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I am so pleased you have found my web site where I want to welcome you and introduce you to my books. After my two health related books my most recent book “We Don’t Talk About That” is a memoir of my childhood from during and immediately following World War II. After my family’s eviction from our rural home in Pomerania we were obliged to build a new life in East Germany. My education was interrupted but I eventually qualified as a Phys Ed teacher before escaping to West Germany and having to start all over again.

I am sure you will find the reviews and other information here helpful but the primary purpose of this web site is to provide photos and background stories to augment the book. You will find my family tree in the photo gallery together with a number of old photos. Please feel free to comment or add to the growing number of reviews. To receive email notices of future posts as they are made click on the “FOLLOW” button which you will see just to the right of this message or you can find me on Amazon’s Author Central – amazon.com/author/giselleroeder

We Dont Talk about That - An Amazing Story of Survival

 

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Superstition or something More?

What is it – superstition, ESP or simply coincidence? Couldn’t be. Do you believe in Guardian Angels? During my whole life (just read my memoir “We Don’t Talk About That”) it seems that I knew before something happened what was coming. Or, if I were desperate for or needed something, I would go to a place I usually wasn’t going to and found it. Or, I think of someone for no good reason, and the person turns up, writes or phones me. Last week I couldn’t get my first boyfriend out of my mind and wondered if he and his wife were still alive. I called my kayak friend Christa in Germany, and during our conversation, I asked her.

“I never see him, I have no contact with them. But it’s weird you should ask. There is an announcement in today’s newspaper that his wife has died. I meant to send it to you.”

A few days ago I wondered where I could go for a pedicure. With my severe back problems, I cannot do it myself anymore. I meant to ask my lady friends. I had something at Tim Hortons, sat down at one of the small tables, ate right there and, instead of turning left after I was finished I wandered around the corner to the right. Why? I don’t know. There is nothing but the rear exit door of the Woodgrove Shopping Center. And what do I see? A modern, colorful, busy manicure and pedicure setup.

I picked up a business card. A few days later, I made an appointment. Nobody spoke much understandable English. The manicure section was full. I was the first-afternoon customer for a pedicure. They placed me in one of what, six? large leather chairs, lined the attached footbath in front of me and added warm water and some salts. A young man treated me, he did not understand me, and I did not understand him. Maybe he was Korean, perhaps from China or Thailand, it didn’t matter. He knew what he was doing, I did not have to tell him what I wanted to be done. He did a superb job. While he was working on my feet, the big chair massaged my back, up and down, pulling, kneading, knocking, stroking, all the way from the head to my bottom. No, I did not want my toenails coloured, it was the only thing I had to convey to him using sign language.

I was thinking back of my own skin care shops in the eighties. My pedicure chairs cost about $1.500.00 each even then, but these modern ones? I guess much more than double. I watched the manicures and picked up a price list. I had no idea you could offer two pages of services, just for nails. All in all, I am impressed, and I will surely go back there and also recommend the place called “Cali Nails” in Nanaimo, Woodgrove Shopping Center.

I must have a guardian angel who knows what I need when I need it, and he guides me there.

Two Sides of WW II

This is a letter I like to share with you written by a Russian writer, a lady who writes books from “the other side” – telling stories of what ‘her people’ endured with the Nazis. She read my memoir, and this is what she had to say:

Dear Giselle, I read your book, “We Don’t Talk About That.” Was there anything I didn’t know before? Factually, nothing (I touch this subject in my books as well). Emotionally, a lot, overwhelming, goosebumps all over the body most of the time: at some points from horror, at others – from joy there were lovely, loving, and supporting moments with the people you met, with the members of your family, and even some enemies (the kind doctor). It took me some time to gather the courage to write to you because there was an overwhelming feeling – shame and guilt for what my people – Soviets, Russians – made to your people, especially to the women, children, the civil population at large. Reading all these details was devastating to me. Some stories shattered my heart. Many brought me to tears, one of them when your parents reunite after your father returned from Siberia. I’m so glad he had. I’m thankful for your understanding (as I feel it) that the Soviets mirrored what Wehrmacht and SS troops committed in the Soviet Union. Most likely, there were no mass rapes, not with such brutal outbursts at least, but rapes they were. The lives of ordinary people – on all sides – were trampled and destroyed. I’m proud of you, Giselle. Of your battle to survive, of remaining human, supporting, and kind at the time when many broke, of the achievements of your life. I expressed my impression in my review on Amazon. Thank you for your book, which is a rare glimpse at the subject that was taboo for so long.

