Sheltered from the Swastika

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People often ask me...

... why I decided to write this Memoir

My first reason for writing the book was my the desire to acquaint my children and grandchildren with their origins. I also wanted to provide one more testament of the events that preoccupied the world during that era in human history. Finally, I believe that every story is unique, personal and vivid in the broader context of the theater where it unrolled. It deserves to be told.

... if my nationality is German, French or Belgian

I consider myself an American, through and through!

However, while hidden in France, I considered myself a Frenchman, and I have great affection for that country and much pride in its culture and history. I have never considered myself particularly Jewish, and never, ever, German, despite the fact that I was born in Berlin! I guess one could say that, true to my upbringing and my survival philosophy during the war, I've always assumed the colors of my host country.


... what my most indelible memories from the war are

Without a doubt, the most enduring memory is the terror I felt when the Stukas began dropping their bombs on Belgium on May 10th 1940. But there have been other significant moments:

My irrational moment of terror when my mother was wheeling me in a baby carriage under the Brandenburg Gate in 1932 Berlin;

The night I spent in the rain, completely alone on a mountain road, waiting for a bus to take me back to our village after my parents were captured by a German patrol while we were trying to cross into Spain;

My first impressions of the Château in Auriac;

The day when the SS regiment showed up at the Château;

The consternation I felt when I found out that a trusted, intimate friend of the French family that hid me was actually an Abwehr (German) spy;

The shock of finding myself in a Jewish orthodox orphanage;

And, on a much happier note, discovering that I had family in America who were searching for me.

... if it was hard exposing my emotions in the book

I found it incredibly difficult, almost painfully so, to expose my feelings in the writing of this book. One of our friends, who we had asked to read an early draft of the manuscript, suggested that the story was too dry, totally lacking the emotions that should be implicit in its content. This triggered a complete re-write, ultimately bringing tears to the eyes of my wife. Yes, it was difficult, but It was worth the effort to let my feelings spill across the printed page. What’s more, it provided a catharsis I badly needed to normalize my present life.