither) You mentioned something on the web site about Harold’s arrival. Did he live here?
I’m reading again The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, and I’ve read Under the SS Shadow by Traugott Vogel, which I think I will reread since I’ve read yours. I know this is history, and some say “that was then”. I fear, though, that since all humans fail to learn from the past, many of today’s younger people will face much of the same. I pray not, but do not have lots of hope. I’ve listened to Yuri Bezmenov and wonder why some folks turn blind eyes to losing freedom. Once lost, will not return in our lifetime.
Wow, You really spend some time to post the above and I thank you for it.
Your comments in regard to bringing up children …. I answered several times and also below your comments in my post ” A loaded question.”
Now, as far as not writing about the holocaust, well, Judi, I wrote the books about myself and my life in Berlin.
The books are not intended to be a historical novel about WW II. As I stated before: “There are many books already written about this subject”
I wrote the books to give a voice to the children nobody cared about. Not then or ever. It was total war. When our trains from the evacuations camps arrived in Berlin, nobody knew or cared about us. We were hungry, the city was burning and none of the 10 to 12 year old ones knew where there home was. No adults to guide them. And, that is what I am trying to convey.
As to the editing, Judi, I agree with you and the readers who commented on it. It could be better.
But, as a writer, I can have it edited until the cows come home and I will still encounter a reader who wants to make me a “better person” by pointing out my mistakes.
No, Harold never lived in the US. But he visited New York with Premier Khrushchev’s team as a translator and several other times. I will write about these occasions.
Thanks, once more, Judi, for taking the time to posting your many comments. They are always welcome and I will always endeavor to answer. In this regard I wish that I had more time to answer in a more timely manner.
I hope that you stay cool. We are now for three weeks above 100 degree and it wears.
thank you do much for the series which I finished in about a week via my Kindle. Your experience during Hilter & WWII was very interesting. I had no idea that the German citizenry did not know about the concentration camps & the young children being herded to youth camps seems so difficult to understand. I would like to know what became of Alex, did he continue to stay with Harold? He certainly was loyal to both Karl & Harold. Also, how did you finally arrive in California, I would like to learn more of your experiences crossing the USA. You have written a very, very interesting series about your early life!
Thank you for your interest in my books.
Alex stayed with Harold as a protector, but mostly as a friend. I will be mentioning him in my next books. On some occasions I also met up with him and saying “Good Bye” was the hardest part for both of us. He was the most simple, but absolute true soul I ever met. Even we didn’t know each other that well or long, we connected on a level which has no words and went far beyond friendship. I believe that I was a very lucky person to have known him.
As far as coming to the US and the first experiences as an immigrant might make an interesting book and I will endeavor to write about it in a “balanced” manner. (politically correct?) I mean, I had never heard about people buying for good money, old useless furniture, like wooden spinning wheels from the 1800, and calling it antiques. We called this useless stuff “garbage” and burned it or sold it for penny’s to the NY dealers.
I remember staring in bewilderment at the windows of Antique stores in New York. In my mind, only people who had everything and never went hungry would buy that stuff.
What a country!!!
Thanks for your interest, Rise, and all the best to you.
I’d just like to say thank you. Thank you for sharing the amazing story of Karl and Harold. Thank you for the countless lives you two saved at a time of perpetual turmoil in Berlin. Thank you for being humble and honest about things that aren’t so beautiful to talk about. Thank you for being a true and loyal friend to Harold in spite of the growing differences in your lives. Thank you for the insight of a young German during a time Americans can’t fathom to understand. Thank you for being an inspiration to mankind. Thank you for proving to our current generation that young adults are most certainly capable of outright displays of love, compassion, and loyalty. Thank you for allowing your readers to reflect back on an emotional and meaningful journey. Thank you.
Your “thank you” comment is so inspiring that I printed it out and glued it on a cardboard above my desk.
Your extremely kind words mean that we connected on a certain level. Even if only for an instant, in eternity.
Comments like yours do not come from politeness, they come from an ” inner knowing” and they are the fuel which drives a writer, like me, to continue writing. I feel honored. THANK YOU, Jillian!
Wow! I gave read all 4 of your books and gave learned so much. Thank you for this new perspective of this time period. I can’t wait to read more of whatever you choose to write about.
Thank you for sharing, even if, at times, it may be difficult.
Thank you very much for your kind comment.
You are right. I found out that it is much easier to talk about old memories than to recall small details and to actually write about these experiences.
