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Win Straube

Enjoying the Ride


Pre-Publication Copy

Win Straube

I don’t know where I am going, but I am


Enjoying the Ride

with the help of:


Hildegard K. Straube
Helmut R. Straube, M.D.
Manfred B. Straube
David M. Sablan
Josephine M. Moikobu, Ph.D.
Linda Hephzibah Butts

Personal Documentary - Collectors’ Edition

Copyright Win Straube © 2002 all rights reserved


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This volume is dedicated to
the two most incredible women in my life:

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iv
Table of Contents
00.1 Title and Dedication i
00.2 Table of Contents v
00.3 Introduction ix

Book One
Merci Mon Ami
1/01 Following the Roots 3
1/02 Barbarians, Mongols, and Those From the West 15
1/03 Curiosity, the Next Best Thing to Knowledge 22
1/04 From Peace to War 33
1/05 Growing up Fast 40
1/06 Holocaust End Run 49
1/07 Escape to Where? 59
1/08 End of the Line 68
1/09 Quo Vadis? 79
1/10 Winter 1946/47 84
1/11 Living Dangerously 93
1/12 The Grass on the Other Side of the Fence 99
1/13 Finding the Pieces That Fit 108
1/14 Out of the Family Treasure Box 117
1/15 How it All Began 126
1/16 Turning Today Into Tomorrow 131
1/17 From the Old to the New World 141


1/18 Ontario, Canada 157

Book Two
Illionaire Handbook
2/01 Bootstraps Are For Pulling up 165
2/02 Both Sides of the Hudson River 178
2/03 From Total Immersion to Selling Out 186
2/04 Close Relations 194
2/05 Inside Pegasus International 211
2/06 Moneymaking Machine 224
2/07 On the Other Side of Checkpoint Charlie 234
2/08 The Director of Pegasus Saipan Speaking 250
2/09 From Generation to Generation 261
2/10 Why Saipan? 272
2/11 How Come Singapore? 277
2/12 The End of Sogo Shosha’s 289
2/13 75th Birthday Celebration, With a Twist 297
2/14 Wrong Blood 300

Book Three
Deep Inside
3/01 Thinking of Retirement? 311
3/02 To Health and Happiness 317
3/03 Soul Searching 329
3/04 The True Honeymoon 337
3/05 Hawaii 342

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3/06 American by Choice 355
3/07 Beauty and Wealth 367
3/08 Paradise Found 379
3/09 Just for Today 391

Appendix

More Relatives
A-01 American Pioneers 395
A-02 European Family, not recognized elsewhere 400

Personal Health Data


A-03 Win Straube’s Diet, one typical month 404

Author’s Sources
A-04 Author’s Sources 419
A-05 References 425

Color Plates 427

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viii
Introduction
There is no doubt about it, your genome and mine are 99.9 per
cent identical. Between us, only 1/10 of one percent of our 40,000
genes differ. Actually, that applies for each human being in relation
to the entire world population. With absolute certainty, therefore,
you and I have common ancestors, some close at hand, others in the
distant past.
This is the record of happenings and connections so far known
only to a few, most of whom kept their knowledge to themselves,
often preferring to forget. Many took it with them to their graves.
It is the account of my personal experience from Nazi Germany
to North America until the early years of the new millennium. My
reporting covers where we came from, specifically, why we are who
we are, and why we are where we are now.
You are part of that history, either directly or through your fore-
bears, although what you saw and I saw may not be the same. Along
the way, your chosen path and your individual thoughts may have
differed from mine. But you will find surprisingly familiar ground
which you and I have covered together at one time or another,
somehow.
The words and pictures between these covers break several
rules of conventional book publishing: This volume consists of three
books and one appendix. Documentary pictures go along with the
text. The books include contributions by other major participants
in my life, such as my wife, and touch on deeper thoughts than are
apparent on the surface most of the time.

Book One, “Merci Mon Ami”, is the name of the first book be-
cause it is meant to say “thank you” to everyone around the world
who touched my life and thus helped make it the wonderful experi-
ence I am so thoroughly enjoying every day.
Book Two, “Illionaire Handbook”, is a case study on how to
become an above average income earner in this world, almost any-
where. At the same time it includes the most shocking revelation
identifying the blood in my veins.
Book Three, “Deep Inside”, brings out some of the thoughts
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which most of the time hide beneath the surface, and many of us
don’t want to talk about, but which often are the motivators for sur-
vival, success, and action, foreshadowing things to come.

The Appendix lists sources and gives other related information.


My first idea for a title of this combination of three books was
“American by Choice.” But that title was taken already by Sam
Moore (Hardcover May 1998), describing the remarkable fulfill-
ment of an immigrant’s dreams. Sam Moore came to America from
Lebanon in 1950 with $600 in his pocket, which, by the way, was 60
times more than I came with.
My next choice for a title was “Just an Ordinary Guy.” As it
turned out, that title also had been used before, although for fiction,
by Linda Hope Lee (Avalon Romance) August 1996, and again, by
Kevin Virgil Wallace (Paperback Sept. 2000), a five star rated love
story that stretches through time.
So, instead of the collection’s title introducing the ordinary guy
who is American by choice, it now tells you something about his
mindset: “I don’t know where I am going, but I am enjoying the
ride.” The last three words are the important ones. Please come
along on this wondrous journey as you read on.

In contrast to the previously mentioned novelists’ stories about


an ordinary guy, mine is nonfiction, an autobiography, put together
and written with the help of extremely talented collaborators who
each deserve maximum credit. I am most grateful to each of the
contributors who supplied much of the information, especially
those who did their own reporting. I filled in the gaps they left open.
For this, I used material from my own previous accounts, including
“Blame It On Me,” a manuscript published in 1967. I revised and
updated that text where appropriate, and added details and insights
which have emerged in the meantime.
Excerpts from Dr. Helmut Straube’s family chronicle and his
other writings were translated from the German so the English text
could be included here. The same was true for my brother Man-
fred’s contribution which was taken from the memoirs he wrote
for his children and grandchildren. In addition, other sources were


identified in the Notes and Authors’ Sources.
I alone am responsible for any shortcomings that may appear
within this presentation. The volume before you contains, by far,
not the complete story. I merely followed the thread, picking and
choosing some happenings and issues which greatly impacted my
becoming part of a nation of immigrants. I only reported about in-
dividuals who, to me, were some of the most interesting characters
within the setting. Specific ancestors belong in the book because
they had played their role for me, in most cases unknowingly, of
course.

Among the contributors, to name just a few, are Helmut Straube,


my father’s brother, who was a medical doctor and did a substantial
part of the original research that went far beyond our family tree in
Germany. His scientific homework and precision in reporting are
invaluable elements of the facts as presented. Helmut died in 1991
at age 78, but he surely will be remembered through the characters
he brought to life again, who are included in this collection.
Special thanks go to my
brother, Manfred Straube,
whose recollections show a pho-
tographic memory which vivid-
ly depicts and brings back oth-
erwise long forgotten events.
A great thank-you-very-
much goes to David M. Sablan,
who served as the local hands-
on Director of our company in
Saipan and, thus, was privy to
many of our activities in the
Pacific.
I am particularly grateful
to a scrupulous professional,
yet thoroughly private person,
my wife, Hildegard, for sharing
some of her closest personal ex-
periences.

xi
One thousand thanks to Josephine Moraa Moikobu who pro-
vided most invaluable assistance in editing the material. Her friend-
ship, guidance and advice made this book into what it is - readable.
Without her, this would have been merely a recitation of facts.
Many thank-you-very-muches to Josephine for also smoothing out
the prose. It’s so much easier to read this way.
Another one thousand thank-yous go to Linda Hephzibah Butts
who made sure that the text is spelled correctly and the grammar
correct, as well as the entire book layout
for easy reading. Most of all, for her being
the photograph and graphics editor who
made miserably deteriorated originals into
printable art pieces, and assembled and
interspersed them with the text in the most
intelligent way.
Elan Sun Star is the photographer,
sought and known the world over, who took
the front and back cover pictures. My deep
gratitude to Sun for uniquely applying his
photographic skills and personal courage,
going far out of his way taking these shots,
to demonstrate the theme of what my story is all about.

The volume includes snapshots of the holocaust and its after-


math. They transmit how I coped as well as others who survived.
The account in pictures and text shows how I found what I was
looking for and arrived at principles which I’ve followed and lived
by ever since.
The books answer why am I still around, which was very much
in question several times along the way. They show the miracle of
survival, though at times improbable and unlikely, but somehow
made possible again and again. The books do not give any advice.
They merely detail what I did and what I didn’t do, my habits, even
diet: activities which stood me well, including maintaining good
health, throughout my life to this day.
To the extent they could be found, the three books contain pic-
tures of some of the key characters and others I met along the way,

xii
as well as documen-
tary details, such as a
map or two. No need
looking for a picture of
me in any of the above:
You won’t find me
because I am the one
who is doing the see-
ing. It’s my book, after
all. Everything you see
is through my eyes. In
this journey you are
me. You’ll see who and
what I saw. More than
observe, you’ll think it,
smell and touch it, just
as I did.
You’ll find that you
and I and all of us are somehow bound together, not merely by our
common DNA, no matter where we come from or where we are
going, but much more so spiritually, as well as in the way we think,
feel, and understand each other.
We may not be sure about the ultimate destination, but the
unique getting-there can thoroughly invigorate and enlighten us.
For this joyous trip, I am happy that you joined and came along for
the ride.

Win Straube, Honolulu, Hawaii 2002-02-02

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xiv
Book One

Merci Mon Ami



Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter one

Chapter One
Following the Roots

Guiding Lights
My mother had two
idols. One was Madam Cu-
rie (born Marie Sklodowska
in Warsaw, Poland 1867, died
in France 1934). She was the
winner of the Nobel Prize
in physics in 1903 together
with her husband Pierre and
Antoine Henri Becquerel.
Ms. Curie was a full professor
and taught general physics at
the Sorbonne in 1906. She
did research on radium and
determined its atomic weight
and other physical proper-
ties. In 1911, she received the
Nobel Prize in chemistry for
her work in isolating radium from its chloride, and she was the only
person so honored twice.
My mother used to tell me that Mme. Curie worked with her bare
hands in pitchblende, not knowing about the effects of radio activ-
ity at the time. How did my mother know? Because she was a nurse
and x-ray technician at the birth of radiology, and she had studied
her subject well.
The other one was Albert Schweitzer (1875 to 1965); theologian,
philosopher, eminent organist of Bach music, who, at age 30, decided
to devote himself to “the direct service of humanity” and took up the
study of medicine at the University of Strasbourg in 1905. In 1911
he received his medical degree and two years later sailed for Gabon,


I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

French Equatorial Africa, to set up a native hospital at Lambarene.


In 1952 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to him.
My father’s idol was Robinson Crusoe, a self supporting practical
man from Daniel Defoe’s novel. No wonder that as a child the first
book I received as my own was none other than Robinson Crusoe.

The European Connection


My parents chose my name with great care, after Winfried (luck
and peace), born 680 A.D. in Kirton, Devonshire, southwestern part
of England. Winfried later adopted the Latin name of Bonifacius
(more correctly Bonfatius) which means the doer of good deeds. He
was educated in the Benedict monasteries of Exeter and Nhutscelle,
and worked all his life as a missionary. While in Rome in 718, he was
appointed the official missionary to Germany by Pope Gregor II. In


Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter one

723, he was made bishop; in 732 archbishop; in 739, the Pope made
him Ambassador of the Roman Chair in Germany. All these years,
Winfried worked on the creation of monasteries in various parts of
Germany. He was bludgeoned to death by a group of pagans near
Dockum on June 5, 755. Winfried/Bonifacius is buried in the cloister
of Fulda where still to this day the German bishops meet regularly
at the grave of the founder of the Roman-Catholic Episcopat’s in
Germany.
The one act of Winfried which is part of German high school
history lessons is about his cutting down of the “Thunder-Oak”
near Geismar. Winfried did this to prove to his pagan audience that
it did not bring out their heathen gods to take vengeance on him
and them, but that the one and only god was forgiving and above
petty acts of immediate revenge,
even when his property was dam-
aged or destroyed. Winfried was
successful in removing many of
the prevailing superstitions and
winning the population over to
Christendom.
My parents didn’t choose that
name for me so that I would be-
come another apostle, but for the
character traits of Winfried, such
as being steadfast and strong from
the inside and out. Maybe, this,
they didn’t tell me, that they pos-
sibly also chose this name to prove
to the world, specifically the Aryan
world around them, that I and our
family were Christians, not Jews.
I am extremely fortunate to
have had parents who wanted
me, the same as they wanted my
siblings. I was the first born, a boy


I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

they wanted very badly, who they hoped would accomplish what they
felt was denied them because of the times. They knew that education
made all the difference, education they didn’t have. Whatever learn-
ing they had acquired they had gone after on their own. My parents’
plan was to send me to study at Oxford University when the time
came. Unfortunately, that time was not to be. Rudely, World War II
came instead and everything changed.
Goethe wrote, “Names are mere sound and smoke, dimming the
heavenly light.” Normally, a name is given to us for life, the wish of
our parents going with us every day, all the way. Our name can be
a tall order to live up to or a miscasting to be ignored. My friends
soon shortened mine to Win. Whichever way they call me, there goes
another wave of sound and smoke.

The Chinese Connection


With due reverence to my Chinese forebears, my Chinese name,
researched and given to me by my Chinese friends, is Si Zhao Pe,
Si being the surname, and Zhao Pe meaning great solid rock wall.
That name paints a picture which easily sticks in one’s mind. Is there
more to it than that?

The Snake
Since Chinese thinking is deeply rooted in Chinese culture, one
of the most practiced ways to find out more about yourself is to elicit
your Chinese zodiac sign and take it from there. In my case this shows
that I was born a snake in an earth year.
The following are quotations from Chinese Horoscopes by Theo-
dora Lau, published by Harper & Row 1979:
The snake personality is that of a philosopher, political wizard,
wily financier. The Snake person is the deepest thinker and enigma
of the Chinese cycle. He is endowed with an inborn wisdom of his
very own, a mystic in his own right. Graceful and soft-spoken, he
loves good books, food, music, the theater; he will gravitate toward
all the finer things in life. The most beautiful women and powerful


Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter one

men tend to be born under this sign. A person of this sign generally
relies on his own judgment… He trusts his own vibrations rather
than outside advice.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, people born under other signs
may defer payment to the next life (if one so chooses to believe), but
the Snake seems destined to pay his dues before he leaves. Perhaps
this is also of his own choosing, as a person born under this sign is
unusually intense and will seek to settle scores, consciously or un-
consciously, in everything he does.
A native of the Snake year is not likely to be bothered by money
problems. He is fortunate to have what he needs. Should funds be
low, he is extremely well-equipped to remedy the situation… The
Snake learns fast. He can recoup with amazing speed and as a rule
is prudent and shrewd in business.
By nature, the Snake person is a skeptical being, but unlike the
Tiger, he tends to keep his suspicions to himself. He treasures his
privacy and will have many a dark secret locked up within him.
Elegant in speech, dress and manners, the Snake person does
not like indulging in useless small talk or frivolities. He can be quite
generous with money, but is known to be ruthless when he wants to
attain an important objective.
Some Snakes may have a slow, or lazy, way of speaking, but this
does not reflect in any way their speed of deduction or action. It’s just
that they like to ponder things, to assess and formulate their views
properly. Snakes tend to be very careful about what they say.
It is never safe to draw a line and predict that this is how far the
Snake will go. His computer-like brain never stops plotting and he
can be unrelenting.
When the Snake’s anger is roused, his hatred can be limitless. His
antagonism is silent and deep-rooted. An icy hostility will express his
displeasure instead of a volley of hot words. His mind is calculation
itself and he has the staying power to wait until the time is ripe for
his revenge.
All Snakes have a sense of humor. Of course, they may have dif-
ferent brands. Some prefer to be dry, others sardonic, scintillating,


I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

or even diabolical at times. Nonetheless, it’s there. The best time to


observe this is when he or she is under duress. In a crisis, the Snake
can still crack a joke to lighten the atmosphere. Even when he is
weighed down by enormous troubles, the Snake-born will not lose
that twinkle.
Orientals sometimes regard the Snake as a supernatural crea-
ture… This is because he lives for such a long time and renews himself
by shedding his skin for a new one each time he outgrows it. This
particular trait symbolizes his ability to be reborn and to emerge
from conflict with restored vigor.
By now, you must gather that it will be no mean task, dealing with
the Snake. What makes it even more tricky is the fact that under all
that serenity he is always on guard. His outward calm never betrays
his true feelings. He knows and plans his moves well in advance. He
has willpower and will maintain his position to the bitter end. He
can be very evasive and elusive when he chooses and just when you
think you have got a grip on him — he wriggles free. Needless to say,
he makes the perfect politician. He can negotiate anything under the
sun when he puts his mind to it.
The Chinese believe that a Snake born in the Spring or Summer
will be among the most deadly of the lot.
Snake people are passionate lovers; they are also reputed to
have roving eyes. Actually, this is a false reputation which they have
acquired because they are always sensual about anything they un-
dertake. He may exhibit the same fervent ardor in chasing a much-
coveted business deal as in winning the affections of his latest heart
throb. Snake people usually lead dangerous lives full of excitement
and intrigue…
In times of confusion and trouble, the Snake person is a pillar
of strength because he maintains his presence of mind. The Snake
can deal with bad news and misfortune with great aplomb. He has
a profound sense of responsibility and an unsinkable constancy of
purpose. It will be this constancy of purpose, coupled with his natu-
ral hypnotic charisma, that could carry him to the highest realms
of power.


Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter one

The Earth Snake is the warm and spontaneous variety of Snake


who will form slow but correct opinions of people. More principled,
persistent and reliable, the Earth Snake will be able to communicate
with the public and function effectively in group activities. Armed
with a peripheral vision and basic Snake ambition, he can take control
and bridge gaps during times of confusion and panic. He will not
be easy to intimidate and may refuse to be influenced by the crowd.
This snake reserves the right to pass his own judgment. By and large,
this will be the most graceful and enchanting of all the Snakes. Cool,
collected and immensely charming, he will be loyal to friends and
have an army of supporters. Conservative and frugal with money, the
hard-working and systematic Earth Snake will succeed in banking,
insurance and real estate investments and can reconcile his needs
with his resources. Here is a Snake who knows his limits and who
will be careful not to overextend himself.

Just Checking
After Hildegard and I met, soon our love blossomed into the
desire to be married. At the time, of course, I was the fellow who
had come from the other side of the Iron Curtain, out of nowhere.
No-one knew my family, my friends, my background. How do you
verify the bona-fideness of this contender? Hildegard certainly got
lots of advice from her family and friends to stay clear of the man
who came in from the cold.
Without telling me, of course, Hildegard went about doing her
homework to check me out and try to answer the question of whether
or not I was the guy for her, whether it would work at all. Practically
all the bets from those who knew her were that it wasn’t going to last.
I was the wrong guy for her. Why bother, especially since other men
were lining up, begging for her hand.
In addition to whatever ordinary personal research Hildegard
did, she pursued two then commonly used avenues: She took some
of the letters I had written her and submitted them to a grapholocial
authority for analysis, and she consulted the Western World’s astro-


I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

logical signs.
Apparently, I passed the handwriting test with flying colors.
I was born under the sign of Taurus, and Hildegard was a Capri-
corn. Here is what the astrological signs said according to the Twelve
Signs of the Zodiac:

Taurus
The ruling planet of the Bull is Venus.
The Tauri’ characteristics are solidity, practicality, extreme deter-
mination and strength of will — no one will ever drive them… They
are stable, balanced, conservative good, law-abiding citizens and
lovers of peace… as they have a sense of material values and physical
possessions, respect for property and a horror of falling into debt,
they will do everything in their power to maintain security…
Mentally, they are keen-witted and practical… Their character
is generally dependable, steadfast, prudent, just, firm and unshaken
in the face of difficulties. Their vices arise from their virtues, going
to extremes on occasion, such as sometimes being too slavish to the
conventions they admire.
They are faithful and generous friends with a great capacity
for affection… In the main, they are gentle, even tempered, good
natured, modest and slow to anger, disliking quarreling and avoid-
ing ill-feeling. If they are provoked, however, they can explode into
violent outbursts of ferocious anger… Equally unexpected are their
occasional sallies into humor and exhibitions of fun.
Although their physical appearance may belie it, they have a
strong aesthetic taste, enjoying art, for which they may have a talent,
beauty (recoiling from anything sordid or ugly) and music. Allied to
their taste for all things beautiful is a love for the good things of life,
pleasure, comfort, luxury and good food and wine and they may have
to resist the temptation to over indulgence…
In their work, Tauri are industrious and good crafts people and
are not afraid of getting their hands dirty. They are reliable, practi-
cal, methodical and ambitious… they are creative and good founders

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter one

of enterprises where the rewards of their productiveness come from


their own work and not that of others. They can flourish in many
different trades and professions: banking, architecture, building,
almost any form of bureaucracy, auctioneering, farming, medicine,
chemistry, industry; Tauri make good managers… They make an
ideal trustee or guardian…
They are above average amorously and sensually self-conscious,
but sexually straightforward and not given to experiment. They make
constant, faithful, home loving spouses and thoughtful, kindly par-
ents, demanding too much of neither their spouses nor children.
No other sign in the zodiac is closer to earth than Taurus. The
main objective in leading a Taurean life is
primarily (though not entirely) to maintain
stability and physical concerns. His inner
spiritual sense longs for earthly harmony
and wholesomeness.
Some well known Tauri are: William
Shakespeare (April 26, 1564), Sigmund
Freud (May 6, 1856), Fred Astaire (May
10, 1899).

Capricorn
The Goat’s ruling planet is Saturn.
Capricorn is one of the most stable
and (mostly) serious of the zodiacal types. These independent,
rocklike characters have many sterling qualities. They are normally
confident, strong willed and calm. These hardworking, unemotional,
shrewd, practical, responsible, persevering, and cautious to the ex-
treme, persons are capable of persisting for as long as is necessary
to accomplish a goal they have set for themselves. They are reliable
workers in almost any profession they undertake. They are the major
finishers of most projects started by the 'pioneering' signs; with firm
stick-to-it-ness they quickly become the backbone of anyone they
work for.

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

Capricorns make of themselves resourceful, determined manag-


ers, setting high standards for themselves as and others. They strive al-
ways for honesty in their criticism of self, they respect discipline from
above and demand it from those beneath them. In their methodical,
tough, stubborn, unyielding way, they persist against personal hard-
ship, putting their families and/or their work before their own needs
and welfare to reach their objectives long after others have given up
and fallen by the wayside. They plan carefully to fulfill their ambi-
tions (which often include becoming wealthy), they are economical
without meanness, and able to achieve great results with minimum
effort and expense. Because of their organizing ability they are able
to work on several projects simultaneously.
They are fair as well as demanding. There is a tendency to pes-
simism, melancholy and even unhappiness which many Capricorns
are unable to keep to themselves. In the extreme this trait can make
them a very depressed individual; ecstatic happiness alternating with
the most wretched kind of misery which is subconsciously buried.
For that reason, capable Capricorns should spend many hours in
meditation, gathering the strength to control such inner emotions.
The swings in mood are not the only reason some Capricorns
deserve the adjective based on their name — capricious. They can
be surprisingly and suddenly witty and subtle for the quiet, reserved
individuals they seem to be, and they also have a tendency to ruin
things by unexpected and utterly irresponsible bouts of flippancy.
Their intellects are sometimes very subtle. They think profoundly
and deeply, thoroughly exploring all possibilities before deciding
on a 'safe' alternative. They have good memories and an insatiable
yet methodical desire for knowledge. They are rational, logical and
clearheaded, have good concentration, delight in debate in which
they can show off their cleverness by luring their adversaries into
traps and confounding them with logic.
They make few good friends but are intensely loyal to those they
do make. Most marry for life.
Their occupations can include most professions that have to do
with math or money and they are strongly attracted to music. They

12
Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter one

can be economists, financiers, bankers, contractors, managers. They


excel as bureaucrats, especially where projects demanding long-term
planning and working are concerned, and their skill in debate and
love of dialectic make them good politicians. They are excellent
teachers. If working with their hands, they can become practical
scientists, engineers, farmers and builders. The wit and flippancy
which is characteristic of certain Capricorns may make some turn
to entertainment as a career.
Some famous Capricorns are: Sir Isaac Newton (December 25,
1642) Louis Pasteur (December 27, 1822), Elvis Presley (January 8,
1935)

When, Who, How, Where, What next?


Many people go through life without ever knowing who they are,
where they really came from, and where they are going. That’s too
bad and need not be so at all. Obviously who we are depends very
much on what we are made of and where we come from, at least the
physical building blocks, such as our DNA, blood type, etc. For the
rest, of course, it depends on our intellectual and spiritual roots and
environment. Lots of forces have taken part and are taking part in
shaping you, some of which you have no control over, and others
you’d be amazed to learn that you can master. On balance there are
probably many more which can be mastered or at least influenced
than there are those which cannot. The result is the unique you.
It certainly helps to know who you are, where you came from and
where you are going. For health and happiness it’s a must, not only
for you individually, but also for your family, for the entire nation.
This is another reason why you may want to affirm that you are a
very specific American - or whatever - by choice, not just by accident
of birth or otherwise.
Subconsciously, you may have given this some thought, but I
recommend that you become fully conscious of it. It will make your
entire system run better. The earlier in your life you start doing this,
the better. Using the procedure as demonstrated in this chapter might

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

be a good way to get going. Plus, it’s a lot of fun. It starts you think-
ing. It sharpens your focus. Others will recognize this also, and you
as a person will grow.
Start building your own personal icon, not out of fantasy, but
from the facts and forces which are out there, and within you. You’ll
love it. And everybody else will love you for it, also.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter two

Chapter Two

Barbarians, Mongols,
and Those From the West

First a Little Theory (not much)


From what I know now about ancestor research, I take all those
data with a grain of salt: better, two grains of salt. Records can be
wrong and lead you astray. People with their own agendas can be
wicked in what they write for posterity while destroying the real
evidence. Nevertheless, using the laws of probability and deduction,
we can come up with a fairly reasonable, at least a logical, picture.
Still, it might be wise to question specifics. I have good reason for
this suggestion, but more on that later.
Nowadays, of course, we have the means to look into the past
which all the generations before us didn’t. We can positively identify
lineage by DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid, the molecular basis of hered-
ity). We can also look at the features of an individual and compare

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them to those of groups with identical characteristics. Color of skin


and hair come to mind, just as examples. The shape of a nose, the
construction of the teeth, the hands, legs, color and shape of the eyes,
mouth, ears, you name it. This even carries over into thinking. It
was amazing to me to discover that related individuals, though they
didn’t grow up together and never met, displayed similar gestures,
had a similar gait, even had similar prejudices and attacked mental
tasks in comparable ways.
America, of course, is bound to make these kind of comparisons
more difficult in the future, for the USA has been and continues to
be a rather active melting pot with many different ingredients going
in. Who knows? Over time, a new mixed mass may develop from
it, which becomes more and more homogenous. Yet I doubt it, for
many reasons: First, humans have found ways to tinker with their
genes, and thus they will. Second, future parents choose their part-
ners — consciously or unconsciously — to produce healthy offspring,
hopefully with genetic competitive advantages, which is the opposite
of homogenization. Third, are subjects of academic controversy be-
longing to another story.
In the meantime, we can count on some assistance in the research
of ancestors by following the roots. Using the available means and by
extrapolation I can give you a fair picture of my old, old ancestors,
who also may be yours. Or, if they are not, they can be of similar
stature and come from similar groups, that, of course, depending
on where your ancestral roots lead you back to. Eventually, they all
converge somewhere in antiquity into a common human source. We
are all in this life together.

From the North


Rome was being sacked on August 24, 410 A.D. One of my fore-
bears on my maternal grandmother’s side was among the Visigoths
under Alaric’s command.
During that time Rome was weak, after centuries of leading the
world. By then the citizens of Rome were used to comfort, to slaves

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter two

who attended to their every


want and need, and to receiving
government handouts. They re-
belled rather than submit to the
slightest bit of suffering. When
the Visigoths army of Alaric
approached, they used politics
to divert the impending crisis
rather than stand up and fight
the enemy. In collusion with
Alaric, the Senate recognized a
new emperor, Attalus, and re-
nounced the rule of Honorius.
The dethronement of Attalus,
however, brought no conciliation
from Honorius, who was hold-
ing out in Ravenna. Therefore,
for the third time, the Alaric led
barbarians moved to the walls of
Rome in early August 410. Again the Roman steep walls could have
held off the attacking army, but they didn’t prevent a siege, the nor-
mal prelude to an attack.
For some days the Romans were starved. Then on the 24th of
August 410, someone on the inside opened the Salarian Gate, one
of the twelve gates of the city, and a foreign army marched on the
streets of Rome for the first time in eight hundred years. One of my
forebears was there among the crushing soldiers, the news of which
was passed down through the generations of my mother’s family.

Rome Defeated
The sacking of Rome shook the ancient world. Naturally, there
were many versions of what actually happened. According to one
story: an aristocratic Roman lady, Faltonia Proba, shocked by the
suffering of the Romans, opened the gate in order to try and bring an

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end to the misery. There is no controversy about the fact of treachery


— someone, for whatever reason, opened the gate to let the Romans’
enemy in; and for three days Rome was plundered.
How much damage was done? No one knows for sure, but it must
have been considerable. The disorganized mob of Alaric left desola-
tion in its wake. No doubt it pleased Alaric to plunder Rome. Palaces
and temples were stripped of their every moveable assets, decoration
and idols. Romans were wantonly killed, women were raped, build-
ings were burned to the ground. To be sure, had the city not been
barren of food, because of the blockade, the harm might have been
even greater. But the Goths, with their inadequate logistical system,
moved out quickly and down to Campania around the Bay of Naples
in search of food…
Alaric took with him Honorius’ sister, Galla Placida, who was
about sixteen years old at the time. With the valuable hostage he
and his army streamed through
southern Italy, a region of great
untapped wealth, which had not
seen such a force since the days
of Hannibal. The destination of
this horde was Africa, the bread-
basket of Italy, itself a center of
many wealthy cities, ripe for the
plucking. The barbarian chief-
tain finally reached the tip of
the toe of the boot of Italy and
looked across the strait at Sicily.
As preparations were made for
the crossing, the miracle Sicil-
ians had prayed for seemed to
happen: a storm scattered the
Gothic fleet, and Alaric instead
decided to march north and back
up the peninsula. Then, without
warning of a lingering illness, the

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter two

sacker of Rome died.


