Books published or read in 2016

Oct 28, 2016

Looking back on 2016 I am amazed how much I actually got done. I have been busy. My collection of short stories, “Forget Me Not – A Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts, and Memories” was published in January 2016. It is a memorial to special people who have crossed my path – either in person or through their achievements. I dare to say that every single story carries some kind of message to the reader. At the very least it will make the reader think and maybe he/she feels like sharing his/her thoughts about the story with family or friends. It is about aging, adoption, blended families, babies, changing seasons, superstition, cancer, dogs, horses and other critters, escape, earthquake, flying, internet dating, island living, love and rape, roses, travels, war, and many other topics. It finishes with a beautiful fairy tale “The Weeping Angel” – for which, at one point, I received the First Prize in the form of another book: “Computers for Dummies.” Throughout the book, you find poems and pictures. A delightful book – perfect to give as a gift to YOUR special people, reminding THEM not to forget YOU. The easiest way to obtain this book is Amazon.ca.

The books I chose to read during 2016 have added greatly to my knowledge about history. Some of them upset me, robbed me of sleep since it was hard to believe people can be so blinded by promises, ultimately leading to a horrible war. One recurring thought was ‘do people never learn from the past?’ At the same time, I was crying over the fate of some people and keeping my fingers crossed for others to survive. As you can see, I prefer to read mostly “true” stories or history based on truth since that is what I write as well. The following are the books I read and since there are so many I will refrain from telling you about them. All are worth reading.

“All The Light I Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. Pulitzer Prize, New York Bestseller list.
“The Witch of Napoli” by Michael Schmicker was a fun read.
“Goering” – The Rise and Fall of the notorious Nazi leader. By Roger Mansell. Incredible.
“The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls. A classic I had never read, but it is a ‘must read’.
“Moonrise” by Ann Victoria Roberts. This author has touched my emotions in many ways.
“The Rise of Nazi Germany” by Charles River Editors. I wanted to know more history.
The GiftAwakening”, by J.P. McLean. Contemporary Fantasy, a new genre for me

  1. The Gift “Revelation”
  2. The Gift “Redemption”
  3. The Gift “Penance”
  4. The Gift “Betrayal

“POW # 74324” – Triumph through Adversity by Robert Stermscheg.
“Daffodils” by Alex Martin. An English love story set within WWI.
“The History of Germany From The Earliest Times by Bayard Taylor. Tough read!
“The Spy in Hitler’s Inner Circle” by Paul Pailole. The risks people took, unbelievable.
“Lunch with Charlotte” by Leon Berger. Unexpected happenings, finally talking WWII.
“How the (Bleep) Did I Get This Old” by Laverne H. Bardy. Need a good laugh? Get it!
“An Adventure on Two Continents” by Heinz H.G. Berger. A West Vancouver story.
“Journey of a Lifetime” by Trevor D. Cradduck. Not available for the general public.

There were a few other books. I remember the stories but I should have written down the titles. Plus, I read four substantial books in Germany in October (German language) and was fascinated by the content. I read several nights since I couldn’t sleep anyway. The time difference of nine hours is hard to overcome – your body is not fooled by the clock. The trouble is – when I got home to the North American Continent the same happened – in reverse! It’s said that for every ten years of your life it takes a day to re-adjust your body clock. C’est la vie!

Thanksgiving

turkey1It wasn’t about food or a turkey feast! For us, living in a small German village, it was mainly a special day in the church calendar. Nobody ever ate turkey, not even at Christmas or New Year. It was carp (fish), duck or goose. A great part of the celebration were the children. With their parent’s help, they decorated a basket with all kind of fruits or veggies out of the  garden. I envied the children who instead of baskets carried huge bouquets made up of dried wheat, rye, barley and other grain stalks. Those were so much lighter than our baskets! The girls wore a flower wreath like a crown made up of the last of the blooms picked in field and garden. The boys had corsages pinned on the jacket or a hat. We all felt excited and very pretty!

