I’m Anika Scott, American author/journalist and history buff. My work has appeared in newspapers, magazines and websites in the United States and Europe. In Germany, I’ve worked in radio and taught journalism seminars at an eastern German university.
When I moved to Germany from Chicago more than 15 years ago, I knew a few things about German history, but nothing about the language. Now I can dig through books, websites and archives for information in the original German. I’ve come across details that haven’t been translated or publicized.
Some of those details are included in my debut novel, a suspense set in postwar Germany. ***I’m thrilled to announce my novel will be debuting in Spring 2020 with Hutschinson /PenguinRandomHouse in the UK, William Morrow/HarperCollins in the US, and other wonderful international publishers.
*Header photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-19000-1661 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
I’ve made every effort to be sure photos are properly credited. If you see an issue, please contact me.
Just wanted to say this blog is a gem, and I’m really looking forward to reading your book (Just got the kindle version from Amazon). Hope all is well and thanks for your work!
Thank you so much! Hope you enjoy The German Heiress. 🙂
Chris Humphreys said:
Hi Anika, do you know anything about my grandfather Frederick Humphreys , he was an acting lieutenant colonel posted to administrate Essen directly after the war.
I would really appreciate any help or to know of anyone else who could assist me in this matter.
Hi Chris, the Essen City Archives might know and you can write to them in English. They just might not get back to you quickly during the pandemic. Their email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Humphreys said:
Thanks Anika, that is really useful. I will let you know what I discover.
Chris Humphreys said:
Hi Anika, I have been fascinated by your site and the threads. I am researching my grandfather, Frederick S Humphreys. He was an acting lieutenant colonel whose role after the war , we understand, was to manage postwar Essen. We have not found anything in his military records to explain exactly what he did . All we have are family anecdotes that he had a female chauffeur and was a very important man in the area. There is also some mystery involving why his role there ended . Anything you may be able to tell me would be much appreciated .
Hi Chris, so glad the blog has been helpful to you! Very interesting about your grandfather. With the lockdown and the historical archives closed, it’s very hard to find anything right now. But once everything opens up again, I recommend you write to the Essen city archives and ask about your grandfather. In English should be okay if you don’t know German. I’m sure they’d help you. Good luck and stay safe!
Livio Milanesio said:
Hi, Anika, I’m very glad to have found your valuable site. I’ve just published the first part of the story of my farther deported in the Second World War. My father was son of a cook and was arrested and deported in the Truppenubungsplatz Koingsbruck where he was employed as cook aide in the Offizierkasino. The period of this first book is from August 1944 to summer 1945. Here you can found some info about the book http://laveritachericordavo.it/. The site is in Italian but I can send you the excerpt of the book in English. Now I’m researching for the second part of the story, for a new book, when he was liberated by Americans and employed as a cook for the 1 infantry division (the big red one). All this to say you thank you for your site and I’ll follow your work. Ps. can you suggest some narrative about the period? Cheers.
Hi Livio, congratulations on writing the story of your father. I’m always glad to see accounts of regular people, not just the generals. The Books page of this site has a list of many books that might help you in your research. FYI: My grandfather’s family was from Sicily and emigrated to the USA, where he ended up fighting in the US army in N. Africa, like many Italian-Americans did. Good luck with your work too!
Ursula Beem said:
I grew up in Potsdam Babelsberg:went to school there, but left in 1949. My mother was an American and was advised to leave with me. At the time I was in school there.
We were there throughout the War,but were terribly lucky .Our house escaped any bomb damage.
I have not been back in Babelsberg since 1949,and am now too old. I saw pictures of my house (apartment house in Babelsberg. and it looks fantastic …
I am wondering ,however why they did not change the names of the streets back to their prewar names? The still have communist names. I would also, like to find people
I went to school with.
Hi Ursula, you must have had a very interesting childhood! I’m an American married to a German, and can’t imagine how hard that might’ve been during the war. As far as street names, the towns had the choice to do that. Some have changed the names, some haven’t. And in general, there is still some respect for some aspects of the old DDR or old leftists like Rosa Luxembourg, and people don’t always want to get rid of the names. If you can search for you school on google, go ahead and email the principal. Even if you can only do it in English, they will probably be able to read it, and I’m sure they’d have suggestions how they might help finding old classmates. Good luck, and thanks for reading!