I checked her name, Marina Osipova, on Amazon.com and found a listing for her book. I read as much as was possible by using the ‘Look Inside’ feature. It is a book I will read.

         The Cruel Romance tells the story of four young people on their different paths through WWII. The fates of a Russian country girl, a Soviet intelligence officer, a German violinist, and a Russian intellectual are irrevocably intertwined in the war not of their choice, forcing them to navigate the unconscionable moral compromises of life. Who will survive? And, at what price? The story’s conclusion is set in our time.

Banned Book Week September 23rd – 29th 2018

I must say I was surprised when I saw this announcement placed by “Book Club Mom.” I couldn’t believe that even a book, written by Margaret Atwood, “The Handmaid’s Tale” had been challenged and banned before it was made into a TV series and a movie. Ms. Atwood had started this book in 1984 when she lived in West Berlin before the fall of the infamous Berlin Wall. Another book I would never have questioned was “Mockingbird” by Kathryn Erskine, a book about a young girl with Asperger’s disease. No, NOT the one written by Lee Harper “To Kill a Mocking Bird.” Maybe I can understand that books about sexual orientation had been banned when they came out. It was probably too early for the topic.  Now, it wouldn’t be a problem.

Until last week I never thought that there were books today I couldn’t order or buy. But it happened. I tried to order an Art Book from Amazon.com – a coffee table book with a collection of paintings by an ‘Unknown artist’ – Adolf Hitler. A USA  art collector had published only a thousand of it. I had seen a documentary on television about Winston Churchill and was intrigued by his hobby – painting – a hobby he shared with this other artist with an infamous name. It seems that both men, under tremendous stress, could forget the world they lived in when painting. I could read up on both artists through Google/Wikipedia and even see paintings of both artists which sold by auction for 6-figure prizes.

So? I checked Amazon.com. They listed several used books ‘Adolf Hitler, the Unknown Artist.’ Naturally, the thousand that were printed decades ago were long gone, and now people tried to make a buck by offering theirs for sale. The cheapest listed and marked ‘in good condition’ was $168.98 US including shipping. They did have several more for more money. I put it in my shopping basket and proceeded to ‘check-out’ – curious what would happen. I thought, ‘In the end, I don’t have to buy it.’ I found out that Amazon did not own any of those books, private sellers had listed them on their site.

When I proceeded to type in my address I was told: ‘We cannot ship to Canada. Give us a different address.’

What? Not ship to Canada, a multi-cultural country, respecting every religion, color, creed or whatever. Not allowing an ART BOOK to cross the border?

I followed up by contacting ‘chat help’ at Amazon.com. I learned some amazing facts about banned books. But the help person was helpful and connected me with Amazon.ca after he had found out that they had just one copy of the book that I was looking for.

I had a chance to follow a link to look at it and when I saw the price of $1.598.99 Canadian I quickly went back to my chat person and told him:

“Thank you for helping me, but the price for that book is out of my league.”

He apologized, and his final comment was, “It’s not Amazon, they are private sellers, we also cannot buy these books. They are out of print, and a private owner can charge whatever they want.”

Out of print, banned or book burnings I remember from the Nazi time. Are we getting there again?

Two Wolves – a Message or Revelation to me?

