I’d like to welcome guest blogger, Terri Wangard!
Terri grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the Lombardi Glory Years. Her first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her busy as an associate editor.
“Creating About a Family to Be Proud Of”
Forgotten letters were found in my grandmother’s house. Written in 1947 and 1948, they came from distant cousins in Germany. My grandparents and other relatives had been sending them care packages.
The family in the letters became the perfect subject around which to craft a story. Research revealed life in Nazi Germany as increasingly grim before the war even started. The letters provide a fascinating glimpse of life in post war torn Germany, but nothing about the war years. How had the family coped? An internet turned up the family’s factory name in a list of German companies that used slave labor. I wanted my family to be the good guys, but that hope grew shaky.
Contact had ceased in 1948 after the German currency reform, and with their silence in the letters, many questions couldn’t be answered. Why had they refrained from any mention of their thoughts and activities during Hitler’s regime? Desire to forget? Shame of the vanquished? Concern the American family wouldn’t help if they knew the truth?
The family consisted of a brother, his wife, and three young children, and a sister and her husband, and their “old gray mother,” who turned 66 in 1947. The sister and her bridegroom had lived in Canada for five years, returning to Germany in 1937 because she was homesick. They were bombed out of their homes and lived in their former offices, temporarily fixed up as a residence. Before the war, they employed about one hundred men, but in 1947, had fewer than forty-five, with no coal, electricity, or raw materials to work with.
My imagination took over. The family, not the newlyweds, came to Wisconsin. Because a returning to Hitler’s Germany due to homesickness didn’t sound plausible, I rewrote their story. The grandfather had died and the father had to return to take over the factory, much to the daughters’ dismay, who loved their new life in America. During the war, the older daughter, widow, hid a downed American airman, a former classmate.
Maybe the family did support Hitler. Many did before realizing his true colors. My version probably doesn’t come close to the truth, especially concerning the daughter. The real daughter was twelve years old in 1947. No matter. This is fiction, and this is a family I can be proud of.
Terri’s Book: Friends & Enemies
Inspiration Historical Fiction
Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SYML26R
Aiding downed enemy airmen is punishable by death in Nazi Germany,
but he’s an old friend. How much will she risk to help him?
Heidi became a widow when her husband’s U-boat sank in the Atlantic. She wonders how her school chum Rachel is faring. Her husband Paul must be at war too. One day a strange man approaches her. But no, he’s not a stranger. Paul, now a widower, has been shot down over Germany. With German ancestry, he’s fluent in their language. She takes him home to pose as a German soldier. They’re betrayed and the Gestapo comes calling. They flee across Germany in a desperate journey for Allied lines.
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