Alaric’s manner of burial has contributed mightily to his myth.
We are told that the river Busento in Southern Italy was diverted
from its course by captive labor and that Alaric was laid to rest in the
river-bed and then the water was let to resume its normal course. If
the idea was to conceal the king’s final resting place — and it must
have been, since the laborers were all killed — the method has, so
far, at least, been successful. The tomb has defied its discovery. So
much to that branch of the family.

From the East, the Far East


From bits and pieces I have been able to gather about my mother’s
side of our family, the paternal side looks something like this: The
ancestors of my mother’s father came from the Far East. They were
members of the Mongol nation under Genghis Kahn who lived from
1162 to 1227. Genghis Khan was an illiterate man who became the
ruthless and successful conqueror of the medieval world. First, his
Mongol army invaded northern China, and then he led his grow-
ing Asian confederacy westward and all the way to Europe while
destroying the centers of civilization along the way, but outside his
native steppes. The Mongols carried back home with them selected
philosophers, priests, and skilled technicians to serve the nomadic
people. By the time of his death, Genghis Khan had conquered the
land mass extending all the way from Peking to the Caspian Sea, and
his generals had raided Persia and Russia. His successors extended
their power over the whole of China, Persia, and most of Russia.
Although undefeated in his lifetime, Genghis Khan’s ideas of rul-
ing the rest of the world from Mongolia failed after his death when
his descendants became educated and influenced by the separate
cultures over which they ruled. This is also how the occupiers became
absorbed by the Chinese and the Slavs in their respective territories,
as well as by others. So that’s the gene pool where my grandfather’s
parents were drawing from.
To give you an idea of the Mongol traits, specifically the personal-

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ity of Genghis Khan, he was a complex man. He had great physical


strength, tenacity of purpose, and an unbreakable will. He was not
obstinate and would listen to advice from others, including his wives
and mother. He was flexible. He could deceive but was not petty. He
had a sense of the value of loyalty. He was religiously minded, car-
ried along by his sense of a divine mission, and in moments of crisis
he would reverently worship the Eternal Blue Heaven, the supreme
deity of the Mongols. All his life he could attract the loyalties of men
willing to serve him, both fellow nomads and civilized men from the
settled world. His fame could even persuade the aged Taoist sage
Ch'ang-ch'un to journey the length of Asia to discourse upon reli-
gious matters. He was, above all, adaptable, a man who could learn.
Organization, discipline, mobility, and ruthlessness of purpose were
the fundamental factors in his military successes.

From the West


Both of my father’s parents came from the same geographical
and ethnic background. For details of the family tree I relied on Dr.
Helmut Straube’s family history (a draft copy of which was given
to me by the author in 1984), which went as far back as the 17th
century. Extending this lineage further took us to Athens at the time
of Socrates, the cradle of the Western World. One of my ideological
relatives is Diogenes of Sinope, born in Sinope, Asia Minor, about
412 BC, died perhaps at Corinth, Greece, maybe 323 BC.
Diogenes went to Athens and asked Antisthenes* to admit him
among his disciples. He taught that a wise man, to be happy, must
endeavor to preserve himself independent of fortune, of men, and
of himself; to do this, he must despise riches, power, honor, arts and
sciences, and all the enjoyments of life. For this purpose he subjected
himself to the severest trials and disregarded all forms of polite society.
He often struggled to overcome his appetite or satisfied it with the
coarsest food, practiced the most rigid temperance, even at feasts,
in the midst of the greatest abundance, and did not consider it be-
neath his dignity to ask alms. By day he walked through the streets

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter two

of Athens barefoot, without any outer garment, a stick in his hand


and a wallet on his shoulders; by night he slept in a tub… Seeing a
boy draw water with his hand, he discarded his wooden goblet as an
unnecessary utensil. He never spared the follies of men, but openly
and loudly inveighed against vice and corruption, attacking them
with satire and irony.
Diogenes lived in summer at Corinth and in winter at Athens.
It was in Corinth that Alexander the Great*** found him on the
roadside basking in the sun and, astonished at the indifference with
which the ragged beggar regarded him, entered into conversation
with him, saying, “I am Alexander the Great,” to which the philoso-
pher answered, “And I am Diogenes the Cynic**.” Alexander allowed
him to ask a boon. “I ask nothing,” answered the philosopher, “but
that thou wouldst get out of my sunshine.” Surprised at this proof of
content, the king is said to have exclaimed: “Were I not Alexander,
I would be Diogenes.”

Author’s Note:
See references re: Antisthenes, Cynics, and Alexander the Great
in Appendix A References page 425.

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Chapter Three

Curiosity,
the Next Best Thing to Knowledge

Way Back When


Allowing two children to a generation, three generations to a
century, and ignoring intermarriages among progenitors and among
issue, every person alive now has over one million ancestors who
lived seven hundred years ago. Thus, everyone has two parents, four
grand-parents, and eight great-grandparents. Doubling the number
for each past generation for twenty generations will result in an as-
tonishing one million ancestors.
Considering the roving character of many human beings, this
seems to prove that our progenitors came from every race, and that
some ancestors of everyone now living must have participated in
every important event which occurred 2,000 or more years ago on
any part of the earth's surface; and that our numerous ancestors
must have moved in all grades of society from kings to savages, and
ranged through degrees of morality from saints to criminals, and
were among the richest, the poorest, the wisest to the most idiotic,
and the strongest to the weakest on the globe.
I am in no position to judge just how far this description of my
forebears by one of my law school professors is correct. However,
the time when I was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1929 would have
been a good time to reflect.

Answers Leading to New Questions


Once I was old enough to see and hear and draw my own con-
clusions, it made little sense to me that my father had joined the
German National Socialist Workers Party, while apparently being
opposed to fascism, as was the rest of the family, and later helping
friends to escape its wrath. The surface logic presented by my father

22
Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter three

at the time was pretty much the party line. He apparently believed
that races which remain clean and strong will survive, but others that
mix with “inferior” races will die. It was important for a “healthy”
and “strong” human being to have the “right” kind of ancestors. My
father complied with the wishes of the Party and completed a long
investigation into his and my mother’s predecessors. This, of course,
was done to prove that they were all descended from a meticulously
clean Germanic ancestral origin.
In the case of my mother this investigation had turned up what
seemed to be an embarrassing fact: my maternal grandfather was
an illegitimate child whose ancestral background no one knew. He
could have been of Polish, Jewish, Russian, or Slavic origin. What a
sin! He had lived in Silesia, working on farms and later-on moving
to Dresden. He married my grandmother, whose ancestors, my fa-
ther discovered, were from respectable Danish stock. One of them,
an Admiral Heinze, had served as a commander in the Danish fleet
during the War of 1914 - 1918.

How Far Back Can


You Be Certain?
My father’s ancestors
were tracked and traced
all the way back to the
year 1755. Again, as it
superficially showed, ap-
parently many of them
had been miners in the
Ore Mountains of Sax-
ony. They lived in rent-
ed shacks in and near a
very small village called
Obergruna. Later on, my
father took his family to
this village. In 1939, I no-

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ticed on the gravestones in the Obergruna cemetery that almost all


people in the community had one of two names: They were either
Straubes or Peuckerts.
Peuckert was my father’s mother’s maiden name. She came to
Dresden with my grandfather, Richard Straube, who no doubt was
the one to eventually change the development of the Straube family.
Richard was a husky man of 6' 6". He had served an apprenticeship
as a baker in the village. Later he became a journeyman and worked
in a bakery in Rüesseina near Nossen. There he became a “bakery
master” in 1899. In Rüesseina he met my grandmother, who was the
oldest daughter of his employer. Richard was a thrifty man with a
sharp eye set on his future.

Pulling up on the Bootstraps


Some of my grandparents’ sisters and brothers managed to emi-
grate to America. There was no future in Obergruna, that was for
sure, nor in Rüsseina, for the Bäekermeister wasn't old enough to let
the new “master” take over. Both my grandfather and grandmother
made the twenty mile journey to Dresden where they were married
in 1901. Richard had leased the “Schanzenbäckerei,” which he op-
erated as Bäekermeister. In 1910, he bought a house and bakery at
29 Klopstockstrasse in Cotta, a suburb of Dresden. While Richard
baked, Louise sold the wares in the store. Both were diligent and
Richard knew his trade well, so that their business flourished and
Straube buns and cakes were well known and liked throughout the
area.
Word got back to
Obergruna that Rich-
ard was doing well in
Dresden. Actually, it was
Richard who sent word
back to Obergruna, be-
cause he needed help-
ers. And, eventually he

24
Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter three

functioned as a bridgehead, funneling off young ambitious Straubes


and Peuckerts from Obergruna into the metropolis. Many relatives
came to work in the bakery, at the ovens, helping in the store, and as
delivery boys. Because of lack of accommodation, most of the helpers
lived with my grandparents. Thus, the quarters became crowded.
Soon the bakery was working in three shifts, my grandfather being
there almost all the time.

Family and Fortune


In 1902, my father was born, the first of Richard and Louise
Straube’s three sons. Werner followed in 1905, and Helmut in 1913.
In the meantime, my grandparents not only had children and a good
reputation as bakers, but also had acquired some investment property.
My grandfather had become the uncrowned king of our relatives. I
only remember my grandfather as an old man, after most of his work
had been accomplished. He died in 1935, when I was six years old.
But I can clearly imagine what kind of a person he was by listening
to my other relatives talk about him or referring to him. He was the
man who knew the answers to most problems brought before him,
and he could be counted on to act and pass out good advice.
He was a strong, stern, but fair man who never took NO for an
answer. As I so clearly remember, my father used to explain to us
children that he felt sorry for himself at times, seeing his father as-
serting his rights and powers. For instance, one Sunday afternoon
Grandpa Straube took his wife and children out for a walk. They
stopped at a fashionable garden restaurant to have coffee and cake.
Since it was summertime, the restaurant was crowded. This didn't
keep grandpa from having the long awaited refreshments. He looked
around for tables where one or two chairs were still vacant, and
he proceeded to distribute the members of his family on the empty
chairs. My father, then a boy of 10, was left at a table where the other
guests protested that the chair was already taken, that the occupant
was in the washroom and would return right away. But Grandpa
would have none of that. The chair was empty, so it was going to be

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

occupied by little Herbert, who was going to have his coffee and cake
right there, seated among strangers. Not very happy, little Herbert
did so, and the alleged occupant never returned.
During his lifetime, grandpa Richard accumulated sufficient
wealth to buy several apartment buildings in Dresden. In the early
1920s he owned five apartment houses. After Germany’s hyperinfla-
tion early in the 1920s followed by other severe economic problems
culminating in the 1929 world depression, he ended up with only
three buildings by 1930. The idea was that one of the remaining
apartment buildings would go to each one of his sons after his and
grandmother’s death. After Richard died in 1935, grandmother con-

26
Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter three

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28
Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter three

tinued to manage the real estate. My father’s brother Werner took


over the bakery, because he had the least education and thus deserved
the most paternal help. The other two sons had done well in school
and were counted on to do well on their own. Helmut, the last son,
born after grandfather had accumulated some wealth already, was
sent to the University to become a medical doctor. Helmut gave my
grandparents great satisfaction, for he was their example to show
that a simple baker can not only become prosperous himself, but he
can also produce offspring with academic titles. A “Doctor” meant
“having arrived” for the German bourgeoisie in the first quarter of
the 20th century.

Children Choosing Different Careers


My father became a baker, for he was the first son, and he must
have been considered to take over the bakery before developments
changed. However, Herbert apparently didn’t like the idea of becom-

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ing a baker for the rest of his life, having grown up amidst the toil
and sweat of this hard work, with lots of relatives around him. After
having learned the bakery trade at an early age, Herbert went out to
serve an apprenticeship as merchant in a wholesale company. This
should have been a good experience for him. My father was interested
in sports, too, and he became an active member of the Rowing Club
Cotta, participating in many competitions and winning a few.
But times were rough in Germany in the mid-twenties, par-
ticularly for a young man who wasn’t top-of-the-line educated and
didn’t want to go into his father's bakery business. After Herbert had
absolved his wholesale apprenticeship, Germany was spilling over
with unemployed, and there was no job for Herbert anywhere. He
was too proud to go back to the bakery of his parents. So he looked
around, but nothing else came his way.
Finally, Grandpa, who must have seen what was going on, came
to the rescue again, for he was a man who knew how to handle any
situation. He was a member of a bowling club in Dresden, and Herr
Jost, General Manager of the Barmer Ersatzkasse, an insurance
company, also was a member. Herr Jost was not an owner of the
insurance company, but a salaried manager. He liked high living
enjoying himself. Once in a while he’d run out of money. Then he’d
approach some people of moderate wealth, such as Grandpa at the
bowling club, to give him a hush-hush top secret personal loan. This
time Grandpa agreed, on one condition: He'd have to give a job to
his son Herbert.
Nobody told Herbert what had happened—and I only found out
accidentally, long after the death of my father—but Herbert was
somehow directed to apply at the Barmer Ersatzkasse, and, this time,
he surely got the job. In 1925 Herbert Straube started as an insur-
ance processor, Kaufmännischer Angestellter, at the main offices of
the Barmer Ersatzkasse in Dresden.

Patriotism and Politics


Germany having lost the war of 1914-18, and the inflation of 1923

30
Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter three

having wiped out a good part of my grandparents’ assets — and almost


everyone else’s in Germany — made a ripe climate for aggressive
political ideas being contemplated and listened to by many people.
In spite of the good efforts of then President Woodrow Wilson, who
represented the USA at the post-WW I peace conference, the Treaty
of Versailles ended up a treaty of vengeance with which the Germans,
a proud people, were expected to live. Instead, a boiling pot of politi-
cal unrest was created, in which communists and national socialists
grabbed the headlines.
For most of my life I didn’t know what had prompted my father
to join the National Socialist Workers Party in 1929. Only 45 years
after his death did I find out how it all came about. I grew up with
the impression that it must have been his conviction that National
Socialism was the best remedy for the strife-torn German Weimar
Republic with its more than forty parties, and that Hitler was the

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only alternative to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Rational-


izing this, I also knew that an uncoerced free majority of Germans
had voted for Hitler in 1932/33 when the party came to power. So,
why couldn't my dad be one of them? Lacking other knowledge and
experience, my father was a nationalist. I thought that he was prob-
ably frustrated in his quest for success in business or professional
life, unwilling to follow in the toiling ways of his parents. Doing what
everybody else was doing, he might have thought of getting a crack
at changing the world by a simple formula of being a member of the
successful crowd. Little did I know!
I was wrong! It was merely the opening act of a tragedy which
played out subsequently and culminated with the death of my father
6 days after his 43rd birthday. More of this later.

32
Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter four

Chapter Four

From Peace to War

A Dream Not Pursued


As a young child one may not comprehend the significance of an
event at the time it happens nor fully understand what the adults
around you are talking about, but your mind somehow stores that
information and later, you remember. This is how I recall, from a
conversation my mother had with friends, that my dad and mom,
some time after they had met, considered emigrating to America.
Germany was run down then, after the first World War. Jobs were
scarce. The politicians were bickering. There seemed to be no fu-
ture. But America was that silver lining on the horizon. There, men
still went from rags to riches. There, life had a purpose… at least,
so it seemed.
It must have been 1937 or 38. My youngest sister was still being
nursed by my mother. And it was during one of those nursing ses-
sions that a former coworker of my mother at the hospital came by
with her fiance, an anesthetist, to say good bye. In retrospect, I recall
he had a Jewish name. At the time that didn’t set off any thoughts
for me of why they were leaving, but today, of course, it is all crystal
clear. They were emigrating to America, and as it turned out, just
in time. I remember mother telling them that she and her husband
almost went there some time ago. That made my ears perk up and
my concentration shift from the homework I was doing on the big
table in the adjoining room while the doors were open.
But, you didn't go? the nurse asked, and mother explained. It
would have been quite a decision to make, for they had nobody in
America and they'd have to leave all their friends and relatives behind.
The main problem, as mother recalled, was to scrape up the money
for the voyage. Their parents didn't like the idea, and they didn't
want to borrow for a trip to somewhere where no job was waiting.
That very same evening after the nurse and her friend had long
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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

left, mother had dinner with us children around the kitchen table.
Our father was working late and had not come home from work yet.
Mother, obviously still occupied with the line of thought of her after-
noon conversation, talked with us, like an afterthought, and brought
up another angle on the same subject: You know, she said, Grandfa-
ther Straube had strong feelings about the matter. He chided your
father for wanting to run away from Germany’s national problems.
He said that the German nation, through its schools and by mere
existence, had made a heavy investment
in its people. That leaving the country
was like the blossom deserting the tree
without bearing fruit. "You were born
here” he said, “and that's where you be-
long. America belongs to the Indians."
Grandpa Straube considered emigra-
tion, particularly at a time of national
misery, as treason. "Go to Berlin, if
you want," he said, "or to Frankfurt
and make yourself useful. But don't
run away from your homeland."

Gone Fishing
Mother had deep faith in God and his guidance. She'd always
have plenty of Bible quotations on the tip of her tongue. Whichever
way life would turn, she'd always be ready to understand why things
were happening a particular way and quote why, how and what the
Lord had done as he did, and that this was the best way also for us
now. Also, in this case, she felt that everything had worked out just
fine.
During the summer, we boys would go fishing where the little
Lockwitz brook entered the Elbe. We'd put a worm or, preferably,
a fly on the hook. Then we'd stand on the low bridge crossing the
brook and let the line down toward the water. The trick was to guide
the hook with bait to the fish, which we could see in swarms through

34
Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter four

the clear water, - then to let the fly just touch the water so that the
trout would be able to bite. Naturally, whenever a trout snapped,
you'd have to jerk the line up to make sure the hook caught, then
bring up the fish. During those days, we used no fishing rods nor
any other fancy equipment. The line was sometimes a fairly heavy
string taken off one of mother's packages from the store.
Once in a while, a barge would go by, out on the Elbe, loaded up
with coal or sand. Usually a small boat or dinghy was attached to
the back of the motor-driven barge by means of a rope. This little
row boat was used for going ashore in case of emergencies. It was
usually empty and swimmers were supposed to stay away from these
boats, for they were pulled along maybe ten feet behind the ship's
propeller, and capsized easily. For boys, of course, this boat was the
main aim of our swimming, to climb in and get a free ride upstream,
then later swim or float back down to near our fishing spot.
Occasionally, my younger brother would take over my fishing
string and hold it until I returned from the swim with the older boys.
Once he had two fish bite, both at once, at both lines and he had them
still dangling and jumping on the lines when the others and I came
back. We quickly helped him get the trout up and out of the water.

Waking up to War
But with war breaking out and eventually engulfing all of Europe,
idyllic episodes of life like that were blown away quickly. School
assignments were not only in academics but became also specific in
support of the war effort. One of those jobs which was assigned to
us as teenagers was the collection of recyclable materials, such as
old metal, paper and other reusable materials, so that nothing in
the country would go to waste. Posters were displayed everywhere
proclaiming that waste was a national crime. Each schoolboy was
given a quota, expressed in points to be reached per month, collect-
ing such junk.
Our family had a little hand drawn cart which I was allowed to
use for this duty. With two classmates of mine we would push along

35
I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

the streets and go from house to house asking for old papers and
what have you.
We'd sort our acquisitions in such a way that each one of us could
report an outstanding record, although it was really the combined
effort of three. For instance, over months we collected used razor
blades. We determined by lot who was to present them. Ulrich Huth
was the lucky one. He presented 4456 used razor blades, a record
in school. Razor blades were most valuable steel to be re-molten
into weapons or plates of armor. The school principal intended to
announce this grand achievement at the weekly roll-call. He had
the cigar box with all the blades set on display in front of him on the
podium. Someone mischievous — or an obvious saboteur — kicked
over the box, just before the speech. The blades flew and were scat-
tered all over the floor. A crowd of milling boys started picking up
blades, cutting their fingers, bleeding, cursing… And finally, the
principal's review contained no reference to the blades, which were
not counted again, either.
Günter Sauer once made and broke the record collecting precious
metals. In this case the precious metal happened to be copper. We
found it in the form of downspouts which had either already fallen
down or were loosely hanging on the wall of an old museum which
suffered from obvious neglect during those trying times. If anyone
had known where we picked up the disintegrating copper eaves-
troughing that had fallen down and dismantled the rest, all three of
us might have been expelled from school or worse.
I never made any special mention in this respect although we
often tried it with paper, even by hoarding every ounce in excess of
our quota for months, then soaking the inside bunches with water
to add weight. Somebody else would always show up with more old
paper yet — maybe with more water retention inside.
One lesson I learned from this was that it was difficult to beat a
record in an everyday item or commodity anywhere, for you'd have
tremendous competition. It is always easier — and much more spec-
tacular — to establish a new record in an exotic field, such as razor
blades or copper eavestroughing.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter four

Lessons Learned
Mother was unhappy with the entire Nazi endeavors, particularly
the ideas of involving young people in national problems of which
they understood nothing. She felt we had to grow up first, develop
our own minds before we should work actively, at least until we were
able to comprehend its ramifications. She was the first to find out by
thorough questioning how we had established the precious metal col-
lection record. She told my father. He exploded. I got another lecture
plus the threat of a paddy-whack in case of any repeat, which was all
part of his tough love as well as otherwise unfailing support.
Father also told the parents of my two collaborators, and some-
thing similar must have happened to
them. Günter and I never mentioned
copper eavestroughing again. When
Ulrich brought it up we told him to
"shut up." Having taken care of the
punishment "first hand," my father did
not inform the school. Apparently, nor
did the other parents. Mother gave
me the moral going over, and this was Picture taken by me: My father
worse than the paddy-whack. and my brother while the three
Everything had to be above board of us hiked from Amrum in the
at all times,— this was the lesson, North Sea to an adjoining island
regardless of Mr. Hitler, or contests, at low tide via a shallow sand-
bank normally covered by the
or anything else. Mother and father
ocean during high tide.
made sure I went to church-provided
scripture studies regularly from then
on. Our pastor's name was Rabe. He occasionally showed up at our
house to visit my grandmother, one of his devoted followers. He'd
come when she was sick at times or she hadn't been able to make it
to church for some other reason. Pastor Rabe was later to disap-
pear from the Lutheran Church suddenly to spend over two years
in a concentration camp, as we found out only after the war. He was
a man with solid principles, who knew how to teach children who

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

came to service with firecrackers in their pockets and mischief on


their minds.

Ongoing Education
A relatively frequent guest at our house was Herr Einhorn, a
friend of my Father's at the rowing club. Herr Einhorn was a head
shorter than Father. He was of light frame, the best steersman they
ever had at the club. His brain was known to work like a computer,
and that's why they won the races with him in the back. He also
could shout fiercely, getting the rowers to throw in their last ounce
of muscle or energy to pull through to victory. And although Herr
Einhorn came from academia originally, still for some reason un-
known to me, he carried out a manual job then. I believe he worked
as a janitor.
Mrs. Einhorn had studied abroad and spoke fluent English. The
Einhorns had friends in Britain and brought a cosmopolitan atmo-
sphere to our house. It was pleasant talking and listening to them
and hearing of the great wide world outside ours. Herr Einhorn had
an easy smile, yet, at times he seemed to withdraw any time political
subjects came up for comments or discussion, or the topic approached
anything that had to do with Hitler and his Reich. Questioned, he'd
say that everything would blow over sooner or later, hopefully, not
too late. Only half a century later did I learn that the Einhorns,
who survived the holocaust in Germany, were Jews. I'll come back
to that subject later.
Therefore, in retrospect, it tickles my mind remembering one oc-
casion when father, Pastor Rabe and Herr Einhorn happened to meet
in our home at the same time. Somehow their topic of conversation
became the proper upbringing of children. Father was for a stern,
straight-forward, follow-the-book method on the one hand, while
on the other, there should be rewards given for doing better than
the norm, and there should be penalties for doing below, discipline
if necessary to be enforced with the occasional paddy-whack when
really deserved. He quoted Bismarck's chief of staff: “If you want

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter four

to learn to command, learn first how to follow.”


Pastor Rabe's method was a lot softer. It was to strictly follow the
scriptures. Learn from the Bible. Live with the Ten commandments,
and have a moral soul session with your charges once in a while.
Herr Einhorn held a sort of a maverick position. He felt that
young people couldn't be influenced very much regardless of what
you said. They would copy their elders in doing what they did. He
seemed to say to father and the clergyman: Don't talk so much, rather
be a good example. He felt that young people, left to themselves but
provided with the necessary learning, would easily find their own
ways. I always liked Herr Einhorn's attitude, for you never knew
what he was going to say and he made the two authoritative persons
look as if they had better look out for themselves than try to guide
their children.
Mind you, Father had the last word. After the guests had left, he
came to us children with mother at his side and said something like
this: Never mind what you've heard tonight. You don't understand
anything about this yet. All you have to know right now and to care
for is that you do your schoolwork and help your mother with the
dishes. He said that he, as a child, and Mother, as a child, didn't
have all the many advantages and conveniences we were enjoying
and that the world was in a great upheaval with an uncertain out-
come. But whatever the future, there would be always tasks for the
prepared and opportunities for the diligent. So "stick your nose in
the schoolbook. You'll need all the knowledge you can get." And we
sighed, and agreed.

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

Chapter Five

Growing up Fast

Youth Wants to Believe and Belong


If it hadn't been for my youth at the time of World War II, I'd be
dead today, because I had been reared in a world where the highest
fulfillment in life was to die for my fatherland. "Give us death or
victory," was the Spartan motto to be adopted. It also became mine.
And my mind was made up even as a boy that the battles in which I
would participate were going to be victorious, or I was going to be
buried in one of those non-descriptive mass graves.
I volunteered for paramilitary training when I was nine years old.
As a young boy I was anxious to learn how to move under enemy at-
tack, to read maps, and to find my way at night in the woods. While
children in other nations may have played Cowboys and Indians,
we exercised sharpshooting and physical fitness, and learned how
to survive in the cold. Nowadays, this probably could be compared
to growing up like in a state sanctioned terrorist camp.
With my father as an example of obedience to the new Hitler
regime, I was being trained for where Germany's destiny was going
to be decided — the battlefields. Anxious to excel, I aimed to become
an officer, and only later on when I very much enjoyed chemistry
at school, did I consider becoming a chemist instead. My parents
were very much opposed to my ambitions of becoming a military
officer. They reminded me of the lost war of 1914-18, that the best
didn't survive, many of those who did survive came home crippled.
Being the losers, even the healthy ones, were thrown out of the Army,
without a job or qualifications for a civilian job. I didn't understand
my parents’ attitude because it was in striking contrast to my father's
pronounced conviction of the regime's aims. How could he believe
in "Great Germany" and at the same time not support it by letting
his son become an officer? Well, it didn't make much sense to me
at the time. But neither did many other things my parents said or
40
Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter five

thought. I just felt that parents were against everything youngsters


were for. Maybe this was a natural reaction for them.

Catching up With a Vengeance


In the meantime, war came and almost passed us by. It was
February 13th, 1945. We still lived in Dresden. My classmates and
I were taking part in a night exercise with the Army outside Dresden,
as we were soon to be drafted into the Armed Forces. Although the
German armies excelled in fighting, Germany was losing the war
on all fronts. Germany's cities were being bombed to pieces. The
resources of the fatherland were shrinking rapidly, including the re-
sources of men able to fight. Now trained youth was made ready to
join the fighting forces. The 16, and eventually 15, year olds would
participate in defending their home towns.
Dresden had been an old historic city, established in 1206, a center
of art. Centuries of art-loving kings and Bürgers had accumulated

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

a wealth of art treasure troves exhibited in many homes, palaces,


museums and churches. Famous Renaissance architects, like Pöp-
pelmann under King August the Strong of Saxony and Poland, had
added impressive, unreplaceable buildings, bridges and churches.
Dresden was the Art City of Germany. In spite of the "total war"
being fought, Dresden wasn't armed, nor did it have any air defenses,
not even shelters for its population. It was common knowledge that
Dresden was not a military target.

Actually there were good military targets close to Dresden, on


the north side of the Elbe, for instance. There were barracks and
military training centers. This is where I happened to be in training
that night when the sirens sounded. We were led to the basement
of the barracks for protection. Hardly had we arrived when the
bombs started howling down. They sounded like a shrill whistle
coming closer and closer, finally hitting and detonating with a big
blast — somewhere — not on my head, for otherwise, I couldn't have
reported this to you.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter five

Igniting a Firestorm
It didn't take long for us to realize that this time, unlike so many
times before, the air alarm meant more than before. Actually, the
loudspeakers of the air control announced it in their calm, but dis-
turbed voices: Dresden was being bombed, first one section, then
another. Christmas trees — so called because of the light they put
in the sky — were all over the city lighting the gruesome act. And
tons and tons of incendiary bombs and explosives were unloaded by
wave upon wave of bombers.
In one of the relatively quiet moments between howling bombs
and the sound of fire, my comrades and I rushed out of the basement
trying to do what we could to help in the situation. The barracks were
still in good shape. Actually, they had hardly been hit. There were
a few incendiary bombs all around us which were relatively easy to
put out. I assigned myself to a group of volunteers who were going to
remove bombs which had failed to explode. A few had been located
and we carried the live bombs to a predetermined detonation place,
where eventually they would be exploded or otherwise made safe.
Since the barracks were up on the hills overlooking Dresden, I
could see what the real aim of the attack was. It was right down in
the valley before me, by now lighted in fire on all corners and ripped
by explosion upon explosion. There was no let-up in the attack, while
at the barracks there were no more hits. A few fires had been put
out, and the duds which had been found were removed.
As a precaution, because the barracks could be included again in
one of the next wave of bombings, the young soldiers in training were
told to dissolve, to get lost, go home or elsewhere, as fast as possible
and report back after the attack.