A few years ago a handful of people ruined my joy and self-confidence, but the worst was that they destroyed my sense of belonging. I have tried hard not to let it affect me, but it did. Many years before that, something happened that had my world crash unexpectedly and made me believe I had wasted twenty of the best years of my life. It hurt, and it still does. I told nobody of my search for a way to end my life that would look like an accident but not hurt other people. I could go on and tell you about specific untrue accusations. My pain and inability to fight back caused anxiety, resentment, grieving, sadness, loss of energy and finally depression. On the surface, I kept on showing the world a smiling face and buried myself in work; I was successful, built a new life, but, nobody needed to know what I felt inside. My inner world was dark gray, sometimes black. With the dogs of a friend, I experienced the only truly happy hours. They made me forget… They made me laugh, they accepted and loved me the way I was. I could be me, I could be myself. A blissful feeling just “to be.”

An overwhelming need to be alone overcame me a few weeks ago. I didn’t really know where I was going to go. I did not want to burden my friends with my feelings of anxiety and my dark mood. After approximately thirty minutes of aimlessly driving around and without much thinking, I found myself on the highway. My car took me to a small, pleasant town about twenty or maybe thirty kilometers away. I knew a small bakery where, once upon a time, I had shared the best cheesecake of my life with dear friends. Pleased to see the only table outside available, I had a coffee, and, you guessed it, a piece of their delicious cheesecake. I sat there, watched the world go by and thought of the present reason for my inner turmoil. I felt despondent and lonely but already a bit better than when I first arrived. Since here in Canada nobody would ever ask to sit at the same table, I cleared my dishes and went on my way, making room for the next people. I was wandering up and down the charming streets until I finally felt the need to find a restroom. I knew just the place, a large grocery store with a café and gift shop upstairs. The ladies room was taken, so I waited. My eyes fell onto a large poster next to it. It was here that I read the following:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

 

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Wow! I did reread it. It was a revelation, a message especially for me. This kind of thing has happened three times before in my life; I was taken to a place, or the people I needed to see. Was my Guardian Angel at work when I most needed him? This story stayed with me ever since I read it, I thought about it every single day. Has it been only three or is it already four weeks? I have thought about it, analyzed it, compared it to my inner demons and realized that I had favored and fed the wrong wolf, for many of the past years.

No more. Not that I had forgotten to feed the other one, but one adverse action or word from people I loved or respected, would push me back into the dark place, and the big bad wolf has been waiting.

I promised myself he won’t be the winner!

Smashword’s Birthday Celebration and Summer/Winter Sale

Summer where I live – winter Downunder! Starting at Midnight July first through the whole month Smashwords has invited their authors to celebrate their 10. Birthday by offering the readers deep discounts on all e-books. Thousands of books are listed. It’s hard to find a book you are looking for – but I make it easy for you:

E-books of my historical memoir “We Don’t Talk About That” – Surviving WWII, (a UK history writer said it should be placed next to ‘Anne Frank’s Diary’)

“Forget Me Not” – A Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts, and  Memories

“Ein Mensch von Gestern – Heute” – my little German Poetry book

are on sale for 50% off the already low prices at Smashwords.

Click on https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Giselle and scroll to my books. Click on the book title you are interested in, put it in your ‘cart’, a coupon will automatically appear to reduce the price by 50%.

Happy Reading!

A Holiday of a Different Kind

Promenade Bad Woerishofen

With a tear in one eye and laughter in the other I am looking at my almost packed suitcase. One more sleep and I’ll be on the way home. I had a wonderful three week “Kur-Holiday” in relaxing Bad Woerishofen with daily concerts morning, afternoon and evening, long walks in the forests listening to cuckoos and song birds and after a few kilometers a stop in a place offering the most fantastic meals or cakes… early mornings are busy with treatments, between 4 and 5 AM a wrapping or hay-pack (called the morphine of the Kneipp cure) in bed, an hour later an alternate rinse or bath for arms, legs or back, whatever the doctor ordered, after that twice a week a massage or reflex zone treatment for feet up to the knee, bedrest after that for an hour, breakfast (no chance to lose weight – unless you are on a type of fast) a 3-course noon meal at 12.30 and a lighter evening meal at 6 PM. I always needed a nap… did I have time for shopping? Yes and no, not enough. Shops close over noon hours, are not open after 5.30 or 6.00, Saturdays they close at 12.30 and only once a month are open Sundays. I want to come back next year, God willing to give me good health for traveling. Wanna come?

