Written 2011, edited 8/23/2018 © Alan John Mayer, Mirror Image Presentations
I recently reorganized the cigar box stuffed with my late 19th Century father’s 54 years of cartoons to his third wife, my mother, Christina, nee Goetschkes. For a sample ot George’s cartoons, see my post on AmericanValuesRestored, CONVOY, or you can order it for $2.99 on Kindle. What my mother has allowed me to know about my father since his death would fill a small museum. My mother’s love for my father was a love of need. She needed a father, a husband, a best friend, a confident and, as a survivor of the bombings in Berlin 1945, she needed a Savior.
The core of living in 1945 Nazi Germany was to avoid starving, freezing, disease, rape, lies from the dictatorship, betrayal. The winter of 1945, directly after the defeat of Nazi Germany in May 1945, was the coldest on record in Europe in five hundred years. “Jeder fuer sich, und Gott gegen alle” was the war-time mantra that transitioned latently into post-war society “Each for himself and God against all”. It was survival, and my mother, like all Germans, took to it.
My maternal grandfather was a nineteenth Century industrialist inventor, owner of a successful carpet factory in Berlin. As a young man, he left his home in Bavaria to travel Scandinavia and England, where he worked on sheep farms. He loved England, learned everything he could about the English people, their language, culture, he learned about sheep and sheep farming, production, etc, eventually buying the farm. He returned to the Fatherland, this time, in the Belle Epoque period, to the capital Berlin, the biggest center of excitement on the continent, bigger than Paris. There he bought a wool carpet factory, which became very successful. I heard stories, he had no qualms about rolling up his white shirt sleeves, showing workers how it was done, not just telling.
Good communication skills breed success.
After my father died in August of 1998, I took my mother to California and drove the Coast Highway south from Reno to my home in Los Angeles. We stopped in Monterry and walked the beach. She picked up a long stalk of sea kelp, dragged it after her, and told me the story.
In 1912, my grandfather invented and patented a method of using of sea kelp in the carding of wool. Carding removes dirt and other particles, which now makes perfect sense to me that sea kelp would be a lubricant. In 1914, at the dawn of World War I, ‘The Great War — The War to end all Wars’, Kaiser Wilhelm commissioned my grandfather to clothe all four Deutsche Wehrmacht services in wool uniforms.
War makes those who invest in it disturbingly rich.
In 1918 my grandfather redirected his factory once again to carpet and rug production. In 1940, again he was approached. This time by one of Hitler’s henchmen, who told him he was to repeat his service of the First War, with a caveat “You must join the Nazi party”.
My maternal grandmother, Hedwig, also named after a queen, died with my mother in her arms, three months old, in an automobile accident. The chauffeur, my grandfather, my mother, my grandmother Hedwig’s best friend Annie Reich, and the governess survived. Hedwig did not. She died of internal bleeding. My mother never knew the love of a mother. She was even cheated out of a mother-in-law, as my paternal grandmother passed in 1945, a year before my father met my mother, pulled her out of the ashes, became her Savior, and took her around the world.
My grandmother’s last words were “Take care of my baby girl”. Annie Reich, Hedwig’s friend when they both met my grandfather; not his chosen one, did just that. I knew her as Tante Annie. She divorced her apothecary husband (either she or he was unable to have children, or perhaps he was gay. Berlin has always drawn a large gay crowd, never so much as between the late 19th century through the 1930’s. Sadly, anyone who stood out of the ordinary was sent to concentration camps, and the entertainment stopped.
Tante Annie lived with my grandfather until the end, from modest wealth to a granite castle on four acres of land on Lake Diana (Historic villa Noelle, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany), then bombed out of a luxury apartment three weeks before war’s end, and lastly bombed out of the caretaker’s house on the factory premises. In the end, the Berlin (and German though not nearly as desperate) consisted of potato peel soup, carrot shavings soup, thistle soup, tree bark soup, and horsemeat. If you were lucky enough to find a dead horse lying on the street. The crowd would lead you to it.
When the Allies put in place sanctions banning the shipment of all products into Germany, the wool from the sheep farm in England could not get to Germany, and production stopped. That act lost approximately fifty workers their livlihood. No wool meant no production. During the last months of the war, my grandfather himself dismantled his machines in the factory, and sold the parts as scrap metal to buy what little food there was in Berlin.
My mother, named after three Queens, thinks she is the Queen, because she was for my father, for fifty-five years, during which time he was faithful to her. My mother was not so sure. Mother Christina never deserved a man as decent, honest, and loyal as my father, George James Mayer, the decorated WWI American veteran who never carried a gun, never killed a man but rather, used his language skills (and undoubtedly his humor) to bridge gaps in what I imagine may have been interrogations, extracting information from “the enemy” — whom he slept with. With his rank, he put orders in for a house, and with his two 19 and 21 year old daughters’ coming from Seattle to serve the Miliatry as secretaries, he was issued a house in Dahlem, one of Berlin’s finest neighborhoods, — with maid and cook. Soon my mother, her father and step-mother were living with him. Then they married.