Carol Pfeiffer said:
Hi there. My grandmother’s family lived in Essen during WW2. Their house was bombed and my great-grandfather built a small house from the rubble on their garden allotment. Apparently it is still standing. He lived in it until 1970 when he died. I was wondering if you know approximately how many years it took until the majority of the housing was rebuilt? Also you had mentioned in your post that people were living in the mine tunnels after the war, and you were going to add another post about that – did you end up writing that one (I may have missed it )
Hi Carol, thanks for writing about your grandmother. I’m not 100% sure when rebuilding was finished in Essen. Like in many cities, it was a huge process that took at least a generation. Many many buildings here are from the 50s and 60s (which is why the city isn’t that nice looking!), so I think the majority of the rebuilding was done by the 1970s. Sorry, I haven’t posted the mine tunnels article yet, but will soon. Thanks for reading! — Anika
Betsy Clarke said:
I have recently inherited a box of photos
Taken by my dad during the War
and shortly after.
I have a photo of him leaving a
Military government office:
But I cannot place the location.
May I send it to you?
Hi Betsy, sure send it to freelance at anikascott dot com, and I’ll see if I can recognise it.
Ralf Hugger said:
My name is Ralf. I am a German living and working on my PhD in Transnational History. I focus on the Holocaust and post WWII German society. I applaud your courage to move to Germany. I am going back for 18 months soon, to finish the German half of my PhD. I really enjoyed your site, the material you made available and your insights. Awesome! Where in Germany do you live?
Hi Ralf, great to meet you! I live in beautiful Essen. 🙂 I’m glad you like the site, and if there’s anything here you’d like to see, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. By the way, what is Transnational History?
Hi Anika. Here is a link to my picture book (yes, for children): http://pajamapress.ca/book/a_year_of_borrowed_men/
I am going to spend some time reading through all of your posts and yes, I will certainly let you know if there are some topics I’d like to see here. I feel like I’ve struck gold.
Many thanks –
What a wonderful picture book, thanks for the link! And congratulations on publishing it. Quite an achievement.
Anika, I have a couple of niggling research questions about 1) the Fragebogen and related registration after the war, and 2) getting out of Berlin postwar. Can I ask you?
Sure, you can email questions to author(at) anikascott (dot) com. I may not know all the answers, but I can give it a try!
I just happened upon your site by accident and can’t believe I’ve missed it up to now. My mother grew up in Germany during the war, and lived in East Germany for several years afterwards. I have a picture book coming out next month about her experiences as a young child (It’s called A Year of Borrowed Men) but I am also working on a novel set in that time period and have been slowly educating myself as I write. Your site is going to fill in many gaps for me. I am so grateful. Thank you for doing this.
So glad the site is helpful for you! When your picture book comes out, let me know. Is it for children?. And much luck on the novel. If there are any topics you’d like to see on the blog, let me know. All the best, Anika
jessica shattuck said:
Thank you for this amazing site. You write about, and have so many helpful links to, information on subjects I care deeply about. I am a novelist working on a book about the post war time period and came across your site in my search for examples of German post war media– especially where and how “ordinary” germans would have first been confronted with images and facts about what had taken place in concentration camps.Of course, to varying degrees, most germans knew such places existed, but most had never seen first hand (or second hand) the horrors that unfolded within. What newspapers would they have had access too in the immediate aftermath of the war (summer and fall 1945)? And what radio programming did they listen to? How would, for instance, the average German have heard coverage of the Nuremberg Trials in November? or the Belsen trials in August? Do you have any leads for me? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks much
Hi Jessica, glad you like the site, and I’m really happy you contacted me for your third or fourth novel, right? It is a fascinating time period, and I’m excited to hear about what you’re writing about. You asked a lot of questions! I can help more via email, but first off, one of the first ways the average Germans saw images of the camps is via large billboards the allies had set up in many towns, with photos of atrocities. This was an early re-education measure, but it’s not certain it had the effect the allies wanted. The Germans were very numb right after the war. Another big effort was the documentary film Die Todesmühlen /The Death Mills by Billy Wilder (1945) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_Mills. I’ve been wanting to do a post about that film and now you’ve reminded me. All media in the occupation years were allied-controlled, though Germans worked on staff. Which papers or radio stations Germans had access to depends on where in Germany they lived. If you want to give me more details or just chat, email me at email@example.com. Thanks for reading the blog!
Horst Decker said:
I came to your site, as some-one set a link from your site to mine, nachkriegszeit.de.
I work on this theme since many, many years, as I was born shortly after war and wanted to find out, why the father’s generation of me and my friends was just as they were. Not only never talked about war, but never talked at all, not to their wifes and not to their children,
And with the ‘Trümmer-Frauen’, it was very easy, they did not get food ration cards, if they did not work. So they worked. And beside them, there was no-one who could work. Men were killed in action or POWs. Specially the US army, picked all men, month after war, when they were allready home with their family, and brought them into camps under poorest condition, so that around 10% died of hunger and weekness.
