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COFFEE HOUR IN FLENSBURG

Stories of War and Peace, of Adventure and Love

 

As we age, we feel the need to send messages down to future generations.

We start writing things down, the good, the funny and the terrifying.

 

For over a decade, I have pondered every known detail of my parents’ lives and my own brief role in this story. I have asked questions: “How did they survive World War I, the trenches, the revolution in Berlin?” “What did they do during the Roaring Twenties in New York? Was it fun? Why, then, return to Germany in 1932?” and finally, “Where did they find the strength to face the end?”

 

There were lessons to be learned—the decisions, successes, losses, and the deep love they wore like a protective armor, even in the face of long separations. Soon you will be able to read it in a book.

In the evening, when guests appeared, to play the piano or violin, I was told to sing to great applause. Passed from lap to lap, and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered:

 

“Opera singer, of course!”   Everyone laughed and cheered.

 

In a notebook, my mother notes the other  accomplishments of a 4-year-old:

 

“She declares that she will marry seven men, so that each day she can go to a café with a different one. She embarrasses her mother by declaring that her mother, too, has two husbands, the other one, Onkel Fritz, living in Hamburg! She states that one of the soldiers is so pretty, as pretty as her daddy, and therefore she would marry him, and anyway, her daddy already has a lot of money in the bank for her.”

 

Who were these people?  “Einquartierung” (home occupation of soldiers), young officers who brought me dolls from Paris, who stroked my hair, and made music with Mutti on borrowed instruments.

 

Young officers, about to be sent to the eastern front and to certain death; often their eyes were very sad.

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