I feel that I need to clarify a few points based upon some of the reviews I have received. It could be that I was not clear enough in my books or perhaps, some readers simply missed them.
One of my readers commented that he did not know about the KLV ( children evacuation) camps. I cannot say for certain why he never heard about them, but I do want to remind my readers that I am writing about my personal experiences in Berlin and in that respect, I have firsthand knowledge of the camps. There is also a great deal of information about them on the internet as well.
Berlin, as well as Dresden, Hamburg and a few other cities were the major target of the allied air attacks. In some of the cities, like Berlin, these air attacks lasted over two years. Dresden experienced a fire storm which lasted for three days nonstop, causing the asphalt to melt. Because of this, individual school administrations initiated the air evacuation system. The camps were located in selected parts of Germany and German occupied Poland, which were not on the list of the allied air targets.
Long after the war, I personally met school children in my age group who lived in Western Germany, along the Rhine River, who never experienced a single air attack. It was almost as if they had been in a different war. Thanks to the Americans they never saw a single Russian, let alone a Mongolian or a Russian Kommissar..
Western Germany was spared a bloodshed, thanks to a civilized enemy. Parts of Eastern Germany, by contrast, were slaughtered.
One of my reviewers wrote that I “toned down” my writing which clearly did not sensationalized the brutality or the horrors after the Russian occupation. He’s absolutely correct, I did tone it down. While I personally witnessed the atrocities, I see no reason to repeat that which had been reported or white washed to no end. By now everyone alive knows that “War is hell.”
This brings me to the mindset of my classmates during the end of 1944 and the beginning of 1945.
There was no doubt in our minds that once our father was drafted …we would never see him again. We literary buried our father in our mind while he was still alive. There was also no doubt in our mind that we would lose our mothers too. It was not a question of “if” but a question of “when”.
I had many eight and ten year old children come up to me in the camps. They came in the evenings, when the few activities of the day slowed down, and they asked me: “Horst, when my parents are gone, will you still be my friend?”
I simply wrote the first three books to give a voice to my age group which did not survive. I have no agenda other than trying to convey what it was like when you were 14 years old and asked to do the job of an adult……at a time when the adults in your life disappeared. Arrested, killed in action or by suicide.
Another reviewer remarked that “the author did not once mention the extermination camps.” He is correct. I did not mentioned the camps because as a 14 year old in Berlin I did not see them or hear about them. None of these camps existed in Berlin and because I did not have firsthand knowledge of them, I could not write about them. I did, however, write about the Germans who disappeared because they wore sandals and were therefore called Jesus imitators. They offended the SS and this alone was a crime in itself.
My own grandfather disappeared one night and was never seen again. I still don’t know why. My best guess is that in spite of his wisdom he did not know when to keep his mouth shut.
Well, I hope that this clarified some unasked questions. If I still missed something please feel free to leave a comment below.
And, thank you for reading my books.
Would you please inform me as to when your promised fourth book will be published and available on Kindle? I have purchased and read on Kindle the first three books and enjoyed your perspective on the events of the period. I have four grandsons ages six through twelve. I am putting together a set that I intend each of the boys to read at the age appropriate time. For the twelve year old, I would say that the time nears. I was a history teacher a long time ago and one of my areas of great interest is WWII. I cannot thank you enough for writing and sharing your experiences with those of us who have sought this information. Sincerely with respect, Suzanne Fralic
Thank you for your kind comments and your question.
Presently I am working pretty hard to finish my fourth book ‘Partners to a degree” before the end of April. I hoped to had it published in February/March but, somehow things happened which slowed me down a bit. In any event we will be happy to let you know when it will be published.
I sincerely appreciate your interest in my story and I am especially thrilled to read of your plan to make your grandchildren read about the events in 1945. For me, as a writer, it is inspiring to know that I am succeeding in my effort to report about forgotten times.
On a more personal note: Should one of your grandchildren take a shine on “Karl” the main character, please let me know and I will be happy to send him a signed copy of my paperback book. My personal email address: email@example.com
Thanksagain and all the best to you, take good care,
I was recommended to read your books by my uncle in San Diego. I am an avid book reader and needed suggestions. To put it in more prospective, I am an American living in Hamburg, Germany since 1997. I am the “family historian” who has finally traced our roots back to around 1760. As a result I have become also a German History researcher only to understand why my family left Germany.
My Grandmother left East Prussia in 1898 as a baby. My Werner ancestors left Baden in 1883. It is my Grandmother’s family that has left me very sad thinking about what may have happened to them during the WWII time. I have a journal from her in 1926 when she visited her family for the first time and as I read the journal at least 30x, I felt I was walking with her. But what happened to all these people after WWII?
So back to your books. I found them absolutely interesting from a historical standpoint. I also had to ask friends here about some of the words I did not know such as “kugeln”. As I only today finished your last book, I am wondering if:
#1 are you Karl
#2 did you give up your values when you stated, “you win”.