Night of Destruction
My parents' house was near the eastern end of the city. By now
it was 3 a.m. and Dresden was like a gigantic firecracker ripping and
burning all over at the same time. The sky was red and the waves
of bombers were still coming in. I headed east to cross the Elbe in

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

Dresden Zwinger before destruction

the far east of the city, walking and running all alone along a road to
the east. Once in a while I would duck down in a ditch when bombs
were heard howling nearby, or whenever debris was thrown or came
whining along through the air. I crossed the Elbe all right and made
it all the way home.
Our house, by some miraculous circumstances, was still okay and
so were the houses nearby.
The bombing attack had apparently started in midtown and was
slowly working its way to the suburbs in a ring of fire. But morning
came, and the bomber waves subsided. Piles of rubbles, smoldering
fire and bellowing smoke were the only patent signs of devastation
left behind.
My father happened to be out of town that night. But Mother,
brother and sisters were at home and all right. We had many rela-
tives and friends living in the city.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter five

Seeing is Believing
I took my father's motor bike and left for the city, for I wanted to
try to locate friends and relatives, to see whether I could help anyone
of them still alive. There were no other means of transportation. The
streets were blocked with rubble and smoke. The motor bike was
just right to get me through, one way or another. After I had made
my way inside the burning and smouldering rubble, I passed close
to my school and there I had to get off the bike, for the rubble was
all over the street and the smoke and fire were sweltering.
While pushing the bike over some of the rubble to where I knew
the street would have to go on, I suddenly stood before a charred
body that lay before me. A woman, naked, her clothes burned off.
She looked charcoal-like, discolored, into almost entirely black and
shrunk to a miniature size. What an awful picture! She lay there on
her back, legs pulled up and in the air. This was the first time I saw
a naked woman in my life. As an adolescent, I had longed for the
encounter with a woman some day, a woman I would love and one I
would be able to see naked. All these thoughts crossed my mind in

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

the second that I saw this shrunken body of what may have been a
beautiful woman only last night. No, this is not how I wanted to see
a woman! I turned my head and stumbled on.
Soon I made it to the place where Aunt Gertrud used to live.
But the big apartment
building wasn't there any
more. None of the build-
ings in the street were
there. Only ruins, rub-
ble, smouldering beams
and bricks all over, but
no street. While I was
standing there a minute
or two, thinking whether
to try to enter the smoul-
dering ruins to look for
signs of life, I heard
the sound of airplanes
overhead. Turning my
head, I heard the whin-
ing of bombs again. I hit
the ground faster than I
ever had. What now?
More bombs into that
smouldering rubble and
debris? Dresden, Crown Gate of Zwinger

More Bombs Into


the Rubble
Yes, a daytime attack was on. Bomber after bomber came over-
head and unloaded their deadly loads. It whined and detonated all
around me. It sounded like a fire which had been smouldering and
which now was being stirred and started burning brightly again. I
lay there with my face to the ground, aghast. Was this the war I was

46
Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter five

supposed to fight in? This war where women and children were being
sacrificed for no cause? Why did these bombers hate us so much?
I must have laid there for hours, in the middle of the rubble,
almost like a part of it. Finally, I got up, as if from a terrible dream.
The whining of bombs had long since stopped. Only fires and smoke
were all around. Maybe it was because of the smoke that I was crying.
I am a man and I am needed here, I thought. I found the motor bike
still intact, and pushing and pulling it through the debris, I finally
got back to the east, out where there was only smoke, and no rubble.
Our home had not been hit yet. It was still standing, and safe.

Aftermath of a Nightmare
My father had returned. He scolded me for leaving for the city
at such a time. Then all of us went to do whatever we could to help
the stream of refugees coming out of the city to find shelter and
help. I reported to the local school and helped feed and care for the
refugees. Once in a while there was a well known face among them,
one of my classmates or someone else I knew. It seemed that life as
I knew it had ended, and I was on the staff of a refugee camp. The
homeless slept in classrooms, 30 or 40 men, women, and children
together, on blankets and straw. They were fed soup or broth; the
diet didn't change for weeks.
Whole areas of the city were cordoned off until groups of civil
defense workers had picked up the dead, mostly charred bodies of
men, women and children who had dashed into the streets as their
homes collapsed, or burned to the ground. The shrunken bodies were
put on carts, piled up at a collection point and later on they were to
be buried in mass graves. To prevent any epidemic from breaking
out and to deal with the overwhelming number of the dead, at the
Altmarkt, Dresden's center square, a large pile of bodies on top of a
pile of railroad ties was doused with gasoline and burned.
On my way between home and a temporary first aid station where
I was helping, I passed daily by a subdivision of formerly pleasant
one-family homes, now burned to the ground and declared off limits.

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

I noticed in one of the doorways lay the charred body of a male or


female, I couldn't tell, but I saw what seemed like a golden ring on
one of the fingers. Grisly, I thought, and hurried on. A day later
when I passed by, the body was still there, but the finger with the
ring was missing. Someone had broken it off to get the ring? I nearly
threw up. No! I thought, and the world turned into a big blur right
before my very own eyes.

Life After Annihilation


For days, there still were signs of life under some of the rubble,
even weeks later. Some people were dug out by volunteers and
neighbors, more than two weeks after the attack. Other rescuers
were killed or injured by falling debris when they tried to pry open
basement windows shut up with feet of smouldering rubble.
Suddenly, but now teeming with rats, peace came to the city.
Signs of life under the rubble slowly died out. Chalk-written or
scratched-in memos appeared on the ruins, scrawled there by some
survivor, reading like this: Fred, went to Anna with John. Hedwig.
— Or: Anyone knowing whereabouts of Frau Karin König, contact
Wilhelm König, 14 Lauenstein, Pirna.
Cleanup operations started slowly, with every hand, including
school children, all pitching in. The main job was to clear some of
the roads,— at least, so transportation could get going again.
For the rest of the time I was in Dresden, the moist air coming up
from the soggy debris, and the lingering smoke, never left my nostrils.
It was a peculiar, sweet smell, like in a dump but distinctly its own,
which came from the cadavers under the ruins, slowly rotting. It's
a smell I shall never forget.
Nevertheless, life went on. Even in the ruins. Survivors and
relatives went back to their former habitat and searched for remains
worth saving. People who had lost everything as well as thieves went
from ruin to ruin trying to scavenge something of value or which
could bring some gain. Once in a while there was a shot piercing
the quiet air. Looters were shot on the spot.

48
Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter six

Chapter Six

Holocaust End Run

A Different Reality
Life was never the same after the bombing. The actual number of
people who died during the Dresden bombing may never be known.
Estimates vary from between 35,000 to 400,000 people who perished
within 24 hours, most during the night. Dresden was jam-packed
with refugees from the east at that time, people who were fleeing from
the approaching eastern battle front, old men, women and children,
each trying to make it to the west. There they were caught, together
with the Dresden population, to pay for whatever their country was
fighting for or being defeated for.
For us, school started again, but somewhere else, for the school
buildings had burned down. But it wasn't the same any more. The
school now was held in the undestroyed portion of another building
elsewhere. Time tables were strictly adhered to, for other classes
were held before and after ours in the same location.
Not all of our classmates re-appeared. Günter Sauer and Ulrich
Huth did, as well as I, but our friend Wachwitz was missing. No-
one knew anything about him. We knew even less about others who
were no longer present. There had been no chalk-written message
on Wachwitz's house. As a matter of fact, nothing remained there,
where a message could have been conspicuously attached.

Learning What Really Matters


School textbooks, teaching aids, libraries were no longer avail-
able. The curriculum was an improvisation of whatever the few
remaining teachers thought was important to cover and answers to
questions we had. Only old teachers had remained, for the young
ones had long since been drafted or were now involved in civil de-
fense efforts. The old ones had nothing but contempt for the Hitler

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50
Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter six

regime, but they didn't dare show it, because now we were in a "total
war" and the principal was a party stalwart, his main job to produce
more soldiers, fast.
Except for principal Gehmlich's political harangues, discussion of
politics was strictly taboo in school. The surroundings and occasional
air raid alarms were almost disregarded. Instead, we wrangled with
the readings of Cicero and Caesar in Latin, and the accusative with
infinitive in English grammar.
Some teachers would discuss issues which normally would only
have come much later for, "otherwise, you may miss it entirely." It
was under these circumstances that our biology teacher explained to
us Darwin's theories and the elementary details about the birds and
the bees, which was certainly extracurricular at that time.
Nobody discussed moral issues, except maybe guardedly through
the discussion of history, like that of York of Wartenburg. It was
strictly technical and undisputable basic knowledge which was being
concentrated on, like trigonometry and the law of probability.

Just Holding On
As for the war, the law of probability was already running its
course. There was no need to talk about it. Everybody was prepar-
ing for the end.
The Nazi propaganda machine pronounced that Hitler had se-
cret weapons tucked away somewhere which were so powerful and
devastating that Germany wouldn't use them except as its very last
recourse. We didn't know that the German atom bomb was not nearly
complete and that Germany's rockets were petering out. Every day it
became more and more apparent that Hitler, Goebbels and consorts
had just lied, and had lied, for years. In retrospect it showed that most
of the German population had been utterly uninformed. That was
mainly due to the lack of access to real information, access which, if
attempted (such as via clandestinely listening to foreign radio stations)
was punishable by death. As a result, to survive, for most, it was
practice of safety, not knowing anything about what was happening

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

outside of his immediate concerns, nor exhibiting any curiosity to


find out. The profile of those scared-to-death people was to, at least
pretend to be a "good German," which at the time meant believing
what you were told and doing your job.
Mother bore it without trying to show the weight of her load.
She felt that if defeat came, it was God's wish, and He'd show the
way to the future. After each end there was to be a new beginning.
She worked hard in making ends meet and to give comfort to her
husband, who was beginning to show the wear and tear, some distinct
signs of ravages of war.

The Front Line Comes Closer


In spite of a severally crippled leg, my father was drafted in
the "Volkssturm," the last resort of German defense which took in
all men, regardless of age, as long as they could hold a gun. This
group of defenders stayed and slept at home and kept their primitive
weapons at home, but reported for action whenever a pre-specified
alarm was sounded. For the time being, however, all they did was
train every day on a nearby sports field. Father came home totally
exhausted every night.
My day came in April 1945 when I was ordered to report to the
Army barracks at Nickern, south of Dresden, where I joined with
many of my classmates and friends to wear the German soldiers'
uniform. The uniforms we received were used ones. They hadn't
even been cleaned. I got a pair of pants which turned out to be
bloodstained all over inside. Never mind. We were here to do our
duty for the fatherland. New weapons had been added to the Ger-
man Army equipment, such as bazookas, and we were trained on
how to use them.
In the meantime, the Soviet front was rapidly approaching Dres-
den. The Russians had come to Bautzen, about 35 miles east of
Dresden. Refugees and retreating military units passed our camp.
Rumors and terror stories spread like wildfire. There was the "au-
thentic" report from an alleged eye witness that a German woman

52
Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter six

had been raped by 25 Russian soldiers: as a finale, a beer bottle was


driven into her vagina and the woman left bleeding profusely, no
help in sight, nowhere to go.

Trying to Escape the Inevitable


My father had been released from the Volkssturm, for his leg
acted up and he could hardly walk. He took my mother and the
rest of the family out of Dresden. Pulling a little cart they marched
along a 20 mile escape route south to Glashütte where they went to
Lotte Merz, an aunt, who had a summer house there. My parents
and the children were not too welcome there, for refugees were all
over and Lotte hadn't seen my parents for years. Why should she
now share her food and shelter with them? But grudgingly, she gave
them shelter.
My unit also got marching orders. We went on trucks which didn't
use gasoline, but generated their own power by means of big stoves
put behind the cab. It meant stoking the coal all the time and feeding
the elaborate stove. But, it worked. We left in the same direction
that my parents had gone. We came through Glashütte, where our
particular truck broke down. While a few of us stood around trying
to get the truck going again, I didn’t trust my eyes of when I saw who
was walking by on the road. It was my father and the family, pulling
that little cart behind them. I jumped up. They were as startled.
We embraced with tears in our eyes, but it was just a brief meeting
in the middle of the street. Now, at least, I knew they were alive and
where they were going. My father didn’t say much except that the
war was lost, and that I should try to make my way to the west to
uncle Helmut. Helmut was my father’s brother, the doctor, where,
he thought, it would be safer than so close to the Russians.
Well, we got the truck going again and off we went further south
and then east into Czechoslovakia. There we were to join up with
other German forces.

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

One Last Hurrah


Everyone was afraid to fall into the hands of the Russians. It
was essential that our unit shouldn't be splintered off from the re-
maining eastern German army. But it appeared that we were cut
off one afternoon. So our forces regrouped and a big band of trucks
and infantry grouped together into a special unit. We were to slice
through the Russian encirclement at night. Two Panther tanks, still
intact, were to open the trap, and then the whole group was to rush
through as fast as it could.
Hardly had night settled when the battle began. Tracer bullets
were shot from our side, and machine guns rattled away, with the two
tanks pushing ahead in the dark. The Russians fought back, but not
too much, and our column slipped through the encirclement.
On and on we went south, through some almost ghostlike vil-
lages, with white flags or torn-up bed linen hanging out of buildings
and homes.
Again our truck broke down, this time in the morning. We had
left the road and were trying to make it through fields and back roads.
Now, there was no possibility of getting the truck going again. So,
we left it and marched on.

Surrender
There were maybe ten of us, still armed, and trying to escape the
Russians. Whenever something suspicious moved, we ducked in the
grass or jumped into a ditch. We passed single farm houses, empty,
with white flags hanging out their windows. Whole villages could
be seen down in a valley decorated with white flags and no sign of
life. Then we broke up into smaller groups so that we wouldn't be
easily detected. I went with a friend of mine. We were the last to
leave the hideout.
And right into the arms of a company of Russian soldiers, combing
the field, with submachine guns in hand ready to shoot. They lifted
their guns and we dropped ours, lifting our arms to surrender.
The Russian soldiers came close, two of them covering each one

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter six

of us, frisking us, taking my wrist watch away, and pushing us ahead,
along the road. Finally, then put us with a group of prisoners they
already held. There we met some of our friends who had left us in
the ditch only minutes before we got out. All were disarmed, dirty,
uniforms torn, shook up, a picture of misery.

Dropping Out
The group of prisoners increased by the hour as the Russians
flushed out more and more retreating German soldiers.
Later in the day, the group of prisoners was ordered to march
along a road to a larger terminal where prisoners were being col-
lected. The road was winding and the Russian soldiers guarding us
were not always in full view of the column.
At one turn in the woods, I jumped to the side into the bush and
lay there. Not a muscle moved.
The column walked on. Nobody noticed or bothered me.

Following the Trek to Freedom


Night came and from then on, I marched only at night for two
straight, long, nights. I found myself in the western part of Czecho-
slovakia. I oriented myself by the stars at night, and directed myself
south, because I wanted to make it to the Americans who were sup-
posed to be coming north from Bavaria.
On the next day, I rested near a road where German troops came
walking along. They had laid away their arms. They, too, were
stomping south. I was happy to see them and joined them. This was
the 8th of May, 1945.
Defeat was here, and there was talk that the Americans were go-
ing to fight the Russians. Allegedly, Germany had unconditionally
surrendered that day, or the day before. War was over, at last. It
was merely a question of escaping the oncoming Russians.
A big trek began. Unarmed troops trotted along the road going
south, day and night, with nothing to eat, taking water once in a while
from a water pump at the market square in one of the villages. At

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

night, I slept in a ditch for an hour or two until I woke up shaking


from the cold.

Accounting Time
And the Czeck partisans and militia, bristling with arms, came
out to watch us, the defeated Germans, march by. Many of these
Czeck partisans, including women, were civilians, but heavily armed.
They hated the Germans and were now overjoyed and showed their
contempt. They stopped the columns at various check points, bridges
and the like, and searched us, allegedly for weapons. Whoever had
anything left of value, such as his wedding ring or a pocket knife,
lost it right here. Anyone who had anything edible left, lost it as well.
And some lost their lives when they tried to protest.
At one such checkpoint, the Czecks stopped the column. It was
a hot and dusty road. The sun shone brightly on these bearded,
starving men. Most Czecks speak good German. One asked who,
of the men passing by, was from the Waffen-SS (armed storm troop-
ers). No answer. Then the Czecks started examining our arms. The
feared Waffen-SS, Hitler's elite fighting troops, had a mark burned
in underneath one of their upper arms. Only much later did I learn
that German concentration camp inmates received a similarly per-
manent marking. Now, here was accounting time. The dusty and
tired column of distrustful and apathetic soldiers had to roll up their
sleeves or take off their coats and shirts for some partisans to inspect
them.
Sure enough, there were some among us who had the markings.
One tried to run away the minute he was taken aside. Shots were
fired, he fell. We were all aghast. Three more — apparently those
with the markings — were ordered over to the side. They were kicked
and beaten, then pushed ahead and led away. A fat woman walked
over to the one who had fallen and shot him in the head.
As we marched on, shots were heard from near the spot where we
had stopped. Word went through the column that more of them had
been shot right there. As much as I was numbed by this, shock and

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter six

hate went up and down my spine. Little did I know that the Waffen-
SS had extinguished whole villages of non-combatants, including
women and children, all over Eastern Europe. Also, in the West, the
SS had made its mark for brutality and disregard of war conventions.
The December 1944 massacre in the Belgian forest at Malmedy of
a whole contingent of American soldiers who had surrendered was
one such infamous example of Waffen-SS brutality. Almost every-
body in Czechoslovakia had been suspected of being a partisan. As a
result, many died. One of the largest and most vicious death camps
run by the SS had been in Theresienstadt, nowadays Terezin in the
Czeck Republic, where the Nazis wanted to build a "model ghetto"
for Jews, and ended up extinguishing them. Untouched by any of
these realities, all of that I didn't know at the time.

Not a Dream
After each inspection stop the heavily armed civilians let us
move on, until we met the next group of partisans who appointed
themselves inspectors of the defeated. It wasn't uncommon that we
received a kick in the ribs when nothing was found in our pockets.
But nobody kicked me.
Actually, I was still carrying my head up high, for I felt rather
defiant. After all, it was the victors who behaved like rats. I had
nothing to lose at this point but my life, and this wasn't worth very
much anymore. For what? What for? So if I had to die, I might as
well die like a man. Nobody knew what waited for us at the next
checkpoint. Better to go down in defeat like a knight than to be a
victor like the ones I saw here!
The German army uniforms of the mass of soldiers trotting along
this road to what they thought may be freedom had been reduced to
rags. All insignia and other indications of rank and position in the
army had been removed. No one wore any more shoulder flaps or
the like. They had hardly any buttons left on their clothes. The man
was lucky who was able to keep his belt to keep his pants up. I still
wore the German eagle over my right breast pocket. It was sewn on

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

there, and this is where it always was, as part of the uniform. Most
soldiers had taken it off, for no one wanted to identify himself with
the Wehrmacht any more or give cause to Czeck suspicions or pos-
sible acts of violence.
I kept the eagle on in defiance. So it didn't take long that a Czeck
walked up to me and said, “If you want to live, you better remove the
eagle right away.” I felt like spitting at the man's face, but I looked the
other way and went on. Nothing happened. But two of the marchers
next to me grabbed me and tore the eagle off right then and there.
I spat at their faces. And we marched on.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter seven

Chapter Seven

Escape to Where?

Letting Them Have Who They Want


The Russians never caught up with us. After several days and
nights of marching south, we reached the outskirts of Karlsbad. There
were the Americans. One was right on the road, looking like a man
from another planet, in a shining clean uniform with a white helmet,
and an armband saying "MP," Military Police. He was a black soldier,
friendly and smiling with big white teeth. But all he really did was to
hold us back. He wouldn't let us pass.
No, the Americans were not going to accept us. We were to go
back where we came from. No trespassing here!
We were stunned. What now? We, the exhausted marchers sat
by the wayside, while more and more came. It was like a camp. The
Americans wanted nothing to do with us.
Actually, I learned later on that, at that check point, the Ameri-
cans not only turned back fleeing soldiers, but also turned over their
own prisoners to the Russians. In one instance they turned over the
Russian soldiers who had been fighting on the German side against
the Communists. The Americans handed them over to the Russian
Army, and, it was to be expected, the Russians executed the "traitors"
shortly after having received them from American custody.

The Sky Was Still the Same


Well, this wasn't a good place to rest. So I stole myself away again
into the woods. I had my own plan on how to cross the American
border line. I wanted to make it into Bavaria. At least I'd be on Ger-
man soil there, and the Americans were supposed to be occupying
Bavaria.
Again, I waited for the night to fall, which would bring the stars
out and allow me to orient myself in which direction I was to go. And

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

then I started walking through the woods, carefully avoiding villages


and anything which looked like it could be occupied by people. At
one point of my cross country walk, I came to what seemed like wet
soil. There was high grass, and I kept on going. Suddenly, I realized
I was in a swamp.
Wherever I stopped, I kept sinking. This terrified me. I started
running, my feet sinking in up to my ankles, but I kept on running.
There was a lonely tree ahead of me standing out against the night
sky. I headed for the tree, for where there is a tree there must be
some firmer ground. And I made it to the tree all right. There was
firm ground. I fell down in utter exhaustion.
There I lay for some time. Then I turned around on my back,
looking up into the wonderfully clear May night sky. Out were all
the stars and constellations I knew so well: the North Star, the Big
Dipper, the Orion to the south, and millions and millions of stars I
didn't know. And there I saw the faint brightness of morning creep-
ing in on the eastern sky.
It seemed to me that I knew the sky better than I knew the world
around me. These stars had been there thousands of years ago and
they would be there thousands of years more. In the larger scheme
of things, what did I matter? The universe was vast and beautiful.
And what was the purpose of all this? Why did people have to fight
people? Why this irrational world around me? I became completely
detached from my situation and thought some basic thoughts that
night.

Solace From Eternity


Laying there all alone in that wet and damp island of tranquil-
ity, my thoughts turned to examine and question some fundamental
transcendental thoughts, for instance: Was there a god? If there was
one, what would he - maybe she? - be like? If there was none, what
then? Where did it start and where is it going to end? How did men
in this world know the truth? How could they say that this or the
other was the true faith? Why did they have to fight for their beliefs

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter seven

as they did? And why was the punishment so severe? Or was it?
I came to the conclusion that there must be something longer
lasting than us human beings, like the stars. I concluded that there
must be some underlying principles which governed this universe
and which must govern human beings. There must be higher things
in life than the following of self-appointed leaders, the building up
of an imaginary fatherland.
It opened my inner eyes and mind to the realization that in the
past, mine had been a very regional perception. I didn't know much
more than what the German leaders of that time had wanted me to
know. But there was a world with violently different beliefs, a world
which took on Germany, fought her and defeated her. There may be
many worlds, both within and without the universe. And wouldn't it
be stupid to find out that they would be just as regional and small-
minded as I had been?
No, this was going to end. At least for me. I was going to search
for real things that mattered, for the truth, and to try to do my part in
making this a better world to live in. I would like to be free, allowed
to think and work on what I felt would be best for me and my fellow
human beings. Never again will I take life as it is for granted! And
no more poppycock, silly phrases and easy solutions. From now on
I'd accept nothing but the real thing.
Speaking of being free, how free can you be as long as you are a
human being? You are tied to your fellow human beings by the ties
of blood, ancestry, the joint use of your surroundings, and by the
similarity of your ambitions. And yet, maybe a human being wasn't
born to be free, for he needs his fellow human beings, and has to
support his family and friends. Mind you, this is a voluntary giving
up of some freedom, which is desirable, and which is actually one
of man's highest ambitions: to serve the ones one loves. But it must
be possible to be freer from unwanted serfdom than I have been in
the past. At least, my mind must be able to explore what else there
is — and could be.
Slowly, it penetrated my mind that, if I survived the ordeal of
war, the world laying wide open before me, that it was up to me to

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

equip myself for a better future. After all, I had survived this inferno.
I was young and healthy, though obviously at the wrong place at the
wrong time. Or, was it the right place at the right time?

Action on the Ground


While I was conversing with myself in what seemed like another
world, the first rays of sun were just reaching over the horizon. My
favorite planet was rising, too, visible only faintly for a twinkle of
time before it faded out in the upcoming morning. The frogs quacked
all around me by the millions. The crickets chirped as if armies of
them were all around. And a bird chirped from the tree. Nature was
waking up from her night’s rest.
And there! This made me turn around and hug the ground. Only
about 100 yards away an American Jeep came slowly driving along a
mushy road which I hadn't known existed. There was a driver and one
man sitting beside him, rifle in arm and looking around. There was
another soldier sitting on the back, up on the rear frame, with his feet
on the seat and his hand grasping a submachine gun, ready to shoot.
It was a patrol, looking for stray Germans like me, no doubt.
The vehicle passed by, slowly and jerky, without my having been
discovered. It showed me that there was drier ground around I
could use to escape my wet surroundings. Also, it filled me with joy
to know that I must be close to Bavaria, or that I was on the border,
because, for all I knew, it was better to see an American patrol than
a Russian patrol.
I waited for a good hour expecting the Jeep to come back the
same route, but it didn't. The swamp became much more alive in the
meantime and the sun was close to coming up. I thought this was a
good time for me to get out of the moor, because I didn't want to be
caught like this ever again, especially at night. So finally, I got up,
stretched my legs, and walked out to the little road.
Then down the road I went, in the direction where the Jeep had
come from. It would have to lead me somewhere. And it did. A few
miles down the road it approached a settlement. I immediately went

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter seven

into the fields at one side again, this time making absolutely sure that
the ground wasn't marshy. It was wet alright, but firm. Okay. Then
I found a spot near some bushes where I laid down hoping to spend
the day and to find out more about my surroundings.
Nothing much happened, except that the mosquitoes started
to bite. But I had so many bites already, I wondered why they still
would find my blood tasty. I hadn't eaten any normal food for days,
maybe a week, and strangely enough I wasn't even hungry. I was
starting to get dizzy, though, which told me that I would have to get
something to eat soon, or I may just give out. And just as I thought
of that, a man came along the road, looking like a farmer. Or, was I
already hallucinating?

A Friend in Need
I pulled myself together and got out of my hideaway and walked
over to him. First the man didn't see me, then he was surprised and
stopped. It really was a man. I went up to him and we exchanged a
few words. Yes, I was in Bavaria, right at the border, and I should
stay in my hideaway or the Americans may pick me up any minute.
They were gathering soldiers all over and collected them at a nearby
meadow, I was told. Yes, he would like to help me, but no, we couldn't
stay there in the road where an American patrol may come by. So the
man agreed that he would try to bring me some food in the evening
and get me some civilian clothes.
I wasn't convinced that he would come back, or maybe if he did,
he'd bring along the Military Police. But I resigned myself to the place
underneath the bushes. I found a little brook nearby where I bathed
my feet and drank as much water as I thought I could stand.
This was a long, long afternoon. The little road down there was
quite active at times. But at nightfall, the farmer really did return. I
saw him from a distance. And then he came right through the field
and over to me. He had a little bag with him. It contained potato
chips. He explained that he and his wife had cut up potatoes for years
in the past and dried them for some future emergency. And here was

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

the emergency, and this was about the only thing they had left to eat
for some time. So I could have as many as I could eat.
Again we settled down at the brook. I gulped potato chips, took
some water from the brook, then again potato chips. Oh, how deli-
cious! I didn't even know that potatoes could be preserved by making
them into this type of chips. An excellent idea!
The farmer just sat there, looking at me. He was sorry, he said, but
he didn't have any civilian clothes he could have brought. I thanked
him anyway and suggested that I would like to go with him back to
the village and hide out in his barn. But the farmer was too afraid to
allow this. He didn't want to get involved.
So, I filled up all my pockets with potato chips. I put chips inside
my shirt and all around my body. They were held up by the belt
around my waist.

One More Time — A Prisoner of War


Finally we parted, and I was left to my own devices. After the
farmer disappeared and night had fallen, I got on the road again.
I thought of smuggling myself into the village and trying to find
someone who would give me civilian clothes, then I wouldn't have
to hide out all the time. I could walk in the daytime, say that I was a
refugee on my way home.
But I didn't get very far, nor did I know that there was a curfew at
that time. As I approached the village, I walked right into an Ameri-
can patrol. They picked me up, without searching me, laughing at my
shirt full of potato chips, and delivered me to a big meadow where it
looked like thousands of German soldiers were milling about, sitting
and resting. This was the meadow, described by the farmer, where
prisoners of war were being collected. I was delivered just beyond
the point where guards stood, and I was let go.
Now I felt like a lost sheep, but right in the middle of a big herd
of cattle.
Nobody really paid very much attention to me. It was night time.
A few fires were burning; tired, unshaven soldiers sitting and laying

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter seven

around, some sleeping. Again, there were lots of mosquitoes.


As I found out from talking to some of the apathetic men, no one
really knew anything. We were supposed to be examined and split
up in groups later on, then transported to camps. Or, we might be
let free, some thought, for there were just too many of us.
Everybody helped himself to my potato chips, and they were gone
in no time. Apparently everybody was starving, and some men alleg-
edly had started to eat grass. Symptoms of typhus and cholera were
appearing among some of the men. All the wounded or sick had been
picked up by American trucks and transported somewhere else.
It crossed my mind that perhaps I should play sick and try to get
out of these dismal surroundings that way. But I'd have to wait for
what would happen the next morning, anyway.
Nothing much happened. It reminded me of what the Hitler re-
gime agitators had said: the Allies had decided to destroy Germany
entirely and then to turn it into an agricultural country. Now, was
this the Morgenthau Plan in action, right here?
It wasn't, because the Americans were just not able to cope with
the large number of prisoners they suddenly had on their hands.
Procedures for the handling and feeding of these men had to be set
up, and this takes time. I didn't know this. To me it looked terrible,
as though here would be worse conditions than where I came from.
So, after all, the Russians couldn't be so bad.