wp_20161006_15_47_39_proThe Pastor’s wife was in charge of organizing us in front of the church while the hymn singing congregation waited inside. The smallest, youngest children, two abreast, came first and were followed by all the others according to size. With the organ playing, we would enter the church and slowly walk to the altar. The Pastor, waiting there, would receive our thanksgiving gifts and place everything on or around the altar. Relieved of our burden we could now go and find a seat with our parents in the pews. The Pastor would pray, thank God for a bountiful year and a good harvest. He always gave a rousing sermon and made everybody willing to donate even more. This ‘harvest’ was going to the poor in the village and the soldiers on the front.

grain-lady-3Yes, we surely felt very thankful for every potato and carrot. We were still safe and were not starving. I remember these years during WWII so well. Life has changed a lot after the war. The number of church-goers is down in the big cities but, I can imagine small villages may still be celebrating Thanksgiving this way. The church and the pub provided the social life during my childhood, and it may still be the same. Since I have been living in Canada for the last fifty-three years I have no idea if the Germans adopted the turkey eating tradition but I’ll find out! I used to believe it was a healthy tradition since turkey meat contains tryptophan, a relaxing amino acid which forms the base of serotonin and gets converted in the body into melatonin making you sleepy. I’m disappointed to learn now that it is a myth because chicken and cheese also contain the same amino acid. On Thanksgiving, it is the mass of turkey with all the trimmings (and alcohol) we consume that makes us lazy and sleepy. Personally, I like the dark turkey meat. Restaurants hardly ever serve it because of its high content of cholesterol. On Thanksgiving Day I couldn’t care less!

Feel grateful for the bounty we still enjoy. And share. So many have nothing; millions do not even have a home.

An Interview with Don Massenzio

Giselle readingBelieve me, this on-line interview was an interesting experience. It was done by an accomplished writer, Mr. Don Massenzio. He ‘invented’ a couple of very imaginative detectives for his first book, “Frankly Speaking” and, you guessed it, his book found readers who liked it so much that those two detectives are now appearing in a series. I have read “Frankly Speaking” and was amazed by the twists and turns of the story but especially impressed by Don’s knowledge of the intricacies of law and order, computers and people in high places. It felt as if he always consulted one of his detectives…and I forgot that HE was the writer!

Don sent me 20 questions to answer. You can find the interview by clicking on this linkhttps://donmassenzio.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/20-questions-with-giselle-roeder/

“Hoarding for WWIII” – What and Why?

19 Jul 1945, Berlin, Germany --- Berlin: Germany: German citizens can be seen walking over a bridge amid the ruins of buildings. Twisted metal frames are visible through the walls of bombed buildings along the streets of Berlin. A bus can also be seen crossing the bridge. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Please forgive me. I just couldn’t come up with a better title. I have been thinking about it for several days now and, you know, ‘thinking is bad for you, it bruises the brain.’ Remember, I used that title for one of my latest blogs. I must admit, all this thinking gave me quite a headache. We have lived such a peaceful life for over seventy years now, the younger generations have no idea what it is like if there are ration cards or how you sometimes have to go hungry. Yes, certain areas of the world have wars going on and it is bad. It’s very bad. Millions of people are fleeing their countries, risking their life in the process. Surrounding countries are ‘overloaded’ already, others try to take as many refugees as they can and some others say “go back where you came from”. The political threat to send people, who have lived, worked, raised families and paid taxes in other than their birth countries, back to their ancestral homelands is frightening.

No, the topic as mentioned in the heading surely wasn’t my idea. My thoughts are going back to the nineteen twenties and thirties when Hitler made his way into world politics and power. Lately, speeches with screaming and promises to clean up racial issues and make America great again reminded me of the opera “Tosca” by Puccini. In the first act, there is a lovely song: “Wie sich die Bilder gleichen“ – “How alike these pictures are…” This expression is now not used for pictures but especially for happenings of a similar nature.

Why do these kinds of thoughts trouble me? I started thinking even more about this scenario after I received an e-mail regarding predictions found in the Bible. Something is supposed to happen at the beginning of this September which, towards the end of the month, leads to WWIII. I do not know the Bible well and, despite having been told what to read or where to find these predictions I am inclined not to look for it. I just haven’t got or don’t want to spend the time. Maybe I don’t want to know. Apparently, there are also listings on Google. How could knowing about it change anything? My correspondent recommended stocking up on groceries as she has done, expecting to feed her neighbours as well. Buy shares in companies who deal in metal. Metal is needed in a war. If you can, emigrate to one of the advertised ten safest countries in the world.

