In the 1950s the Red Cross was working hard to reconnect families, and they actually found our father. I didn’t remember much about him at that age, I was about fourteen. Many German men were drafted into the army during the war, and our father was no exception. I must have been five, when I last saw him. I only recall him being home for a few days and then gone again. That was it. My memories of him were so few that I was wondering how to handle the situation. It was strange meeting him after so long ago. My siblings and I didn’t know how to react since we all were so young the last time he was around. Father had no experience with being a father, and we were not used to having a father. We only knew that mother was taking care of us and supporting us throughout the hard times.
Before the war, father worked as a bookkeeper at the German Horticulture Center in Falkenau, East Germany. After the war he managed to get a job doing payroll with the US Army in Mannheim, West Germany. He was able to earn a living, and he sent us as much money as he could to help support the family.
Father would come to visit us twice or three times a year spending his vacation days with us, trying to reconnect. During his visits, there were talks about reuniting the family, but we children were never included in those conversations. I do recall though that he was trying to find a job in town, however, most of the people in Winterberg were farmers who had little need for a bookkeeper. He also tried to convince mother to move to Mannheim. She was reluctant to do so, because she had already built a new life for herself in Winterberg. It would have been too painful leaving everything behind after all she had endured and starting new again. She had learned to accept Winterberg as our home. I wanted to move to Mannheim. I wanted to meet other young people and see a little more of the world.
My parents continued living separated and mother was not at peace with the situation. We saw her often in a gloomy mood; she wouldn’t let us in on what was troubling her. I wished she would have shared her pain with us – her children. Seeing her sad and critical made me feel like I just couldn’t do anything right making my life difficult.
With all the emotional turmoil I withdrew more and more into myself. I started to create this place in my mind where I could be free to explore life’s opportunities and find peace of mind.