Excerpt from Blackout – A Woman's Struggle for Survival in Twentieth Century Germany

The Last Trip to Grandfather

That’s all over now, my mother said, those days will never return. In the summer of 1944, I traveled to Grandfather’s as always while Omi stayed home with you and your sister Bettine. Little did I know that it would be for the last time. When we sat together at the kitchen table after supper on the first evening of my arrival, he asked me all of a sudden, “What do you think, Elfriedchen, things are not looking good. We are going to lose this war, too, only this time it’ll turn out much worse.” I didn’t dare to answer as Grandfather continued to talk about the eventful history of Upper Silesia, which inevitably turned into an extraordinary tale of people and places and times long past that stirred up my imagination, taking on a legendary character for me.

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Read more about the bombing of Dresden and the end of the war in Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade by Kurt Vonnegut.


Excerpt from Bleib immer neben mir – Ein deutsches Frauenleben

In den Morgenstunden nach der Bombardierung Dresdens

Auf der Loschwitzer Brücke wagte ich einen ersten Blick zurück und sah die Türme der Stadt schwarz wie Skelette von toten Riesen von Rauchwolken umgeben in den Flammen stehen. Ich dem Moment empfand ich gar nichts. Mir blieb nur noch die Kraft, den Kinderwagen vor mir herzuschieben, mit den Rädern nicht in den Straßenbahnschienen steckenzubleiben und mich zu versichern, dass die Omi neben mir war. Nach einem beschwerlichen Weg über glattes Kopfsteinpflaster den steilen Berg hoch erreichten wir in den Vormittagsstunden den Weißen Hirsch. Dort oben empfingen uns Sanitäter. Ein Mann in Uniform kam uns entgegen und half mir, den Kinderwagen die letzten Meter schieben. Sanitäter hatten unter einem Zelt, das nach vorne offen war, einen langen Tisch aufgebaut, davor stand ein Kessel mit Pfefferminztee und ein zweiter mit Haferflockenbrei. Gott sei Dank hatte ich Blechgeschirr und Besteck mitgenommen.

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Excerpt from Sophia’s Longing – An East-West German American Story

With a rented car to East Germany

On a night in the spring of 1977, Sophia drove with low-beam headlights over completely desolate streets through of a part of the city of Leipzig that she didn’t know. She had rented a car in Los Angeles for pick-up at the Frankfurt Main airport, and coming from the East-West German border crossing Herleshausen/Wartha, she had illegally exited the autobahn leading through the GDR to Berlin at Leipzig West. She was looking for the address of a family Nickels whose fate she had read about several months earlier in an article in the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit. The headline, “The Case of Günter Nickels – Convicted Again”, had caught her attention.

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