Free And Alone


I reminded myself of a German poet, Lessing, who had said that
the domesticated horse was fed by its master, but would have to serve,
and that the wild horse was a mustang, out in the wilderness, by no
means overfed, but free. Now, I was going to be a mustang, rather
than stay with this herd.
I used the rest of the day to explore the way in which the com-
pound was guarded. There wasn't even barbed wire around. There
were merely guards patrolling, and the compound was ended by some
more or less natural borders, such as woods on one side, a road and a

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

cattle fence on the other. I studied how I could get out of there. And
really, it was a cinch when I got away that night.
Apparently, no one expected anybody to run away, anyway. On
the contrary, this collection point of the remnants of a defeated army
meant food was going to be available for these by now totally lost
and destitute survivors. Plus, there is always safety in numbers. Or,
is there?
And here I was, again in the woods, still in a German military
uniform, or the remnants of it, with nothing to eat, and a long way
to go. Where?
Well, if this was the American way of German extinction, I might
as well go home to Dresden. I'd have to cross from Bavaria into Sax-
ony, and then I'd have to find some means of transportation.
Since these nights were clear and there was no rain, I was able to
make it back up north covering maybe twenty miles the same night. I
didn't encounter any patrols and I found a village in the early morn-
ing on the Saxonian side.

On The Way Home


I knocked at a door of one of the farm houses, and a frightened
woman came out and let me in. She gave me some food and brought
me some of her husband’s old clothes. He was still away in the war.
Then, she sent me out again as fast as possible, because she didn't
want to have anybody like me around, who might be discovered and
could implicate her.
I was now safely on the Russian side, I knew, and I walked con-
fidently down the road to Oelsnitz. I passed Russian check points
where I was stopped and searched. But they didn't do anything to
me. Although the civilian clothes I wore were much too wide, they
hung down like loose rags, anyway. I was dirty, dusty, a youth, just
trying to get home to Dresden. So, they let me go.
It took me two days, with many stops and naps along the roadside
to get to Plauen. There, I climbed on a freight train and rode on the
roof of one of the cars all the way to Dresden. The train stopped many

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter seven

times along the way. Once I was afraid I'd hit the roof of a tunnel, so
I tightly hugged the car's top, but there was plenty of room. Except
for the smoke from the engine, there was little inconvenience.

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

Chapter Eight

End of the Line

Home Sweet Home


It wasn't fast. As evening approached, the train neared the ruins
of Dresden, and I slipped off the roof and away into the dark. Here
I knew my way around. At least it was home, even if devastated and
without people, as it seemed. But this was only because I avoided
people. There might be a curfew. So, better to be careful.
I made my way to our neighborhood where I arrived about mid-
night. Our apartment house still stood there, old and grey, without
a sign of life. I tried to enter the front door, but it was locked, and,
as I noticed, barricaded. I knocked. And again I knocked. No noise
or light inside.
Finally, I sat down in our yard, waiting. And, from the second
floor window of the house, a female voice asked in hushed tone:
“Winfried?”
“Yes.”
Then Mrs. Niering and her husband came down. They removed
the barricades they had put up behind the front door, and let me
in.
The Nierings were an older couple, the only ones who had re-
mained in the house. They took me to their apartment and let me
have some food, including a glass of buttermilk, which I will never
forget in my life. It was so unbelievably delicious that I gulped it
down, laid down and promptly fell asleep.
The next morning they explained what had happened to them.
The Russians had arrived and a number of soldiers were allotted to
our house for accommodation. An officer and his adjuncts stayed
downstairs in my parents apartment. Their horses grazed in the gar-
den. Mr. Niering tried to serve the victors as well as he could, being
subservient and hoping to save the house and most of the belongings
from destruction.
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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter eight

Although the soldiers were not overly careful with the furniture
and belongings, everything remained more or less intact. They
brought tires for my father's car, which had been mothballed in
the garage for the duration of the war and was without tires. Then
they got the car going and took it away. Inside the house there were
spilled and broken bottles of liquor, but the rest of everything in our
apartment seemed intact.
So I moved in.

A New Beginning
Then came the new "People's Representatives". These were Com-
munists who had survived the Hitler regime and now took charge.
They handed out food rationing stamps. They asked for my parents,
brother and sisters. But I didn't know where they were. I was told
that I wouldn't be allowed to live by myself in these large quarters
and that they would send in homeless families.
I tried to find myself a job — and got one, in a truck garden-
ing farm by the name of Ziegenbalg. What a job! Finally, there was
something to eat. They grew tomatoes, turnips and cabbage. While
working in the fields I was able to snatch a tomato or a turnip here
and there, together with a raw onion. How tasteful and satisfying!
One night on my way home, a group of Russian soldiers picked me
up. They were going from house to house and combing the streets. I
was told that all men were being picked up. Apparently many former
German soldiers had slipped into civilian clothes and had gone home.
They were deserters and would be turned over into prisoners of war
camps to their buddies who were not able to get away.
I was pushed into a crowded room at the railway station. There,
a Russian lady, who had served in a German prison camp and spoke
perfect German, interviewed each of the men being brought in. It
was her job to screen the healthy ones from the sick and old. All those
passing the test went into a freight train which was facing east. And
as I was to learn much later, that train and many other trains like it
left for the east, to Russia and Siberia, where the German slave labor

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

was used for many years after the war.


Somehow, I sensed what was going on right away. So, I under-
stated my age by two years. But this didn't influence the lady. On
the contrary. She thought I might be stronger than others. Then I
explained that I had had polio as a child, that right now I was recov-
ering from pneumonia, and that I had typhus. Actually, I couldn't
stand there any more, I told her, for I had to rush to the toilet right
then. Typhus? This was contagious and this even the Russians didn't
want to have spreading among their slaves. So, I was rushed to the
bathroom where a guard had to watch whether I was really moving
my bowels. I sure did, fast, liquid and plenty, explosion-like, mainly
out of fear rather than anything else.
The report went back to the lady inside and word came back that
I should be let go. And so, I was, together with a few cripples and
old grey haired men.

Transition in Steps
At home, in the meantime, some of my relatives showed up, not
only to find out how things were going, but also to warn me that since
my father had been a member of the National Socialist Party, he and
the family, no doubt, would be prosecuted, and that the Communists
could come at any time — as they had done in other places — and
take away whatever was left of any value. The implication was that
I should give the radio, our alarm clocks, books, cooking utensils,
china, silver spoons and forks, and many more things to the relatives
for safe keeping. Naturally, since they had lost lots of things through
the war, all these items were also of great use to them in their daily
lives. So, I started giving things away.
Then came the day when my parents and my brother and sisters
came back. They had been at Lotte Merz's house in Glashütte dur-
ing the worst days. The way my mother explained it, their exposure
to the Russians had been nonviolent and no one in the family was
harmed. My brother and sisters told me that the family spent several
nights in the woods. This was mainly in fear for the women, to escape

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter eight

being raped. Then, they reported, that as things slowly came back
to normal, the family left on foot and made the trip back to Dresden
in two days. They were starved and appreciated the food I had been
able to accumulate, although it wasn't much and was nothing special,
just tomatoes, turnips, cabbage, and onions.

The Truth Comes Out After All


Fifty six years later I learned the full story, for the witnesses were
too young to comprehend what had happened at the time or too
intimidated and ashamed to reveal what happened the first night in
that house in Glashütte. I learned it from my sister, who was a 10
year old eye-witness at the time, and who still, in 2001, trembled as
she shared what she hadn’t disclosed to a living soul, ever before.
Encouraged by me to write it down, she declined, because it was
still too emotional and traumatic an event to her, even after all these
years. She felt extreme shame, which she wasn’t going to share with
anybody. But since the truth needs to be openly recognized for heal-
ing to take place, and so that the record be known to all concerned,
I am repeating here what she told me:
Our Aunt Lotte Merz’s house at the edge of Glashütte consisted
only of a few rooms, all of them full with old furniture and stuff Aunt
Lotte tried to keep safe through the war. Our family was allowed to
stay in one of the rooms, which meant that they were in very tight
quarters. It held my father, my mother, my brother, age 13, two sisters,
10 and almost 8. They were going to sleep on the floor.
In the evening, a Soviet officer and several soldiers came to inspect
the house as they had many others. They went through it, looked at
everything and everybody, then left.
A little later the officer came back by himself. He told my father
and the children to get out of the house, which they did, fleeing to
the garden. There, the children stood around with fear and trepida-
tion. My father was totally detached, like he had lost his mind. To
the others he appeared entirely in despair and absentminded. He
walked around and around a little water pond which Lotte Merz kept

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for watering her vegetables, not seeing, not hearing, almost like not
being there but in a far away world.
After what seemed like an endless time, the Russian officer left
the house and my mother came out to let everybody back in. No
explanations were given, very few words spoken. Instead, a small
portable metal bathtub was retrieved from Aunt Lotte’s junk collec-
tion. Hot water was made on the fire, poured into the tub, and my

Self-portraitofKätheKollwitz,born1867inEastPrussia:
studied and worked in Berlin, considered the most
influential and greatest German printmaker of the
20th century, she produced graphics, woodcuts and
sculpture. Her main theme was the human condition,
crying out against war and hunger, showing the fate
of the socially disadvantaged. Kollwitz was the first
woman taken into the Prussian Academy of Art as a
Professor in 1919. Once Hitler came to power, she was
Käthe Kollwitz denouncedbytheregimeandforbiddentobegivenany
1867-1945
employment.Nevertheless,shecontinuedherworkand
propagandized against the recruiting of youths for the
wareffort.PersecutedbytheNazis,shewentintohiding
in Moritzburg near Dresden, where she died onApril
22,1945,sixteendaysbeforeGermany'sunconditional
surrender.

mother took a sitting bath in it, cleansing herself, while the children
had to look out the window. End of story.
Nobody ever spoke about it. Everyone apparently was determined
to expunge it from their memories. Nor did the world see, and every-
body who was there acted as though it never happened.
My mother certainly never mentioned anything to anybody, and
in retrospect, I can only marvel at her almost superhuman strength,
how she dealt with being raped and handling the entire affair like
an unimportant business transaction. The world had to go on, and
what must have been a most wrenching personal experience was
discarded like yesterday’s spoiled milk. What it did to my dad, I can
only surmise. Obviously, he was an entirely crushed man by then.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter eight

For him things could only get worse, and they did. -
After that first night in the Glashütte house, the family took to
the woods, laying there entirely still. They disregarded the searching
shouts from Soviet soldiers who came out to the edge of the woods in
the evenings, high on vodka, calling “Frau…, Frau…”

Trying to Reconnect
After their return to Dresden, my father tried going back to
work at the Barmer Ersatzkasse. But there he was told that the new
regime was dissolving private insurance companies, and that in the
future there would be a government owned and operated insurance
company. There was no more job for my father. For some reason
which only became clear to me many years later, one of his main
concerns at that time was, however unsuccessfully, to get ahold of
Mr. Einhorn. As we now know in retrospect, but had no idea then,
Mr. Einhorn fortuitously survived the war’s end. So did his wife. But
at that tumultuous time there was no trace of them to be found.
There was lots of rubble to be removed in Dresden, and every
hand was needed to help. So the authorities assigned my father to
go "shoveling". Many days my mother went along. But the pay was
very little. Yet, somehow, the family had to be fed.

A New World With New Perspectives


One night my father sat us down and explained that at the income
he was making now and as bleak a future as it looked, he didn't see
how he could possibly pay for us older ones to go back to high school
to finish and get our diplomas. He thought the only choice was for us
to work and see how things were going to work out. “Hitler betrayed
you, and me, and everyone,” he said. “And I, your father, have been
unbelievably stupid by shutting my eyes and ears to all indications
that should have told me otherwise.”
Friends and my mother had urged my dad to flee to the West, to
join uncle Helmut. He was in the American occupied zone, where
the punishment for former Party members might not be as severe.

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But my father refused even to listen to such suggestions. As I see it


now, he was utterly naive. He explained to us at the time: “I haven't
done anything wrong to anybody. My past is open to investigation,
and such an investigation will exonerate me. I obviously erred in
supporting Hitler, but so have many others, and personally I didn’t
participate, or even come close, to anything that could be viewed as
fascist wrongdoing. On the contrary, I’ve helped others to escape the
Nazi persecution. If I could only get ahold of the Einhorns,” he said,
“all this will come to light and I’ll be exonerated.”

Oh, how wrong can one be!


One day, some Commu-
nist functionaries came to the
house and rudely picked up
my father; they also searched
the apartment and took along
a lot of things which, at the
time, were considered luxuri-
ous or valuable. I recall one of
the functionaries climbing on
a chair and tearing down the
curtains from our living room.
Another one helped himself to
the crystal glasses and a vase in
my mother's credenza.
When father came back
home late that night, he was
bruised and hollow-eyed, a
broken man. Many years later
my mother told me that he had been badly manhandled, that the
treatment he received was much worse than what he had read in the
books about Communism. My father had been an ardent reader of
political books in his earlier days, and he knew what he was talking
about.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter eight

Vae Victae!
(Latin: Woe to the Defeated!)
A few days later, he was picked up again, this time by the Russians.
There were three of them. One was a commissar, two were soldiers.
They also searched our apartment, but didn't take anything, except
some books and my father’s papers. My mother cried and tried to
get information out of the Russians. But they were uncommunica-
tive, hurrying the process along. I still have the picture vividly in my
mind. It will never leave me, I am sure. My little 8 year old sister was
clutching herself to the side of my mother, and the older, 10 year old
reached for the hand of our father to hold on to him. Not allowing
this, one of the Russians kicked her in the rear with full force, propel-
ling the kid across the room against the wall, where she seemed to
remain laying like a thrown away rag doll. My brother and I merely
stood there open-eyed, helpless and sad as we watched our father
kiss our mother good-bye for what turned out to be for the last time.
While being led away, he assured her that it couldn't be long until he
was going to be back, for finally, he was in the right hands in those of
the military where justice would be served and his innocence easily
discovered. Then they left.
That was the last time that our mother saw her husband and we
children, our father. He never came back. And no authority ever
informed us of his death or whereabouts. He just vanished, from
the face of the earth. My mother made many attempts to obtain
information from many agencies of the government, each of which,
however, told her in as many words, to go away.
After numerous unsuccessful searches, on October 28, 1952,
mother did obtain a “Decision” by the Circuit Court of Dresden
that her husband was a missing person, dead in the eyes of the law,
as per December 31, 1950. And 54 years later, in 1999, the German
Red Cross obtained official documents from former Soviet concen-
tration camps. One listed Herbert Straube, 43 years old, as having
died in the Mühlberg concentration camp on November 11, 1945;
no cause of death was given.

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The realization
that my father had died
didn't happen that fast,
however. At first there
was still considerable
hope. There were in-
dications that he was
going to be released,
that he would be home
again. And it took very
long for hope to die. But
piece by piece, the grue-
some story unfolded:
A few days after my father was picked up, without a single word
heard from, or of, him, my mother went to the Russian commandatura
and tried to pry some information out of the Russian officer in charge.
She was not received; her many talks to Russians who wouldn't listen
got nowhere, except that one officer gave her the name of the facility
where all the political prisoners were held.
Then my mother packed a suitcase with our father's warm clothes
and one of his coats. She went to the Soviet Secret Police station where
she had been directed. It was heavily guarded, and she tried to get
in. But, of course, they wouldn't let her in. She'd talk to any one of
the guards who would listen. But they wouldn't. Then she'd talk to
any Russian officer or soldier going inside or coming out. And since
none of that helped, she just stayed around there day after day.
One day, finally, one of the tired officers going in or out dur-
ing certain hours of the day, listened to mother and took along the
suitcase, promising to deliver it to my father. Whether he did or not,
we'll never know.

One Way, No Return


The next time we heard of our father was some months later, when
a shabbily dressed man came to our house. As it turned out, he was

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter eight

one of the former party friends of father, completely run down now.
He reported that he had shared a cell with our father for a day or so
in the prison where mother had waited in front of the door for so long.
Whether father got the warm clothes or not, he didn't know, either.
This man had been let go for some reason still unknown to our
family. He didn't explain. We only guessed that, maybe, they had
let him out to locate another former Party member who was to be
arrested but couldn't be found. At any rate, that man was convinced
that, sooner or later, my father would be released, too. In the mean-
time, he knew, our father had been transferred to a hard labor camp
near Mühlberg on the Elbe.
Mother immediately took the trip to Mühlberg and loitered near
the camp for days, trying to contact our father, but without any suc-
cess.
It wasn’t until much later, when another of my father’s former
friends came to our home, that we learned of father’s fate. The visi-
tor had been released from the Mühlberg camp, and while there,
had heard of our father’s death in the camp several years earlier.
This hearsay came from what he had been told by another inmate
by the name of Franz Schwabach, whose address he had. The latter
had been released with him, but to go to his home town of Duisburg
in West Germany. Therefore he came to call on the widow of his
former friend to give her whatever clues he had about the last days
of her husband.
On December 29, 1949, mother wrote to Franz Schwabach in
Duisburg, and on January 1, 1950, he answered promptly in a hand-
written two-page letter, a copy of which I have. Franz Schwabach
wrote that he, after 4 years in Mühlberg, was released, and returned
home. He discovered that his wife had died in the meantime. He also
reported that in August 1945, my father and he shared a cell for some
time in the “G.P.U. basement,” the Soviet Secret Police station, at
“Zittauer Strasse” in Dresden. From there they were transferred to
the prison at the “Münchener Platz,” where, however, they were no
longer together. Schwabach wrote that he then came to Mühlberg
in September 1945 and our father was brought there only in early

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November of that year. Schwabach wrote that the treatment and


“long weeks in the prison made us all extremely weak so that we
really longed for death to arrive as our salvation.”
Franz Schwabach reported, “I believe it was a Sunday, when
Herbert staggered into my barracks. He said only, ‘Franz, help me,
I have been assigned an upper wooden sleeping plank. I am so dizzy
that I am afraid to fall off.’ I took him back to his barracks and went
immediately to the doctor in charge, who came along and examined
him. The diagnosis was overall bodily weakness.”
“We then put Herbert on a stretcher,” Schwabach continued, and
took him to the hospital barracks.”
“The next day,” Schwabach wrote, “we had to work in the woods
felling trees. When we came back, I immediately asked how he was
doing. And I was told that during the night he had fallen asleep
forever.”
Much later, another witness reported to our mother. He was one of
the parties whose daily duty it was to throw the bodies of the deceased
in a pit, and one day my father's body had been among them.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter nine

Chapter Nine

Quo Vadis?
(Latin: Where are you going?)

Life Goes on
With father gone, the family still had to be supported, somehow.
My mother had been a nurse and x-ray technician, but with my two
younger sisters being little children, and nobody there to care for
them, it was impossible for her to go to work.
My brother and I did whatever we possibly could to help her.
Mother, at the same time, called on every contact she had to find
promising jobs for her two sons. It is thus how both of us finally con-
nected with employers who trusted our mother, or friends of hers,
to trust those unproven kids and give them a chance. Manfred went
into apprenticeship as a lathe operator and mechanic, and I left the
truck farm to take a job at Riedel & Co., a scientific instrument maker.

Heine Spezialwiderstände, Schlüterstrasse 29, Dresden

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

I was trained as a glass blower and soon became quite proficient in


making the fanciest things of glass and glass pipe, such as laboratory
coolers, glass vases, etc.

While my former classmates went back to school, now under


Communism, I had to attend to our primary needs at home, making
a living. Nevertheless, or more so because of it, I was eager to go to
school all right, for I realized that my future would depend on my
education.

Finding New Ways


In Communist East Germany at the time, workers were greatly
helped and promoted in their quest for education. So called "people's
high schools" were opened, which worked somewhat like an evening
high-school or extension university. Any worker was welcome, as long
as he or she was able to pay the moderate fee. The education offered
was good. The teachers were mainly older professors who the war had
passed by, but who still had a high classical standard of teaching.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter nine

Riedel was a small company of about twenty employees, and Mr.


Riedel very much appreciated my efforts. This was not so with my
colleagues in the glass blowing department, two brothers named
Liebscher. They were expert glassblowers, much older than I, and
they considered themselves
basic requirements of Mr.
Riedel's business. They
didn't like the new competi-
tion, and although initially
they showed me how to over-
come the difficulties of glass
blowing, they soon dragged
their feet, for they felt I may
outdo them.
Outdo them, I did. We
went on piece work, and
my piece production in a
day was sometimes just as
large as that of the brothers
Liebscher combined. This
didn't go unnoticed by Mr.
Riedel or the Liebschers.
Walter Riedel (Dr. Econ.) engineering
entrepreneur, born 1910 in Dresden: my Active Labor Relations
first boss (in 1945), under whom I served as
glassblower apprentice For glass blowing you
need gas for your burners.
But gas was rare at those
times in 1945-46. At night time the gas supply was relatively ample,
so that we changed our working time to the night shift. This was fine
with me, because, again, it allowed me to go to school during the
daytime. I brought my vocabulary book along to work, and while
I was turning out complicated laboratory glass pieces, I had the
vocabulary book right behind the gas flame so that I could glance
at it regularly and learn my Latin, English and French. Whenever

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

there was time I would have my nose in the learning, math and all
the rest.
One night, overtired or careless as I must have been, a drop of
melting glass fell on my vocabulary book and instantly it went up
in flames. Nothing serious happened, but the Liebschers used the
incident to show Mr. Riedel that I was a menace to the glass blowing
operation and not at all interested in the work at hand.
Mr. Riedel didn't want to lose the Liebschers, yet he knew what I
was doing. So, he made me his purchasing agent, giving me the power
to visit glass suppliers in Thuringia and purchase materials needed
for his production. As if he were to assume the role of my father,
Mr. Riedel acted like a businessman with the wisdom of Solomon.
He got me out of the Liebscher brothers’ hair and as though punish
me. In fact, he was giving me what turned out to be an upgrade in
responsibility, and more independence of action for the benefit of
his company.

How Long to Survive on How Little?


At home we were progressing slowly. Our mother not only took
care of all the motherly jobs for 4 fatherless, hungry kids, but she also
undertook countless initiatives to get us out of the desolate misery
we were in. She had unbelievable faith and self confidence in us be-
ing able to pull ourselves out of the dismal circumstances. Her inner
strength and resourcefulness, even in the face of what seemed like
absolutely insurmountable obstacles at the time, were more than
formidable. She never gave up. She never lost her smile.
Our biggest draw-back was lack of food. The food rationing
stamps, though supplied, didn't help at all, for there just wasn't
enough food to buy. Mother stood in long queues most of the time
trying to catch some food stuff as it came in to the groceries, or food,
stores.
I remember the time when we went for days without anything
to eat, except one piece of dried bread in the morning, or at night.
No milk, no meat or eggs, nor anything like it. There was no wood

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter nine

or coal to heat in the wintertime, and quite often there was not even
electricity for light.

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

Chapter Ten

Winter 1946/47
The excerpt below was written by Manfred Straube, my younger
brother, in Dresden, Germany, February 1996. I translated it on
January 18, 2000, my brother’s 68th birthday.

The Remaining Family Members


“Since unlike most recent winters, we are having a long lasting
severe cold period this year in 1996, I remember the first winter after
the war (World War II).

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter ten

After the loss of our apartment in Dresden we lived together


with our paternal grandmother on the third floor in the house at
Guerickestrasse 34. During the winter, our mother had to undergo
medical procedures which required her being hospitalized. Our
father did not return from the Mühlberg concentration camp, and
Grandma had to take care of herself since she was of considerable
age by then (73).
In preparation for her stay in the hospital, our mother had ar-
ranged for placement of both our sisters with friendly acquaintances.
Elfriede was lodged with tailor Master Maresch and his wife, while
Elsbeth was taken care of by the Klinkicht family who operated a
well established bakery.
My brother Win and I continued living at home. Win pursued his
job with Walter Riedel & Co. glassblowers for chemical and medical
instruments, and I apprenticed for the career of a machine builder
with Messrs. Alfred Galle in Niedersedlitz, a suburb of Dresden.

To Keep Warm Without Heat


It had been cold for a long time and coal was practically unavail-
able. What was available, if you were lucky, was at best, coal scrap-
ings, slack and coal dust in all possible forms, mostly very loose. A
somewhat higher quality was represented in the form of so-called wet
press-stones which never came to a full burn, but would smoulder
long after the process had been started by relatively long lasting,
intensive heat of a wood fire.
To keep the embers glowing throughout the night in our kitchen
stove, in the evening we carefully put a wet press-stone on top of the
fire. It was about the size of a brick, had to be rolled inside moistened
newspaper, and carefully placed on the dimly glowing fire without
breaking it in the process.
Preponderant use was made of a small sized so-called thrift-oven.
It had the shape of a cube approximately 25 cm (about 10 inches) long
at the edge. It was made from remnants of thin sheets of metal which
had been part of the guide-framework of the incendiary bombs which

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

had been dropped on Dresden. One such thrift-oven we acquired in


exchange for some household item we were able to live without.
The central ring of the cast iron heating plate of the kitchen stove
was removed and the thrift-oven put in its place so that it would be
connected to the chimney draft. The door for feeding the thrift-oven
was about the size of two match boxes. The fire grill inside had just
enough room for, maximum, half a lignite briquette. Thus it was
possible with very little wood to boil water for "coffee-ersatz” (substi-
tute). Often, our grandma sat in front of that tiny stove to warm her
gout-plagued hands. This doll house sized oven rarely gave enough
heat to benefit the kitchen. Today I can appreciate how much our
grandma must have suffered from the cold.

The Job of Apprentices


Win was lucky to work in a warm place on his job since power-
ful gas flames were used for forming the glass. At my workplace,
however, we had as little in heating materials as we had at home. We
lived mainly from burning wood which my boss and I, his apprentice,
had found in the summer by locating tree stumps which we then dug
out and chopped up.
In the winter time it was this apprentice’s first task in the morning
after picking up the workshop key from my boss, to start the fire in a
big self-feeding stove which was very similar to a large cannon stove.
After I had removed the ashes from the previous day and started the
fire on the iron grill, the stove was fed through a large lid on the top.
Since the heating material was mainly coal slack and brown coal dust,
it happened quite often that the fire was extinguished by pouring in
new supply. Although I had a very good relationship with my boss,
I had to listen to many a reprimand regarding this. The reason also
may have been that I wanted to become a machine-tool builder, not
a fire stoker.
On the stove was always a big tin-pot with water which we used
for washing our hands in a pail next to the workshop door. Nowadays,
nobody can imagine the hands of a workshop apprentice of that time

86
Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter ten

who was dismantling old burned out and rusted machines in order
to try and make them operable again. Nowadays, protective gloves
are routinely worn for far less dirty and dangerous work.
When the fire didn’t want to burn at all, the boss very occasion-
ally sacrificed a little bit of anthracite pit-coal which was rationed
and had been obtained through official channels only for fire in the
forging of metal parts. As a matter of principle, however, using that
valuable coal for heating was taboo since it was required for the forg-
ing of steel, which otherwise could not have been formed. Also, after
all, the existence of the shop depended on that capability.
There were days when I came in the shop in the morning and
it was so cold that the boss couldn’t get the lathe turning since the
tool chuck was so stiff and the main spindle unwilling to turn in its
bearings that the flat power belt just slid over the drive pulley. Then
the boss set the leverage of a tool wrench to the three way chuck and
jolted the spindle out of its cold freeze. Thereafter, maybe half an
hour turning in idle position, the bearings were sufficiently warmed
up that we could start with our work.
I remember one day when it was so icy that even this method

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wasn’t successful. The workshop was dog cold, it was impossible to


think of doing any work. Thus we sat in front of the stove which only
reluctantly gave a little warmth, and our boss shared with us some
of the experiences from his journeyman years.
Germany had severe unemployment during the 1920s, and he

88
Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter ten

signed on to work in the rain forest in Brazil,— his employer paid


for the emigration. Only through an adventurous escape he escaped
the hell of the jungle. Later he was able to settle in Sao Paulo and
enjoyed a bearable life amid German compatriots. When war started
in 1939, he happened to be on a visit in Germany and was therefore
prevented from returning to Brazil.
About noontime the stove would overcome the worst of the cold
so that in the afternoon we could get back to work.

Living in an Ice Box


In the evening at home it wasn’t any better. In the living room the
water in the ball-glass vase produced by Win was frozen. We could
throw it away immediately, for it would break anyway in the thawing
out process when it would get warmer some time. The bedroom was
colder yet because it was a corner room and had windows to the north
and east. At night we went to bed muffled up as if we were outside in
the open. This transfer was accomplished in record time in order to
hopefully warm up as soon as possible under our eiderdowns. During
the coldest nights I wore long-John underpants and put my father’s
bathrobe on over my pajamas.
Aggravating the situation was the lack of electrical energy,— in
other words, constantly, there was no power. Natural gas was not
available either, except in very rare instances.

Consolation From Culture


It is during that time that I had my life’s first introduction to the
theatre. Every so often my brother Win took me along to a play or
opera. Both were performed temporarily in the Tonhalle which had
survived Dresden’s fire bombing sufficiently intact that it could be
used.
What was difficult was the preparation for such a theatre visit.
I rushed home and tried with cold water and clay soap or similar
soap imitation to clean myself. During that process the lights went
out since power was being turned of because of citywide overloading.

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By candlelight I finished the process and put on a pair of pants which


were too short and some heirloom jacket which had been altered to
fit me and I was extremely proud of. In the electric streetcar I found
the time to check my getup and found out that my cleaning efforts
would not stand any scrutiny. The fingers had to be hidden since all
fingernails were broken off from my job and the hands wouldn’t get
clean, even with most intensive brushing.
Once we were in the theatre foyer, I quickly disappeared to my seat
inside, and then as the lights dimmed I was absorbed by the music
and action on stage. For a few hours I was temporarily transported
out of this world and did otherwise forget all the miseries around.
I remember well details of Schiller’s "Cabal and Love" and
Mozart’s opera "The Magic Flute" with such well known Dresden
actors as Christel Goltz, Elfriede Trötschel, Elisabeth Reichelt, Manja
Behrens, Bernd Altenhoff, Hans Löbel, just to name a few. Joseph
Keilbert directed the orchestra.
Those were for me unforgettable experiences, for which I am
grateful to my brother Win to this day. From those experiences in my
early years I developed a love for the theatre which Jutta and I nour-
ished during the first years of our marriage, particularly also because
of the good relationship Jutta had with one of the ballet dancers at
the State Opera. After the performance at the theatre was over, we
hurried home and went to bed in the above described manner.

