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I was born and raised in Germany. After my father’s death, my mother spent many winters with my husband and I here in Florida. During these visits, she and I transcribed my father’s World War II diaries into German from the old “Gabelsberger” shorthand, which only Mama was able to read. Subsequently, I translated them into English.
These diaries fortunately were discovered by my sister Sigrid in the attic upon the sale of the old family home after my father’s passing in 1989. She felt Mama and I should translate these books for the family. At a later point many friends and acquaintances encouraged me, to publish this diary, to document his thoughts, experiences, and innermost feelings from the beginning of his conscripted military service in 1939 through 1946, when he returned home after being released from a French POW labor camp. During the latter part of 1946 and into 1947, an epilog describes his daily struggles to return to normalcy, the resumption of his teaching career, and the search for food to feed his family. He describes his touching love for his family, as well as his anger and hatred for the insane war and its inept leaders. A war, he was forced to participate in as an ordinary German soldier. Many times he naively commented very unfavorably, sometimes using “choice words” about Hitler, the Nazi Party, and his superiors, a risk, if found out, could have cost him his life.
I myself have many memories of the war and its horrors as a little girl without a father, spending night after night in a bunker, the “liberation” of our small town by the Americans. This has left deep and lasting impressions on me.
Later on, I met a wonderful American with whom I fell in love and married, with my father proudly walking me down the aisle. This, in spite of the resentment he held against Americans, for shamefully turning him over to the French as a forced labor POW.
I remember his sadness, when his little “Murschel”, as he used to call me, left for America with his conviction that if he was lucky, he may be able to see me only once more during his lifetime. However, he was able to enjoy many trips to the United States and I with my family visited my parents often in Germany.
After reading his legacy, I knew, I have my beloved father’s permission to share his writings with others, and by doing so, honor his memory.
- AuthorHouse, June 2006
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