Children love cold water

Cold water foot bath

A foot bath with Grandad

Children naturally love water. Playing in the bathtub and not wanting to get out, running around in a summer rain, jumping into puddles and squishing the mud between their toes, wading or sitting in play pools and, best of all, building sand castles running back and forth at the ocean and screaming when mom says “It’s time to get out of the wet bathing suit…” Yes, – mom is right. The nerve endings for detecting the “cold” when it’s too cold have not developed in the skin of children yet. They can take the cold water for a long time, even to the point of turning “blue”. It’s probably nature’s way to protect them but it is also detrimental for their health.
Look at this happy picture of grandfather and child. There is nothing better than cold water to cool down on a hot summer day. Running cold water from your toes up your legs (always start on the right foot, it being the farthest spot from the heart) is wonderfully refreshing. Using a garden hose to do this is even better. What happens in the body?
Warm or hot days make you feel lazy. Why? Because your blood pressure sinks and your energy level declines. The cold water on your legs helps to increase the circulation to the upper body by pushing more blood out of the legs, – to put it simply. It clears your head and you can even see better. Try it!

See – Healing with Water

A Chance Encounter

Image may contain: flower, plant, sky, nature and outdoorIt was a bit cooler today, we had some rain last night. By far not enough here in Bavaria while they had heavy thunderstorms in other parts of Germany. During the morning, after my water treatment and massage, I packed up some clothing I don’t need anymore and went looking for a Salvation Army container to donate it. I saw a Red Cross shop, just looked in for curiosity sakes. I could not believe a) the quality of their donated offers, and b) the prices. 2.00-3.00-5.00 or 7.00€ for really GOOD stuff. If I ever come back, I’ll travel without a suitcase, get what I need, donate it at the end of my trip and be worry free on my way home.

But, now I need to tell you about that afternoon. After a healthy noon meal and a little nap I took my Nordic Poles and wandered off. I got myself a kilometer counter. I seemed the only person walking through still blooming meadows, quiet forest as the birds were resting during the midday heat. Coming by a Hunter’s restaurant I decided not to stop for their fantastic cheese or apple cake. I rested on a bench for a while, feasted my eyes on the beauty surrounding me and checked my km counter. It said 3.7 kilometers.

After another 3 km I arrived at the “Kurpark”. I was drawn to a bench in the sunshine, occupied by a big elderly gentleman with a bright red sweater, his pretty little brown dog next to him. For an unexplainable reason I stopped and commented on the dog. I am a bit of a dog nut, and this was one I could have fallen in love with. I heard a sad story about it, how it was born in Spain in a garbage pile with three others, the mom went out scavenging for food, came to nurse and went off again. The dog babies were very afraid and shy, but this man and his wife decided to rescue one. They picked a little boy and called him Carlos. Carlos liked me, sniffed my hand but did not lick it. We just sat there next to and looked at each other. Then Carlos decided he had enough sun, got down, the man let the leash out and Carlos settled in the shade of a nearby tree.

Now, as you can guess, the man asked me if I lived in this town. When I told him about my home in Canada, he was amazed that I still spoke perfect German without an accent. I mentioned that I have a book reading next week.
“Oh, on Tuesday in the Gugger Hause and you are Mrs. Roeder.”
I exclaimed, “How do you know that?”
“I happened to see a poster yesterday and decided to be there. My name is Roeder as well.”

Can you imagine that the next half hour was taken up with ‘what, where, when etc.’ – and how that little dog had made me stop to experience something so totally out of the ordinary.

I needed to share this with you!

What happened to the Berlin Wall?

