By Dorothea von Schwanenfluegel Lawson
is a pleasure to share a few thoughts with the Internet world.
You must understand, all this technology is new to me, & frankly
at my age, I'm not sure I can keep up with it! You see, I
may be a few years older than you, having been born in Germany in
1916 -- in the middle of World War I.
immigrated to the U.S. in 1962 & at the urging of friends, have
spent over 10 years putting my life's experiences on paper.
What I thought were very ordinary occurrences, apparently are eye-opening
revelations for many Americans. I keep hearing, "history books
didn't tell us this!" Luckily I survived both World Wars &
have a strong constitution. Today it's dancing that keeps
1916 - 1920 I grew up in Upper Silesia. Did you know
that we had a shortage of housing, rising poverty & hunger?
Food was rationed & we were starving. My aunts had to
go on weekly food hoarding trips at night, sneaking into Austria
where they knew of a worthwhile source of food.
Versailles Treaty was always a thorn in our eye. The immediate
effect it had on my family was that we had to move because Upper
Silesia was supposed to become part of Poland. So we moved
to Muenster, Westphalia. Everything was scarce & we didn't
have a lot of things that we take for granted today. Everything
continued to be rationed, even gas. I remember that in the
morning when I got out of bed, my grandmother would quickly slip
the dish with bread dough under my warm feather bed to make it rise
faster. We had only coal-fired stoves, no central heating,
and besides, coal was rationed, too. My mother & I hiked
out into the country to a farmer on a weekly basis to get food.
1929 the Nazis made their appearance on our political scene.
Germany had been governed by emergency decrees for the past 10 years
& the parliament was constantly being dissolved as one chancellor
followed another. These chaotic conditions offered great advantages
to Hitler, although the Nazis were merely tolerated along with the
Communists & THIRTY-FOUR other political parties. The growing
millions of unemployed people were receptive to the Nazi slogans
that Hitler was a man of the common people who would be their savior
in this time of despair.
1933 Hitler was appointed the Chancellor of Germany, even though
he was a leader of a minority party. People were flocking
to join the Nazi Party since the Party effectively controlled who
worked and where. Well now, this affected me personally.
It didn't take long before the new youth leader of Germany, Baldur
von Schirach, wanted to greet Germany's youth in visits to selected
cities. All school children had to line up along the street
where he was supposed to drive through in his car. It was
the teacher's responsibility to assure that everyone showed up at
the designated spot & time. We waited 1 hour, then a second
hour. We were not allowed to leave so we sat on the curb,
but this was not acceptable to the Nazi Party controllers, so we
were made to stand again -- & then sat down as soon as they
were out of sight! Finally, after more than 3 hours, the youth
leader whizzed by in 3 seconds, like a ghost. Our statistical
role was over. The next day our pictures appeared in all the newspapers
with a caption in bold print proclaiming how joyously Muenster's
youth had greeted its leader & what a show of enthusiasm there
> The 1930's: "Aryanization"
and Mass Book Burning > Page 1,
You can read more
about my experiences in my memoir Laughter