Necessity Makes One Inventive


After our mother returned from the hospital and our sisters re-
turned to the hearth of the family, it was necessary to increase the
temperature in the apartment by a few degrees. Win and his friend
Gerd Straumer (later Dr. Gerd Straumer, lecturer at the Technical
University Dresden) came up with a plan in which I also was going
to play a role, if a subordinate one.
Since coal was available nowhere, wood was to be obtained, in
grand style. I was not involved with the preparations. When the time
came, however, in the evening as soon as darkness fell, we took off. I

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter ten

was told to bring my sleigh along. We met with Win’s friend at Gerd’s
mother’s place and left from there, equipped with a large woodcut-
ters’ saw and sleigh, for the park across from the sports arena at the
Gondelweg.
Since birch wood burns also without having to be dried first, Win
and Gerd cut down several birch trees of substantial diameter and
cut the trunks in two meter (79 inches) long pieces, then tied them
down on the sleigh. Now my task began. I pulled that weight to the
house where we had met and together with Gerd’s mother carried
the birch trunk pieces into the basement.

No Silent Night
As soon as I came back to the park, my sleigh was loaded up again
and I repeated the task as before. I can’t tell any more how many
times I went back and forth. I only remember that Win and Gerd
assisted several young women with the big woodcutters’ saw since the
women on their own were unsuccessfully trying to cut down trees in
diameter about the length of their little household saws.
The project was stopped by the appearance of several policemen.
These were quite normal civilians with a white armband who tried
to convince the people to stop this carnage. On principle they were
right, but the suffering was so great and there was sawing in every
corner of the park that their words fell on deaf ears.
We first secured our woodcutters’ saw since it had been borrowed
from somewhere, and I moved the last sleigh load to the basement of
Gerd’s mother. Thus, I didn’t have to take part in the outcome of that
so called police raid. Gerd had organized the further cutting up of
the trunk pieces and the chopping up. During the next days, pulling
the sleigh, Win and I brought our portion of the spoils home.

Coziness Returns
During the weekend we tried with all our might to put an enchant-
ing temperature in the apartment. To our surprise we discovered that
the moist birch wood burned fine, but the heat started thawing the

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frost in the walls and water came streaming down everywhere.


Some time, however, spring did arrive, very gingerly. Starting in
March I was hoping from one week to the next that it really would
warm up. Never before in my life had I longed so much for the warm-
ing rays of the sun.
Now, when winters in general appear more like cold summers,
we are hoping for more wintery weather. However, this year the cold
is lasting a relatively long time, yet it is by far not as cold as it was
then. Now we have a rather warm living room and I have to think of
a long time ago, the winter of 1946/47.”

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Chapter Eleven

Back to my own report


Living Dangerously

Begging Door to Door


1947 came and things weren't any better. Actually, it was getting
worse. Somehow we had managed to obtain turnips from friends.
The family ate turnips in the form of raw, and cooked, in pieces, in
soup, mashed and many other forms, but always the same turnips
until we ran out of them. What then?
From time to time, my mother made trips to the countryside
begging from door to door at farmers' houses. She took along our
last valuables, as far as there were valuables left: Her linen, some
old earrings, whatever china there was left which didn't have a crack
— or, even if it had a crack. She tried to bargain those things for
some food. But the efforts were seldom successful. Whenever they
were, my mother would come walking home with a knapsack full of
potatoes, and everybody would be full of joy again.
Quite often I also went on those begging trips. It was necessary
to go far away from the city, because the farmers were overrun by
the townsfolk bringing carpets, lamps, and anything which a farmer
may like. Yet, many farmers' fields hadn't been worked for some time,
and they, too, had to feed their families, plus they were expected to
fill their quotas of food to the authorities.
"The Germans," wrote former President Herbert Hoover in Feb-
ruary 1947, "in food, warmth and shelter have sunk to the lowest level
known in a hundred years of Western history." We were hungry and
cold. These were the grim facts. The average consumer received
about a third of a pound of meat on his ration card each four weeks
in 1947, provided meat was available, which it rarely was. Every three
months he was given an egg, again provided it was available. The

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average ration amounted to 800 calories a day. - This was from Mr.
Hoover's report on WEST Germany. Nobody reported on the East.
There, in fact, things were far worse.
Police went out in the country and policed the railway stations,
stopping people who tried to obtain food from the country, taking it
away from them, and possibly clapping them in jail for illegal posses-
sion of potatoes, for it was illegal to obtain food by any means other
than by purchasing it against food rationing stamps in stores.

On one of my trips, I walked for three hours out in the country to


a village near Obergruna, where my grandparents had come from,
trying to find a friendly soul that would part with some potatoes or
anything else edible. When I came to one of the farms where once I
had been a guest as a boy, the doors were locked, nobody came out.
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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter eleven

When I tried to enter the farm through a back door, which I knew,
the farmer let his dogs loose from the chain and set them on me. Dog
bitten, bleeding, I limped back home. Without potatoes.

No Arrest Warrants Required


And then came the day when a Russian commissar and two sol-
diers again pulled up in front of our home and came inside. This
time they were looking for me. I had to go along with them. Mother
convinced the men that I had to dress warmly first, and they al-
lowed me to do so. Then off we went in a little German car, which,
no doubt, had been requisitioned by the victors and was now being
used by the military.
I was taken to a military compound and led into the basement.
Then the door was closed behind me and there I was left unattended.
In looking around, I noticed that there were about five men lying or
sitting on the dirt floor. When I talked with them, I discovered they
were political prisoners, either from the SS or otherwise somehow
linked to the National Socialist Party. They had been there for some
time already; each one had been caught in an "illegal act", such as
crossing the Elbe in a motor boat or having talked to another former
Party member on the subject of politics or the like.
This was the station where the Russians seemed to interrogate
all political suspects. But at first they didn't interrogate me. I spent
a few days in this dungeon without knowing why I was there.
Once, when one of the prisoners was led out of the basement for
interrogation, the others turned to me and told me confidentially that
they were quite sure that that man was a spy, planted in this group
to find out what the others had done against the present regime. Or,
if he wasn't a spy, at least, he was trying to save his own skin by tat-
tling on the others, for some of the basement discussions had turned
up as questions in the interrogations of the others. So watch your
tongue, they told me.

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Where Were They Coming From?


The flies were stinging, and it smelled awful in that dungeon, since
we were not allowed to go outside for any of our necessities. In one
of the corners of the room there was a pail we all used as a latrine. It
was bound to create bacteria. Little bugs, mice and rats ran around.
I wondered, how do you differentiate between a large mouse and a
small rat? I tried to sleep. But I couldn't.
Finally, on the fifth day, I was led out of the dungeon and faced a
Russian officer. He told me bluntly that I had distributed anti-Soviet
leaflets in a department store and that I was trying to revive National
Socialism. The officer told me that I should confess right away, for
this would ease my lot and take me out of the dungeon.
I was perplexed, for I hadn't done anything of the kind. Actually,
I thought National Socialism had died in the war, and I couldn't see
how anyone would try to revive all that again. But regardless of what
I thought, it didn't seem to matter one bit. It mattered what the Rus-
sian in front of me thought, and he was convinced of my having been
guilty of an offense against the Soviet authorities. I'd be a rebel and
could be shot for that.
As convincingly as I could, I asserted my innocence. I explained
my position and that it would be foolhardy to do something like that;
that there was no reason for me to commit such an anti-social act,
and that I didn't think anything like that would be of any benefit to
anybody. All my explanations were wiped away with a brush of his
hand. The guard came in and took me away again.

In Bad Company
Back in the basement, I asked the others whether their accusa-
tions had been just as fabricated as mine. It seemed they were not.
They may have been exaggerated and connected to the wrong reason
or person, but it seemed that the other inmates were more involved
in some illegal act, or an act considered illegal, than I was. But how
was I going to get out of this?

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As time went on I became quite familiar with my surroundings.


Other new prisoners were thrown in, while others were transferred.
We were allowed to clean out the basement with a broom and water.
I volunteered for this duty, so I got to know the evening guard at the
door quite well. His name was Mischa, and Mischa took a liking to
me. He taught me some Russian words and phrases which I was
anxious to learn. And Mischa enjoyed it when I tried to talk to him
in his mother tongue.
In the back of my mind I was mulling over a plan of how to
somehow persuade Mischa, or cheat him into letting me out. That
basement bred disease, and the other prisoners were possibly serious
cases which the Russians were keeping here for good reason. This,
again, may mean Siberia eventually, or death. And if this had to come
about, I might as well try to escape. The penalty for the act I was
accused of was going to be severe, that was for sure. To the Russian
mentality of that time it was just as serious to hand out anti-Soviet
leaflets as it might have been to shoot straight at Marshal Stalin.
But I didn't have to go through with my plans. Almost day after
day I was called before the same officer, and interrogated in the same
way. The questions were almost always exactly the same, almost to
the word. Sometimes I would be asked for the names of some of my
friends or somebody else I did or didn't know. Always I was promised
light treatment if I would tell the truth. Always I repeated that I said
nothing but the truth, that I had nothing to do with the activity as
charged, and that I was as innocent as could be.

Lucky Day
Then there were two days when I was not called for interroga-
tion. This worried me. What was going to happen next? Well, the
third morning a soldier came in and took me outside. There he told
me that I was a free man and could go home now. I was so grateful
that I asked to see the officer again who had interrogated me. The
soldier took me to him. The officer looked at me as I thanked him for
letting me free. He continued to stare at me, but didn't say a word.

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I didn't wait around, but I left, accompanied by the guard who led
me down to the street.
Only much later did I learn what apparently had triggered my
release. The same type of leaflet attributed to me had been distributed
in the same department store again during the time I was locked up
in that dungeon for interrogation. This, apparently, made my captors
realize that they had snared the wrong bird.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter twelve

Chapter Twelve

The Grass on the


Other Side of the Fence

Facing the Facts


By 1946, Germany had been divided into east and west, par-
titioned by the "Iron Curtain," thus named by Winston Churchill
during his speech at Westminster College, in Fulton, Missouri, on
March 5, 1946, signalling the onset of the Cold War. It was illegal to
travel between eastern and western Germany, unless authorization
had been obtained from the local German authorities and the oc-
cupation forces. I don't know anybody who had ever been allowed to
cross that border legally. Instead, they might have been thrown in jail
for coming with such a most likely politically motivated request.
My mother didn't want to see her eldest son end up the way her
husband did. She encouraged me to go west, for the east was too
dangerous. On the western side of the iron curtain I was more likely
to build a future which would be better than the past. In the east it
could easily happen that I would become the inmate of a political
penitentiary at the whim of anyone who denounced me. "Justice"
was meted out by "people's judges", one of whom was a former tailor
who, as it turned out, had been responsible for my father's having
been put away.
No, my background didn't lend itself for a career in that country.
I was going to be the hunted and discriminated against for the rest of
my life. So, better move on to greener pastures. And move fast I must,
because I don't know what was going to come next. Yet it would have
to be done covertly. Otherwise, I'd never get out of town, and next
time I might stay locked in a dungeon, or worse, for good. Obviously,
permission would never be granted.

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Stealing Away
After careful preparations, eventually, without permission from
the East German authorities or the occupation forces, I left Dres-
den by rail on June 16, 1947. This time, I did not take with me even
such simple things as a mere suitcase or some extra warm clothes,
as my dear mother had suggested, because I didn't want to look like
a traveler. In those days, travelers were always suspected to be up to
no good. Surely, I didn't want to be caught.
Carefully avoiding the "People's Police" and occupation forces, I
gingerly travelled and succeeded in getting to Thuringia, one of the
East Germany’s provinces bordering on western Germany. I made
it to the town of Kahla, where uncle Helmut, my father’s younger
brother and doctor, lived with his family until their own successful
flight to West Germany not much later. This was to be my staging
area.
Uncle Helmut introduced me to the pharmacist in the local
apothecary’s shop, which was in the center of Kahla’s main market
square. They obviously knew each other well and had complete trust
in each other. Uncle introduced me as his nephew and explained that
I intended to cross the border into Bavaria, the adjoining West Ger-
man state. As a local naturalist who, all his life, had been collecting
herbs and mushrooms in the forests in the region, including the area
going into Bavaria, the pharmacist knew precisely how to get there,
and do so clandestinely, without being discovered.

Preparation for Success


In what was a crowded lab a few steps from the pharmacy’s
main counter, the pharmacist pulled out a couple of maps and we
went over them in great detail. He pointed out landmarks to look
for, explained what to stay far away from, and how to blend in with
the local culture, how to retrace my steps or reroute in case of suspi-
cious sightings if the escape route had to be changed. Eventually, he
questioned me like a drill sergeant to make sure I had everything
committed to memory.

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“In case they catch you,” he said in the end, “don’t ever admit
that you talked with me. I never met you. - Good luck!”
“That’s right,” said my uncle. “The meeting with this young man
never took place.”
The next morning I rode to the town of Probstzella by train and
continued on foot. I still had the pharmacist’s map clear in my mind
and repeated his instructions silently to myself many times. With all
this preparation, I knew exactly where and how I was going to cross
the border.
As he had described to me, there was a road coming from the
south going up north and swinging like a C around a mountain.
The border crossed the mountain from east to west and tried to cut
across the road at about the center of the C. At that point, I had been
warned, the occupation forces had constructed a turnpike. On either
side of the turnpike, as I was informed, were American and Russian
soldiers and West and East German border police. On the American
side there was a restaurant, maybe 50 yards from the border, and
this was a popular place.
With the help of the Kahla pharmacist, we had carefully planned
that I avoid the official border crossing by climbing the heavily
wooded mountain from the Russian side and then descending the
other far steeper side, eventually to walk nonchalantly into the West
German restaurant and then try to hitch a ride south.

Fleeing And Being Caught


So far, so good. No east German border police caught me, nor did
the Russian soldiers see me. I made it up one side of the mountain,
bathed in the warm and bright afternoon sunshine. I made it down
the other, far steeper, side exactly as planned. Casually I strolled into
the restaurant. I surveyed the scene and decided to leave as soon as
possible because it was carefully watched by West German border
policemen. During that time, too, the West was just as militant about
letting anybody come in from the East as the East was unwilling to
let anybody escape.

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I couldn't walk along the road, because there I would be picked


up by a military or police patrol sooner or later. I'd have to produce
my identification papers, and this would be the end of my trip. So,
I went sideways, left into the woods instead, along a walkway which
ran parallel to the eastern border. I intended to go down this path
a little further on and then turn right, and walk parallel to the road
leading south.
So, I walked along this path for, maybe, a few hundred feet.
There I came to a big clearing where the trees had been felled. As I
proceeded to rush across the opening, a Russian open vehicle pulled
up at the northern end of the opening and a warning shot rang out
toward my direction. They had seen me, and fear run through me
like a lightening bolt. I stood there in the open, frozen in place, like
a statue, making a beautiful target.
The Russians waved and motioned me to come back to their side.
Ever so reluctantly, I did. I walked down the opening, crossing the
border line, and came back to where I had started.
They put me in their vehicle and completed their patrol along
the border. No more refugees were caught then. Finally I was de-
livered to a villa back near Probstzella where, as usual, I was put in
the basement.
And also, as usual, lots of other prisoners were there already.
Young men and women, and old ones, too. All of them had been
caught one way or another trying to flee the eastern paradise.

Refused And Returned


I was thoroughly searched. Even the seams of my suit were cut
open at some places. Later in the day I was brought before an officer
upstairs. He told me that I had been caught fleeing, that they would
let me off this time, but that I surely shouldn't be caught again. The
Russians would see to it that I was put on the next train back home.
Obviously, so many Germans were trying to cross this border illegally
that it really wasn't worth prosecuting each single one, particularly
if they didn't appear suspicious in any other way.

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They took a whole group of refugees and carted us to the train


station. There we were put on the train which wouldn't stop again
until it was out of the border region. The Russian soldiers and some
East German border policemen watched as the train pulled out. It
was evening.

One More Time


I remained on the platform, and as the train went around a curve
picking up steam, I jumped off, lay down and let the train pull away.
Then I pulled myself near a better hiding place and stayed there
until night fell.
I sure didn't want to go back home. Here was my opportunity to
make it to the West. I had made it already, but for this unfortunate
discovery. Yes, I would do it again, fully aware of the risks I was tak-
ing. I'd know the way much better now, too.
This time it was night. There was a curfew in this border area.
Most likely they would shoot at me without warning if police or mili-
tary should see me. If they caught me in the fields or in the woods
which I had to cross, I'd try to persuade the police or soldier that I
was a local farmer’s help, without a watch, and on my way home.
This, at least, is what I thought I'd say.
So, again I started out with the same objective. This time, of
course, I wouldn't approach that restaurant on the West German
side. I would stay on the steep side of the mountain maybe 50 feet
above the street, regardless of how rocky or steep it should be there,
and I'd climb around the mountain that way, then walk along the
road, but maybe 50 feet to the right, inside the woods.

Night Crossing
But first I'd have to get there. And this was the most difficult part.
I must have used more than half of the night trying to find my way
back up that mountain crossing a barbed wire fence in the process.
Once I heard steps and lay down until the Russian patrol had passed.
Once I heard shooting, but it was off in the distance, in the other

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direction. Maybe they caught somebody else trying to escape.


Finally, I made it all right, until at the West German side I acci-
dentally loosened some rocks. They went crushing down and landed
near the road. I stuck to my position holding my breath, but nothing
happened. After maybe half an hour or so I continued my journey
of hope.
It was daybreak before I crossed the mountain as I had contem-
plated and I was lined up with the road, maybe 50 feet to the right,
as I had planned. I kept marching on as fast and as far as I could. I
would have to make it to Lauenstein where the railroad line ended
from the western side. Actually, before and during the war the rail-
road went all the way through from Ludwigstadt via Lauenstein
to Probstzella, around the mountain, just parallel to the road I
described. But the partition of Germany had made Probstzella the
eastern and Lauenstein the western end of that particular line.
I had been told beforehand that anybody unfamiliar would be
arrested at the Lauenstein railway station by West German border
police. This was information I had picked up in the basement of the
villa where the Russians had held me. There I had learned that this
train came to Lauenstein about 7 o'clock in the morning, delivering
workers who were working in the nearby mines. Then, only people
with appropriate passes were allowed to enter the train which would
pull out again after 10 minutes and go on to Kronach, Bavaria, where
you'd be free - no more border police or checkpoints.

Catching the Train


Since I was to the right of the road and the train tracks were on
the left, I went farther south than the Lauenstein train station, which
really wasn't much more than a hut at the end of the line. Then,
after I was down about 3/4 of a mile south of the railway station, I
carefully approached the road and crossed it. I approached the rail
line and followed it, hoping to find a curve or some switches, where,
I hoped, the train would slow down. Then I looked for a hide-out in
the shrubs nearby and waited.

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I didn't have to wait very long. There came the early morning
train puffing along the winding valley. Sure enough, it slowed down
sufficiently at the curve which I had selected, and I left my hide-out
going close to the tracks. As the train passed by, I ran along and
jumped on one of the last cars. I went inside, locking myself in the
washroom. Nobody noticed, or at least nobody bothered. I guess the
workers there, if they had seen me, knew exactly what I was doing.
And they were Germans too, after all. They were not interested in
politics or playing police. No one raised an eyelid.
The train huffed and puffed and stopped at the Lauenstein end
station hut. I ducked down inside the washroom and hardly dared to
glance over the window sill. There I could see the workers disembark-
ing, chatting and carrying their lunch boxes with their daily rations.
Also there were the border policemen with shouldered rifles patrolling
the platform outside. They carefully watched the men streaming out
and then located themselves at the entrances of a few cars. There they
checked the passes of the few passengers boarding the train.

Waiting it Out
In the meantime, the locomotive was unhooked on the one end
and passed by to be hooked up at the other end. The minutes passed
by like hours. The border policemen outside walked up and down the
train, looking into a window or two from the outside, so as to make
sure that only authorized passengers were inside.
Then the train got a little push, and another one. The locomo-
tive had been coupled on at the southern end. Then a shrill whistle
from the engine. As the train pulled away from the station, I was still
ducking down, waiting for another minute or two until I dared raise
my head and look outside.
I came out of the toilet and took a place inside the car. In Ger-
man trains, at least during that time, there were no conductors. All
the handling and checking of tickets was done outside at the railway
station where you had to pass a gate, and then again at the gate when
you left the station at your destination. I was not approached by any

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train man while on that train.


More people boarded at the next station, and more again later
on. The train filled up nicely, and now it would be difficult to spot a
single refugee.

The Hobo Mode of Travelling


I oriented myself along the way, repeating the names of places in
my mind, and watching for where I would have to get off. Just a few
miles before Kronach, Bavaria, I left the train the same way I had
entered it, by jumping off at an instant where it was turning a curve
and slowing down in its approach to a station.
For the next three days, I walked and hitch hiked about 100 miles
to Vohenstrauss, a little village near Weiden Oberpfalz, where I knew
my former school friend Rolf Jacob was working on a farm. He had
never returned to Dresden since the end of the war and had invited
me to see him whenever I would be able to come in that direction.
Now, here I was. The time had come. And sure enough, Rolf was
known in the village and I was directed to where he lived.

Reunion in Paradise
Meeting up with Rolf who, like me, also miraculously survived
the last phase of the holocaust, was like two dead men meeting in
another world again. It truly was a different world, and the burden
of ducking oppressors fell off me like a big stone off my back. It was
going to be buried and forever left behind, right here in Vohenstrauss.
Relief, at last!
I shall never forget the farmers where Rolf worked who let me
into their houses and had me join their evening meals. They mainly
consisted of slices everyone cut off a fresh, large, round home baked
sourdough bread with a heavy crust, — I can still smell it today
— and then homemade butter spread on as thick as you liked. It
was an unbelievable luxury at the time and I cherished every bite.
Unfortunately I couldn’t eat very much, because I had gone hungry
for so long that my stomach and my entire system needed time to

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adjust. Within a few days there it certainly did. But then it was time
to say “Thank you very much” and go on.

Freedom at Last
Before leaving, I remember, Rolf, who was two years older than
me (20 years old vs me 18 years old at the time), giving me some advice
for the time ahead and the new-found freedom to be enjoyed:
“Be careful when getting involved with girls. Make sure you find
the right one first. Otherwise, you can be back in the dumps faster
than you think, and your freedom gone, too.” - Strange, I thought,
he must be speaking from experience. “OK, ok,” I said, ”When the
time comes, I’ll let you know.”
Rolf lent me enough money to continue the trip to Munich. After
some more hearty food and another night of wonderful rest, I went
on by train to Munich.
There at last, I was, a free man, no longer an escapee on the run,
outside the railway station in Munich, in a bustling city, absolutely
free. The air tasted wonderful.

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Chapter Thirteen

Finding the Pieces That Fit

Looking for a Way


In Munich I had relatives. Dr. Franz Thierfelder and his family
lived in a beautiful villa in Graefelfing, which hadn't been affected
by the war. The Thierfelders had two daughters, Hannelore and
Henriette, both about my age. Dr. Thierfelder was a Professor at the
Munich University and its legal counsel.
At that time, of course, refugees from the east plus many homeless
people from the west were coming out Germany's ears and noses.
West German production was sufficient to provide each person with
one pair of shoes every four years, a water tumbler every two years, a
ladle every fifteen years, and a kitchen sink every 150 years. On the
black market, a radio cost 3,000 Marks. At that time, a light bulb was
less, namely 50 Marks or US $12.50 at the rate of exchange. There
was no housing, and there was little to eat.
Barter and the black market became a way of life. Strange scenes
were enacted in the countryside as city-dwellers spread out across the
land foraging for food. The city people brought with them candle-
sticks, bed covers, furniture — for the farmers. The aristocrats of the
time tended to despise money,— "What are we going to do with it?"
they asked. And at night, the people from the cities took back with
them vegetables, lard, fruit, clutching these treasures tightly against
their bodies as they hung from the steps of packed trains.
So the Thierfelders didn't really appreciate my sudden visit.
Nevertheless, they didn't flatly refuse to let me come inside. They
showed me the bathroom and took away my clothes. I had to bathe
and clean myself while they took care of my clothing. Then, I was
fed properly and allowed to sleep for a night.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter thirteen

Still Looking
After that, politely, I was asked by Uncle Franz to come along, and
was ushered into his car. When he drove off from his home, I didn’t
have the slightest idea of where we were going. But, soon I discovered
I was being delivered to the nearest refugee camp. Just in time, before
we had a chance to get inside, did I realize what was happening and
asked uncle Franz to stop, and he did. I thanked him for his help and
guidance, and then I stepped out of the car. No, no more camps for
me. I'd find my own way, alone. This, too, was agreeable to uncle
Franz. Right there he wished me luck and drove away.
With a heavy heart, I trotted down to the nearest railway station
again, got myself a ticket to Frankfurt am Main, and took the next
train there.
The next morning I arrived in Frankfurt and went straight to my
local relatives’ house. It was my great-uncle Bruno Peuckert’s home.
He was about 60 years old, the youngest brother of my paternal
grandmother, an old pal of my grandfather's who had followed him
to Dresden to work in the bakery and became a proficient baker
himself. Later on, Bruno had served in the Army in the 1914-18 war,
and after that, he didn't return to Dresden. Instead he had stayed in
Frankfurt where he became a policeman. (More about this colorful,
true human in the appendix, see page ) For many years Bruno was
the "lucky bachelor," living it up until in the late twenties when he
married Aunt Maria, who was more than 20 years younger. They
had two daughters, Lioba, who was then about 19 years old, and
Ulla, maybe 17.
I had never seen this great-uncle and aunt before. I just knew they
existed, and their address had been given to me by my relatives in
East Germany. This time around, I pleaded with them not to throw
me out or turn me over to the refugee camp as my other relatives
had done in Munich.

Temporary Connect
I didn't have any presents to bring and offer them, but a smile and

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good wishes from the impoverished folks back home in East Germany.
Great-Uncle and Aunt took me in with open arms. As it turned out, I
had a certain family resemblance to great-uncle Bruno, and, appar-
ently because of this, he was proud to finally have someone from his
own side of the family show up where, for many years, he had been
living only with the relatives from his wife's side of the family.
Great-Uncle Bruno had been a strong anti-National Socialist. He
never joined the Nazi Party, and he didn't get along very well with
my father, who had joined the National Socialist Party early on. Each
tried to present a totally different political outlook. Great-uncle Bruno
had worked his way up in the police force; and after the downfall of
the Third Reich, few police officers were left who could be used and
trusted. The Americans sought Captain Bruno's help and appointed
him Chief of Police in Frankfurt South.
Because the Peuckert daughters spoke fluent English, they were
both working for the Americans. So, they brought home rare luxu-
ries such as butter, meat and eggs. Here, I found an oasis where I
certainly would have liked to settle.
Immediately Aunt Maria sensed what I was up to, and she pointed
out that the housing restrictions made it impossible for her to ac-
commodate me for much longer than a few nights. Otherwise, the
authorities would find out and think there was still enough room for
one more person to move in and live with her in her already crowded
household. She was right about the law.
I assured her that I was staying with them only temporarily. I
did not want to go back to the east; that I would find a place of my
own where I could work and live. She knew, too, that this wouldn't
be so easy. But why not let me try it? And that's really all I wanted
— a chance.

The Prospects
The very next day I went to my Great-Uncle Bruno's office in the
police building where he proudly introduced me to his colleagues.
He put me in touch with all the experts I wanted to talk to. These

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter thirteen

experts were policemen, or officers who might be able to direct me


somewhere to get a roof over my head and to find a job.
While talking to the law enforcement officers, the picture that
emerged was pretty grim: First of all, I was in West Germany illegally
and didn't have the right papers. If any policeman on the street or a
military patrol should pick me up, I'd go straight to jail, and perhaps
be sent back to East Germany, as I didn't' have a permit to stay in
Frankfurt. It was a vicious circle, a chicken and egg puzzle.
So, my first approach was to Great-Uncle Bruno. I asked him to
please issue me a permit to let me stay in Frankfurt, for it was the
police who issued these permits. Well, Great-Uncle never had done
anything illegal in his professional life, and how could he possibly is-
sue a license to me which he was not legally allowed to give? It meant
issuing completely new identification papers. Such were to be issued
only to newborn babies or men returning from the war who could
prove that they had lived in Frankfurt before the war.

Legal Diligence Pays Off


Finally, through a loophole, an intermediate solution was found.
His police department issued me a temporary visitor's permit. This
they could legally do, for great-uncle Bruno desired my visit. This
was, at least, something. Now I could walk on the street without fear
of being clapped in jail. After all, I was a legitimate visitor. As Great-
Uncle indicated, if necessary, the permit could be renewed several
times. But the time should be used to establish a better legal status.
To do this, again I consulted the experts. The picture there was
just as unpromising. As a matter of principle, because of the short-
age of food and housing, nobody was being allowed to move into
Frankfurt on a permanent basis at this time. The only way in would
be to: bring proof of a job.— This meant certification that somebody
needed my services very badly inside Frankfurt; and show that I had
living quarters. But this, everybody knew, nobody had to offer.
Nevertheless, I went to various firms and authorities, knocking
on doors seeking opportunity from morning till night, trying to find

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a job somewhere, or a place to live.


The skills I had to offer a future employer were not in demand,
it seemed. And when I had lined up an employer who might need a
handyman or a willing worker for any kind of a job, he'd have to turn
me down, for I couldn't show that I had living accommodations in
or near Frankfurt. And no permanent license for living in Frankfurt
was to be issued to an unskilled worker.
When I went to the city administration department where all liv-
ing room space in Frankfurt was registered and administered, I had
to line up in a long queue. My name was taken. A number was given
to me, and I was told that maybe I would be eligible for a room in
seven years. Right then nothing was available, and whatever would
become free because of deaths or moving, was waited for by many,
many others who had applied a long time before me.
The vicious circle continued. I couldn't get a job because I couldn't
prove I had accommodation. And I couldn't get accommodation be-
cause I couldn't prove I had a job which required my presence in
Frankfurt.

Search And You Shall Find


Frankfurt had been bombed just the same as many other cities.
There was lots of rubble around yet, and the city had to be built up
again. A new company had been started by the city fathers, the Frank-
furter Aufbau A.G., the purpose of which was to rebuild the city.
That company tried to attract bricklayers and carpenters who
were to be housed in old, dilapidated barracks near the city which had
been put up temporarily during the war. I went to the hiring office
of that company and inquired as to what kinds of jobs were open. I
thought of applying as a bricklayer or carpenter, even though I had
never done this type of work before. But as the list of open positions
was read to me, I realized that they were looking for a man with a
medical background to work as an assistant to the compound doctor.
Well, here was my chance, I thought. I had been trained as a member
of the ambulance corps in the Army. I immediately jumped on this

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opportunity, and without much delay I was hired.