A lifetime I have had to listen to my mother tell people “George had nothing when we met”. She forgot that the evening she told me my father invited her and her father to his house, served him his Scotch, which had not been available at any cost in Germany for six years. My father, who never smoked, had cigars, and offered them to my grandfather. Before driving them home in his government issued Staff car (a 1946 Ford, which officers could reserve for days at a time) my father gave him the bottle and the box of cigars. There were no cigars, no cars in Germany. Everything had been reduced to rubble and ashes. The only things there were had been brought in by the British, the French, and ten times more abundantly, by the Americans. My father did not drink or smoke, yet Uncle Sam sent him a monthly ration of cigarettes, alcohol, and what not.
In a rare moment of vulnerability, my mother revealed herself to me one night, at 99. She told me how there were several Americans at the party to which she had been invited. It was a setup. Even then, bombed out, my mother was Queen. And she had the looks, figure, and personality to carry it off even in a size eleven shoe with hands bigger than my large hands, for a life-time. I, her only son, the child she admits she never wanted but felt was forced upon her by my father, know a very different Christina H.H. Mayer.
I know Christina Crawford in my heart. Mother denied even then, “Children have vivid imaginations”. They sure do. Denial is part of learning to forgive. For more, please refer to ‘A Boy Alone’, as of the date of this posting, soon available on Kinde.
Due to the complications I have been traveling through these past two years here in Colorado, away from my home, California, the elevator no longer can be relied upon to make it to the penthouse. I do however, remember the part of her story when before she moved in with him, my father escorted her on the streetcar, now running again, to the small apartment she was living in. She told me how she had a bed, a chair, and one pot. Gas and water service was irregular. The people she rented from, an elderly couple “They were Nazis. They would not give me so much as a cup of soup.” My father would not get off. They ran the streetcar all night long, alone in the car, “Smooching”.
My mother is a product of her environment. She cannot help her older half sister, twenty years her senior, a high ranking Admiral of the German naval fleet, was her biggest ‘Mutter Ersatz’, surrogate mother. As a child (I do not hate today, but as a child) I hated going to visit Tante Gisela. “Can’t we go visit Tante Eva instead?” I would ask.
Gisela must have been the perfect Nazi wife, entertaining in the magnificently furnished staffed luxury apartment my grandfather gave both sisters (and their husbands) as wedding gifts after a double ring ceremony in horse drawn white carriages, married in a double ring ceremony in the most magnificent cathedral in Berlin, the Kaiser Wilhelm (Memorial) church, at which my six year-old mother was a flower girl. There is a connection here. Later Gisela’s biggest secret was revealed. Her son was not the Admiral’s.
In March 1945, weeks before war’s end, my grandfather, Annie, et al, were bombed out. “Die Seidenen Möbel, die Kunststücke — in Flammen — the silk furnishings, the objets d’art, up in flames” they watched their lives turn to ashes. Berlin was burnt to a crisp.
I used to wonder why Mother Christina’s God is not a loving God. I still do. She knows only division, separation, and betrayal for that is what she learned from society, three sequential governesses, and her government. Even enrollment in a private school did not spare one from the atrocities committed by the band of Nazi thugs, murderers, theives and rapists who took over Germany.
And today’s every day German pays for it. I pay for it. War is not good for children and other living things. “We used to collect buttons and bows together” my mother said of her older half sister.
In 1934, my half cousin Klaus Pindter was born. Eighty-five at the time of this writing, Klaus still lives under the impression his father was the Admiral of the German fleet. As a child, he was suffocated by his widowed mother. He spent a lifetime as her footman, her chauffeur, her servant, her crutch. Once he finally did get away to Hamburg at 28, eighty kilometers away, she forced him to make the weekly drive back on Fridays, so he could drive her around. A more selfish woman never drew breath. And she was my mother’s Number 1 Teacher. In the end, there was NO WAY anyone could live in Berlin, and not be a Nazi. ANYONE who discented disappeared immediately.
My father may have succeeded in his career mission in 1945, to retrain the Nazi mind, but he failed in his personal experience with his reward for service to God and Country, as his kicky young trophy Nazi war bride, written up in the Stars and Stripes when they arrived in Seattle in 1948 with two long haired dachshunds. Sadly, my mother feels comfortable betraying. She feels comfortable dividing. As she divides herself each time she visits with a particular betraying judgmental friend Zela “She keeps trying to one up me, show me what a fine home she comes from, but she never can”.
As long as my father was around, my mother remained a Democrat. As soon as my father passed away in 1998, after the six week Tour I took my mother on in Nevada, California and Brazil, her mind (and $250,000 of my late father’s savings) were hijacked. Now, no longer making decisions on her own, she has chosen a second childhood in which Trump now calls the shots Hitler called when she was thirteen and up.
History repeats itself, but only the smart learn from its mistakes.
“Retrain the Nazi Mind” was my father’s motto when he arrived in Berlin in April 1945, a GS-12 Education Adviser under the Marshall Plan, designed to save Europe from communism. For the safety of democracy, free from the threat of tyranny, American forces must remain in Germany and Italy, now more than ever since the end of WWII.
Way past until the last Nazi is dead. Today, in the current 2018 administration, we see the neo-Nazis organize again, here in The United States of America. The last Nazi is a misnomer. It will never be.
Father Mother God, from whose lips all things spring into being, may we be thankful for that which we are about to experience. Help me to release my attachment to the beauty of this world. Allow me to enjoy it, and let it go. Hold tight our First Ammendment Right, the right to free speech and print. I sent love ahead, for that is what I am.
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