Readings, classes March-April 2013

With the warner weather I got busy with a number of classes and readings at independent bookstores and other venues.

Editor's choice and review Notre Dame Review Spring 2013

 

Gabrielle Robinson,The Reluctant Nazi: Searching for my Grandfather. The History Press, 2012.

NDR published a chapter from this fascinatingand moving memoir. Doing somefamily research, Robinson discovers

that her beloved grandfather wasa member of the Nazi Party. “As Iworked my way through the diaries,

an abbreviation kept appearing moreand more frequently. They were twoletters: ‘Pg.’ From dim memories

I recalled that this may, no, mustmean ‘Parteigenossen,’ ‘Party Members.’ Surely not my grandfather?

I had not known this. It had neverbeen mentioned in my family.” Robinson’s account of the war years, and

the horrors of living in bombed-outruins immediately after, are riveting.

She sets herself a difficult task, morally, ethically, and aesthetically. Herbook adds to our slowly accumu-

lating knowledge of what the warlooked like from “the other side,”and takes its place beside books

like W.G. Sebald’s On the NaturalHistory of Destruction and AntonyBeevor’s The Fall of Berlin 1945.

Events in January 2013

A local book Club picked The Reluctant Nazi for their January reading and I was invited to speak. We had a lively discussion and it was gratifying to hear how much the participants were impressed and moved by my grandfather's story.

presentations, readings, booksignings

Oct. 6: Wise Guys, South Bend

Nov. 14: Physicians Holistic Health Alliance, South Bend

Nov. 19: Indianapolis Public Library (Irvington Branch) and Bookmamas

Dec. 2: Buchanan Art Center

Trailer for Reluctant Nazi

Have a look at the trailer for my new book ' The Reluctant Nazi '
 

 

My father's last mission

 It was becoming all too clear that by 1943 the German air force was completely overtaxed and under-equipped.  Hitler had steadfastly refused to develop new air planes, in contrast to the Allies who did so with great success.  Nor were there enough experienced fighter pilots left and none of them, my father included, had experience in dropping bombs.  Nevertheless in mid 1943 Hitler ordered the resumption of bomb attacks against England with the aim of damaging the takeoff and landing places of RAF bombers.  This meant that planes which had not been intended for bombing missions had to be fitted out for them.

My grandfather’s diary Berlin 1945

Berlin, April 26, 1945: Towards evening the sky is a ghastly sea of smoke. I creep out at 10 o’clock under whistling grenades and bombs, a wilderness of fire and dust, behind it, although already high in the sky, the blood red moon.

Digging into family history

Long after World War II, I made two discoveries that changed everything for me. The first brought the war back into my world in terrifying detail; the second opened the floodgates to a torrent of questions about my grandfather, the Nazi era, and my involvement in German guilt.

What times are these?

Bert Brecht: Lines from “To Those Born Later”

German guilt and German suffering

 “In a sense, arguing over whose victims can be counted is another way of continuing the war—a war that may truly be over only when we stop feeling the need to deny the Germans their stories of suffering and loss.”  Mark M. Anderson in The Nation Oct. 17, 2005

Reaching across the abyss of war

Despite war, human beings reach out to each other in kindness, compassion, even love.

About me

Born in Berlin in 1942, I was evacuated in 1945 to a farmer’s cottage in Lower Saxony with my mother and grandmother. That was the start of many migrations and emigrations, a boarding school in Vienna, another on the Baltic, s stay in Darmstadt near Frankfurt, two years in Urbana Illinois, a year in New York, and several in London.

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