This http://aleksandrvoinov.blogspot.com/2010/06/author-interview .html reminded me of a story I have longed to tell for ages...
A beautiful love story and the kind of background that tells so much about my country and about the things, people went through in and after WWII.
Before you scream bloody murder... I know I know... but there always are victims on every side.
I still remember how my Grandmother told me... I was 13 and staying at her house during summer, while my mother prepared to move us in with her new man.
It was actually the evening of my birthday and a huge thunderstorm rode the village. This village you see, was in a valley, surrounded, at least back then, by monstrous mountains of uranium mining waste.
THe thunderstorm would sink down over the valley, effetively engulfing the lower parts of the village in horrendous village, and stay there, until it lost its power because it was caged by those "mountains".
My grandmother and I sat by candlelight, out of fear of lightning strikes and she told me, how she had gotten a new father at the age of nine. I asked, what had happened to her father and she began to tell me, with a silent, yet strong voice about the winter of 1944, when at night the Gestapo came to raid their house again, forcing her, four years old, to stand outside in the snow for hours staring into the muzzle of a gun.
Her father not only was communist, his father had also been a jew.
And while we were sitting, by candle light, while outside the thunderstorm raged, she told me, how she had met my grandfather.
You should know, my grandfather was the bastard son of the highest Nazi official in Pommerania and his housemaid. He went to the Nazi elite school, the Napola, and frankly was the poster boy of a young, striking, very blonde, very arian man.
But the war came and went and he and his mother were driven from their home in Stettin, to live in the northeast of what would become the GDR. Their living circumstances were not truly good and his mother didn´t take well to being driven from her home and being a fugitive.
The GDR government wanted him to study, after all he had received the best education, there was, even if it hadn´t been conform to their ideologies. And he refused.
My grandfather was very stubborn, very proud and pretty passionate in his beliefs. And they were that he didn´t want to leave his mother alone.
So they made him work in a fish processing plant. There are several kinds of torture and he couldn´t stand the smell of raw fish to the end of his life. My strong grandfather would just turn green, then a little greener and would rush for the toilet. And he never... NEVER lived it down.
One summer he was a "volunteer" in a summer camp by the eastern German youth organization (Free German Youth - you may laugh now. participation was anyting but free) and my grandmother had been sent there, I don´t remember for which reason... good grades, or recreation...
My grandmother came from the south of the GDR, about as far from where he was living with his mother, as it got.
It was a typical summer romance, she was 17 or 18, he was 25 and between them lay the whole of their country.
Theirs was an almost impossible match, even with the uniformity, the communists proclaimed, their mothers very well remembered, who their fathers had been.
But, what can I say, sometimes, it just takes the right motivation. Did I mention, my grandfather could be very single minded?
In October that year, my grandfather stood at my grandmothers door and told her, he was studying at the university closest to her now.
It was 60 kilometers (for the Americans: 38 miles) away from her village. And he had decided to pay her a visit... by bicycle.
They married a year later. And as long as he was studying there, he did the ride every weekend, until it got too snowy for it.
I have never in my whole life seen a couple as much in love as them.
Whenever he came home from work, he would first of all things, seek out my grandmother and give a big, loud kiss and hug her and don´t get me started on him coming back from his travels around the world. He lavished on her present from China and India and Russia. (I must say, after he had finally relented and studied, as they wanted him to do, he was just as good as everybody expected of him, Pphysics and economy and he mastered both)
Or as she told me, years after he had died: I have never loved a man, but your grandfather and I never will.
None of them ever truly talked about their time in the war. I am most likely the only one, my grandmother told about her childhood experiences and not even to her did my grandfather really talk about his father, or his time in the Napola school, but he never took well to the thought of anyone driven out of their homes, no matter by whom. You could see it in his face, how it had always bothered him. I know, he left Pomerania on foot with his mother and 5 younger siblings, the youngest of which was just a baby, and they walked, several hundred kilometers, driven by the red army through a destroyed country. I don´t know, what he had seen, but I know it had been bad.
He was just old enough to be drafted as the "last line of defence" during the last months of the war, being elite Hitler youth and all. But as I said, he never talked about it.
On the other hand, he was just the kind of driven hero, you´ll find in a romance novel. Did I mention he pushed his step-father down a flight of stairs, when that man had beaten his mother, as a boy of no more than 10?
Between them, they had a life time of bad memories, yet managed to built a life of happiness together and , that´s just all, we can ask for isn´t it?
It surely wasn´t all leisure. After his mother died young, they took in his younger siblings and raised them, in the same house, he shared with his mother and father in law, but they managed together.
And they surely didn´t care, who their fathers were.
I guess, the next story will be about the other set of grandparents and how my grandmother insisted to marry in a black dress ( and she did! and looked stunning). Oh, the scandal!