About gmroeder

Author: - there was so much I never talked about and now, that my memoir "We Don't Talk About That" is written I can't stop talking about it. And the reviews I get are awesome; so I think this book needed to be written. Interesting that I receive many e-mails from people who read the book and now tell me their similar stories... Did I open "a can of worms?" I think there are so many people who carry a heavy memory load and they do need to "unload". But interesting enough, even more people want to know MORE of my life and therefore I am working on a sequel.

Memories of little Gila, a brief history lesson: 

The first of the “Nine Lives of Gila” – see “We Don’t Talk About That”:

Gila lived her first 30 years in three Germanys. She can’t remember her first 3 or 4 years, but she knows what happened. Hitler took over in 1933 because he promised work and bread for the starving population. Criminals caused brawls and a lot of unrest in the big cities. Hitler told his friend Roehm to establish a new kind of army; therefore, in 1934, he created the SA, also known as the Brownshirts or Stormtroopers, to get the ‘Riff-Ruff’ off the streets. The SA developed into a new army over time. Hitler had his friend Roehm killed because he became too strong.  An old general, who fought in WWI explained: “Peace? Peace is just an interlude between wars.” Hitler applied to have the Olympics in 1936 in Germany and, in his usual style, screamed: “We will show the world a recovered Germany!”

To instill pride in their history and their country again,  the ‘Hitler Youth’ came into being. Hitler commanded: “I want our young people as swift as Greyhounds, tough as leather, and hard as Krupp steel.”

To entice the Germans to have more children, a “Mother’s Cross” was awarded for mothers of many children. After the fifth child, Adolf Hitler was their Godfather.

Little Gila learnt early on in her life, “not to talk about anything said at home.” Her father allowed her to listen with him to Churchill’s speeches every night on the UK radio.

The ‘Brownshirts’ had been mostly bad boys, and they had no problem killing people. Everybody was scared of them. Rowdy groups in big cities started defacing and smashing shop windows of Jewish owners. Jews disappeared; they were either captured or took a chance to flee. The infamous ‘Crystal Night’ in Berlin was the height of the criminal acts, and the police lost power. Anybody speaking out against it, hiding or helping Jewish friends or had communistic ideas went to the new ‘Concentration Camps.’ These were not only populated by Jews, as is a common belief.

Mentally or physically disabled people were picked up and brought to special sanatoria. Relatives were told they would be looked after – but they were put to sleep.

A hardly known fact: Unwed pregnant girls, shunned by their families, could apply to be taken into ‘special’ homes. Their babies were placed with Nazi couples right after birth. The mothers had no say in it, even if they expressed their desire to keep their child. Or they would be told the baby died during birth.

Hitler wanted to breed an “Aryan race” – tall, blond-blue-eyed people. Goodlooking blond and blue-eyed girls were enticed or ordered to go to exclusive homes, and tall, blond and blue-eyed Nazi officers would ‘father’ their babies.

Such was the background created by the Fuehrer to ‘clean up’ devastated Germany and build a 1000-year Reich.

Then there were whispers of war. The invasion of Poland in September 1939 was the beginning of a horrible war. The Brownshirts came and confiscated Gila’s horse, Lotti. When she was told ‘the Fuehrer needs it,’ she asked the officer: “Can’t he take another horse?”

My first day at school

Gila started school right after Easter 1940. As was a German tradition, she looked forward to receiving the  “Schultuete”, – the ‘Horn of Plenty.’ Sadly, there wasn’t much in it. No chocolate, just some apples from last fall and a package of candies.

Gila’s first train ride was a trip to Stettin in 1941 to visit her Grandmother’s brother and his wife. They visited the harbour, and many ships were waiting to leave. Gila’s uncle had Jewish friends, and they were able to get on the last ship sailing to America, but no children were allowed. Their son Gerhard stayed with Gila’s aunt and uncle. Sadly, that ship was torpedoed and sank. Gerhard grew up with them and was later declared their son after the war. No problem, all papers were lost due to the eviction in 1945 by the Polish army.

From her home, Gila could always hear the bombers flying to Berlin. She and her family would hide in the ditch of a field and watch the fire in the sky after dropping their deadly cargo over Berlin. Black-out curtains had to be in place. Older men unfit for war became the “Homefront” to keep an eye on everybody. The Hitler Youth kept an eye on the old guys. Nobody knew who an informer was.