I remember reading a book about Nostradamus’ predictions after 9/11. The author had tried to change the 15th-century language to a kind of picturesque ‘translation’ for the reader to understand what was meant. I skimmed over the last few hundred years to the 21st century. I must say that I was impressed because a number of things had already happened. Starting in 2012 there would be lots of unrest in the world and 2017 would see the start of a very devastating war that would turn Europe into ashes through powerful explosions. Nothing would grow for a hundred years etc. etc. It was quite unnerving. But at that time I didn’t think I would be alive in 2017. And my children and children’s children would have to deal with it like we did with the horror of WWII.

I lived through the devastation of Germany during WWII. I learned as a child what it was like to jump out of my warm bed when the air raid alarm was howling, hear the noise of the bombers, saw the ‘fire in the sky’- heard the constant rumbling of the canons, and the daily crack-crack of the shooting when the last few German soldiers were fighting the mighty Russian army in our neighbourhood. Yes, I also saw the dead and the body parts nobody was allowed to bury in the frozen earth of February 1945. Do I want to even think of all that again? I have written it all down in my memoir, “We Don’t Talk About That”. Maybe that book can become a kind of Bible on how to deal with, and survive, a war.

But, here is what I like to tell the people who are starting to hoard groceries. Did you think of how to cook when there is no electricity or gas supply? Do you plan to buy enough BBQ gas containers? If you have a wood stove, can you even get wood? Keep matches? What do you do when the supply runs out? What do you do if you have to leave your house and the enemy gets all your provisions? That happened to us. A new WW is not going to be a tame animal. Missiles reach across continents – nobody knows where they will land. What if some angry person in power presses a certain button? What if you make it to next spring but you have no food? How do you grow something? In my memoir I talk about how we found ourselves wishing for seeds to plant a garden, seed the strips of land along the road or balcony boxes or even plant in any pots. If it makes you feel better to prepare, (I am also thinking of the predicted “Big One” – an earthquake) make sure you add seeds to your supply, especially of plants that allow you to eat the tops as well as the roots. We survived on turnips and many people of my generation hate the very thought of them. Bread made out of turnips, soup made out of turnips, a stew made out of turnips. Sometimes we found tiny bones in our meals and were wondering if they were from birds or vermin. Every day we went looking for edible weeds, so learn to know what they look like and where they grow.

psst!

We also never saw any pets around and when my mother was given the great gift of a (slaughtered) rabbit I remember how she looked at it and said:

“It looks much more like a roof-rabbit to me.” Sadly, she meant a cat.

 

This Book Drives Me Crazy

Have you ever read a book that very “severely” took over your whole being? So much so that you were grieving for all the countries and all their people involved? That you were fighting a depression threatening to take you down, reducing you to tears at times knowing full well you are reading a history book. You lived during that time in history as a child and could not do or have done anything to change what was to become history. And worst of all, you feel you are part of that history and never knew what was going on behind the scenes.

How was it possible that the wool was so cleverly and cruelly pulled over the eyes of all the people? To only let you know what you were supposed to know? And what you heard on the ‘verboten’ radio stations was just “enemy propaganda”? And learning that for people who suspected something it was safer not to know? But, “they knew enough to know not to know”. (This is a quotation from one of Lynn Alexander’s Schellendorf- books) Ordinary people were trying to survive day by day. My memoir “We Don’t Talk About That” tells what it was like to live under the Nazis until 1945, then, after our eviction, for weeks on the “road to nowhere” with millions of other evicted people – next to the Russian war machinery on their way to victory – surviving rape, murder, starvation, and disease and leaving the sick or dead next to the road. After some kind of order was established during the following years and Germany carved up into four zones (Russian, English, American and French) I lived in the Russian part for ten years as a teenager, enjoying some kind of ‘peace’ until I was driven to escape as so many hundreds of thousands did. And life in the “Golden West” brought its own challenges, new beginnings and living as a second class citizen. And after it was all over I was thinking I had it bad and had nightmares for years.

