Join me this month for stories of our time here in a small German village where we’re visiting with my mom. I’m experimenting with straight journal-style blogging as a ‘post-a-day’ challenge. Thanks for reading, Bill
Fake snow, film set snow, is what it looked like as it gathered on our hats and hoods as we stood by the brass band outside the Rathaus. I returned my mug to the Glühwein stand and asked for the pfand (the refund for my glass), but they misunderstood and gave me more. Benny and I went to the bakery in the morning, the only one that’s open on Sundays, that still makes bread the traditional German way, but they were out of most things, said in five minutes the pretzels would be ready, and brought us coffee while we waited. Benny’s dad Christoph retold the story of his grandfather, who left Germany for England to open a bakery but in 1914 was given two options, to either return home to Germany or remain in England a prisoner on the Isle of Man. He chose the latter (to avoid the war) and sold the bakery, but when he returned to Germany after the war and tried to get his English pounds back from the bank they said there was nothing left after the currency conversion and he only had enough money to buy a clock. Then Christoph’s dad found himself in a similar situation, having left Germany for England and told in 1939 he could either remain there a prisoner or return home to Germany. He made the mistake of returning, and for eight years served as a soldier for the Nazis, then a prisoner in Russia. We asked Christoph about the refugee housing and he said it’s the same location as last time, when they tried to reintegrate Germans who returned from Soviet territory after the Iron Curtain fell. Russia had encouraged Germans to move there to farm, but in World War II Stalin feared they’d act as informants behind the Russian front and sent them all to Siberia. After the war, the former Germans claimed their right to return to Germany as citizens but did so with Russian accents and now some are serving as informants for the Russian mob, here in Germany. Mom got teased by a German making small talk with us in the Croatian restaurant up the street. He said after living here all this time your German should be better—then he joked, after you master German you can work on your Schwäbisch.