The company provided me with a bed in the first aid station. I
was to be there day and night, look after the sick in the compound,
and look after minor injuries like bruises, etc., until the doctor came
during his daily round.

Connected, Finally
Finally, having been connected to what I thought was a wonder-
ful job, I thanked Aunt Maria and Great-Uncle Bruno many times.
Now his department was entitled to issue a permanent living permit
to me. Great-Uncle was proud, too, for he knew that members from
his family would succeed.
Then I moved out from my Great-Uncle Bruno and Auntie
Maria’s place to the Niddawiesen first. Later on I was transferred to
Sandhoefer Wiesen, where I stayed for two long and active years. My
salary was DM 45.—(US$ equivalent $11.25 at the time) a week.
The compound had about 30 barracks, the smallest of which
was the infirmary and the first aid station. A room in there became
my "home." It was next to a railroad track where rattling and horn
blowing trains rushed by day and night, right at the foot of a large
metal span across the Main river. The racket these trains made the
second they entered the bridge is indescribable. Operations and
conversations in the infirmary stopped every time this happened.
But in time, this became part of life and nobody really noticed or
objected to any more.
The camp population increased by the day as more and more
building workers were brought in. Food was provided and was excel-
lent, for the times. And in order to supplement my income, I took on
extra duties, such as pest control for the camp. Extra income from
that source: DM 5 per month (US $1.25 equivalent). I received a
room in one of the barracks for gassing all blankets and mattresses
once every six months. I laid out rat poison and hung up posters to
help fight the pests.

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Happiness is a Job
I knew no one at the camp when I first got there and most of the
workers were much older. Many of them were quite rough; they were
from different backgrounds and different parts of the country with
different interests. The person who did take some interest in me as
a person was my boss, Dr. Peifer, the compound doctor.
I always looked forward to the opportunity of having a challeng-
ing conversation with him, about politics, geography, the people,
philosophy. From time to time he brought along magazines and books
which he had just finished reading at home. Among them were such
pieces of literature like "The German Doctors Journal," the alumni
paper of the Berlin medical school (where Dr. Peifer had studied),
Thoreau's "Walden" and other foreign authors, which Dr. Peifer
thought would be good reading.
Clothes were far too expensive for me to buy. But the company
provided us with old U.S. Army uniforms which had been dyed pitch
black and apparently were worn by prisoners of war before, and
now by the laborers everywhere. Cleaning was done in a compound
laundry at no cost to the people living there. I had two sets of such
black uniforms. One set was always in the laundry. Whether it was
always my own set which came back, I was never quite sure. There
were no labels or marks, just holes and patches, some of them stitched
on by me in a very crude manner.
The after-work camp activities of most camp dwellers were, in
the sequence of frequency of their indulgence; beer drinking, fights,
bringing in women, playing cards, an occasional game of soccer. No
need to elaborate, I surely had no time nor inclination to take part
in any of these planned or unplanned activities. Getting ahead was
forever on my mind. So, I made myself useful wherever I could. And
as the work settled into a routine and the volume of sick patients in-
creased with the growth of the camp, a daytime nurse was brought
in to help.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter thirteen

Education is Bliss
After a while I was in a position to renegotiate my position. I was
allowed to start work at 5 p.m. and be on duty till 8 a.m. This left all
the daytime patients to two nurses. Only at night did I take care of all
first aid and ambulatory requirements, when after normal working
hours a good part of the workers came in for treatment. Naturally,
sleeping on the premises meant being there to respond to any emer-
gencies at night, too. And there were some regularly. This meant I
was paid for the night also, whether I was attending to emergencies
or whether it was quiet and I was able to sleep through the night.
This way, I was able to go back to school again, because I wanted
to go on with my education. I went back and finished my required
school program. At the same time, I went to an interpreter school in
Frankfurt and attended typing and shorthand classes. Except for the
money I sent back home to Dresden, I spent it all on my education. I
couldn't gobble up knowledge fast enough; I really enjoyed learning,
and I still do to this day.

Choices Have Consequences


Living and working in Frankfurt was a decisive station in my life.
And for the first time ever I became aware of what freedom meant.
Freedom meant that no one really needed me or cared about
whether or not I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was
left to my own devices. Being alone, I might as well have jumped from
a rock, and nobody would have flinched. So what? It was formidable
Realization Number One.
At times, I was very lonely. I was left with only work and studies.
The realization would force itself upon me that no one else cared
much about it. So, why and for what purpose should I pursue all
these goals?
Realization Number Two was: To me, freedom meant having to
make choices. With no one close to really advise me, I had to decide
whether or not to go on to school, to which school, why at all, and what
to do after. Necessity dictated that I must have a paying job which

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would pay for all of this. Any effort put in the wrong direction was
a waste. Waste was the last thing, I knew, I could afford. Therefore,
again, back I came to making a choice. One of the most important
choices was made by Cupid.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter fourteen

Chapter Fourteen

Out of the Family Treasure Box

From the Substitute


Reporter
My wife is a very pri-
vate person, very person-
able with everyone, but
reluctant to share details
of her private life with a
larger audience. She has
always been, and still is,
the ideal friend to have
because she listens, em-
pathizes, and is discreet.
Plus she remembers and
regularly reinforces the
bonds that develop.
This chapter as well
as the next were reserved
for Hildegard to write, but
she chose to write, “How
it All Began” only, which
is the next one. That, in
spite of the fact that she
is an excellent writer. She
was trained as a journal-
ist and won a literary prize as a writer. Although Hildegard has the
gift, talent and skill to write, she preferred not to write about herself.
Words not written cannot be used against you or your friends.
In my opinion, however, she really has nothing to fear. This
book would not be complete if it didn’t contain, at least, a glimpse

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of Hildegard’s background. Although, admittedly, the information


coming from me becomes second-hand, nevertheless, under the cir-
cumstances, I will try to the best of my ability, to provide it.

The Mother a Bavarian


Hildegard’s mother, born Margarete Schipper, comes from a land
owning family in Dittlofsroda, Unterfranken, which is located some-
where in eastern Bavaria close to Hessen. It is a small community at
the Kränkische Saale river. By today’s standards, Bad Kissingen is
a town not too far away.
The Schipper family was comprised of 12 children. Five died dur-
ing infancy, and two brothers became World War I casualties. After
that, Margarete was suddenly the oldest child in the family. One of
the established rules during that time was. That property went to
the oldest son in the family. This meant that the rest of the children
had to find their own ways to fend for themselves elsewhere. That’s
how Margaret ended up in Frankfurt/Main.
Margarete’s fiance, also from Dittlofsroda, was killed on the
Verdun battlefield in France during World War I. However, after
the war in Frankfurt, Margarete met a returning soldier, Christian
Rittinger, who had survived the war unharmed. Christian was a
Swabian, the youngest child of a large family, originally from a tiny
hamlet called “ Hals,” which, when literally translated, means throat.
Hals was some way from Schwäbisch Gmünd in a beautiful coun-
tryside. It consisted of only two houses deep in the Swabian woods.

The Father a Swabian


Christian became fatherless early in his life and was packed off to
live with and be cared for by a considerably older brother who lived
in Frankfurt/Main. As soon as he could hold a shovel, Christian went
to work for the German railroad; initially as a lineman, performing
manual labor laying track, but later on he became a train conduc-
tor. Except for his time drafted in the military, Christian had only
one employer for all his life. He was a very solid individual, often

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter fourteen

served as juror and at other times as an expert witness in railroad


related trials.
Christian was a very private person also. Hildegard, for instance,
never learned how many children were born to her father’s mother
and, thus, how many siblings her father had. The Swabians are
known as wanderers, roaming the world. They can be found any-
where. Some of Christian’s brothers had emigrated to America and
their tracks were lost. Christian and Margarete eventually married
and had one daughter, Hildegard. When Hildegard was born, she
was skin and bone, a mere four
pound baby, who her mother was
afraid to handle. All her early life,
Hildegard heard from relatives,
as well as her own mother, what
an ugly kid she was. Only her fa-
ther thought she was a beautiful
baby. Hildegard had no brothers
or sisters. Yet, she was brought up
to excel, be task-oriented, indus-
trious and self reliant.
Her father worked irregu-
lar hours, away a lot working
on trains crisscrossing Ger-
many. Her mother saw to it that
Hildegard received the education
that would take her further than
her parents had been able to go.
Since Hildegard showed promise
with words, she was given plenty
of opportunity to read and study,
to practice her linguistic skills.

Preparation for the Real World


Hildegard was enrolled to take stenography lessons early in her

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life. Her parents eventually paid for a private tutor to take her beyond
the scope of an ordinary office stenographer. Every day at home with
a stopwatch in hand, Margarete would dictate text to her daughter
to write in shorthand, increasing the reading speed more and more.
The outcome: While 90 to 110 words a minute is considered a good
speed for the office variety of stenographer, Hildegard eventually
achieved a record breaking 240 words a minute and above, with no
problem at all.
This, of course, was way before the time of dictating and recording
machines. It was the realm of select press stenographers. Hildegard
already at an early age was a well recognized stenographic cham-
pion. As a result, she landed an apprenticeship with Allianz AG,
Germany’s largest insurance company. After learning all the facets
of insurance and bookkeeping, Hildegard graduated with her skills
in high demand.
Some of the preceding took place during World War II, which
didn’t allow Hildegard’s growing up to be a smooth ride from an only-
child’s attention into a young professional. Frankfurt was bombed
often, and as dictated by his job, Hildegard’s father was away fre-
quently. There was little to eat, and many times mother and daughter
had to fend for themselves.

War Complications
Most bombing attacks took place during the night. And it was
during one of those nights that the neighborhood where Hildegard
and her parents lived was hit. Buildings collapsed and fires started
all over the area and eventually burning out of control. Hildegard’s
father was away. The two women fled to the shelter in the building’s
basement. But after the bombs hit and the building started coming
apart, everyone who was able to, got out of the shelter into the blis-
tering fire storm out in the open.
Desperately, people tried to salvage the little they had left of their
belongings. Others took with them as much as they could before the
flames engulfed the rest. After tying handkerchiefs over their noses

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter fourteen

and mouths to protect them against the belching smoke, Hildegard


and her mother worked with others trying to pull belongings out of
the house. Eventually, however, the flames engulfed everything and
it became far too hot to battle them any further. Hildegard dropped
on a mattress in the garden which had been pulled out just in time
before the flames consumed it. Exhausted, Hildegard looked up in
the sky, and thought, What next? This had been the second time the
family had been bombed out and survived.
Toward the end of the war, with few buildings still standing in
Frankfurt, and air attacks occurring almost every night, Hildegard,
the youngster, was evacuated to a farm outside of Frankfurt while
her parents moved into a cell in a bunker. And that’s where they
remained and lived, past the end of hostilities, because most of the
housing had been completely destroyed.

Starting a New Life


After the American occupation forces arrived, Hildegard returned
to Frankfurt to join her parents. Eventually, the family succeeded by
being allowed to occupy a small apartment in an otherwise heavily
damaged building. Everything, especially rebuilding their shattered
lives, started from ground zero again. That’s when Hildegard came
across a notice on a large round advertising pillar; the City of Frank-
furt was looking for an assistant to the chief executive officer of a com-
pany yet to be formed, the Frankfurt Reconstruction Company.
The FAAG (Frankfurter Aufbau AG) was to be incorporated by
the City of Frankfurt and the State of Hessen to undertake the re-
construction of the bombed out city. Substantial funds were going
to be poured into this enterprise, as well as massive manpower to be
marshalled for the giant undertaking. Just as an example of the tasks
that had to be dealt with, look at the Frankfurt/Main airport complex
today. It was merely one project of the FAAG during the course of
many years. Then, try to imagine what there was at the end of the
war: a simple airstrip with a defunct little building.
The man chosen to head this herculean job was Heinrich Schütz,

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a proven financial executive and administrator. Unknown to her


parents, Hildegard went for the interview. What allegedly had been
an ugly little duckling at birth, now was a well developed, energetic
young woman with unbeatable credentials for the job. End result:
Hildegard was hired on the spot.
Before Hildegard went home to break the news to her parents,
CEO Heinrich Schütz, asked his future assistant:
“By the way, do your parents know about this... that you are tak-
ing a job with me?”
“No. Not yet. But they will, right away.”
“Do you foresee any problems?”
“No. I think not.”
“If necessary, I will be available and would like to talk to your
parents.
“No, thank you. That won’t be necessary.”

New Perspectives
Well, Hildegard’s
parents were certain-
ly taken by surprise,
particularly her
mother. She would
much rather have
had her daughter
stay around the
house while they
were still in the pro-
cess of settling in. But
Hildegard convinced
her that the time to
get a professional life
was here. Ever so re-
luctantly, Margarete
and Christian agreed

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter fourteen

that, maybe, this was a good idea after all. The job appeared solid
with lots of future promise.
Although Hildegard’s own career had just begun, it was agreed
that she would continue to live at home with her parents. Her job
would take Hildegard to Bonn working in the German Bundestag
(General Assembly) for the Hessian delegation and others involved
with soliciting federal funds for the Frankfurter Aufbau AG and
Frankfurt’s reconstruction in general.
She’d be hobnobbing with key political and economic prime
movers and shakers of the time, often transcribing meetings that
went far into the night, and at the same time having the transcripts
ready for everyone early the next morning. Hildegard was Heinrich
Schütz’s right hand person, and in the process, she became a very
much appreciated executive in her own right while facilitating FAAG’s
business.
It was during this time that the two of us met. Hildegard’s own
account discloses the when, where, and how in the next chapter. The
rest, as they say, is history.

Family Data
Hildegard’s father died of a heart attack at age 68. He died the
way he lived, a strong individual pursuing his own course. Christian
had been brought to the hospital with an ongoing heart attack and
was put under an oxygen tent to help him with his breathing. The
oxygen helped him recover, at least somewhat, and he felt better.
But then came the time he needed to go to the bathroom. He was
not supposed to get out of bed or out from under the oxygen tent.
Instead, they wanted to give him the necessary implements so that he
could relieve himself while continuing to rest. But Christian wouldn’t
have any part of it. He got out of bed and walked to the bathroom all
by himself. In the process he suffered another massive heart attack
which took his life.
Hildegard’s mother survived her husband by 5 years. She died
peacefully at age 72 of natural causes. What had been a full life just

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gave out then.


This left Hildegard as the sole survivor of her family, except that,
in the meantime, she had started her own family — ours.

Exemplary Woman
To give one more example of Hildegard’s willpower and determi-
nation, the following episode is from her teenage years. Every year
Hildegard went for her annual physical examination to a doctor who
attended to her parents all through their married life; a true family
physician of the type hardly imaginable any more nowadays. During
peace times, Hildegard’s parents were both rather stocky, although
Margarete had been a shapely beauty during her youth, who was
sought-after to model for sculptors.
As Hildegard was blossoming into a young woman, she became
concerned with the direction her weight was going. So, during one of
those annual physical exams, she mentioned this to the family doctor.
He understood her concern, because he knew her parents.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “Your mother is heavy. Your father is
heavy. And as a result, you’ll be heavy, too. You can’t change hered-
ity. That’s how it is, and that’s the way it’s going to be. So, you better
get used to the idea of being heavy. Relax and enjoy it.”
Well, Hildegard didn’t say anything to the doctor to his face, but
internally she said to herself, “No, I’m not going to become as rotund
as my parents. No way!” She vowed.
And no way it was, and has been all her life. Self discipline and
determination, the right diet and proper exercise have kept Hildegard
in top shape, both physically and mentally fit throughout her life. She
is still going strong now, and often she is viewed as a woman decades
younger than her real calendar age.
She was and still is the kind of woman many women would want
to be, and most men would like to marry. Hildegard has too many
attractive features to list them here. Only one for the closing: “My
husband and I are ideally compatible.” She says. “I like to cook, and
he likes to eat.” - Yes, she cooks extremely well, and by what she feeds

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter fourteen

me, is responsible for my being in top condition, also. I am counting


my blessings every day.

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Chapter Fifteen

How it All Began

by Hildegard Straube, Honolulu, 2000-07-16

May Day 1949


Call it fate, call it serendipity, call it happy memory, here is the
story how Win and I met:
The Frankfurter Aufbau AG had two people at its inception, its
CEO Heinrich Schütz, and his assistant, me. It quickly grew to 130
office personnel and 3,000 construction workers.
May 1 is a holiday in Europe, and traditionally, businesses have
a company outing the day before. In 1949 the Frankfurter Aufbau
AG planned that event in the form of an excursion to a wine growing

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter fifteen

region in the Rhineland area. There was to be dinner and dancing


and socializing, and everybody was looking forward to it. The com-
pany by then had a personnel department that did the arrangements.
They hired buses and made the seating arrangements.
My assistant, Ellen, was married to a jealous husband who only
grudgingly gave permission for her to come along. So, she and I
happily boarded our assigned bus at a central meeting point for
a day of fun. Our jobs in the executive office didn’t give us much
opportunity to mingle with the employees, so this was our chance.
However, whether we liked it or not — and we didn’t — during dinner
we were to sit with the board of directors. They were all prominent
men, like the Mayor of Frankfurt was the Chairman of the Board,
but they also could have been our fathers. Besides, we knew all of
them from meetings, so being the only 2 token females at a table of
“older men” wasn’t a very exciting prospect. But that didn't’ spoil
our hopes for a lovely day.

Who is That Guy?


As Ellen and I were riding on the bus, we noticed a young man
sitting right in front of us who had his nose in a book all the time and
didn’t talk to anybody. We saw his little doctor’s kit on the floor, so
we knew he was one of the first-aiders assigned to every bus. Since
the company housed their 3,000 workers in corporate camps, we
were aware we had first-aiders but we didn’t know them. Ellen asked
me and I asked her about his name, but the young man remained a
mystery rider.
As we arrived at our destination and filed into the huge hall where
dinner was to be served, I saw this same young man again, already
sitting next to our personnel manager, no less. As I walked by, Win
looked at me with his piercing blue eyes. It was a long look with no
particular emotion attached, but a most memorable one I’ll never
forget.
The festivities started with speech making, good food to follow.
Eventually the music played for dancing. And here comes Win from

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way across the room, bracing the quizzical looks of the dignitaries,
asking me for a dance. I accepted.

First Impressions
We didn’t talk much, and I noticed he didn’t have much practice
as a dancer, but he was polite and didn’t ask personal questions. He
may have found out from the personnel manager who I was. I never
asked him. As the evening wore on, the Board of Directors indulged
in plenty of wine and didn’t miss Ellen and me at their table. Some
of the younger employees decided to go to one of the numerous wine
cellars in that little resort town. Win was part of the group, and when
they asked Ellen and me to come along, we gladly did.
These small Bohemian wine cellars are cosy and informal, just
what we were looking for. Muenster am Stein, the name of the resort
town, is home to a famous white wine “Zeller Schwarze Katz” (Zeller
Black Cat). We drank it, and for years after that on the anniversary of
our meeting, we bought a bottle. It isn’t available in all the places we
have lived, so the habit got dropped. But we still have empty “Zeller
Schwarze Katz” bottles around the house for decoration.

Ride on the Bus


As all good times come to an end, we had to board our assigned
buses for the trip home. Win asked me if he could reserve a seat for
me, and I said yes. When going back to our table in the large hall
of festivities, some of the board members offered me a ride back in
their chauffeured cars. I told them I had come by bus and I was go-
ing home the same way.
I’m so glad I did. Win was already sitting there when I got to the
bus, holding a window seat for me. Our first conversation was about
art. We obviously both had haunted galleries and museums, loved
opera and the theatre. As it turned out, Win wrote movie critiques,
and had contributed prose to newspapers.
At the end of the ride we made a date to go to a movie together
seven days later. “Ninotchka” with Greta Garbo was our very first

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter fifteen

outing, and by sheer coincidence happened on Win’s birthday. We


do have the “Ninotchka” video now as a piece of pleasant memory.

Getting to Know You


We got to know more of each other during the next two years
before we got married. We were never engaged. My mother was not
amused about the relationship. She had met Win and had nothing
against him as a person, but he just wasn’t what she had in mind
for her only child. She saw him as an unconnected refugee with
little potential for making it big, no way to reach for the hand of her
daughter. She also wanted to know Win’s religion and more about
his background because he came from a part of the country totally
unfamiliar to her. These were all things that didn’t seem important
to me, particularly since I was not looking for someone to marry me.
But, as it turned out, I had met the great persuader!
Win phoned me every morning at the office. I still don’t know
where from. He lived in an unheatable attic room, worked night
shifts as medical staff at one of the company’s workers’ camps, had
a newspaper route that started at 5 am, was a student of philosophy,
went evenings to Interpreter School, donated blood (paid at that
time), tutored to supplement his meager income and still, he sent
money home for his mother and three younger siblings because there
was no more father. Yet, he never complained. We never even talked
about finances. Most of what I learned, I found out by osmosis. And
needless to say, I had never met anybody like him before.

Mother’s Perceptions
But all of that wouldn’t impress my mother and she talked plenty
about it to my father. Time went on with no improvement of the cli-
mate in sight on that subject. It was my job at home to polish all the
shoes once a week. Eventually, it happened. One fine Sunday morn-
ing my father sat casually next to me on a little footstool and said:
“What is it with this young man I’m hearing so much about?” I told
him that we wanted to get married. My father listened and then he

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replied: “Your parents are not here forever. If you think he is right
for you, we don’t want to be the ones who say he is not.”
From then on, my mother never again said anything negative.
Actually, she and Win became the best of friends. He was welcome
at Sunday dinners, and when he got sick in his cold quarters, she
even brought him home to us and nursed him back to health. My
job took me out of town at the time and when I returned, there was
one doctor coming to the house for my father who was hit by the
same epidemic, and another one for Win. The way I found out that
Win must be sick is when his daily morning phone calls to the office
had stopped. I alerted my mother, because I had to go away, and she
took over from there.

Walking a New Way, Together


As time went on, actually very quickly, Win’s career progressed,
also to the satisfaction of my mother. When we got married, Win had
an enviable job as Assistant to the U.S. Treasury Representative for
Germany, working out of the American Consulate in Frankfurt. But
what attracted me to Win weren’t worldly trappings. It was the sheer
force of his personality and his focus. I’ve learned a lot from him over
the years and tackled jobs I probably would not have touched on my
own. He helped me to grow, without ever trying to stunt my growth.
Being the person I am, it wouldn’t have sat right with me.
On a lighter note: We met dancing, and we still love to dance.
We had many dance teachers over the years, until we came to meet
the best. Her name is Adelaide. We’ve had her for many years since.
She is so good that Win will never, ever, take a lesson from another
dance teacher. He also doesn’t need to any more, because by now he
is a very accomplished dancer himself.
“Could I have this dance for the rest of my life” is my wish for
our living together and for our partnership in work.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter sixteen

Chapter Sixteen

Turning Today Into Tomorrow

A Place of One’s Own


My life turned on small hinges. I made many decisions, some
seemingly of little consequence, but the total accumulation of them
all seemed to determine the happiness or misery of our lives.
I finally succeeded in getting an attic, in the highest floor of an
old apartment building, right under the roof. Never mind that the
city administration responsible for living space and apartments knew
of no such space available. This one, I dug out by diligently talking
to acquaintances and with my Aunt Maria’s connections. The room
was about 8 feet by 16 feet. It didn't have a stove, nor any running
water. But there was a water faucet outside in the hallway. It had a
window overlooking the rear yard of the apartment block.
Finally, I had my own little bailiwick. I got myself an old Army
cot for a bed. There was an old wooden cupboard, a table and chair.
That was all. The monthly rent was 45 Deutsche Mark, or equivalent
to $11.25 U.S. Dollars. For me, the small, cold room of my own, under
roof, was heaven. It was unbelievably wonderful to be independent
and sheltered.

Performance Audit
It was mostly on Sundays in the beginning that I went to my attic
and plotted the course of my future life. What was I going to do?
After some time of pondering I decided, with my basic education
already completed, I ought to pursue higher education. I wanted
something practical, and yet intellectually demanding. It needed to
be in a field where I could use my head for true personal satisfaction,
yet, enable me to earn a decent living.
For some time, I had held three full time jobs. Every single work-
ing day I started promptly at 5.30 am. I distributed newspapers

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(Frankfurter Rundschau) through the northern parts of the city on


a bicycle. Then at 9 am, I reported to the Foreign Language School,
and finally at 5 p.m., I reported to Sandhoefer Wiesen Ambulance
Station to attend to my duties: I spent my nights there. At 5.30 am
the next morning, the same routine would start all over again.
Needless to say, everything went smoothly as long as there were
no special circumstances which needed special attention. Yet, at
times, life seems to exist of nothing but special circumstances. For
example, inclement weather could put a crimp in my early morning
delivery routine. It easily could take far longer than it should to get
the newspapers delivered, with the result that I was late for school.
That happened every so often, but I tried to make up for this in other
ways, and normally was forgiven.
Quiet nights at the ambulance station were best for me. That
meant I could do some homework and sleep. Normally, until about
9 or 10 p.m., there was the usual traffic of handing out medications,
doing bandage replacements and attending to other medical routines.
Thereafter, there were no demands on me. However, every so often
emergencies did happen during the night. And that’s, of course, what
I was there for. I remember one such night. The attending doctor
had been called by security to come over for a bleeding and vomiting
patient who security was going to bring from his barracks to our sta-
tion. Both of them, the party with the patient and the doctor, arrived
at the same time. But then they had trouble waking me up. I must
have been in a coma-like sleep. Turning on bright lights and shouting
at me, however, did the trick, and the procedure could begin.

Seeking New Horizons


I worked in the ambulance department for precisely two years,
from September 1, 1947 until August 31, 1949. The three-job ar-
rangement was toward the end of that period and lasted maybe three
months. While still working on my interpreter diploma, I decided to
quit Sandhoefer Wiesen ambulance job and take a job that tied in
better with my future plans. I applied for a position as an interpreter

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at the Joint Export Import Agency


At that time, it was the only offi-
cial organization in Germany that
conducted foreign trade. And, to
my complete astonishment, there
was a job opening, not for an inter-
preter, but for a secretary. Since I
was able to take shorthand, type,
and speak English, I got the job.
At that time, I lived in my own
attic and had good work during the
daytime. After landing my new job
I decided to drop the newspaper
route in favor of advancing myself
in my chosen work instead. I found
a new way of making some extra
money at the Frankfurt blood do-
nor station. I had gone there sev-
eral times in the past, whenever I
felt strong and energetic, in order
to donate blood. I benefited from
being paid 25 Deutsche Mark for
each donation of 500 cubic centi-
meters of blood; and, as long as
food rationing lasted, additional food rationing stamps for butter and
eggs and meat were given free to blood donors. I stepped up going
to the blood donor clinic. Sometimes I donated blood too often. I
recall once I dropped unconscious during a blood transfusion ses-
sion. In those days, blood was directly transfused from the donor to
the patient. And at that particular instance, the donor became the
blood recipient as I found out afterwards when I awoke and found
myself in a doctor's office. I was given milk to drink, and staunchly
advised not to show up for blood donations that often.

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Ongoing Education
For my continued education, I found the Academy of Worldtrade.
At that time it operated out of the Frankfurt University, and offered
evening courses. I considered this to be a prime opportunity for me
to acquire the knowledge necessary for an international trade oc-
cupation, something I thought would have a great future. The two
year course at the Academy would give me a good basic training that
could help me to make a living at any time. Also, during this time, it
served me well to widen my horizon beyond Germany.
While living in Frankfurt, I tried hard to find as many sources of
knowledge as possible. To satisfy my thirst for knowledge, I visited
the libraries and gobbled up books of all kinds. Reading widely also
provided me with a change of pace from the otherwise rigid routine of
learning and preparing myself for examinations. And to me, a change
quite often served to be as good as a rest or sometimes better.
In the process of tapping my local libraries, I came across the
"America House," a newly established center stuffed with many
American books principally dedicated to making Germans better
acquainted with America. Becoming a member of the America House
library was free of charge. The treasure trove stocked there was more
than fascinating. According to one of the America House librarians I
befriended, I consumed books like a hungry lion after a kill, or drank
like a camel at a desert oasis. Well, why not?

America Calling
Once I discovered this intellectual oasis, I became a frequent visi-
tor at the America House and took out many of their books. It was
the very first time that a new and fascinating international world had
opened before me. In this new world I saw not only Germany, but also
the rest of the world through other people’s eyes. I was fascinated by
the freedom and liberty with which those authors wrote. I fell in love
with Jack London and his style. I enjoyed Melville and read many of
the American and English literature classics.
I immediately fell in love with America, long before I saw her or

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knew much about her economic or political systems. Jack London


and George Gershwin were the salesmen who sold America to me.
America, what a fascinating place! Right away I knew that Amer-
ica was a land I certainly would like to see some day. However, as
for that time, it was out of the question. America seemed like a mil-
lion miles away, mainly because it was going to take a considerable
amount of money to finance such a journey. It was as though I was
expecting to make a million dollars. An impossible proposition for a
poor kid from behind the Iron Curtain.
But, of course, I could still dream… and work. So that is what I
did. I enjoyed philosophy, read many of the old and newer philoso-
phers and also went to University lectures in philosophy. In my few
free hours, maybe on a weekend, I'd write some poetry and even
some short stories.

