Sunday, February 26, 2017

Deja Vu

Power, Party, Politics! 

Do we ever learn from history?

It seems as if it were yesterday that my father watched distraughtly as the sun disappeared behind an ominous weather front. Was it an omen of Germany’s political future? In 1939, politics was on everyone’s mind, but to discuss it, even in the privacy of one’s home, was impossible. Amidst political uproar and turbulence Hitler had risen to power. In the process, Germany had become a police state.

Father turned to Edith, his wife—his pillar of joy and strength. She was smiling, her eyes focused on her children in the garden below.

“Faster,” my brother shouted, “faster!” He was sitting next to me as we clutched the side-rail of our new rickshaw. H Peter, our older brother, was pulling us, galloping in wild exuberance up the gravel walk, across the lawn, around the rhododendron bush – and over we went! Maxi, our beloved shepherd dog was wagging his tail. We scrambled to our feet ready to continue the wild ride. But Maria, our faithful housekeeper, intervened. It was time to come in.

Moments later we joined our parents on the balcony for strawberries and cream. We were still beaming from our adventures with the rickshaw.

“Did you ride by the Forbidden City? Did you bow low to the Chinese elders?” Mother bowed in Chinese fashion and we laughed in delight.

Maria reappeared at the door, “Telephone from Berlin, Sir.”

Father’s smile vanished as he followed Maria into the house. When he returned ten minutes later, he was in uniform, wearing a long, military coat with a saber at his side. He looked handsome, but deeply somber. Even Maxi looked grave. Did they perceive the darkness that would soon engulf us? Father patted us goodbye and left- Thunder began to rumble in the distance and the first raindrops drove us inside. Why goodbye, we wondered? We were five, seven, and nine.

Three days later, World War II was declared. The curtain on our happy childhood had fallen.

Part of this piece has been taken from my best-selling book about Hitler, “The Madman & His Mistress," available on