1943 – Gila’s father was conscripted into the army. Ration cards limited food supplies, causing a black market. Aunt Anna came from Berlin asking for ‘cow shit” to grow tomatoes on her balcony.

July 20, 1944 – there was another attack on Hitler. Again, like many times before, he was not killed. Seven thousand people, Hitler called them conspirators, were shot; women, children, relatives, whole families were wiped out.

At the end of January 1945, Gila’s teacher told the children the school was to be closed to become a field hospital as many wounded expected. Only 5 kilometres away, the mighty Russians were fighting the last of the German army. When the Russians invaded Gila’s village on February 4th, 1945, she watched but lived through their atrocities, rape and murder. Gila’s childhood was over when she was only eleven years old.

It was the end of Adolf Hitler’s 1000 year Reich.

 

 

 

Letter to an unknown friend

Hi, Brenda:

Reading your long epistle, I feel similar feelings. You, being a pastor, should be ‘above it all,’ be serene and relaxed, rely on your faith, be a rock, the shepherd for your flock. But you are human, just like the rest of us struggling souls. I tell myself, ‘no need to feel anxious,’ but I do. I am a bit of a loner, but this – not being able to see, talk or laugh with someone living close by, drives me crazy. My muscles are tight, my breathing flat when I don’t think of it. I can’t sleep. My legs hurt from sitting too much. I started to go on little walks with my Nordic Poles, without those I couldn’t. My heart hurts; I breathe deeply to give it more oxygen.

I talk to myself; I talk to God because I feel embarrassed to talk to anyone else about what rattles or worries me; everyone has and deals with their problems. Neighbours become strangers. People were walking their dogs: I used to stop and talk to them, touch and stroke the doggies – now the people step off the sidewalk when they see me coming and walk on the road.

The dogs strain on their leashes, they remember me, want to come to me, they are not allowed. Do you find it weird that I miss the happiness those dogs used to show me more than exchanging a few words with their owners? I can still fill the hummingbird feeder, and those little critters don’t care about COVID, they still come. I see them, I love them, but they are the only sign of life as I knew it.

Yes, Brenda, it’s a weird time in all of our lives. Does it, will it ever change again? It will change alright, but it will not be the old ‘normal’ as we knew it. The young ones will adjust to the new ‘normal’ and deal with it the way my generation dealt with the war, the starvation, the diseases, the fallout, the re-building of bombed and destroyed cities.

This new war, the master of which we can not see, attacking friend and foe alike, reducing the number of the billions of people on our planet, is a phenomenon we can not conquer, try as we might. Will it stop when some kind of balance is achieved? For us, there is only HOPE left, as we struggle to retain our FAITH and LOVE.

Giselle

Conundrum: COVID19 and Books

I’m telling you nothing new regarding the rules about ‘Stay home. Wash your hands.’ These are the two that have been in my thoughts every single hour of every single day for the last two months. I even dream about it. Staying home has never been a problem for me. I have been so busy writing the long-awaited sequel to my book “We Don’t Talk About That.” When this ‘house arrest’ order came, I thought, “Now is the time to finish “Flight Into The Unknown.” Now I have the time! Well, my friends, I always had the time, but I was procrastinating. Now I had no reason to wait.

My problem was I had too much material. The “Flight Into The Unknown” would have been overbooked, overloaded with too many stories, too much baggage. What to leave out? Many months ago, Lyn Alexander, my editor, had suggested making my memoir into a series. “Series are in,” she had told me. “Divide what you have in this ‘Flight’ manuscript and write a third book.” I was fighting it.

“I don’t want to write a third book!”

During COVID lockdown, I finished book # 2 at a perfect place. There was no way I could avoid writing a third book. My final thought was,  “it’s time to set sail for life after 50.” And it became the title for book # 3, the last book in my memoir series “The Nine Lives of Gila.” Did I have nine lives? Probably more, but cats were on my mind. Cats are supposed to have nine lives. And I had lived through and survived frightening experiences just like a cat.

COVID influenced me to create the following series, “The Nine Lives of Gila.”

Book 1: “We Don’t Talk About That,” the amazing story of survival WWII and its aftermath.
Book 2: “Flight Into The Unknown,” smartly manipulated into marrying an unknown penfriend and emigrate to Canada.
Book 3: “Set Sail for Life After 50.” Realizing that age is just a number, I saw the world as my oyster.