Berlin Wall

The hated Wall came into existence on the 13th of August 1959 – a huge surprise in the morning. It was the best kept secret. NOBODY had any  knowledge of the plans for it. It divided the great city of Berlin into East and West, and cutting families from families, in many cases even along the center of a street. The ‘Fall of the Wall’ was a another surprise in 1989 as hundreds of thousands marched and the East German Police put their guns down and watched helplessly as the wall was stormed. I watched the happening on TV and thought it was a trick film as people climbed the wall and started dancing on it. Secure gates were broken down and East and West people hugged, laughed and cried and couldn’t believe that no shots were fired. Finally, in June 1990, every effort was made to remove the hundreds of miles of the hated monster. Lots of souvenirs were sold after the “Fall of the Wall” in 1989; thousands of people hacked and picked and took parts home as a reminder of the terror it has caused. I know two people who showed me their treasure, a little piece of the wall. Thousands of people all over the world have a piece and it is impossible to track them all down.

Berlin did not destroy all of it. An ‘Open Air Gallery’ has attracted artists from all over the world to create their art on long parts of the wall. Many places in Berlin now have memorials, one is called ‘Parliament of Trees against Terror and War’ – an imaginative creation by Ben Wagin, using sixteen trees and fifty-eight original wall parts. Tourists visit those places and take photos. There are more memorials: the ‘Mauer Park’ and the ‘Topography of Terror,’ an original part of the wall with Hinterland and Death zone, another one with the tower used by sharpshooters. The Berliners are maintaining these reminders to show the world what has happened here. It is a warning to be vigilant and not let it happen again.The Berlin Wall was built to keep people “in” since they were escaping by the thousands each day. I was one of them.

But not only the Berliners kept relics and built memorials. A commission from Japan came in 1990 and bought two parts for a Museum Village honoring the saving of German Seamen in 1873.

The most extensive collection of the wall is found in the Newseum in Washington D.C. The CIA in Langley, Virginia also displays three relics, and another three are gracing the Garden of the UN Main Office Building in the USA.

Winston Churchill coined the expression ‘The Iron Curtain’ in 1946. His granddaughter, Edwina Sandys, a wellknown sculptor, incorporated eight wall pieces in her ‘Freedom Memorial.’

South Korea was encouraged by the ‘Fall of the Wall’ that a unification is possible. They have five relics of the Berlin Wall in their Theme Park in Uijeongbu, representing the dream of their own ‘Unification’ with North Korea. Right now it is a very timely dream, and we hope it comes true soon. The leaders of both countries shook hands across the border and had long friendly talks.

Brandenberg Gate

You will find a piece with personal graffito of the Berlin Wall in Kingston, Jamaica, next to the Military Museum. It was a gift from the city of Berlin to the sprinter Usain Bolt after he ran a world record during the Berlin World Championships in 2009. Amazing that  many years after the ‘Fall of the Wall’ a relic of it is still a precious and welcome gift.

It is interesting how a piece of the wall came to be at the Vatican: The Italian businessman Marco Piccinini obtained a segment during an auction in Monaco and gifted it to Pope Johannes Paul II.

Last but not least, the City of Berlin presented a piece of the wall to the Freedom Fighter Nelson Mandela when he was released after twenty-seven years in prison. Due to Nelson Mandela, the Berlin Wall is represented in Kapstadt, South Africa.

My personal experiences happened before the wall was built. I escaped the East in 1955. My parents had a close call the day before the infamous “Wall” was put up overnight and saw the light of day on August 13th 1959. My parents tried to escape on August the 12th but did not make it. (see my book “We Don’t Talk About That“) Our family was divided for fifty years. It was interesting to see the new generations struggle with the new reality. The younger people in East and West had a difficult time understanding each other. During those fifty years of communist indoctrination in the East, a lot of brainwashing had taken hold.

We don’t want more walls! The only one we can accept and appreciate when traveling is the Great Wall of China.

 

 

Buchlesung

Buchlesung aus “Ein Mensch von Gestern – Heute” am 15. Mai um 19.30 Uhr im Gugger Haus in Bad Woerishofen. Die Kurverwaltung laedt ein zu einem heiteren Abend mit der Canada-Deutschen Autorin Gisela Fiting-Roeder. Ihre Gedichte im Stil von Eugen Roth ueber das “rein Mensch-liche” und “Kneipp mit Doppel P” zaubern ein Laecheln auf jedes Gesicht. Freier Eintritt.