Idealistic vs Practical
In thinking of my choice for the future, I thought that I liked
thinking abstractly and following through with a thought very much,
that I liked putting these thoughts on paper, to a workable solution.
And since beauty of form had always fascinated me, I thought that,
perhaps, writing could become a means for me to earn my living in
the long run and would give me the satisfaction of creating a piece
of art at the same time.
Therefore, during this time, my life’s career choice centered
around becoming a writer. Jack London was my main example.
But, I would go about it in a different way from what he did. I fig-
ured, I'd prepare my way, maybe by starting as an apprentice with
a newspaper.
So, I prepared myself for the time I would be finished with my
studies at the Academy of Worldtrade. I approached several news-
papers and magazines, telling them of my ambition and asking them
for a part time job, even if I wouldn't be paid. I told them, I wanted
to learn.
Nobody gave me a job, but some gave me assignments, even paid

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ones. For instance, I filled in for a movie critic several times. A great
job, seeing movies free, then writing about them and still getting
paid for the pleasure. But that was a very sporadic activity, and on
top of it, required schedule reshuffling in my otherwise tightly orga-
nized daily endeavors, which could mean valuable time or income
sacrifices elsewhere.
Independently, I submitted some of the stories I had written to
different publications, but nobody was interested. Actually, no paper,
magazine, or publisher of any sort was willing to accept any of my
writings, nor to employ me, not even without pay. They were polite in
their rejections or sometimes held out very distant hope, which was
just another polite way of saying “no” or “not now.” I concluded in

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter sixteen

my mind that they really had no use for such an idealist and didn’t
know how to fit him into their old fashioned, steeply hierarchical,
organizations. I could have had my paper route back at the Frank-
furter Rundschau, I was told there, and maybe later on I could work
my way up through the distribution department into the editorial
department. But I found this approach very unprosaic for a young
man who had the art of writing in mind.

Other Influences
One Sunday in the summer of 1950, I went out with Hildegard.
She listened patiently to my reciting of poetry, and we'd discuss art
and the theatre. We had a pleasant afternoon walking in the Taunus
mountains. Toward evening we came to the park of the castle at Bad
Homburg. And there we sat on a wood-and-metal bench discuss-
ing our situation. We loved each other, we knew by now, and we
thought of marrying some day. The discussion came to the point
where Hildegard wanted to know what I planned to do with my
life in the future. Up until then I was merely a student, with a small
income. She, as a top executive assistant, made much more money
than I did. If we were to get married, where was the money going
to come from?
I explained to Hildegard that it was my ambition to be a writer,
that so far, no one had accepted any of my writings,— some of which
she had typed for me — and that everybody in the business had turned
me down. But I still had hope.
Well, Hildegard had a great deal of confidence in me, but she
brought me right back and focused directly on the situation at hand.
She pointed out that writing may not be the most profitable business
in the world, that poets and writers were notoriously out of funds,
and that it may be wiser to stick to a more concrete foundation if we
were to stick to each other.

Walking a Dream
The Sunday after I sat again in my attic, trying to come up with

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a story which no magazine or publisher could refuse. This story was


going to knock them over, including Hildegard, and show them what
I was able to do in my chosen profession.
Like the crackling sparks right off the electric wire, ideas crackled
off my head, and I put them on paper in front of me as quickly as
they came. It was going to be a book. The book’s hero was a young
man who was born poor, started out with all the odds piled against
him. And, from scratch, through virtue and industry, he worked his
way up to become a millionaire in the U.S.A.—or anywhere else, for
that matter.
While thinking hard, trying to flesh my best seller book into a be-
lievable opus, I was stumped: how could I make it sound believable?
Anybody could write a sweet story like that. But no, no. I wanted to
make mine thoroughly thought out, the real thing. I remembered my
uncle George back in Dresden. He had started by selling fruit from
a push cart during the depression of the 1930s. When war broke out,
he had his own store with 15 employees. Because of that success, the
relatives called him "George the Great." After all, he was one of the
dashing and wealthy people in Dresden.
Maybe "the Great" would serve as an example. Or, maybe, there
was still a better idea: why not take a young man like myself who
came to the West, just as I came, who, the previous Sunday, was sit-
ting with his girlfriend on the park bench at the castle in Homburg,
who didn’t own much more than his clothes on his back. Why not
take such a man and let him go to the blood donor clinic, as I had
done, raising his first 25 Deutsche Mark right there, and using this
as basic capital to build up his career… which would finally make
him a millionaire.
This was the idea, all right… and away I wrote, till late at
night.

Waking up
After I had filled a number of pages, suddenly I felt I needed a
breather in order to help me gather my thoughts. I went downstairs

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter sixteen

and took a short walk all by myself. It was summer, the flowers were
out, fruits had ripened; it was humid, “sinful” air. I thought and felt
as though my life was just around the corner. Ahead of me. Now, all
I had to do was to be successful and write this tremendous story.
And as I walked, a strange thought crossed my mind: Nonsense!
Why write such a silly story which anybody can write? “Paper is pa-
tient,” as the saying goes; it tolerates anything recorded on it. Horatio
Alger had written this type of story late in the last century and people
were laughing about them today. It just wasn't believable.
And, after all, if it was that easy, why wasn't I a millionaire?
Why would I, one of a zillion of "have-nothings” be qualified to pass
advice to the rest of the world? Why should anybody buy my story,
if it were merely a story? That type of make-believe hero was long
dead. No, this wouldn't work at all. So I decided and set out to make
it believable. In fact, it decided itself in my head without my con-
sciously making any contribution to this process. I had to follow my
own advice on how to become a millionaire.
It was that simple. If, in my youthful exuberance, I sincerely
thought that I had the key for turning a no-good refugee youngster
with holes in his shoes into a millionaire, then go ahead and try to
live that romantic story yourself! Do away with the wishful thinking!
Instead, do it yourself! Never mind writing a book about it. Nobody
will be interested in my fiction, anyway. And once you are a million-
aire, you couldn't care less about whether the book was ever written
or not.
Well this new revelation shocked me into a very wakeful state. But,
of course, this was only logical in action. It was, after all, the logic of
it I admired in my favorite philosophers. What good are mere words
without proof and action?

Opening the Door


After all these musings, I returned to the attic. I tore up the manu-
script and threw out all other writings I had done up to that time. I
saved only a few poems I had written, a play, and some aphorisms.

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Away everything went, into the garbage. My writing is dead! May


these publishers seek writers after their taste! From now on I was
going to be a practical man. Let me not waste any more of my pre-
cious time on writing. I may come back to it someday when I have
something important to talk about. But first, let me do what I thought
was so easy for somebody else to do.
And right there and then I shifted my occupational gears, going
directly into a new life. I had made the choice. From then on, the
creation of wealth was going to be, and remain my prime motive.
Only after a man is free from hunger and material wants can he
really contribute something of value, to art in particular, or to man-
kind in general. This is the only way which does work. Here I was,
determined to carry it out.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter seventeen

Chapter Seventeen

From the Old to the New World

Opportunity Calling
“Chance,” said Louis Pasteur, “favors the mind that is prepared.”
And here I was, preparing myself all the time. But where was the
chance?
I don’t know which was the greater and more important chance
that did come along, eventually. The Personnel Department of the
U.S. High Command in Germany (HICOG) was in charge of all local
employees. After several months at the Joint Export Import Agency,
HICOG had advanced me to the position of executive assistant to the
U.S. Treasury Department, stationed at the American Consulate in
Frankfurt/Main. This in itself was a career move which gave me great
opportunities for further professional development. I was very happy
there, working directly under the Treasury Representative, Horace
A. Browne, who took me under his wings professionally as well as
personally. Horace A. Browne and his lovely wife, Kay, who was an
outstanding piano player, in more ways than one assumed the role
of substitute parents for me. They truly cared for me not only as an
employee, but as a human being, as if I were their son. Unfortunately,
they never had the pleasure of having their own children. They will
be close to my heart forever.
During the winter of 1950/1951, however, a very special chance
came one day when I was called over to the Personnel Manager at
HICOG’s office, Wolfgang Spohn. The U.S. State Department, I
was told, was conducting tests in Frankfurt right now to find suit-
able interpreters. Mr. Spohn had talked with my mentor, Horace A.
Browne, the U.S. Treasury Representative, and asked him whether
he’d let me take a series of tests which might result in my being sent
to the U.S.A. My boss told him point blank he didn’t want to lose me,
however, thought this would be an opportunity of a lifetime not to be
missed. At the same time, he put Spohn under the gun, requesting to
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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

find him an equally good replacement. Wolfgang Spohn said he had


already lined one up. She was a highly competent young woman, Lotti
Fröhlich, a former colleague of mine from the Interpreter School.
Ninety-eight applicants were interviewed and thoroughly tested
for the interpreter assignment in the United States. Seven were cho-
sen. And, lucky for me, I was one of the seven.
This very special break meant I was finally on my way, going to
America soon. During that time, the Marshall Plan was bringing
many Europeans to the United States. They were mostly experts in
fields such as farming, manufacturing and banking. The purpose
of their visits was to learn as much about American methods of do-
ing things as possible so they could later on be applied in Europe.
It was the idea of this import of foreign authorities to make Europe
independent of American aid, help the European nations to build
themselves up and get back to normal. American know-how was
available and free.
All these university professors, industrial managers, bank presi-
dents and so on, did not necessarily speak English. This meant in-
terpreters were needed. It was a strictly temporary assignment, but
one that promised a considerable widening of my horizon.

Going for it
The new prospects came just at the time when Hildegard and I
were preparing for our wedding. Not everybody approved of us mar-
rying. Some people, whose ideas and opinions we didn’t care about
anyway, thought that the contrasts of that newly arrived Easterner
and a well established Westerner were just too sharp. Even bets were
solicited by overanxious "friends" with regard to how long the two
of us were going to last as a couple. Most of them highly doubted
whether or not we were going to make it at all.
Despite the opposition and doubt, we were married on May 20,
1951. Eternal thanks to Horace A. Browne, U.S. Treasury Represen-
tative to Germany. He was my boss at the time, and Kay, his charm-
ing wife, meticulously arranged and financed our entire wedding

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter seventeen

reception. It was a big event, and we couldn't have had a much more
pleasant wedding ceremony if we had been millionaires. Mr. Browne
was careful to point out that I should invite all my friends, professors,
and industrial contacts, to establish good personal ties for the future.
So, I did. The guest list numbered seventy-two people.
We had rented a furnished room at 36 Metzlerstrasse in Frank-
furt to be used as our honeymoon suite on our wedding day. It was
going to be our home for the foreseeable future. In comparison to
most people who were looking for living quarters, we considered
ourselves most fortunate and were well off there. Our room was in
a house with central heating and hot water. It was a sublease in the
apartment of an old aristocrat widow with her 40 year old spinster
daughter, who essentially served as her mother’s maid. Our rental
agreement allowed us the use of the bathroom with
a shower and a bathtub, which at that time
were both unheard-of luxuries. We also had
the use of a telephone in the hall, another
marvel unavailable to the vast majority of the
German population.
When we got home that wedding night,
the room was filled to capacity with our wed-
ding presents, confetti and colorful decora-
tions. Exhausted, Hildegard sat down on
what she thought was a chair; it turned
out to be a large china vase, friend Norbert
Christoph's wedding present. It went crush-
ing down into tiny pieces without ever having
been unpacked. Recalling an old superstition,
we consoled each other, “broken china brings you luck.”

Heaven Can Wait


There was no honeymoon for us. Come Monday, we both went
right back to work. And six short weeks after our wedding, off I went
to the U.S.A. via Strato-Cruiser, one of the most modern airplanes of

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the time, and Hildegard stayed behind in Germany. She did, however,
take time off to do the trip to Italy, which we had planned for our
honeymoon, by herself. At every stop along the way she wrote to me
as I wrote to her from wherever I happened to be.
In Washington, D.C., I wasn't put to work right away. Instead,
training for interpreters started. I received some of my best lan-
guage training right there in the "temporary buildings" of the State
Department, long since removed, at the Potomac. I'd sweat in the
simultaneous translation box for hours, translating recent speeches
of Harry Truman, Vichinsky, or others. Then I'd study the practice
of consecutive translation — which was really nothing less than an
exercise in memorization.

Settling in
As a member of the U.S. State Department interpreter section, I
met many interesting characters. To my surprise, I learned that more
than half of the State Department interpreters during that time were
Russian born. No doubt about it, the Russians are great linguists.
One of my interpreter colleagues was Dr. Erich Haberhanns from
Vienna, Austria. He was there under the same program as I, but he
had arrived in Washington only two months earlier.
For me as a greenhorn, Erich knew all the ropes around Wash-
ington. I rented a room next to his in a residential house on K Street.
We regularly had breakfast together (Rice Crispies and milk) at a
nearby diner on Connecticut Avenue near Dupont Circle. We'd re-
flect on our present and past lives. America was so much different
from Europe. Already the weather was different from what we were
used to. In Washington it was hotter, more humid, and rainfalls more
violent. The whole atmosphere and the people were more prone to ex-
tremes. Advertising expounded the advantages of the largest, longest,
shortest, cheapest, finest. There seemed to be nothing in between.
Americans rushed from their exhaustive work to their exhaustive
recreation; drove on super-crowded highways with radios blaring and
conversations going. "Take it all in" in the short span of time we were

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter seventeen

here on this lovely


earth seemed to be
the American way
of life. We liked it.
Finally, I was
sent out with groups
or individuals to
tour the country
and work as their
interpreter. I got
to know the United
States well at that
time, plus a number
of important people
both in the U.S. and
from overseas, who
depended on me to
get their messages
across. The big-
gest compliment
was paid to me in
Boise, Idaho by an
American irriga-
tion professional,
who, after I had
translated a long lecture consecutively into German, turned to me
and said: “Where did you learn to speak such good German?”

The Russians Are Coming...?


I was variously assigned as an interpreter to engineers, bankers,
professors, businessmen and government officials. Once, I was ac-
companying a group of three German agriculturists from Florida to
Denver, Colorado. The purpose of their trip was to study American
ways of irrigation in order to increase food production in their home
country. In Florida, we had seen the swamplands and everglades as
well as the higher lands which needed irrigation. It was mid-August
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and very hot. Our flight reservations were made from Washington
on a little known airline with 16 stops between Miami and Denver.
Some of the stops were at airports not much larger than a schoolyard
or football field. It was an old two-engine DC-3, and that run was
dubbed by the locals as the "milkman.”
My group consisted of two professors involved in agricultural
research and an agricultural trade association official. It was their
first visit to America. They spoke no English. They probably didn't
ride in an airplane too often before this visit to America. Each was
equipped with cameras and light meters, hanging over their shoul-
ders or being carried in separate bags with extra lenses, filters, and
other photographic paraphernalia. At that time, for sure, Europeans
coming to America could easily be overloaded with things like that.
Since the plane flew low, there was plenty to see. The professors would
look out to the left and right, call each other to come over to take a
picture here, then rush to the other side to take another one there,
change filters, lenses, do the whole thing over again. And there, the
next object coming up…
Then we landed in Little Rock, Arkansas, again on what looked
like a landing strip in the middle of meadows. Only the right en-
gine was shut off to let passengers disembark and let the new ones
board. Then a voice came over the intercom: "Passenger Straube is
requested to come to the terminal." What was that? Why? In Little
Rock? I went outside. "Make it snappy" said the stewardess, for the
flight was already behind schedule, and the right propeller had just
started turning again.
There were three civilians waiting on the lawn. One of them
asked me:
“Are you the gentleman who presented four tickets in Miami for
this flight in the name of ‘Mr. Straube and a party of three’?”
“Yes, sir. Why?”
The man pulled a badge and the second one an identification
card. I studied the card. It said, this was an FBI agent.
“Could you identify yourself,” said the agent, and I produced my
State Department ID.
“Who are the people with you?,” he wanted to know.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter seventeen

Their identities were easily established.


“What are they doing on this plane?”
“They are in this country to study irrigation under the auspices
of the Marshall Plan, and they are following the schedule as worked
out for them by the U.S. Department of Commerce.” I produced a
copy of their travel schedule, which was on official paper of the U.S.
Department of Commerce.
The FBI agent then explained what had happened. On a previ-
ous stop of the flight, a disturbed patriot had gotten off the plane
and rushed to the next telephone. He alarmed the FBI that a group
of Russian spies was on the plane, photographing about everything
in sight, including military installations, and talking to each other
in Russian. The FBI took immediate action. And then we all had a
good laugh. The agent wished my group and me a good trip.

Everybody Relax
In the meantime, to show that it was time to go, the pilot revved
both engines from time to time. During the first such exercise, my
agriculturists were panic stricken because they didn't know what was
happening. Their only link to understanding the surrounding strange
world had left the plane, and now the engines were being revved up.
Apparently this was for the plane to take off again. All three rushed
out of their seats, out of the airplane and onto the grass below, as if
two tons of flying ants had been released inside. If the interpreter was
going to be left out of the trip, then they were not willing to continue
alone. What was this all about, anyway? But no one understood why
they were so disturbed. Well, foreigners!
It was after I returned and boarded the plane with them again,
off we went, on our way to Denver.

Learning About Liquor Laws


Between assignments we interpreters would meet in Washington,
D.C., again. There were many stories we shared. Erich warned me
to stay away from Toronto, Canada, if I could, because there were

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strange liquor laws. He had been up there with a group of country-


men. While his group stayed at a more expensive hotel, Erich checked
in at the Toronto YMCA. It was summer and hot. Before going to
bed Erich thought of drinking a glass of beer. This was, of course,
taboo at the Y. But as it turned out, he also was unable to get a glass
of beer in the nearest restaurant, or anywhere else for that matter,
because the liquor laws forbade this.
His curiosity aroused, Erich pursued the matter and discovered
that alcoholic beverages were sold by the government only through
government owned stores. Still more curious than before, Erich
finally located such a store — where no bottles were displayed, but
beverages were selected from lists. Then he soon learned that beer,
or any liquor, was available only for people with a passbook. Of
course, passbooks could be bought. Erich explained that he didn't
need a passbook. He was a visitor, here only once, just wanted to
buy some beer. There was a solution. For 50 Cents he could buy a
visitor's certificate. He did.
Then he tried to buy one bottle of beer. The clerks just laughed
at him. They didn't sell single bottles. And, six-packs, at that time,
apparently had not yet been invented. So, dear Erich ended up buy-
ing a carton of 12 bottles of beer, which, under the rules of the Y, he
couldn't take into the hotel. He then put his coat around the box and
smuggled the beer to his room.
Overnight Erich almost became an alcoholic by trying to drink
as much beer as possible, after so much money had been invested
in it. He didn't want to throw away what had been dearly acquired.
Nevertheless, in the morning he smuggled four empty and eight full
bottles back out of the hotel and dumped the whole box in the next
garbage can.
North America was fun. By now we felt pretty much at home.

The American Way


Slowly, the North American way of life was rubbing off and seep-
ing in and through us. Or was it more natural to live this way, any-

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter seventeen

way? We couldn't get excited about the "tastelessness," "boorishness,"


"cultural disregard" of the Americans, as our European friends tried
to point out. We knew by now that America was a great country with
room for many and differing expressions of ideas and idiosyncrasies.
And, in many respects, the Europeans were just misinformed, or too
wrapped up in their own prejudices.
We once figured out, for instance, that there are more Americans
per capita who learn or play an instrument, who go to operas, take
part in cultural events and productions, and give money for chari-
table purposes, than anywhere in Europe — or in the world, for that
matter. True, there are some crazy nuts in America, but there are
also in other places.
I was impressed with America. This was a free country, and an
individual human being was his own man or woman. One could do
as one pleased _ within the boundaries of the law, of course, which
was there to protect him and his individual way of life. Didn't the
inscription at the Statue of Liberty say:

Give me your tired, your poor,


Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-torn to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Falling in Love With America


People had come to the United States of America to build a new,
more promising future. The creation of wealth was on most every
one's mind. And, see how this benefited the whole nation! Were these
people ever so practical! Religious, national, or other differences
meant little to the individual who wanted to build his or her own
future here.
I fully realized that my love affair with America had begun in
earnest when I first stood in front of the grave of Buffalo Bill, on

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Lookout Mountain, twenty miles from Denver in Colorado. I fol-


lowed the others in throwing a coin over the little iron fence onto
BB’s grave. Our guide told us that people who left a coin there would
some day come back. And back to America I wanted to come. This
was for sure. America was for me.

Barriers to Overcome
Despite the love in my heart for America, the rest of it didn’t come
so easily. After my four months assignment, I returned to Germany.
I soon realized I didn't have anybody in the U.S.A. who was willing
to foster my immigration process. During that time, too, stringent
rules existed with regard to who was eligible to seek immigration
status to the United States.
I had written Hildegard many letters while in the States, describ-
ing all the many opportunities that existed. After my return, I was
able to tell her more about it. She, too, was eager and ready to come
along. As a consequence, Hildegard went to a language school to
improve her English.
But how would we get over there from Germany? Even if we
could scrape the money together, we'd still have to find some good
American who would be willing to guarantee that we wouldn't become
delinquents or be without a job and thus become a public charge.
Both Hildegard and I had some relatives in the United States. We
wrote to them, but their responses took very long. And, when they
finally came, they were polite, but negative, or evasive, at best. No-
body knew us well enough to be prepared to vouch for us. No one
was going to take a chance on us.
Lacking an American sponsor, we took matters into our own
hands. We went ahead and applied at the American Consulate in
Frankfurt for immigration to the United States. We were given ques-
tionnaires with long lists of questions, ranging from factual to the
imaginary, searching our past, our pockets, our minds, everything.
It included the following questions, just as samples:
• Can you, if you are over sixteen, read and understand some

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language or dialect?
• Are you now or have you ever been
(a) an anarchist?
(b) an advocate of opposition to all organized government?
(c) an advocate of Communism?
• Are you going to the United States to engage in an immoral
sexual act, in prostitution, or other unlawful commercialized
vice?
• Are you a pauper, professional beggar or vagrant?
• Are you a polygamist, do you practice polygamy, or do you
advocate the practice of polygamy?
The waiting list was very long and since the U.S. immigration
worked on the basis of annual quotas, the quota for Germany had
been filled for the next five years. We had to wait.

Finding a Connection
There was another important matter I had to take care of anyway:
Through night school and via long distance learning, I was allowed
to finish my last semester at the Academy of Worldtrade and take the
final examinations, graduating July 4, 1952.
In the meantime, however, we had to keep on working. After re-
turning from my American assignment I had temporarily been turned
over to the German Foreign Service in Bonn as an interpreter for
the cabinet of Konrad Adenauer, the German Chancellor. Hildegard
continued with her job in Frankfurt, and weekends she either came
to Bonn, or I traveled to Frankfurt.
In my efforts to find a permanent job outside the government,
I wrote to practically every newspaper ad that looked promising,
looked up friends, and did whatever I possibly could to find a job.
Lotti Fröhlich held my old position with the U.S. Treasury Repre-
sentative in Frankfurt. She was doing a great job. There was no way
for me going back there, although the personal relationship with Mr.
and Mrs. Browne continued. Both my ideal of a substitute father,
Horace A. Browne, and I, thought that by now I'd be worth a better

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paying job than that.


But, first, I'd have to
find it.
It came in an
answer to one of my
letters responding to
a newspaper ad. It
was from the Ger-
man American Trade
Promotion Company
with offices in New
York, Frankfurt and
Cologne. GATPCO
was a company set up
by the German Gov-
ernment for promot-
ing exports of Ger-
man goods to North
America. Germany
was suffering under
the "Dollar Gap" at
the time, i.e., it im-
ported by far more
— mainly food stuffs
— than it exported,
creating an unfavor-
able foreign trade
balance, particularly with the United States and Canada.
One of the bosses of the company was Dr. Georg Schaller, a man
I had approached when still at the Academy of Worldtrade to talk
at one of the seminars I held on Canada. Dr. Schaller at the time
accepted the invitation and gave an excellent report on Canadian
economic conditions. Now, he immediately recognized the man who
had sent the application and asked me for an interview. He had writ-
ten to say that the position had to be filled right away, and, it was

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter seventeen

pretty obvious, there were going to be many applicants. So, I put in


a collect call to Dr. Schaller. He accepted my call without hesitation.
More than that, he offered to make arrangements for my round trip
train ride, Bonn-Frankfurt-Bonn.

Expert for the Job


It was early October 1951 when I took off from the Chancellery
Office in Bonn to see GATPCO. Dr. Schaller introduced me to Dr.
Dehne, the President of the company. Dr. Dehne eyed me carefully, as
if I looked like a somewhat too young a lad to fill the position they had
to offer. The job which had just been created and was to be filled was
for someone with North American experience and economic back-
ground to find and evaluate German products which could be sold
competitively in the United States and Canada. It meant analyzing
the market potential for certain products and to advise the German
manufacturers of necessary changes in the products themselves to
make them suitable for the market, give information on price struc-
ture, and suggest the best ways of selling in North America.
According to Dr. Schaller and myself, no one was better suited for
the job than I was. Dr. Dehne didn't resist very long, and I landed
the job.
Hallelujah! This meant Hildegard and I had to move to Cologne,
unless we were going to continue seeing each other during weekends
only. But, this practice we wanted to end as soon as possible anyway.
Therefore, no hesitation whatsoever. We would have moved to any
place in order to get this sort of a job.
It was then, with the German American Trade Promotion Com-
pany, that I got involved in analyzing the markets for German prod-
ucts all over North America and finding ways to sell them. Again,
I gathered valuable experience as an economist and foreign trade
specialist.

Bringing Funny Cars to America


As an example of the type of work I did, here is one of the events

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I was part of which resulted in far reaching consequences for both


Germany and the U.S.A.
It was a meeting in the office of Hoffmann Motors Corporation in
New York City late in 1952. Hoffmann was the prestigious importer
of foreign sports cars, such as the British Jaguar, the French Delage,
the Italian Ferrari, and the German Porsche. Hoffmann had the sole
sales rights for all of U.S.A. for these cars. And, by the way, they also
represented the German Volkswagen.
Heinz Nordhoff, the General Manager of the Volkswagenwerke
in Wolfsburg had travelled to New York and was confronting his dis-
tributor. The question was whether or not the volkswagen could be
sold in the U.S. and why Mr. Hoffmann didn't sell more VWs than
he actually did sell. One or two people from our office were along
for the meeting. Mr. Nordhoff asked the questions. Mr. Hoffmann
answered. He had the air of the man with experience who was telling
the novice something about a market of which the foreigner obvi-
ously knew nothing.
Dear Mr. Nordhoff, Mr. Hoffmann said, if we are ever going to
sell 700 Volkswagens a year in U.S.A., you should pin a medal on
me, for this bug-shaped little rear-engine car is so unsuitable for this
market that it isn't even funny. Here, people expect big and roomy
cars, with lots of horsepower, with model changes from year to year.
And what do you have to offer? A car designed in the thirties and
never changed!
Well, Mr. Nordhoff didn't doubt that Mr. Hoffmann knew his
business. We left and with Mr. Nordhoff coming along, we went over
to our office to kick some ideas around. Mr. Nordhoff was a realist.
He was here to make a decision as to whether and how to enter the
American market on a large scale. It could become an expensive
experiment if it misfired, and maybe Mr. Hoffmann was right, the
VW was not for this part of the world.
Mr. Abt, the chief of our office, brought up a new idea: Durabil-
ity, economy and price were all features Americans liked. Maybe
it was just a question of selling and Mr. Hoffmann's approach was
all wrong. Couldn't Mr. Nordhoff send over a couple of young VW

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter seventeen

salesmen with lots of enthusiasm and good knowledge of the English


language. Then send them out to Utah - for competition would hardly
be looking there - and let them try to sell VWs to independent car
dealers as a sports car, a novelty, something unusual, yet practical
and inexpensive. There may be people who'd go for that. There is
a large number of car nuts in the U.S.A. If the experiment failed,
there would be little notice. If it succeeded, the approach could be
repeated in the other states.
After some discussion Mr. Nordhoff thought it worth a try. Ev-
erybody knows the rest of the story.

Landing in Canada
As history went, it didn't take too many years, and the German
export trade was getting back on its feet, particularly to North Amer-
ica. Now, I thought, the time had come to make the jump. And let's
use the connections I have. The Canadian International Trade Fair
was coming up in 1953, and our Toronto office was to hire a man
for a total of forty days, starting about three weeks before the fair,
and letting him go again one week after closing. This was to help the
Toronto staff handle the heavy load at the fair where our company
had a booth.
I went to Dr. Schaller and asked him to give me the chance to
take this forty day job. With the German export trade getting back
in full swing, the company would be turned over into a Chamber of
Commerce soon, anyway. I had ambitions of getting ahead in business
rather than becoming an official. Would he give me that job and then
let me out? I'd pay the fare to Toronto for my wife and myself.
Dr. Schaller didn't want to see me go, but he was understanding.
He wrote to Dr. Herbert Graf, the Toronto office manager, but Dr.
Graf didn't like the idea at all. He said that he had selected another
man already, and it sounded like he felt he was to get a head office spy
put into his organization, which he didn't like. I had never met Dr.
Graf before, nor did he know me. The more Dr. Schaller described
my advantages, the more Dr. Graf objected to the idea.

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

So, finally, it took Dr. Dehne to put matters straight. He just ad-
vised Dr. Graf that he was going to get me. Period.
That settled that and gave me a basis for applying for and get-
ting the Canadian immigration visa, for in Canada immigration was
restricted to farm labor and wood choppers. Canadian authorities
felt they had enough of the intellectual type around. All they needed
was cheap labor. A friend of mine, a lawyer who posed as farm labor
to obtain the visa, was asked by the immigration official how a cow
got up from its resting position, whether it got up with the hind or
front legs first. He picked the front legs, which was the right guess,
and passed the test.
I had no difficulty getting the visa, for I had a job waiting for me.
For how long, nobody needed to know.

No Reception Party Waiting


On March 29, 1953, Hildegard and I landed in Halifax, Canada,
and disembarked from the SS Arosa Kulm, a 4,000 ton boat con-
verted to carry emigrants to the New World. Here we were finally
in North America.
In Toronto, I soon discovered why Dr. Graf didn't want me there.
He was running the office as if it were his own family company,
keeping his wife on the payroll, throwing parties for his daughter,
and generally playing the big shot at every turn. Well, I served five
weeks, and then, when the fair ended, asked whether I could leave a
week earlier than originally planned. Dr. Graf let me go with relief,
keeping the last sixty dollar paycheck for the sixth week.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter eighteen

Chapter Eighteen

Ontario, Canada

On Our Own
Toronto was teaming with immigrants in 1953. They came from
all corners of Europe. Even twenty years later it appeared to me as
if everyone in Canada had an accent of some sort or another. At
that time many didn't speak English or French at all. But all came
to work, with little illusions. With them they brought a cosmopolitan
influence that would sweep away the old stodgy colonist town and
change it into a modern, worldly metropolis.
Hildegard and I rented a little cottage on Center Island, a ferry
ride away from downtown, out on Lake Ontario. In the meantime,
professionally, Hildegard had found a job as secretary in the Foreign
Department of the Canadian Imperial Bank. Now, I could start to
work on a more independent basis since not all of my income was
needed at home.
Where to start? Back to research: Which was a growth indus-
try of the future? Where did my experience and talents fit in best?
What were the chances of advancement? Was it merely going to be
a money making process or was I going to work on the resolution of
real problems? Was there a chance to be useful to society, to help in
advancing human knowledge?