But these last two weeks, reading the book I mentioned at the beginning gave me the feeling I was a victim. I had never thought of myself that way. Our life was living part of the war but now I see that we also were part of the extortions, concentration camps, evictions. How could a handful of men at the top wreak so much havoc? By reading this book it is hard to understand that nobody was ever able to kill Adolf Hitler, how the people around him were afraid of each other and conspired against each other to get closer to the ‘Führer’? And how Goering, who was considered the ‘second’ man in Germany, could give everything a self-effacing twist during his interrogation at the Nuremberg Trials that one almost felt for him? Gifted with an incredible memory he, for a time, dominated the proceedings and even joked about it. When admonished he burst out “Don’t you see that all this joking and horseplay is only comic relief? Do you think I enjoy sitting here and hearing accusations heaped on our heads from all sides? We’ve got to let off steam somehow.” The culmination of his extraordinary life was cheating the court and the judges by poisoning himself ten minutes before he was due to be hanged as the first of the remaining Nazi officers.

GoeringMillions of people like you and me, we are just “grains of sand” in the larger picture of the world and the people who rule it, no matter where we live. The title of the book I am talking about and that gave me high blood pressure and at times, Parkinson-like shaking that I almost gave up on it is “Goering – The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader”. The authors are Roger Manvel and Heinrich Fraenkel. The bibliography of the research done and the dozens and dozens of diaries, books by other writers and papers fill several pages at the end of this book. If you are a WWII history buff you ought to read it.

Life is interesting – on the ground or in the air

After flying for three hours, landing and walking out of the arrival airport you are surprised by the different type of air you breathe, and, looking around, by the totally different colours surrounding you. It’s March, and you have just left a green landscape, blooming cherry trees, daffodils and some tulips behind. Now, with a slight little shock, even if you knew about the possibility – you look at leftover snow at the edge of the roads, icy frozen heaps at corners where the snow has been piled up and lots of puddles hiding the potholes and nothing but grey cars. You ask me “Why grey cars?” I should have told you, nobody washes their car here during the winter months because of the chance of frozen door locks. In spring, they don’t because as soon as you enter the traffic it’s covered in mud again anyway. I couldn’t believe seeing part of the residential streets looking like rivers. Why is the water not draining away? Are all the drains plugged up with leftover leaves from last fall? Or is it all the sand washed towards the drains and forming little dikes? Only three hours away from almost ‘paradise’ I was still in the same country: Canada. Several time zones across this land and variations in weather make you feel you are somewhere totally different.

Boarding to fly home

I left Vancouver Island by Harbour Air flying with a float plane. With small suitcases and seated tightly together with only a few people you are flying over beautiful little islands and in just seventeen minutes you are landing on a river not too far from Vancouver International Airport. A shuttle bus brings you there and you are lucky not to get lost among thousands of people milling around you. After passing long lineups in the international terminal, I was actually surprised to see how few people were flying to other destinations at the domestic terminal. But don’t be fooled, the planes are full. It’s just that the check-in is very well organized and orderly. There were lots of self-check-in machines, different places for baggage drop-off and other counters for people who can’t make friends with any machine. I am one of the people who prefers a live person!

Checking into the Clarion Hotel in Winnipeg they were so welcoming as if I were the proverbial ‘lost son’, sorry, daughter. The car licence plates proclaim that you are in “Friendly Manitoba” – if you can read it because of the mud covering everything. The next day I got lost in the shopping center across from the hotel. I couldn’t find my way out. I asked an elderly lady for directions. She started to explain but then decided to accompany me as it was easier. We walked through the whole shopping center and all the way across the parking lot, crossed the muddy streets and jumping over puddles. On the way she told me about, and showed me, her beautiful daughter living and working in Hollywood. We stood outside the hotel door until we shivered and I asked her inside. We exchanged e-mail addresses. That is Winnipeg, Manitoba – were the most friendly and helpful people you might ever encounter live.

Intro Forget Me NotAt my book signing at Chapters Polo Park, lots of people were standing around my table. They listened to mine and told some of their own stories and, in two hours, I laughed more than I had laughed in two years! My shopping center rescue lady, Dorothy, was among them. And Audry was there, an e-mail friend, who had written to me after she had read and was impressed by my book. The thought that it might be “healthy” for me to move back to this fair city (Oh yes, thirty-two years ago I had lived there) went through my head. What is the weather, the mud, the puddles and the snow when you are laughing? But I realized that I was the cause for the laughter that evening. Why? Because I was happy. I picked funny stories to read. I am a people person, I like to share my stories and I love the people who listen and react to me by sharing their own stories. We all became part of an extended family. It felt good.