(I read, You understand German, have a look on my other site profilm.de/dokumente/Lager-Kreuznach.htm. The US POW camps in Germany were even worse than Quantanamo. People quess, that some hundred thousand men died of hunger in them, very next to cities, where there wifes waited for them without any contact and knowing, how close they were interned and what their faith was.The men were just laying day and day, in rain and snow in maddows without any shelter. They rather would have worked to build up Germany again. You never hear that in Germany. Most people think, they POWs had luck, when they were in American camps. This is correct for soldiers, being captured during war and brought into the States. After war, the US camps were the worst, many times worse than Russian ones, in which after war the prisoners were not treated different than the Russian people – what means bad, but confirming their mentality.
Ten years ago, my neightbor, said once, that he has been in an US camp and I did not knew that time, what this ment. So I said to him ‘O, you lucky one’. He, a men of close 80 years started to weep and said, ‘You don’t know what You are talking about. It was the first and onliest time I saw that hard working farmer week. A couple of years later he was going to die and faced with this fact, he talked the first time to his daughter about war.)
So, exept for some old men, there were only women to start the rebuild of Germany.
And with German Fräuleins. The US army did not only order an anti-fraternisation directly after war, but still hindered marriage until far in the 1950th. So I have a document group of an US soldier, being of any eastern origin (I do not know by heart, may be his family came from Craotia), he wanted to marry a German lady in 1954, whose family came from the same country of origin. It took him nearly one year, to get the allowance, he and she had to fill arround 20 different formularies, some with 3 and more copies), bring statments and references.
In that time most soldiers would have sticked up, what actually was the sence of all.
Most time, the US army moved the soldiers and stopped the contact and refused to give the lady informations, how to contact the man, she loved. And this also, when the couple had children. The US army took them the father and his financal support.
Just as You, Anika, I am writing on – You call it a novel – in Germany we say Roman, as Novelle is occupied with another Genre, on the German period 1945-1950, I just on page 782 and I think it will be finished within the next hundredfifty pages. In it, I put a view on all aspects of the German post WW2 period and how life worked in Germany that time.
Thanks so much for you thoughts and information! It’s a fascinating time period and you’re right — a lot of things that weren’t talked about in the past can finally be looked at with more level heads and in a more balanced way. I doubt I’ll ever completely understand what the people of the time went through — I’m too young and have been privileged to live in peace all my life. But I try to understand, keeping in mind just how devastated Europe was after WW2, and the heavy burden of guilt Germany brought upon itself. Good luck on your book, and I’ll be sure to look at your other site. Thanks for reading! — Anika
Liese Rose-Goyer said:
Hi Anika, Would like to discuss this further with you. Please contact me via email.
Mark Olmsted said:
There’s a book about the generation of women who could not get married in England after the slaughter of WWI, and my step- grandmother in France had to wait for my grandfather (who survived the Battle of the Marne, among others) to be widowed for her to marry later in life. I just imagine in Germany and Russia this was so much more pronounced.
I’ll have to ask a Russian friend if this let to a culture of mistress-taking. We all associate this with France and the Latin countries, but less so Germany. Perhaps they were more discreet?
I don’t know if mistresses were an issue. There were a lot of allied soldiers in Germany after the war, and they had resources for survival. German men didn’t. Women sometimes married younger men after the war, and I imagine the numbers were greater than before the war as the male generation that was too young for regular service got to marrying age. I don’t have any data on this yet, so maybe the number isn’t significant. I’ll post on the male shortage soon.
Mark Olmsted said:
One of the topics that fascinate me is purely numerical. After WWI, wasn’t Germany a nation of widows? And even more so after WWII? What happened to all the women who could not find husbands after these wars? And what happened to all of the children that resulted from the rape of German women by Russian soldiers?
In general, how Germany emerged from the rubble to become the strongest economy of Europe fascinates me no end. I’m so glad to find your blog.
Hi Mark, You ask great questions, and I’ll definitely be addressing them. In fact, I just saw a documentary not long ago about the children of Russian soldiers. Like the children of African American soldiers, these kids lived with a stigma in Germany. Many children were given up, but it looks like the mothers tended to stay by their kids no matter who their fathers were. As for the man shortage, I was honestly thinking about doing a short post on that next. I guess I will! I appreciate you reading, and thanks for your comments.
Robert J. Roberts said:
Dear Anika: I cannot tell you how happy I am to finally find your site. The occupations of Germany and Japan have intrigued me for years in part because the stories of suffering and endurance remain relatively unknown in the US (especially when compared to the tons of material on WWII). And here, in your site, is a well-written and -presented examination of this incredible time. I will be here often. Now, it’s time to catch up on all the archives …
So glad you like the blog, Robert. I’ve been very busy with other postwar Germany-related projects, but will be updating here soon!