Let me also thank you for encouraging me to keep on writing. I think that the books about my friend Harold will provide some interesting reading.
I am also working on a book describing the cultural differences, in 1954, when I immigrated to the US.
Just to mention one (1) thing which impressed me the most. It were the many churches and that people actually attended services. None such thing in Germany, after the war, ….. but this is a different story.
Take good care, Amy, and thanks again for your interest.
I have read the “prequel” and the first two books in the series so far – just purchased the third. I would love to read from Harold’s viewpoint more, but I love reading about Karl and his viewpoint. Thank you for this fascinating look at this time in history from a unique perspective. As a wife and mother to Jews who have lost their entire family on one side to the Nazi’s, it has been a fascinating discussion with my husband as well.
Thank you for your very positive comment. Coming from a Jewish reader and family, it means a lot to me.
The “unique perspective” you mentioned, came from the simple fact that I did not learned about the Nazi atrocities until the Nuremberg trial.
We were just told that it was “heroic” to die for your fatherland. There was not much of an alternative, our parents were missing and our thinking and worries centered around food and survival and if possible, to take care of each other.
My first book about Harold will provide a glimpse into his thinking at that time and I hope that his experiences under the tutelage of a Soviet political commissar will provide some interesting reading.
It was not better then …… but still, we can learn from these times.
(If we want too) The choice is ours.
Thanks again for reading my books, Genevieve, with an open mind.
All the best to you and your family,
I am unconcerned about the change in your writing plans so long as you continue to write.
I just finished reading all the books available, and I eagerly await the next.I read the whole series in the span of three days, and I am preparing to read them through a second time.
I work with several like-minded men, and I will recommend this series to them. It has been many years since I enjoyed a book as much as this. Please continue to write. I am fascinated by the parallel stories of Karl an Harold.
Thank you again
Thank you very much for your encouraging comments.
They are very much appreciated and give me the push I sometimes need to sit down on my desk.
I had hoped to have Harold’s first book: “Postwar Drifter” published by now.
However, it is finally in the last editing stages.
In the meantime I also started the next book about Karl.
You are very kind and helpful by recommending my books to your friends.
This is the best compliment and reward I could possibly achieve. Thank you!
Wishing you and yours a festive Christmas season,
I finished reading all your books awhile ago and I keep checking here to see if your latest one has been published yet. You reference it in this April post. Any estimates on when it will be published?
Thank you for sharing your experience. I enjoy your writing and recommend your books to everyone. As a parent to teenager boys, I am especially grateful to find that your book appeals to all age groups and we can discuss the stories from many perspectives: history, childhood, friendships, nationalism, religion. You have a great gift in helping people to understand the incomprehensible.
Thank you for your kind words.
Yes, Annette, I know that I am running late with my next book. I hoped to had it published by the middle of the year.
But, life happens, as you know, and now it seems that it will be late January 2016. It is very rewarding, for me, to read that you find my books interesting enough to discuss them with your boys. Sure, times were vastly different from today and you cannot apply today’s accepted standards to 1945. However, your comments confirm that we are connecting on a certain level. Thank you, Annette for confirming that I achieved what I set out to do. As a writer, I could not ask for a greater compliment.
All the best to you and your family,
Thank you so much for sharing your life stories with the world! Your story is very interesting and, I agree (having read many books about that time period beginning when I was only 12 years old with Diary of Anne Frank), one not before told.
It is interesting to me that so many of your readers were not aware that the general German public did not know about the extermination camps. First, most were not in Germany, but in Poland. Second, there was a huge disinformation campaign, not only to the Jews still outside the camps but the general public as well, regarding what occurred in the camps. Most thought the camps were work camps. While there were work camps, there were a number of places where people were killed shortly after arrival. It must have been a shock to the surviving Germans, on top of losing the war after being told the Germans were winning, that Hitler had amazing weapons in reserve, and the weakness of the Allies, to see the photographs of the disinterred Jewish bodies, the skeletal living concentration camp survivors, and the incerinators at the camps. It is not surprising that many Germans preferred to stay in denial. It is a a huge paradigm shift and one not everyone could make.
I am so glad you made it to the United States. While not a perfect political system (and one in the 2016 political landscape very confusing and unusual), I believe your choice was the best as opposed to your friend Harold, who chose the Soviet life. While Harold had an interesting life and one with prestige and accolades, I cannot imagine living in that oppressive regime. I so appreciate being born in this country where there are so many opportunities and freedoms we all cannot even fathom being without.
