Wednesday, October 26, 2011

You Tube tells a Story

East Prussians fleeing across the ice hoping to escape the invading Russian Army.
World War 2—Winter 1944/45

  A few days ago I came across four short You Tube clips that truly tell the tragic tale of what happened in East Prussia during the final winter of World War 2. I wanted to share them with you because they are so heartbreakingly sincere and because they encompass so much of what I have tried to bring to light in my upcoming novel—The Last Daughter of Prussia. 

  The clips are narrated in German with English subtitles—they aren't long and won't take up much of your time—but if you are a person who cares about  humanity they will break you open and stir your heart with compassion for all suffering meted out by the cruel hand of war. They will give you insight into that era of history and what happened to civilians in the East Prussian province at that time. I must say that I cried watching parts of the videos. The faces of the men and women stayed with me for days afterwards and their stories left bruises on my heart.

  As I post this I want you, dear reader, to understand that I am extremely conscious of the fact that what East Prussians suffered was only a fraction of the loss and suffering and pain that happened under Hitler's tyrannical rule. I have not and will never forget the Jews that died in the holocaust, the Roma gypsies that were persecuted for their culture, the handicapped that were killed because they did not fit the Aryan mold, the homosexuals and artists who died because they were seen as different—Hitler's list of the "separate, dirty and damned" was long, as is the list of the many who died fighting for what they thought they had to fight for.

  I warn you—the topics are tough—rape, death, killing. Somehow though they are brought in a manner that deeply touches the human heart. In a world where there is so much injury to mankind, to animals and to our planet, I grapple with whether or not to add more to the container full of shed tears. Still, I hope you understand that this story too must be told. It is my family's story. It belongs to my heritage and to a forgotten land. Thank you for understanding.

Part 1: Germany 1945 - The Other Story - East Prussia

Part 2: Germany 1945 -  The Other Story - East Prussia

Part 3: Germany 1945 Victim from Pommerania

Part 4: Germany 1945 Victim from Pommerania - Rape by Russians
The caption reads—My soul is at peace in God
(C) Photo Gottlieb Family

Until next time ... 

— Marina Gottlieb Sarles

c) All content and photos are the private property of the Gottlieb family, unless otherwise stated or linked,  and may not be used without permission.
(c) Privatbesitz Gottlieb Familie

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Acknowledgments Along the Way

  I'm back after going through The Last Daughter of Prussia manuscript one more time, combing every line for edits, typos, backward quotation marks, and adding in a word or a sentence or subtracting both. The novel feels good to me now, really solid. I can't wait for you all to read it. But you have to wait just a bit longer.

My editor Joy Stocke and I getting ready for a yoga session after HOURS of work!

  I am so grateful to my editor and friend, Joy Stocke, for her skill and integrity and heart. I have been blessed. Really. And to my other editors, Kim Nagy and Libby Bako - I bow to their brilliance, enthusiasm and feedback. All three of these articulate goddesses work together to create a magazine called Wild River Review.

  Dear blog friends, if you haven't yet looked at this online magazine take the time to do it now. You won't regret it. It weaves a rich tapestry of art, literature, poetry, in depth reporting about current events, interviews, columns by and about contemporary artists, photographers and writers and much more. They have  published several of my articles and excerpts from The Last Daughter of Prussia.

Painting—Edith von Sanden 
  Naming these women reminds me that I wrote my acknowledgment page yesterday. I thought it would be difficult, but I had so much joy remembering the many friends, colleagues, strangers, spiritual teachers and family members who held a vision for this book right from the start and, who generously shared information but also supported me through the dark periods which weren't infrequent.

This angel holds the hope and vision that so many people held for me.
I had many angels helping me during the writing of this book.
I couldn't have done it without them.
Photo by Christine Matthäi

  The book itself required me to live, (quite literally, for the five years it took to write it) with my characters, in the bleakest of times, in winter, in war and in concentration camps.

The bleakest of times.
After researching this time period and the trek
I have to say I felt I lived it.
What must it have been like for those poor souls
who really fled over the ice and who died in the cold and from starvation?
 Or who were captured by the Russian Army and raped, shot, sent to Siberian prison camps.?

War - the bleakest of times when young men  (of any nationality) are sent out to kill or be killed.
Photo- (c) Gottlieb Family

Concentration camps - the bleakest, most hopeless of places
This is a photo of Robert Ritter (a Nazi camp doctor) arresting a Roma gypsy woman.
 Her face—the way she still looks hopeful that they won't take her  away—just breaks my heart.

Stutthof concentration camp in winter.
I visited this place for my research.
One is never the same after having been in a place such as this.
Photo courtesy of The Stutthof Museum Guide
  Yes, I did live with loss and death while researching and writing, but thankfully, I also lived with love and hope, with the dreams, faith and fortitude of lovers—Manya and Joshi—my main characters.

Photo (c) Christine Matthäi
  I lived with the heroism and loyalty of Trakehner horses and I lived with the beauty of East Prussia.

Fetysz Ox - The beautiful Trakehner stallion who inspired this novel.
 I bow to him - he is on my page of acknowledgements big time,
but he also has a high place of honor in my heart.

East Prussia - the beauty of this land takes my breath away.
Researching the the birds, forests and plants,
looking at the photographs my grandfather took was a pleasurable relief
 from the difficult reading I had to do.
I found that I could only research prison camps for a few hours a week.
Otherwise I fell into a deep depression.
Photo (c) Gottlieb Family.
  Back to my acknowledgments. Honestly, I have such appreciation and gratitude for the creative input, unconditional support, generosity and inspiration that many, many people so willingly shared with me. Somehow, even in the most difficult moments, I always felt the faith that friends and strangers had in the project. I  believe too that the spirit of East Prussia carried me along on my journey. In the words of author, Siegfried Lenz:

     A homeland is truly lost when one keeps silent about it or when no one remembers it anymore.

Until next time....

—Marina Gottlieb Sarles

c) All content and photos are the private property of the Gottlieb family, unless otherwise stated or linked,  and may not be used without permission.
(c) Privatbesitz Gottlieb Familie