January 1, 1995
On the train from Bonn to Berlin we pass Löhne. I strain my eyes to see all I can see because one of my sisters lives here. The countryside surrounding Löhne is attractive: rolling hills, farms, space for horses.
Didn't sleep last night, December 31, 1994. We spent New Year's Eve with M. and U.. Earlier that afternoon, we took a 7.3 km walk around lake Maria Laach. Its atmosphere is refreshing and healing, the artwork of monks enchanting. Above all, Maria Laach reminds me of the good work done by Catholics during the resistance against Hitler. For example, the monastery sheltered Konrad Adenauer in the spring of 1933 for about a year after the Nazis squeezed him out of his office as Lord Mayor of Cologne.
After the walk, we had coffee and cake in a hotel on the banks of the Rhein River. The current is swift. In the distance we see a castle. Below it the buildings look bright yellow, reflecting the yellow of a sinking sun. It rains intermittently. I'm surprised to note how green the area is, how balmy the weather. It is a stark contrast to the sharp, jagged, snow-covered mountains of Alberta.
Back at the H’s home we had a light dinner. Then about 11:30 p.m. we took to the paths surrounding the fields of Odendorf. The intent is to be standing in the fields, amidst several villages and observe the fireworks from there. Midnight they begin. All around us the sky is lit up. Distant fireworks and explosions remind me violently of WWII. I mention it to M. and U. who understand.
And now we are on the train and Irving keeps helping people with their luggage. And I think to myself, I bet no one will help us with our seven pieces of luggage when we get off. The thought makes me anxious. In Bonn the train stopped, literally, for just two minutes and left. The elastic band of the case holder burst and split Irving's fingernail. I chased down a bandage while Irving and Michael loaded our suitcases, all in two minutes. Irving says nothing, just holds his bleeding finger. It hurts to look at it, and I wonder, will I last the four months?
Such is the unease of a German who became a refugee from Königsberg, East Prussia (then) to Netzschkau, Saxony, an escapee from the Soviet Zone to the British Zone, and an immigrant from Hamburg to Toronto.
To be continued