I am a lawyer by profession. I have a small law firm with my husband that I founded by myself 13 years ago with 13 clients. We are not wealthy but we have a good life and we try to make a difference in the lives of our clients in small ways. We practice in the family-elder-juvenile areas, not lucrative in the legal world, but satisfying most of the time. I have a masters degree in Creative Writing Poetry that I earned before going to law school at age 41. I hope someday to be able to retire from the law and write full time. In the meantime, my student loans drive my career choice and will probably impact how I earn my living until I die, unfortunately.
I read your first book, Children to a Degree, though a free book app on the Internet. After that, I bought the remaining three through Amazon. Thank you for making your books available this way. It is more accessible, and isn’t that what all authors want – to have their writing read?
I will continue to read what you have written – your blogs and your books. You are an engaging writer and the subject matter has been compelling. Never mind the spelling and grammar critics. One only has to read to daily newspaper to find typos and grammatical errors. One never is able to find it all. I used to tell my students that the eye sees what it wants to see – and does not see writing mistakes. I have used the method of reading something backwards when I don’t have time to put something away for a time, to come back to it with fresh eyes. In my legal writing, I usually find my errors while I am sitting in court waiting for my case to be heard and I read my pleadings to refresh my memory. That is when I see my mistakes.
I wish you all the best and keep on writing! You are an inspiration and a survivor!
Meredith McKell Graff
Whoa, your comment really forces me to think. How can I possibly answer your extensive letter without starting a lengthy treatise about the organised use of propaganda during and after WWII.
Not only in Germany, but in the whole world. And, as we both know, it has now reached a true art form.
Dr. Goebbels would be surprised if he could see what he started.
You are also correct, Meredith, with your comment about my life choice, vs Harold’s decision. I never regretted for a single second to immigrate to the US. Due to my many years of worldwide travel I know first hand that there is no other country coming even close. Utopia does not exist and if it would ….. there would be still complainers.
In this country you have the priceless option of choice. You can either work and earn a living, or sit around and criticize. Either way you will survive. (But, this would be a subject of a different book.)
Thank you, Meredith, for your encouragement in regard to my writing. I strive to do better with each book I write, but I have also no illusions of ever being able to please the people who are intent of making me a better person by pointing out my grammatical and other errors. (I tried your method of reading backwards and it helps. Thanks.)
Please stay in touch, Meredith and should you have any questions about the subject matter I am writing about, please feel free to ask.
All the best to you and your family,
I will definitely be reading about Karl and his time as an apprentice pastry chef in Germany after the war. I can hardly wait, as we hardly ever hear what it was like for Germans after the war. This book will doubtless provide great insight into the average (though Karl is hardly what one would call ‘average’) German working person during that time in history.
The fascinating thing about it will be ‘Karl’s’ insights into how his culture was forced to change postwar. Or, perhaps how his culture evolved after the war. It is useful to remember that history isn’t simply a litany of wars and dates of battles. We can never really understand history until we understand the daily lives of the people who lived it. Not the ‘movers and shakers,’ but the people who were shaped by the events around them.
I can hardly wait!
Thank you very much for your interest in my books. You are correct in your assumption that I will be writing about the daily life during the months following the war.
In this regard I am facing a particular challenge as I find it difficult to accurately describing the small everyday changes, and still maintain my effort to write in a balanced manner.
For example: The Nuremberg trial, defined to a certain degree every German, who was during Hitler’s time some kind of an expert or leader, as either a war criminal or at least as a Nazi. This produced two (2) different, but related results.
1) These so called Nazis, which were undoubtedly highly qualified individuals in their given field, not only lost their jobs, but were automatically defined as unemployable until a certain time had passed and they were then pronounced healed. . . . . hmm . . .
2) The dismissal, of the above described individuals, caused totally incompetent (but politically connected) people to rise to the top and, to occupy positions of power and responsibility.
So, I think that you are able to see, Patrick, the dilemma I am facing. First I am writing from memory and than I have to tone it down, (way down) to write it in an acceptable way for today’s generation.
What do you re-phrase? What needs clarification without sounding repetitive? What needs to be included because it is is important? What is not? And, finally how do I write it to fit into the story?
I mean, it is possible, but, it is surely time consuming.
Thanks, again, Patrick, for your interest and, I hope that my books about Karl will live up to your expectations.