The first two books are available as e-books and printed books on all well-known internet outlets. Expect book #3 to make an appearance in September 2020. E-books are no problem, but COVID is at fault that Canadians only have limited access to get the printed versions from Amazon.ca – I haven’t even seen my own “Flight” in print. The ‘powers that be’ have closed the borders for large shipments of books printed in the USA. Book shops & libraries are closed. When is the restriction lifted? No idea. It depends on how COVID develops. Books are not essential!

What? Not essential? Books are very essential for locked-down people. It’s helpful to read, to avoid going crazy, to immerse ourselves in reading stories of another life.

 

“Flight Into The Unknown” – now published

Are you curious about an adventure into the Great Unknown? On another continent? Experience a different life with its ups and downs? Step into the shoes of an immigrant with limited knowledge of English! You will struggle to get to know the penfriend you married and deal with a lovable little stepdaughter. You will realize it wasn’t all gold that glitters, and what you innocently believed was the truth was not. Was to fulfill yourself a dream the biggest mistake of your life? Sorry, sweety, you can’t change anything; all your earthly goods are in a big container on a ship sailing the high seas to arrive in three months. You make the best of your situation, face many challenges, move from the beautiful first landing to another city – you cry more than ever in your life but grow stronger in mind and soul. You learn to pray from all your heart – and hope that one day, you get your reward.

The above is just the beginning of my story in “Flight Into The Unknown.” You’ll laugh, and you’ll cry with me; you’ll be at my side when I’m thinking of suicide. You’ll be amazed by how I build a successful business. You will be afraid of my wellbeing after an experience at a New Years’ party. Yes, it changed everything once more – but I’ll let you read about that yourself.

I finally finished the sequel to my WWII memoir, “We Don’t Talk About That.” Many of you have waited patiently, sent me occasional reminders. Thank you! The first appearance of my new ‘baby’ is in the form of an e-book since a printed version will still take some time.

The ebook is now available from Smashwords (Kobo, Kindle Nook and PDF), Kobo (Kobo only) and Kindle (Kindle only). Hard copies are available from Amazon.

My new Baby is about to make an Entrance in Spring 2020

Who said that it takes nine months to get a baby? It depends… Mine is developing for two-and-a-half years already and still isn’t quite ready to enter the reader’s world! But soon – I hope it makes an appearance in one of the earlier months of 2020. If all the helpers like doctors, nurses and midwives, sorry, I mean proofreaders, editors and publishers play along, I’ll be thrilled to let it go to experience the attention and tender love of many old and new friends.
I’ll not longer keep my secret! I’ll let you take a peek what my baby is going to look like, I even share its name with you.


Tell me how you like it! Should it come in triplets, quadruplets or even quintuplets? (with many multiplications…)  So that you can have one of them? Oh, you need to know that it is the young sister of my book-baby boy “We Don’t Talk About That” – and it will reveal all the secrets of what happened after that one grew up!

Smashword did it again!

As the year-end approaches, Smashword has deep discounts on thousands of ebooks. The SALE starts at midnight on December 25th and ends at midnight on January 1st.

All my books will be available at 50% off. Click on the following link:

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/GiselleRoeder

How the Program Works:

At one minute past midnight Pacific time on December 25, the special Smashwords End of Year catalogue goes live on the Smashwords home page:  http://www.smashwords.com

Readers can browse the catalogue and search by coupon code levels and categories.  After 11:59pm Pacific time on January 1, 2020, the catalogue disappears.

The coupon codes are exclusive to Smashwords and will not affect prices at other retailers.

There’s no need to remember coupon codes.  Readers will receive the discount automatically by adding the chosen books to their cart.

Don’t forget – at this sale, you can pick up ebooks for incredibly low prices – and some even for FREE.

 

 

“Katharina: Fortitude”

 I just finished reading this book. All along, I was wondering how the author, Margaret Skea, would have been able to find so much material during her limited time in Wittenberg. I asked myself repeatedly, “Is this fiction, based on truth? Is this a biography of Katharina von Bora?” Or is it “intelligent fiction?” When I read the author’s comments at the end of the book and learned that IT IS fiction, I couldn’t believe it. Written in the first person, it was so real, I was Katharina, or I was next to her, holding my breath, prayed with her, felt her despair… What an exceptional writer! If I had the time, I would want to read every one of Ms. Skea’s books. Notably, the prequel “Katharina: Deliverance,” telling of her childhood in a convent, her vows as a nun, her escape, her meeting with Dr. Martin Luther, the former monk.