Title slideThe absolute highlight of my trip was meeting the charming and experienced interviewer Dahlia Kurtz at the CJOB Radio Station. She is a rather small and pretty person, but a force to be reckoned with. I would like you to meet her yourself, sit back and listen to our exchange on air. Dahlia has interviewed Nobel Prize winners, world leaders, inventors and many other dignitaries but she is herself, sensitive to the expression of feelings and has a knack of keeping, or getting you back on track.

Here is the link to the YouTube video of my interview:

Curious about the stories in ‘Forget Me Not’?

Book cover

Book cover

I don’t blame you. I would be curious too. Often I’ve gone to Amazon, looked for the books I wanted to know more about and clicked on “Look Inside”. Occasionally I was frustrated when I came to the end of what I was ‘allowed’ to read – and you had to either give up – or buy the book. If I would have bought every book I liked I would have a huge inventory and could open a library!

This, I have never done before – but I will do so now! I am way too excited about the stories in this ‘Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts and Memories’ not to share them with you. Thinking of you reading the titles of my stories puts a big grin on my face. Why? Because all of them came straight from my heart. I know you will like many and really love others. Each one is educational – either from a historic point, from understanding odd situations in life or has an ending you don’t expect. Or, perhaps, it carries some kind of a message you may want to discuss with your family or friends.

“Forget Me Not” is for readers from ten to ninety and beyond. You can’t go so sleep without reading a few pages? And then get your brain engaged in wondering what the ending of your book is going to be? You need willpower to NOT read the ending? My stories will help you. You read just one and you’ll KNOW the ending – because it ended! Now you can go to sleep without all that “wondering”.

I ought to get an audio book of this for the people who have vision problems or are too weak to hold a physical book. “Forget Me Not” is also a beautiful gift from YOU to friends you don’t want to forget YOU! Just imagine yourself unwrapping a little gift package on Valentine’s Day, your birthday, Mothers’ or Fathers’ Day; any other special occasion or even as a surprise and your eyes are greeted by the message: “Forget Me Not”. Who do you think of? The author? No way! You think of the person who sent it to you. That’s the idea, my friend!

I haven’t revealed that there are photos with some of the stories – and poems to use some empty pages between the stories.

How about this one:

