Ruins of Castle Hanstein near Bornhagen, Germany

Visiting the ruins of Hanstein takes us back to medieval times - Castle Hanstein near Bornhagen, Germany in 2012 More »

Vietnam War protestors demonstrate - Wichita, KS, 1967.

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Solingen, Germany after the bombing, November 1944. - Stadtarchiv Solingen

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My grandmother Grete with her sisters in the early 1920s in Germany.

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B17 Bomber above German Airfield in WWII

U.S. Bomber flies above German airfield in WWII. More »

 

Castle – Burg Hanstein Revisited

brochure about reading from surviving the fatherland bookReading/presentation of ‘Surviving the Fatherland‘ at VHS Solingen on April 19, 2018 at 19:00. The story is based on my parents growing up during WWII in Solingen. I’ll be sharing selected passages from the book that relate to certain occurrences in the war in general and in Solingen in particular.

Please stay tuned for future readings as well as the German version of ‘Surviving the Fatherland.’

What: Reading/Presentation Surviving the Fatherland

When: April 19, 2018 at 7 pm

Where: VHS Solingen, Mummstr., Forum

*FREE*

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medieval restaurant

Klausenhof Inn in Winter Sleep

When I visited Burg Hanstein the first time in 2012, I was so awed that it inspired me to write the time travel trilogy, Escape from the Past.

Last month we were nearby visiting friends and the former East-West German border and I had to make another stop. It was an icy and windy day with snowflakes drifting between the old stones. Living here in medieval times must have been so cold. And dark. But oh, it makes for a great story. Unfortunately, the Klausenhof Inn which plays an important role in the novels, was closed for winter break.

medieval castle ruins

Still Fused to the Rock: Wintry Castle Hanstein

The Hanstein descendants have been repairing parts of the outer wall of the keep and tower. It must cost a fortune to rebuild the 6 to 8-foot deep walls in reddish sandstone. By the way, I found another cellar off the large hall on the right where a few torture instruments, including a rack have been set up. I don’t believe Hanstein ever had a torture chamber, but it was a nice touch. Within the large hall on the main floor—from here you can access the only intact tower, courtesy of the East-German government—the history of Hanstein is presented along one wall.

medieval ruins

Kitchen at Castle Hanstein

Not much is told about the time, my nerdy protagonist, Max, arrives here in 1471. But Knight Werner is mentioned upstairs in one of the reconstructed rooms off the tower. That’s where I first read about him feuding with Duke Schwarzburg over a beautiful woman. In my story, that is Lady Clara.

If you love time-travel and the Middle Ages, check out the Escape from the Past trilogy. You won’t regret it. For me I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of visiting Hanstein.

medieval ruins

Pathway to the Inner Bailey

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On the Path of German-German History

book cover for everything we lose, a civil war novel***New Release This Week***

Get your copy of ‘Everything we Lose’ now!

Visiting the German-German Border Museum

Sign of museum The other weekend while visiting friends, we took a road trip to the former east-west boarder between Hessia (west) and Thuringia (east). Near Bad Sooden Allendorf, right on the original border, lies the first border museum of Germany, Schifflersgrund. The wind blew and it was freezing cold, making it easy to imagine how dreary life must have been, when the two Germanys were still fenced off against each other.

East Germans were told that West Germans wanted to invade the country and therefore the fence was necessary to keep them out. Of course, it was the other way around. The fence held its East German people captive in a giant prison. The entire boarder was fortified with an eight-foot fence, mine fields, automatic shooting machines, no-mans land, soldiers and observation towers. The East German government spared no expense and resource to protect its sick communist regime.

Just five years before the wall crumbled, a east German man who’d been working on the boarder fortifications for years drove his earthmover to the fence, climbed across and was shot dead a few feet from reaching West German ground.

propaganda signage former east germanyThe displays at the museum include photos of politicians deciding the fate of Germany after the war, of men in uniform patrolling the border, but more importantly of every-day Germans whose world was divided over night, Germans in handcuffs for trying to escape to freedom. Even two months before the wall was built, the East German government assured its people, there wouldn’t be a wall. That was just one of many giant lies. You’ll also see a lot of equipment used to enforce the ‘prison,’ including cars, trucks, helicopters. Along the entire wall ran a stone path suitable armored tanks.

east german border patrol carOld folders and newspaper articles, postage and signage show some of the propaganda fed to the East Germans. In a separate hangar are pieces of the Berlin wall and a political timeline about the former East and West German leaders in meetings and then in 1989 at last, reunification. The formerly cordoned-off Brandenburg Gate in Berlin overrun by globs of happy Germans. It must have been amazing to be part of this history. Sadly, at that time, I was already in the U.S. and watched this momentous event from afar.

If you visit Germany, I’d recommend visiting one of the boarder museums for a taste of German-German history.

Next time:

woman in front of castle ruinsRevisiting Castle Hanstein

Remember my time-travel adventure, Escape from the Past, based on the history of Castle Hanstein in Thuringia? Well, I was nearby and couldn’t resist visiting the amazing ruins again.

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