Whatever happened to Harold? You stated in one of the books that you remained friends for many years later. My guess is that he was later stationed in Berlin after years of language training to be a Russian spy but you both remained in contact.
How did you finally end up in the USA? Maybe that comes in book #4 ???
Anyway, great reading and a fantastic view from another perspective. I already told my Hamburg born kids that they need to read these books.
My email address in case you wish to write further is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
Thank you very much for your very interesting comment. If you are now living in Hamburg, Hummel, Hummel, to you!
Yes, my fourth book ends Karl’s story and my friend Harold will be the lead character.
Yes, we did stayed friends, but he married in Moscow a Russian lady and stayed most of the time in Russia.
Harold was also a Russian team translator when Khrushchev visited the United Nations in NY.
He lived a very interesting life as an international trader and finally died as a Russian colonel in Russia. (about 10 years ago)
Take good care and if you have any questions, just send me an email.
Please say “Hello” to your uncle in San Diego, and I hope that your children are able to enjoy the books.
It might be difficult for them to understand our upbringing and our mindset. It was a very, very different time from today.
Take good care,
PS. You mentioned your German relatives and closed with the question: What happened to all these people after WW II?
Mike, it is sad, but it is the truth that the Russians were a vastly different enemy than the western allies. If your relatives had the misfortune to be in the eastern part of Germany ……….you might never find out.
Let’s stay in contact.
Horst , .
We have been corresponding via email but I think my questions might interest others, so I am posting here.
1-Did you ever find out what happened to your family, including your grandfather? I am not looking for spoilers, just very curious.I think you and Karl are on my mind in my free time.
2-Do you know how many civilians were killed by the Mongols and the Russians in the time that you have written about? I have tried to find out on the Web without any luck.
3-was it difficult to keep in touch with Harold over the Iron Curtain?
4-do you still have family in Germany? I ask because my great grandmother came from Alsace-Lorraine in the close of the 19th century. My great grandfather came from the Saar (?) Region. As the second born male in his family, we can imagine why he left. But he died before my parents married. No one knows much.My father used to recall sending packages for his grandmother post-war (he was born in 1940) including food and clothing. She sent Hummel figures in return. I never took notes when my father’s aunt told stories. She died unexpectedly 20 years ago. I have had poor results researching data bases online without more specific information. Can you add anything to what I have said? You may reply privately, Chris has done so.
Thank you very much for your questions. You stated that these questions might be of interest to all my readers and because of this I will answer in form of a new post.
Should I miss something please send me another email and I’ll be happy to respond.
Thanks for asking and for your continued interest.
I read your first book because I am always interested in learning about what life was like in Germany during the war. The book most definitely met and exceeded my expectations in that regard. Beyond that, your stories pulled me in and I actually read #3 and #4 both within a 24 hour time period. That in spite working a full-time job! And now I find myself on your website seeking more information about both yours and Harold’s lives! Thank you so much for writing about this very tragic time. I gained a lot of insight as to what life was like which is what I was originally searching for. In addition, all four books a great reads that I could not put down. Best regards.
Thank you for reading my books and I enjoyed your comments.
Please excuse my delay in answering to your post. I have really no valid excuse, except that I am in the middle of writing my fifth book. Which, in a way is a continuation of my series. It is about Harold and the writing turned out to be an extremely difficult task. I cannot even count the many chapters I have written and then torn up again. The first four books were easy, by comparison, because I wrote them from memory. But, the next books are based upon the many letters and messages I received from Harold and the notes I made myself while we met from time to time. Sure I could just string the letters and the events together, but I try to convey more than that. And, this is challenging, but, I am making progress. You thanked me for writing about ‘a very tragic time’ and I thank you for reading my story about it. Writing is a very solitary activity and I always wonder if anyone, ever, will read it. I really appreciated your post, Teresa, and take good care. Make everyday count. Why? Because after all, it is your choice.
Best regards, Horst
Hello, I have just finished your 3rd book and am about to start the 4th. They have all been extremely interesting. I want to thank you for making me understand something. The other grandmother of my grandchildren was born in Germany and was in the Hitler Youth during the war. I have assumed she was a Nazi and have not shared her background with the rest of my family. I now understand she had no choice and all the young people were required to join. I know now they were involved in many activities and were not automatically evil like the Nazis. Thanks for showing a true picture of that time.
Thank you very much for your kind comment. I am glad that my books helped you to understand the back ground and or the upbringing of your relative.
It is a bit of a challenge to portray a balanced and true picture of the years when Hitler had a dead grip on the Germans.
The few people who went through these times and are still living are mostly too intimidated, by the general consensus, to talk about it.
We learned early on that it was best to keep your mouth shut. Should you have any questions, Linda, please feel free to ask.
I am still around and be happy to answer to the best of my ability.
All the best to you and your family,