What am I? A cat or a mouse…

I feel like a mouse
In a room with a cat.
I like to hide
Far in the back.
I want to curl up
And sleep, and relax
I seek the quiet
Not hear the fax.
No radio, no cars, no TV
And no noise –
I need to tune in
To my inner voice.
I have to find out
Where I am at –
Am I a mouse
Or another cat?

~~~~~~~~~

Table of Contents
Preface
Prologue
1: Charming Village Life
2: Granny and her Fairy Tales
3: Horses – and their Shoes
4: Magic Hands
5: Winnie the Pooh
6: Pineapples and Spaghetti Grow on Trees?
7: WWI – 100 Years Since and Counting
8: Start of World War II
9: VE Day – May 8th, 1945
10: Churchill’s Incredible Foresight
11: Dutch Clogs and a Nazi Flag Dress
12: Work in an Office?
13: Uprising of the Sheep
14: Learning to Kayak
15: What Happened to Them?
16: Escape from your Country?
17: J.F.Kennedy Assassination
18: She got Away – but only ‘just’
19: Olympic Games
20: The ‘Beheaded’ Rose
21: A Heart Wrenching, Sad Love Story
22: Cuba, Cora and Secrets Revealed
23: Coffee? Black, White, Cookie?
24: “Would you like to marry me?”
25: A Letter to Cindy
26: I own this Joint
27: Desperately Wanted: A Baby
28: Spring – The Ice Was Starting to Melt
29: A Beautiful Rose for a Beautiful Lady
30: “May Day, May Day”
31: It’s Part of Ageing
32: “Blue Hawaiian”…Hula and Aloha
33: One More Try and You’ll Make It
34: Flying On Points
35: The House is Empty
36: It Was the Wrong Date
37: Hope You’re Not Superstitious
38: Oh my, an Affair with Omar Sharif ?
39: My Friend, the Green Turtle
40: Candies and Cookies
41: Dog Days or Other Miserable Days
42: A Russian Rape Baby
43: My Earthquake Experiences
44: Vancouver Island Living
45: Change of Seasons
46: For You, Giselle, Anything!
47: I live here – what’s your excuse?
48: “Too bad it’s Canada”
49: Lest we forget. I can’t
50: What if
51: The Weeping Angel

And now my friends – have fun. If you want to read some stories – go to http://www.Amazon.com – find “Forget Me Not” and click on “Look Inside”, or, if you want the eBook version you can find that here.

An eBook is Born

Forget Me Not 3D image (2)I am pleased to announce that the eBook version of my most recent book, “Forget Me Not – A Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts and Memories” is now available for purchase.

A thousand ‘Forget-me-nots’ have lined my path. From adoption, babies, cancer, dating, depression, dogs, earthquake, escape, grandmas, kayaking, love, Olympics, politics, from superstition, war to weeping angels and many surprises in-between – these stories are part of me and part of the people who touched my life. During the time we spent together – sometimes only days or hours – we shared our experiences and memories. I remember them all, some with laughter and affection, others with sadness, but they live on in my heart. Wander a mile or two with me along the winding path of life, and let me share my stories.

Each story, thought or memory in this ‘Bouquet’ carries a message and all lend themselves to reading alone or in a group. They are independent of each other and surely incite discussion.

Some folk have already commented:

Giselle Roeder broke barriers of personal pain in her memoir ‘We Don’t Talk About That’. In this ‘Bouquet of stories’ she shares her thoughts about world events and tells of people who greatly influenced her. Each story makes you think and incites discussions. It includes several not to be missed surprises! – Barbara Lange, Winnipeg, Editor of ‘Through the Window of a Train: A Canadian Railway Anthology (Borealis Press 2010)

Giselle writes compelling stories. After reading her memoir – which I would place next to ‘Anne Frank’s Diary’ – her present book is a delightful ‘bouquet’ of stories. I am still waiting for the sequel to ‘We Don’t Talk About That’ and it seems that ‘Forget Me Not’ is somehow a bridge between the two. – Bob Pickles, UK History writer (Amazon.co.uk)

I really enjoy reading Giselle’s stories. A change from her memoir – but I am waiting to see the sequel. Get on with it! – Carol Dunaway, British Columbia, a voracious reader.

You can find copies at one of the following:

Smashwords in a variety of formats
Amazon Kindle in MOBI format
Kobobooks in EPUB format

And a variety of other eBook vendors and formats.

Enjoy your reading and please let me know your opinion by commenting on this blog post. I would love to hear from you.

Books I read in 2015

Book buyingI hope I remember them all! Many were e-books – I could read them in a doctor’s waiting room, on the bus, in an airplane, on the beach and even in a coffee shop. My little Kobo is easy to read in dim light and surely easier to carry in my purse than a physical book. But I do love physical books! I love having my huge book case full of them, standing in front of it, touching the backs, reading the titles, remember the stories each one told. I still have some I want to read again, others – but not many – I haven’t read yet. Each year I sort out the ones I know I’ll not read again and donate them to the Rotary Book Sales Event. They hold one sale in spring and one in fall in a shopping mall. Last year they sold so many books they could bring close to $400,000.00 to the bank. Every cent goes for good causes.

With which book did I start out in 2015? I cannot follow a ‘timeline’ but I’ll mention the titles and authors and surely will give you my honest recommendation by placing little stars *** next to them. (Six stars mean I’ll read again) It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a different taste in topics – but we all do follow our hearts desire in what we choose, right? The one or the other book may have more or fewer stars on Amazon but this is me, personally.

