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 »

 

Something New

audio book cover for civil war novel 'everything we lose'Recording of ‘Everything We Lose’ Audiobook Finished

Alan Taylor has completed narration of ‘Everything We Lose,’ my civil war adventure. Alan’s voice truly brings Adam’s and Tip’s adventurous plight to life and I can’t wait to share it with the world. Just a few more weeks until administration and distribution are complete. I’ll keep you posted and will soon share an exciting audio sample!

holsten gate in Lübeck

Holsten Gate, the only remaining city gate, completed in 1478

Visiting the Lübeck Dom

Lübeck, an ancient German trading town, located at the East Sea, is a beautiful place to visit. Its entire Altstadt (old city), an Unesco World Heritage site, is located on an island, surrounded by the river Trave and a canal. Many old buildings like the famous Holsten Gate still offer a medieval flavor of what life was like hundreds of years ago.

brick church in Lübeck

Lübeck Dom, started in 1173 by Henry the Lion

But that’s not why I visited. I actually went to the Lübeck Dom because it is said that Knight Werner von Hanstein, one of the heroes in the Escape from the Past trilogy is buried here. The Dom is giant and built entirely of red brick. Inside dozens of sarcophagi are part of the floor. I walked through the church searching for Knight Werner’s remains, but sadly was unable to because many of the stones have badly deteriorated. No wonder, if you imagine the number of people walking across them since the year 1485 (Werner von Hanstein’s burial year). I did track down the Dom’s administrator who is currently searching for a listing of all burial sites and promised to share his findings. I’m carrying his business card in a safe place.

First Draft of ‘The Italian’s Daughter’

I’m happy to report that a first draft of ‘The Italian’s Daughter’ will be completed very soon. However, a first draft is just the beginning of a lengthy process of rewriting. That is the price to pay when writing historical fiction. In order to bring a historical novel to life, in this case, the U.S. prohibition in the 1920s, every detail has to be researched. It is a slow process and to be honest, I sometimes wish I could enjoy writing a different and ‘faster’ genre. But then, I love immersing myself into a historic world, try to imagine what life was like. As always I’m interested in illuminating what it was like for the common folk because unlike the wealthy who had ways to maneuver the inhumane laws, average people were the ones suffering and dealing with a crazy world.

 

Why we Need Reminders

WWII bunker in Solingen

One of several WWII bunkers in Solingen

Walking through my hometown, Solingen, in Germany, you’ll come across some old structures. I don’t mean historic districts like Gräfrath, after WWII the only preserved part of town. No, I’m talking about bunkers (bomb shelters).

One could ask why there are still around? Too expensive to remove? Would we use them again? I doubt it. If there were ever another war, I think it’s pretty clear that enemy weapons would level everything including bunkers. No, I think these bunkers serve another very important function.

They remind us.

WWII bunker in Solingen

Bunker Brühl neighborhood in Solingen – Courtesy Solingen Stadtarchiv

Bunkers are Monuments

They remind us of the NS dictatorship, the war crimes of Nazis, the suffering of the common people under Hitler’s rein. They are monuments. Ugly, large and difficult to ignore. Which is a good thing. Because I feel these days, 73 years after WWII ended and the war’s children are dying out, many younger people don’t know and worse, don’t care. Right wing politics are on the upswing. In Europe and on a very large and dangerous scale in the U.S.

Under the current president, right wing propaganda is growing and supported. Many parallels can be seen to the 1930s in Germany. Why can’t we learn from past mistakes? Why is that term ‘history repeats itself’ so common?

I wish bunkers were standing all over the U.S. right now to remind people what fascism means. My mother, Helga, (picture below) spent horrific times in the bunker while the town around her was destroyed.

A Definition of Fascism by Merriam-Webster

a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

a young girl standing in a garden with a bunker behind her

Helga, ca. 1944-1945 – in the background on the left: Bunker Brühl

Of course, there’s so much more to it, but you get my drift. I urge you to speak with your friends, neighbors, family, kids and grandkids about the worst war in human history and what led to it. Discrediting and banning the media, discrimination, fear mongering, racism, isolationism, saber-rattling, destroying alliances and more. Much more.

Here is an excellent and short explanation about WWII fascism and how Hitler came to power.

 

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