This is a quick one to take my hat off to former US serviceman Geoff Walden’s website Third Reich in Ruins. Geoff’s father had taken so many photos while in the US Army after World War II that Geoff (thankfully) decided to share them with the world, identifying where the photos were taken and when, if he could. He’s added to the collection himself with some nice “then and now” photos – like the ones I linked to for Berlin — which show places like the Reichstag or the Zoo Bunker before, during or after the war. The site has been running for almost 20 years, so there’s a lot of great information to dig through for war/postwar buffs.
What’s a sucker? A gullible person pulled into a con by criminals who want something from you.
This War Office video from 1947 explains very well how Germany was turned into “a nation of suckers,” and how quickly this can happen anywhere — even in America. It’s fascinating to see how the War Office was still concerned about the seduction of fascism despite the total victory over Nazi Germany. And the video gives a good glimpse into how the US saw the rise of fascism as a problem every individual must recognize early, and reject.
Please pay attention to the discussion of how the Nazis “abolished truth.” That’s quoted out of the film, made 70 years ago. And we’re still talking about it today.
Give it a watch.
Discover how hatred of our enemies continues to create victims, even after the victory.
That’s how the Norwegian developers described the theme of their app game My Child Lebensborn. Right after World War II, you adopt a child, Klaus or Karin, and must survive in a small Norwegian town. I couldn’t resist taking a look, and downloaded the app on my tablet.
Two hours later, I was still playing, and on the edge of tears.
The artwork and gameplay are simple and wonderful, and the music a perfect soundtrack to the bittersweet story that unfolds. You’re a single parent raising your adoptive child; I chose the girl Karin, because I have a daughter the same age. It’s a hard life. I had to work hard to feed her, and Karin often went hungry, or was alone at home. The basic tasks of feeding and clothing and washing Karin would’ve been overwhelming on their own, but worse things happened.
Karin turned 7 and wanted to know who her parents were. And why was she so bullied at school? Why was she called a “Nazi-kid?” Why did the others call her a German as if it was the worst thing one could be? I had to help Karin struggle with these questions, and watched how she suffered under them.
That’s the lesson of this game, the power of adult prejudices to destroy an innocent, delivered in a powerful, interactive way. As Karin’s adoptive parent, I had to set out to find the answers to her questions about who she was. There are some heartbreaking scenes and situations, and you don’t have to be a parent to be moved by them.
When the game was done, I wanted it to keep going, as painful as some of it was. I didn’t want to let go of Karin.
The game pointed me to the existence of the research group Children Born of War, which studies the effects of war on children, particularly children of foreign soldiers and local mothers. This is a crucial and heart-rending postwar issue, and not just in Germany, as I saw and lived in My Child Lebensborn.
Does anyone have any idea where this photo was taken?
The man in the photo is the father of one of my American readers. He’s in front of a Military Government building, but she’s not sure where in Germany it was. Here’s the general information she was able to give me:
“My dad was an army surgeon with the 27th evacuation hospital.
If you recognize the building in this photo, please contact me. Thanks!
I have two small daughters, and I can be a bit sappy about that, so I couldn’t resist a post about Das Mädchen und der Zwergkönig, a fairy tale written by a German prisoner of war for his daughter Helga in 1945/46. I was cleaning out one of those dusty corners of my bedroom and found the little green book tucked away and forgotten. But its sentiment — the love the author had for a daughter he’d never seen — shouldn’t be.
Once there was a little girl who lived many years alone with her mother because her father was away at war.
That’s the first line of the book, under the chapter title: How Little Helga Freed her Papa.
The story starts with a problem children all over postwar Europe knew: Helga’s family had no more food. So she sets off into the forest to pick berries. But they weren’t hers to pick; the Dwarf King shows up angry at her theft. To make good, she picks the sweetest ones high in the bushes for him. After the dwarf stuffs himself, he’s in a better mood and gives the girl a wish. She asks if her Papa is still alive. Yes, said the dwarf, and he proceeds to give her hints how she can cross the big forest to the castle where her Papa and other soldiers were held captive.
That these were German soldiers and this was WW2 was beside the point. For the purposes of the fairy tale, there was no politics. Just a girl looking for her father. Clemens Köster wrote and illustrated the story while a prisoner of war in France. There’s not much information about what exactly he did in Reims, but it’s clear someone helped him get the paper, ink, watercolors and brushes that he used to write the book and paint pictures of Helga, the Dwarf King and his helpers, and other characters. Somehow, I’m not all that surprised a POW of all people managed to find those supplies, even in a postwar France slowly recovering from German occupation.
In 1946 Köster carried the book with him when he returned to Germany. He found his 4-year-old daughter in the hospital with scarlet fever. Later she described bits of the scene in interviews. She had never seen him before, but his picture sat next to her bed. When he came in, she immediately called out, “Papi!” And he presented her the book as his gift.
Years later when Helga was diagnosed with cancer, she remembered the little book that she had loved as a child and read to her three children. The Bayerischen Krebsgesellschaft published it in 2006 and all proceeds went to cancer research.