  • Louisa Elliot ******, Liam’s Story *****, The Master’s Tale *****, written by the English Bestseller writer Ann Victoria Roberts. I can just say one word: Engrossing.
  • The Officer’s Code *****, The Versailles Legacy *****, The English General *****, The Ghosts of War *****. My opinion? You learn a lot of WW history while being fascinated by the private lives of the characters. These books by Lyn Alexander could be Canada’s answer to ‘Downton Abbey’. Really!
  • The Night I Danced with Rommel ****, by Elisabeth Marrion. Enlightening.
  • The Nazi Officer’s Wife ****, how one Jewish woman survived the Nazis in Germany. Written by Edith Hahn-Beer. Heart wrenching. One aspect of the Jewish survival you may never have known.
  • In the Garden of Beasts *****, The American Ambassador in Hitler’s Berlin. Eric Larson weaves a compelling story based on an incredible amount of research. You can’t help but feeling ‘part of it’.
  • A Woman in Berlin ***, a diary of a journalist trapped in Berlin during the last few days of WWII. Intriguing because the author remains ‘Anonymous’.
  • Last Train to Berlin ****, an account of a PoW trapped in Russia – too useful to the authorities to let him go until four more years after WWII. Hans Peter Marland.
  • The Gift: Redemption, book III of the Gift Legacy ****. I saw an excerpt and since kayakers were involved and the setting was Vancouver I read it. I had NEVER read any ‘Thriller’ before but I was ‘gripped’ by the flowing story. It even led me to read the next book of the ‘Gift Legacy’ – Pennance by the author J.P. McLean. What an imagination!
  • Paris 1924 ***, a fascinating account of life in Paris by the same author of Wolves among Sheep ***** which I have read twice. James Kostelniuk has never been in Paris but reading along, you feel you are there!
  • I was Hitler’s Chauffeur **** by Erich Kempke. It sheds a totally new light on Hitler. It ‘rattled’ me and kept me awake for a few nights, thinking instead of sleeping.
  • Hitler – The Memoir of the Nazi Insider who turned against the Fuehrer by Ernst Hanfstaengle. After reading this book, starting at the very beginning of Hitler’s rise, I am flabbergasted by how little is really known.
  • Edge of Eternity **** – the 3rd book in the trilogy by Ken Follett. The first two, Fall of the Giants ***** and Winter of the World ***** are books one can’t put down. This last one was a bit disappointing. Too much talk about sex when not quite appropriate. Maybe it is what many readers like? The story, set after WWII is based on reality and one relives what was happening.
  • The Help ***** is a book I recommend highly. Kathryn Stockett tells a superb tale of a colored servant in the southern US..
  • North of Normal **** is a shocker. A girl’s life, growing up within the ‘hippie’ culture – unbelievable for someone like me, never having had a taste of it. She made it to becoming an international model, wife and mother. I met her, sitting next to her at an author’s reading event. How could she have turned out so ‘normal’? This book is the memoir of the author Cea Sunrise Person.

Last but not least I had to re-read We Don’t Talk About That – An Amazing Story of Survival WWII. I needed to ‘refresh’ my mind for an important presentation at the university. I can’t believe I wrote this book. I still feel humbled by one of the reviewers on my website, who said ‘This book is not just good, it is very good.’

Every book I have read in 2015 added to my knowledge or enjoyment. Now, at the beginning of 2016, I am reading All The Light We Cannot See, by author Anthony Doerr, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. It is considered one of the ‘best books of 2015’. “Moonrising”, Ann Victoria Robert’s newest book is on my Kobo. Can’t wait to read it. I love Ann’s mastering of the English language. Music to my ears.

There are so many more books I’d have loved to read but I am also a writer. I am told ‘the day has 24 hours and the night has 12’ – but for me, even 36 is not enough to get everything done I want to do.

Forget Me Not 3D image (2)My new book Forget Me Not – A Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts and Memories – will be available through Amazon etc. as e-book (Kindle, Kobo and more) as well as soft cover. It will hopefully be released within the next few weeks. It makes a terrific gift item (see the title!), contains over 50 stories, each one tackling a common problem from adoption, stepmothers, politics, war, cancer, internet love, dogs, travel, extra-ordinary people and more. All stories are carrying a special message inciting discussions and lend themselves for reading within a group.

Stay tuned for more.

Nobody ever expected this

“Yesterday had been a day like all the other days during the last year and a half since the Russians invaded Germany. Everybody working at Junkers Aero Space, a former Nazi company researching and building aero planes in Dessau, was doing their job. It was incredible that the Soviet Government did not stop operations after their occupation but had the plant rebuilt, kept the work force and even expanded it. It was a direct violation of the Yalta agreement stating that Germany was not allowed to produce armaments. “

