With all the programs about the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, my brain jumps into action with memories again.
Well, obviously I don’t have first hand memories of WWII, and not even second-hand. It’s really a shame that kids are not that interested in history (as a rule, there are obviously some children who are history buffs!), and a shame that when our interest finally peaks, some historical events are rather things that the older generations want to forget/don’t want to talk about…
Both sets of my grandparents are dead now, and I never found the right time/place to ask questions about their war experiences – my granddad on my father’s side suddenly died of a heart attack 1/2 a year after I moved to the UK. He would have been the perfect candidate to get some insight into history … I know from my dad that he was a POW (I “think” in Russia – definitely something to ask my dad about!). I also have some diaries from him from 1945, and have also some of his medals and I think some paperwork from him as well (have to check the envelope with the medals!!).
My dad’s mum unfortunately had a lot of health problems for years prior to my granddad’s death, which included some psychological issues due to medical mistreatment. I never felt comfortable to ask her any questions about anything more serious, and in the years after my granddad’s death she developed dementia very quickly.
On my mum’s side it was the globe trotters. My grandparents on that side owned a Hymer (different models over the years) and I didn’t really spend that much time with them as they always were off to Hungary, Morocco and other exotic places. I know that my mum’s dad was a pilot during the war and was shot down – and I *believe* she said it was while my grandma was pregnant with her, so my mum never has met him. I’m not sure what my granddad (i.e. my mum’s stepdad) did. Both grandparents went into a nursing home about 4 years ago, and both died in fairly quick succession before the girls were born (I think I was pregnant when mum called me regarding grandma’s death).
The worst part of all of that, apart from me not having had the chance to talk directly with any of my grandparents about their experiences/ their life, is the fact that there are not many written documents from them recording things. No diaries (apart from the ones I have in my hands I believe), letters … Of course they must have existed, but with several moves and then the clearing of properties after their deaths / move into nursing homes, things got lost.
With all that, I realise that I haven’t been very good with keeping diaries/writing or recording things in my life either. Ok, I have those diaries I’ve written between 12 and 14 or so (*cringe*), but of course there are no records of my memories of visiting my mum’s side of the family in East Germany.
Things like the little chair lifts the East German border police used to transport our passports to their buildings. Or the fact we got in big trouble when trying to “smuggle” paper (of not the best quality in comparison to “Wessie” paper) from East Germany to West Germany. They were there with sniffer/patrol dogs – really scary!!
Funny, how memories periodically jump up in your brain… really have to make sure I write them down/do some scrapping about it.
Mmmh, for the East/West Germany border memories I obviously don’t have any photos as you weren’t allowed to take photos at the inner German border … but maybe I can find some anyway on the net … in the worst case I’ll have to do some drawing… huh!!