Like ghosts, the people in the book are occupying my head every hour of the day. How did Ms. Skea, the English-Scottish writer, ever come up with the idea to write about this German woman, the nun who became Mrs. Martin Luther?  How did she get to ‘know’ her and the people around her so intimately?  Are there history museums in Wittenberge with lots of details about the 16th Century and Dr. Martin Luther, the reformer standing up to the mighty Catholic church and the Pope? Did she find a book that she translated? This idea ran through my head because it is absolutely incredible how anyone could write this story and transport the reader back into THAT time, feel close to the characters, the setting, the history…  I am in awe. King Henry was also starting his ‘reform’ in England because the Pope would not allow him to divorce his Catholic wife. My honest opinion? The beginning is a bit slow, some German words don’t make much sense, ‘Wirtschaft’ for one – that word has many meanings, but Weddings are not one of them.

When I questioned the author, here is what she writes:

“To give you a bit more background to the fact/fiction division – I didn’t want to write screeds at the end – it is fiction, but all the key events actually happened – I just had to flesh them out and try to bring them alive. 

We know Frau Jessner was fined for abusing the Luthers publicly, we know they had a pet dog named Tolpel, we know the land Katharina persuaded Martin to buy, we know a lot of the discussions that were had at Dr. Luther’s ‘Table Talk’ and some of Katharina’s contributions to them etc, etc.

We know a lot of what she did, but not why, nor do we have documented evidence of what she thought. I worked backwards, trying to imagine what sort of a character she must have been to do this or that. I loved the experience of trying to see it all through her eyes. Obviously, the interactions with her women friends were the most fictional bits – but again we know a lot about who was in the Lutherhaus and roughly when, and rough dates for miscarriages for her and for her friends and rough dates for the deaths of friends and of children. Ditto for family deaths, the visit of her brother Hans and so on. I did have a fairly tight framework to work to – which (mostly) helped! 

I guess you could say it is a complex blend of fact and fiction. Great news for me if, when reading, you  couldn’t see the seams between them!!”

No, I couldn’t see the seams between them. I didn’t know very much of Katharina,  Martin Luther’s wife. Just that she was a former nun and bore him seven children, of which four lived. Now, learning of her extra-ordinary life with this controversial man, I want to know more about him, the Reformer of the Catholic Religion, Dr. Martin Luther, one of the most important and unforgettable men in church history.

Do I recommend this book? Wholeheartedly, even if partially fiction, it provides an intimate look into the lives of women and the history of the early sixteenth century. Margaret Skea, the author, is known for ‘knowing her history’  – she has written several other historical novels.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VQK6XHZ?pf_rd_p=2d1ab404-3b11-4c97-b3db-48081e145e35&pf_rd_r=5QTATFCQ1KP6HSTN677F

Book Review – Cyanide In My Shoe

Scary, eh?

I just finished reading the book with this title by Josephine Butler. She was one of the ‘chosen’ people for a ‘Secret Circle’ of Winston Churchill,  her being the only woman. She never met or knew the other members, but had many meetings with the Prime Minister himself, always in secret. She had no idea why what and how dangerous the work was going to be that she was asked to do. Since she grew up, went to school, and even studied in France, she spoke the language like a native. Therefore, she was frequently sent to France after it had capitulated to the Nazis. She was dropped off or had to jump out of a Lysander two-seater plane in remote areas. She still had friends in Paris and other cities of the country, and these helped her to build up resistance cells under life-threatening circumstances.

Occasionally, while reading of her ‘adventures,’ my hair stood on edge, other times, I realized I had stopped breathing. What this woman’s life during the years between 1938 and 1945 was like, deprives every description. Furthermore, what the French people had to endure under the Nazi occupation makes you realize the danger of a repeat if you follow present-day politics. Winston Churchill referred to her as ‘Jay Bee’ during those years, and once commented to someone who had asked why a woman: “95% brain, 5% sex.” When she learnt of it and had a chance, she told the Prime Minister: “I have just as much sex as any woman, given the right place and time.” To which he replied with a twinkle in his eyes, “Let me know about it” – or something to that extent.