A reader of my book “We Don’t Talk About That” had sent me an e-mail asking if we might be able to meet. She and her brother lived about 30 km away, so we met halfway in a small café. The story they had to tell was shocking news to my ears. I never had read or heard about it.

At the end of WWII the technological achievements of Germany during the war proved a challenge and an opportunity for the two new world powers, the USA and the Soviet Union. Germany had excelled in futuristic technologies, especially in the area of aerospace. Both powers were quick to gather the top German scientists and engineers and relocate them to their countries. Wernher von Braun was the best known scientist taken to the USA to support their rocket program. The story of Junkers Aerospace was virtually unpublicized, the company being located in the eastern part of Germany. Junkers had been the most advanced aircraft manufacturer worldwide at the end of WWII with such concepts as the “discovery of the area rule, operation of jet engines on its aircraft, cabin pressurisation and designs involving forward swept wings.” With the cold war looming and the arms race both powers tried to outdo the other in the aftermath of WWII.

I could hardly believe it when my guests told me that Junkers had been rebuilt and, at the end of June 1946 employed 3.325 people sworn to strict secrecy, a slip of the tongue punishable by death. Their father was one of those workers. They themselves were small children. The German employees lived in the small city built around the plant tightly controlled by the Soviets. Nobody had ever expected a re-location of this huge company to the Soviet Union. But, all equipment and personnel of Junkers was to be re-located. At its peak 4.000 Soviet secret service and military personnel were involved in the planning and execution of the plan. Re-location plans were talked about when an airplane built there could not be tested because the runway was too short. But it never occurred to the employees and unbeknownst to them the plane was shipped to Russia. It was the start of something traumatic.

With not even a hint on the morning of the 22nd October 1946, more than a year after the invasion, hard knocks on every house door woke the occupants. Military trucks were standing ready to be loaded with whatever every family decided to take with them as they were told of a re-location. Trains were waiting at the station. They did not have much time to plan or pack, – just get ready. They also had no idea where their final destination was. After a very long uncomfortable journey they had arrived at a small village built of simple “Finnish” prefab houses about 100 kilometers from Moscow. The village even had a German church, a German school and some small shops. Their father’s job as an engineer had been an important one in Germany as well as it was now in Russia. Some families had asked to leave their families in Germany but the appeal was ignored and not answered.

These two people, sitting with me at a small table drinking coffee, told me the story of their life in Russia. They were small children, three and five years old, they went to school in Russia, learned what it meant “not to talk about it”, referring to topics talked about at home. Incredible hardships, one of the worst being the Russian winters and living in a very cold and drafty house were part of their daily life. The Germans were teaching Russian employees all they knew and in many cases a certain comradery developed between them.

Seven years later talk about going “home” started to circulate. Little by little certain families were picked up and left town but their turn had not come yet. Another year went by and finally the family could go home but the father still had to stay. They sold almost all of their possessions hoping to start fresh in a new Germany. They knew two Germanys had been established, the German Democratic Republic (DDR) and the BDR, the western part. The family was relocated to East Berlin and the Mother tried to re-establish old connections. She soon realized that she would like to be in West Germany. A job offer for her husband by a Mannheim company would be available once he returned from Russia.

My two guests told me that it wasn’t all “just bad”. The total re-location of people and workplace had created a German island in Russia. Close friendships were established, neighbours helping neighbours, entertainment was ‘home made’ and the shortage of almost everything led to creativity and do it yourself projects. More children were born there and considered this place their home. A number of people had married a Russian and did not want to go back to Germany. However, now, many years after the deportation and living in Russia for eight years, people have gone back to visit remaining friends and see the further development of their little village into a town and come back with stories about the incredible hospitality they have experienced. Many of these former special workers are now living all over the world and the older generation starts to thin out. The connections between these people having lived in Russia against their will is incredibly strong and after fifty years the first and now more regular anniversary reunions have been organized where it all started: In Dessau, Germany.

There still are so many untold stories out there, seventy-five years after the horrible war. It is so hard to believe that soldiers, people, children had no say in what happened to them, they were moved by cruel hands like chess figures. There is so much we still don’t know.

Remember: Lest we forget.