When WW II was over, Churchill asked her to take an assignment in Germany, but she declined. She wanted to stay in the country and see things grow. She asked him to allow her to write a book about her experiences someday. “Wait at least twenty years,” he told her.  “Do not write fiction, or nonfiction or near fiction, write only the truth. Be careful not to mention names of buildings, or people, unless it is to their benefit.” She waited even longer. She had written a manuscript “Churchill’s Secret Agent” in 1983, on which she based her book “Cyanide In My Shoe.” It was first published in 1991.

I had written the book “We Don’t Talk About That” about my family’s experiences during WW II, how ordinary German people reacted to the Nazis, and then, finally going through the ordeal with the Russian invasion. Probably very similar to the atrocities committed by the Nazis in France or later, in Poland and Russia. I knew a lot of the history surrounding the Allied powers, eventually joining the war to defeat Germany. Winston Churchill had a hard time to hold them back until they could be sure to end the war with victory. He did not want to grant Germany a “conditional surrender” but was only satisfied with an “unconditional surrender.” I must admit, I learnt more from reading Josephine Butler’s book.

I like to say ‘thank you’ to the friend, who loaned it to me. A real treasure. Yes, the book – and the friend.

­

Super Sale at Smashwords –

Wow, I almost forgot: Smashwords has their BIG Summer/Winter Sale on e-books. Since EVERY person I meet, who read my book “We Don’t Talk About That” says: “I couldn’t put it down…” – I think YOU might enjoy it too. An English History writer posted: “The last puzzle of WW II… should be placed next to ‘Anne Frank’s Diaries.” All my books are listed at 50% off – half price! If you haven’t read them, now is the time to get them! Click here: My Smashwords profile: https://lnkd.in/g_GdPgi This 11th annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale has begun, running now through July 31. The sale already features nearly 55,000 ebooks with deep discounts of 25%-, 50%-, and 75%-off, as well as FREE. If you put a book in your cart, the discount will automatically be taken off.

“Mamma Mia!”

Mamma Mia, how can I get the music of this famous musical with all the ABBA songs out of my mind? Sitting in the Chemainus Theatre, I had ear plugs in my purse. We knew, all their musical performances were simply too loud, and, at our advanced age, we don’t want to lose more of those precious hearing cells. Every seat was taken. Extra excitement was added by an elegant group of the ‘Red Hat Society’ ladies coming over from the Mainland. Their heads, crowned with red hats or big red flowers were first dotting the dining room, then the theatre­. What a happy group of women!

Back to the music – Oh, ABBA! Who didn’t like the infectious sounds of this pop group about fifty years ago? I had always been wondering how the name ABBA had come about. Now I know; the background story was in the program: Benny Anderson & Bjoern Ulvaeus with their fiance̍es, Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad enjoyed success in Sweden with their first single “People Need Love” in the sixties. Listing all their names was awkward. They randomly put their initials together to ABBA and, a First Prize won in 1974 at an European Song Contest put this group an the map. Only a year after they started recording in English, the whole world listened to their infectious songs. They sold 350 million recordings.

Twenty-five years after they had won the European Song Contest a musical had been written and performed for the first time in London UK. The audience went wild and were dancing and singing in the isles…

That couldn’t happen in Chemainus. Seats are tight, isles are narrow and steep – but, people were singing along with the actors, swinging their arms in unison, tapping their feet, and made themselves part of the performance.

“I Have a Dream,” – “Money-Money-Money,” – “Thank You for the Music,” – “Mamma Mia,” – “Dancing Queen,” – “Super Trouper,” – “Gimme-Gimme-Gimme,” – “The Name of the Game,” – “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” – “Take a Chance on Me,” – “I do, I do, I do,” – and many other hit songs held the audience captive. “Mamma Mia” has been performed all over the world and is to date the longest playing musical in sold-out theatres anywhere.

Tell you a little secret: Many years ago, I was invited to a wedding. The bride asked me not to bring my friend Omar Sharif.  Whaaat? Where did that come from?

“Can I bring the ABBA Singers instead?”

“Maybe, because my husband-to-be likes the group. But I’ll have to ask my dad…”

You know what I did? I bought and took along the newest ABBA Album as a gift.