Rapid Growth Area


After careful elimination of a number of opportunities, I con-
cluded that engineering was one such growth industry of the future.
Canada's resources had to be converted into products and services.
America was going to automate more industries and electronic de-
velopments were on their way. There would be dams and aircraft to
build, power to generate, almost limitless opportunities for engineers
and engineering.

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I thought that I was a prac-


tical person who would fit into
this engineering world. I had
seen many engineering of-
fices in North America on my
travels as an interpreter. I had
translated at engineering con-
ventions and conferences.
One thing that made me
think "opportunity" was to see
these high priced engineers
working in crowded, grand-
father style offices. How could
it be that the most advanced
nation in the world had engi-
neering offices comparable to
those shown in pictures of the
same offices 100 years ago?
A revolution in how engi-
neers produced their informa-
tion had to come just the same
as it had come through National Cash Register Company and IBM
in the accounting field. Today's accountants use computers, networks
and processing devices which their predecessors in 1880 didn't dream
of. That same job would have to be done in engineering, while for
the time being people in North American engineering departments
still worked with the tools of Leonardo da Vinci.
Sooner or later "efficient engineering" was going to be as impor-
tant for companies, maybe countries, as "computer accounting" in
order for them to be competitive price wise and time wise in world
markets. So far, "engineering" was considered by many companies
as an overhead expense, as a necessary evil, rather than as a possible
production tool or part of management; or even a sales weapon.

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter eighteen

From Blueprints to Computer Drawings


In many companies cost studies in engineering had never been
made, although engineers studied the costs of all other departments.
Engineers themselves weren’t necessarily expected to be efficient,
rather, only come up with the right answers. But my concept was
different, more in line with the upcoming computers. Engineering is
another opportunity for humans to apply judgment and design based
on the function of computers and machines.
I entered the business through the back door. I went to work
for a local distributor of engineering equipment, such as T-squares,
triangles, drafting paper, drawing boards, field books, slide rules,
levels and transits. Payment arrangements were Can $40 a week in
drawings against commissions to be earned.
Engineers are a strange pack. Quite often already in university
they chose engineering because it gives them the opportunity to deal
with things instead of people. A history major or a future lawyer are
entirely different, much more a part of the world. The engineer-en-
gineer has a shell which is hard to crack. Many engineers know how
to drill a hole, move a mountain, fly to the moon, yet, don't know
how to deal with their fellow humans. Of course, there are others.
But those move up to the top in companies fast, taking on more and
more managerial duties and finally ending up as presidents. The
one who stays behind in the engineering office, maybe bent over a
drawing board and almost physically attached to his computer, is
more likely an introvert.
Engineers as a group are different. If you can influence engineers,
you can really talk to the trees and make them move. Of this, I wasn't
fully aware when I started calling on engineers and architects, the
latter being yet worse in this regard. But I soon found out.

Technology and the Law


Fortunately, at the same time, I made up my mind to go back to
University and study law. Why, of all things, law? Because, in my
opinion, it best introduces you to the way a nation thinks and acts.

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American law is based on the British Common Law and developed


from there. If you are not British or American by birth or education,
the study of law will provide you with the background to understand
and act intelligently in the world of the Anglo-Saxons. I didn't intend
to practice law for a living, yet I thought I'd be a so much better
equipped businessman if I were versed in the laws of the country.
Considering my daytime endeavors, I chose to specialize in patent
law.
With America being my final goal of practice and day time study
out of the question, I enrolled at LaSalle Extension University in
Chicago, Illinois. LaSalle was an old, established correspondence
school which graduated many a famous American. One studied at
one's own pace, sent weekly examinations for grading to the school,
and when the course was completed, went to attend examinations.

Home Sweet Home


The beginning in Canada also marked the beginning of our family.
Our daughter Michele was on the way when we finally moved away
from Center Island in 1954, and took possession of our first house in
Oakville, Ontario. It was a row house in a new subdivision, the house
only about 85% complete. For years, we still had the mud around
from the rest of the subdivision going up. Workers were in the house,
bringing in dirt and disturbing the baby, for a long time.
Our savings were just enough for the down payment. We lived
with bare walls, newspaper on the windows instead of curtains, and
Hildegard was allowed to sit on a chair which I had made myself,
while I sat on a box, and a larger box served as our table. We had
oil heat, a range and refrigerator in the house. We were able to buy
a fine double bed in addition to the crib. (The bed still exists. It is
now in our apartment in Saipan). That was it. We didn't believe in
overextending our credit.
Ours was one of the first houses in the subdivision and we were
the second family to move in. When Hildegard had the baby in De-
cember, I was home with her for a few days. Then, again, we took up

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Book One Merci Mon Ami chapter eighteen

our separate duties. Hildegard was a housewife and mother now. I was
a salesman—and on the road. My territory stretched from Windsor,
Ontario to Quebec City, P.Q. On overnights out of town, as soon as
it got warmer again, I'd sleep in the car to save expenses. Our first
car was a 1949 Ford which we had acquired from the previous owner,
a proverbial old lady, for Can $850 cash.

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162
Book Two

Illionnaire Handbook
164
Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter one

Chapter One

Bootstraps Are For Pulling up


If becoming “independently wealthy” is the aim, we’d better be
clear about the definition. Therefore, let me step outside my narra-
tion for just a few paragraphs to examine the question:

How Rich is Rich?


Wealth, we will find, then, is a relative thing. Only a century
ago, kings didn't have most of today's everyday use items such as
non-fat low calorie ice cream, sports cars, or air conditioners. What
we consider to be a very low standard of living today was most likely
considered to be a very high standard of living some time ago.
It is, therefore, more a matter of power and status. In fact, the
enjoyment of wealth from a certain degree is an illusion. Excess ben-
efits easily turn into liabilities. There is only so much to human want
that can be filled at a time. After that, the glass flows over and every
added drop is merely spilled as non-consumed waste.
More happiness, less suffering? What if your wants are many?
Well, you don't have to be a millionaire in order to achieve happiness
in the form of financial independence. Or, being a millionaire may
not help in reducing your suffering. Actually, today's laws of taxa-
tion work "to soak the rich" in order to give it to the poor. The only
question that remains to be asked, then, in effect becomes: Who is
rich and who is poor? And, where in the world is the borderline that
cleanly separates these two economic groups?
For instance, suppose you had a million dollars—during the
beginning of the 21st century this is no great distinction. Simply
because there are many millionaires, even billionaires. If, however,
you invested the one million dollars with a reputable institution, it
is likely that the same million dollars will earn you a five per cent
interest per annum. This will mean $50,000 per year. In other words:
If you were a simple millionaire, you'd have a $50,000 income an-

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nually. And for each additional million dollars of investment, you’d


earn another $50,000 in interest per year.

You Don’t Have to be a Millionaire to Live the Life of a


Millionaire, or a Billionaire
Now, there are many people today who earn $50,000, or a multiple
of $50,000, per year or more, both in capitalistic as well as non-capi-
talist, including socialist or communist, countries. They earn that kind
of money without being formal millionaires. For instance, a doctor,
a lawyer, or a politician. As a matter of fact, the million dollars of
that imaginary millionaire may have been so poorly invested that this
theoretical nest egg didn't earn any interest in one year, or even suf-
fered losses. What all this means is: Being a millionaire can be of little
value. Enjoying the benefits only millionaires, multi-millionaires and
billionaires, such as Andrew Carnegie, the Rockefellers, and recently
Bill Gates and the like, are able to enjoy, means everything.
Actually, with inflation going on as it was at the turn of the mil-
lennium, to be a millionaire will no longer be a status symbol. Maybe
a billionaire might be right now, but also only temporarily, unless
the currency value crashes.
For lack of a better term, therefore, I'd like to use a word I’ve used
among friends in describing an upper income earner in the top two
percent of the population, who, thus, most often is independently
wealthy: The Illionaire. You don't need to put a letter in front of the
I, such as an M or a B or an Sk... An Illionaire is an individual who
enjoys his wealth to the maximum, NOW. Can a billionaire, for in-
stance, eat more times a day than a millionaire? Sleep in more than
one bed at a time? Wear more than one suit? Be married to more
than one chorus girl all at the same time? He can't. Or, he better
not! There is a limit to enjoyment, too. And the Illionaire is the one
who could, if he chose, live at that limit of enjoyment, at least part
of the time. Just to mention a few—: Bill Clinton, Madonna, Prince
Charles, and Richard Branson (Virgin Atlantic Airways).
Now then, seeing the world from the Illionaire perspective, we re-

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter one

alize that the head of the labor union can be just as much an Illionaire
as the super rich heir to a manufacturing empire. The big party boss
is likely to be just as much an Illionaire as my lawyer friend or Zsa.
Zsa Gabor's dentist. Actually, I know many people spending their
days in front of computer screens who are Illionaires, who don’t have
the worries of a well funded billionaire like Bill Gates, for instance.
Still, it's a very exclusive world, the Illionaire world. Typically, it
may be more of an expense account world, characteristically paid for
by the shareholders, or a political world, paid for by the comrades.
But it's a very real world, indeed, worth striving for. Now we know.
Therefore on with what actually happened:

No Engineering Without Drawings


When I first started selling German technological marvels in
Canada, I was as far from being an Illionaire as one can be.

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After the exposure I had in the introduction of technical products


to the North American market via the German American Trade Pro-
motion Company, and after I discovered that the same needs were
waiting to be filled in Canada, I was convinced that a revolution in
equipment use was going to start in the engineering offices. I knew,
too, that the most important manufacturing company of drafting ma-
chines in Europe, was the Franz Kuhlmann K.G. in Wilhelmshaven,
Germany. I approached them and asked if the company could join
me in selling their products in North America.
Mr. Kuhlmann was a typical Illionaire, the son of the man who
had founded the company in 1903. I invited him to visit with me in
Canada so that we could talk over his North American business op-
portunities. He came promptly, and despite our vast differences in
both age and experience, I was well prepared to convince him that
my international marketing plan made sense for Franz Kuhlmann
KG. I took him on a tour to New York and many other places where I
demonstrated to Mr. Kuhlmann what was wrong with North Ameri-
can drafting equipment. Although he observed closely and listened
with great interest, he had his doubts as to whether his equipment
could be successfully marketed and sold in North America, for, after
all, America was a vast market. And even though Kuhlmann drafting
tables and machines may have been better suited for doing the job, it
was going to take considerable advertising and sales effort to try and
entice the customers to use Kuhlmann equipment. I knew from first
hand experience, and Mr. Kuhlmann could easily see, even in North
America, a better mousetrap had to be sold. For sure, no one was
going to beat a path to the manufacturer’s door. And Mr. Kuhlmann
hesitated at the enormous business risk he was slated to take.
After long discussions, weighing the pros and cons, finally, we
agreed. He'd join me in an assembly and sales venture in Canada,
because Canada was a separate market. The investment for the Ca-
nadian operation wouldn't be too prohibitive. If our project was to
flop, the losses could be absorbed. No one would find out. If, how-
ever, the project was successful, then, of course, the same concept
and formula could be replicated in the U.S.A.

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter one

Birth of A New Venture


And that is how we started “Kuhlmann Straube Company Lim-
ited” on August 20, 1957 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. At that time,
Mr. Kuhlmann held 75% of the stock and I held 25%. Mr. Kellermann,
our lawyer, worked out a contract which included a buy-sell agree-
ment. That meant that whoever wanted to get out of the contract
had to offer the other partner the first option to either buy or sell
his shares at a specified price to the other partner. In other words,
whoever wanted to get out of the contract would run the risk of either
having to buy all, or sell out entirely at that price, and the decision
was not up to him. The agreement was supposed to create a reason-
able price for any such offer. However, again, the man making the
offer didn't know when he gave the price whether he would have to
sell or buy at the given price
In the meantime, then the real serious work started in the very
same basement of our first home which Hildegard and I had pur-
chased in Oakville, Ontario. We had a home-made chair and a
turned-over wooden box we used as table. There was a bare light
bulb hanging down from a self laid wire. Welcome to our company’s

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Canadian head office of the company! Mr. Kuhlmann was happy that
none of his business associates saw our Canadian operation, because
this was a far cry from his usual style at the parent company. On
the other hand, he was happy also because, for a while at least, this
operation was capable of being run on a shoestring budget.
For the company’s Canadian warehouse, I rented an old barn
for a whopping $45 per month. There was no heat in the winter.
However, the barn was in an ideal location, right smack at a major
highway intersection, and trucks could easily pull up to it from two
sides. The only major problem we experienced with this arrangement
was the fact that the merchandise had to be lifted onto the truck and
lowered. Otherwise, it worked quite well.

Creating New Standards


In my efforts to sell the
proven Kuhlmann draft-
ing machines and tables in
Canada, I first approached
several large supply houses
such as Keuffel & Esser,
and Hughes Owens.
When they heard of my
revolutionary ideas, they
laughed and dismissed

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter one

me outright. They insisted that, in Canada, the modernistic type of


equipment offered would never sell, because, they said, the Canadian
customers were used to K & E and HOCO equipment, and that there
was really no need to market what I had to sell.
Creating the need for my products was half of the sales job. I trav-
elled a lot out there, and later employed experienced salesmen who
moved around with company-owned demonstration trucks. I learned
to fly an airplane, and soon bought my own airplane which I flew to
the remotest engineering and drafting outposts in the country. For
example, those of the paper mills up north and the steel companies
in Sault St. Marie. What, otherwise, would have taken me 14 hours to
drive was accomplished in 2. 1/2 hours flying time. And that enabled
me to be home again at night.
Kuhlmann drafting equipment became known around the coun-
try, and to the surprise of our competitors there were needs that
had to be filled every day, even some of them turned out to be quite
substantial.
It didn't take me very long before I moved out of the basement
into a rented office. We had our second child, a son, Dave. A full
time secretary had been hired just before Hildegard went in for the
delivery of our son. Finally, we were able to build a 7,000 sq. ft. plant
in Oakville, right at the “Queen Elizabeth Way,” Canada’s most well
travelled highway. At long last, Kuhlmann Straube Company Limited
was in business for keeps.

The Market South of the Canadian Border


At that time, some of our customers included the largest Cana-
dian engineering and manufacturing firms. Many of them were sister
or branch operations of American companies south of the border.
More and more opportunities arose to also supply related American
operations. The time had come to open up new sales avenues in
the U.S.A. Mr. Kuhlmann sent his right hand, Mr. Schacher, over
to Canada and together we went to Houston, Texas. There we ne-
gotiated the purchase of Impex Inc., an importing company which

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had, so far, tried unsuccessfully to sell Kuhlmann products in the


U.S.A. The reason had been that the owners had no idea of how to
merchandise the Kuhlmann products. And when we made them an
offer they couldn’t refuse, they were more than happy to get out of
the picture altogether.
Again, this time around, we split the ownership: 75% Kuhlmann,
25% Straube. I moved my family to Houston, and Impex started to
move ahead just as KSL had done only a few years earlier.

Ten Times the Size — and the Risk


Then came the backdrop. With the resounding success of our
efforts, the companies we owned together in North America were
developing so well that Kuhlmann couldn't supply sufficient mer-
chandise in time to meet the growing demand. In the early 1960's,
Europe suffered great labor shortages. Germany imported hundreds
of thousands of foreign workers, but Kuhlmann wasn't helped by
aliens because it needed skilled labor. Also, Kuhlmann's subcon-
tractors, such as castings suppliers, wouldn't keep their delivery
times because they, too, experienced serious labor problems. Then
Kuhlmann wanted to invest in building its own foundry; but this,
too, wasn't going to be accomplished overnight, either. And, again,
skilled workers had to be found to do the job.
The labor pinch in Germany produced merchandise price in-
creases because labor unions put the pressure on wages.
One day I obtained a $75,000 order from Texas Instruments in
Dallas, Texas. Kuhlmann couldn't deliver it until 18 months later.
This would have been too late. TI needed the merchandise within 4
months, at the latest. So, I cabled Germany. When a negative cable
came back, I phoned. When I got no satisfaction by phoning, I took
the next plane to Germany.
But, In spite of my physical presence at the factory, Kuhlmann
was in a pinch and could not fill the order. They didn’t want to re-
shuffle orders previously received and inconvenience old, established
customers. Without change in priorities there was nothing they could

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter one

do, really. We had to give the order back to TI, who promptly placed
it with one of our competitors at a cost of $101,000, and an on-time
delivery.

Sorting out Priorities


After this terrible experience, I had a meeting with Mr. Kuhlmann
and impressed upon him that the time had come for us to build a
plant in the U.S.A. that will start to manufacture a substantial part
of the Kuhlmann products in North America. This, I said, would re-
lieve the load of the German factory. It would also help us sell more
because we would be selling a North American product. And also,
we could move faster when we needed to. We wouldn't have to wait
and depend on all their German problems.
Well, Mr. Kuhlmann studied my proposal very carefully, and
then he came over to North America in late August 1962 to confer
with me. We had cloistered ourselves on Sunday, September 2, for
a friendly conversation. Mr. Kuhlmann praised my past efforts and
indicated that he would like to have 50 men like me around the world
with comparable organizations, each selling as much as we did.
“I am not interested in a worldwide manufacturing company,”
Franz Kuhlmann said, “only in manufacturing in Germany, and
nowhere else.”
“But that will be the way of the future,” I countered. “To market
successfully worldwide, it will be necessary to produce in, or close to,
your major markets. Otherwise you won’t be competitive — in price,
in delivery, in meeting the standards of the market covered, and for
many other good reasons.”
But Franz Kuhlmann had no ear for any of that. “I can’t eat more
than one steak a day,” he said. “A little more or less profit doesn’t
mean anything to me. I am much more interested in personal peace.
My prime interest right now is to have a happy life with my family
and enjoy myself.”
“Your company makes that possible,” I answered. “But times
are always changing. You need to be prepared for the world as one

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market place.”
“Well,” Mr. Kuhlmann said, “we can go on talking here for a
long time, but as a matter of policy, I will not build or produce any
of my products in North America.”
“But, why not? ”
“I know that North America is a risky market, that it may take
too much of my capital to do what you have in mind, while the same
capital would be better used automating my present German op-
eration. Also,” he continued, “that American organization of ours,
which is mainly MY capital, may one day become bigger than the
parent company in Germany. It may then have to be turned into a
public company to finance it properly. THAT” Kuhlmann asserted,
“would mean that I may lose control, or suddenly have to jump to the
whip of others.” And after a pause, “I’d rather go slow, but operate
a completely family owned company.”
“So, how do you see me fitting into that picture? ” I asked.
“If you don’t like it” Kuhlmann shot back, “you can always invoke
the buy-sell agreement.”
That was the end of our conversation that day. Both of us had a
lot to think about before we could go on.

Playing it Safe vs Taking the Risk


How can you come back to friendly cooperation after such an
exchange? I learned later that Mr. Kuhlmann spent a good part of
the night making long distance telephone calls, to his lawyers, ac-
countants, to overseas, his business partners. I slept soundly that
night. When I woke up in the morning, Monday, September 3, 1962, a
sunny and warm day in Toronto, I knew what had to be done. Like it
or not, the point had been reached where our paths were parting.
When Franz Kuhlmann and I got together again, I asked Mr.
Kuhlmann to allow me to buy out his interest in Kuhlmann Straube
Company Limited without going through the formal buy-sell agree-
ment mechanism. As I explained to him: “Then I could still go ahead
with my plans and would still represent his wonderful products.”

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter one

But Mr. Kuhlmann didn't think of it that way at all. The buy-sell
agreement worked very much in his favor, as it always would work in
favor of the financially stronger party. “No, I wouldn't support any
such move of yours, simply because I’m afraid you might become my
competitor one day,” he said, “however, if you want to buy me out,
you’ll have to invoke the buy-sell agreement.”
Disgusted, I promptly hurried to Mr. Kellermann, the lawyer,
and Mr. Stone, the accountant, who were both Mr. Kuhlmann's
close advisers. I was trying to get them to persuade Mr. Kuhlmann
to adopt a much more conciliatory attitude. But for the moment their
efforts and mine had to wait since Mr. Kuhlmann and I needed to
attend several pre-arranged business meetings in Texas. Also, maybe
the enforced time travelling together was another opportunity for
Kuhlmann and me to resolve the impasse peacefully. Unfortunately,
that is not what happened. It was a strained travel companionship
at best. Kuhlmann refused even to come back to the subject of how
we’d be able to go on together.

Decision Time
So, back in Toronto, both Kellermann and Stone didn't want to see
the well developing organization dismantled. We met in the lawyer’s
offices on the fifth floor next to the Simpson-Sears Department store
downtown. Starting at 8 a.m. on September 15, 1962, they huddled
with Mr. Kuhlmann in Mr. Kellermann's office while I waited outside.
From all that had gone on these past few days, including an action
packed trip from Toronto to Dallas and Houston and back, I finally
fell asleep out there in the chair.
Then they called me in. Now they'd like to have my answer. It
took them until 6 p.m. that day to arrive at their final decision. As I
came to learn much later, all that time they had vehemently argued
as they tried to find a solution whereby I could take over the company
and Kuhlmann would be properly protected. However, within the
last half hour they concluded that it was much better to buy me out
rather than the other way around. So, if I was prepared to invoke

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

the buy-sell agreement, then Mr. Kuhlmann would buy me out at


whatever price I would set.
I gave them my answer on the spot. “Yes,” I said “if my only
choice is to carry on as before, or to invoke the buy- sell agreement,
then I'd like to invoke the buy-sell agreement. The price would be
the book value.”
“You don’t mean it!” Mr. Kuhlmann gasped.
“Yes, I do,” I said.
Slumping back in his chair, and after looking at each of his ad-
visers in the room, who only nodded, Mr. Kuhlmann then said: “I
accept the offer and will buy you out at book value.”
You could see it on his face. This going through with the mecha-
nism of buy-sell shocked Mr. Kuhlmann. As he complained later to
others, how could I make up my mind in no time, where it took him
days to find a solution?

No Turning Back Now


For me, in retrospect, the answer wasn't hard at all. Because,
the way I saw it,— what other choice did I have? From then on I
couldn't submit to the limited future as it was being offered to me
by Kuhlmann. I couldn't attract or keep good salesmen and execu-
tives in a company that wasn't willing to grow as fast and as far as
it was able to. I left GATPCO when it was turning into a Chamber
of Commerce. I felt compelled to leave the Kuhlmann camp when
people were being satisfied with the achievements obtained so far. I
wanted to go much further than that. I wanted to progress. I wanted
to grow.
There was one point I had to settle right there and then. And this
surprised the lawyer and the accountant. I insisted that I should be
paid out immediately.
Mr. Kuhlmann protested. “What guarantee am I going to have
that Mr. Straube is still going to do his job until a replacement is
found? ” I assume the question was to his advisers.
Nevertheless, I answered: "The employment contract." And con-

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter one

tinued: "But, as far as the shares are concerned, I am turning over


my holdings to you right now. And, therefore, I should be reimbursed
for them right now."
Mr. Kellermann shook his head sadly, but had to agree. "That’s
right," he said. "If he is giving up his shares, he should be paid for
them."
Mr. Kuhlmann had to phone his bankers in Germany to raise
the money to pay off the 25% ownership of KSL. Two days later, I
had my check in hand. It became the starting capital for my own
new business.

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Chapter Two

Both Sides of the Hudson River

Being Discriminating Helps


Looking back, in retrospect, it seems as though, as a young man,
I was not discriminating enough with regard to whom I admired.
Actually, it may also be because I admired some people I thought
were leaders and original thinkers, merely because my horizon was
low and because they may have liked me, encouraging me to follow
my dreams.
In complete exasperation, Mr. Kellermann, the Toronto lawyer,
said at a previous meeting: "Win, someday you will make a lot of
money. Should you ever need someone to invest in a venture of your
own, come to me. I would like to invest in you and with you."
That day I came to Mr. Kellermann, trying to find a backer or
two for my own enterprise. Mr. Kellermann didn't recall ever saying
anything about investing. “Nor do I have any money right now which
could be used for such a purpose,” he said.
He still thought I'd make a lot of money some day in the future
— and he wished me all the success in the world.
Mr. Wachsmuth, a marketing consultant in New York, had always
told my previous bosses what kind of a genius I was and how good
a sales campaign I could manage. Now I submitted my marketing
plans for tackling the North American market with my own prod-
ucts to him to get his constructive criticism. But what I got was the
icy reflex of a man who had little left but disappointment for me.
After all, Mr. Wachsmuth was Mr. Kuhlmann’s good friend. And,
how could I dare strike out on my own? Actually, Mr. Wachsmuth
suggested that, to prove myself, I should do the next best thing to
working for the Kuhlmann organization,— obtain a franchise for
their products. As to my marketing approach and the material I had
carefully assembled, it was way out, in his opinion, "cold coffee", far,
too far, removed from the ordinary.
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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter two

There were others, important people, whom I had held in high


esteem. For one reason or another I sought and received their advice
at the time, but as time has shown since, I might as well have done
without any of it.
That was the lesson I was learning, and it seemed to me, that as
a young man, I had often relied on the advice of those who appeared
to be wise men. But I soon found out that the real and final decision
always remained all mine, that all they could and did suggest was a
perceived safe middle course. Something like a lawyer would suggest
to a widow. These advisers, if asked, will try to shield their protege
from the harsh world realities. At the time, they suggest what appears
to be a conservative middle road to them. It's like a young eagle ask-
ing the sage owl what to do: "Join a zoo," the owl might say, "or a
circus. You'll be safe and have a pleasant and long life."
But what a life! You've got to ask the eagle who is free, and you
may have a tough time finding him. But don't take the advice of those
pretty canaries. Subconsciously these master citizens may envy you,
for they see your potential. Their advice can kill you. Life doesn't
work like a trust company. It is full of risks and opportunities which
can be jumped on and taken or be left alone and missed. You'll go up
or down, but you can't stand still. You've got to prepare yourself and
then select your own risk. If you know what you are doing, don't let
anybody tell you differently. Make sure yours is the right way. Then
do it your way and never mind those who crave for security and a
riskfree life without problems or difficulties.

Experts at Your Fingertips


As much as I had wanted to go my own ways, I didn't realize that
it would be a lonely road, froth with few real friends and lots of goody.
goody. well wishers. My real helpers I found in libraries, their ideas
stacked away in books. By studying their methods of problem solving
and their approaches, I learned more and got more encouragement
from these people I had never met, except in their books, but whom
I could trust, because they had proven what they wanted and set out

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

to prove. Common sense should have told me before:


If you want to make and keep a million dollars to build on, talk
to a millionaire — not to a lawyer, an uncle or marketing expert.
By now I had done my homework and I knew: if I sold my equip-
ment to General Electric U.S.A. I'd sell ten or twenty times more of
the same equipment than if I sold it to General Electric Canada. If
I wanted to get ahead, I had to move where the market was, where
one call could move ten times as much as it could in Canada. The
real market was south of the border.
So, I put an able young sales executive, Earle Lee, in charge of
sales at my newly formed Canadian company, and went to New York.
And, at least, for the time being, Hildegard and the children stayed
behind in Oakville, outside Toronto, Ontario.

On a New Mission
On January 16, 1963,
I got up at 5 a.m., kissed
Hildegard and the children
good bye, caught the 7.45
a.m. American Airlines
Astrojet flight to New York
City. There I went right af-
ter business. I knew a com-
pany in Long Branch, New
J e r s e y, w h i c h
was building
optical plotting
and layout ma-
chines. They
had problems
with the plot-
ting and print-
ing surface,
and I thought I

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter two

had the answer. For them I was able to develop a plastic surface to
be used on the plotting table which would allow sharp impressions,
be stable, and yet remain resilient. My good friends at Kaykor had a
$250,000 machine which, if properly set up, could laminate a certain
arrangement of vinyl sheets which would do the trick. So I hurried
out to Electronics Associates Inc., and spent the day with them. The
problem was solved and an order prepared for Straube Industries.
After 5 p.m. I took the bus back into New York City. I stopped
long enough to pick up my luggage from a locker in the East Side
Airlines Terminal. Then I took a bus out to North Bergen, New Jersey.
There Hildegard had a cousin, Emily, who was married to a printer.
That pleasant couple had no children and lived in a fine house. At
our last visit and many times before they had assured us that they'd
help us any time they could. If I ever was going to be in New York,
I should just drop in and I could stay with them. Now was the time,
for I wanted to save money and certainly avoid unnecessary hotel
expenses.

Knock, Knock — Who’s There?


It was a dark, cold and wintry night when I rang the doorbell at
8610 Third Avenue in North Bergen, N.J. I had to ring again. Finally,
the door opened upstairs. Emily turned on the light and looked down.
Here I stood beaming up to her and ready to come in. She stopped in
hesitation. “Oh no,” she said, “you can't come in.” Her husband stood
silently behind her, looking down at me like some kind of a villain. I
had suitcase in hand and must have looked more than surprised. "Of
course", I said, "I just thought I . I . I... but I can certainly go back
to New York and find a hotel."
"Well, okay then, just for the one night, come in, it's all right with
us." And so I didn't go back to New York, but came in, unpacked the
box of cookies Hildegard had sent along, and went to bed after some
stale conversation. I never learned why I received that kind of recep-
tion. Nor did I ever return to try and stay with them again.

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Manhattan Base
The next morning I was back in New York at 7.30 a.m., looking
for a hotel. I checked into the Hotel Taft for $8.00 a day, and decided
to use this as my temporary headquarters.
Then, day after day, I worked on my prospects and tried to drum
up business for Straube ideas and products. After hours on the first
night, I marked all the hotels which took in permanent guests in the
Yellow Pages of the New York telephone book. Then I started calling
them all, one by one, asking for rates and other details. This reduced
the number to 32 hotels. These I finally narrowed down to five.
In the following nights I visited the hotels and finally decided on
the Hotel Schuyler at 57 West 45th Street where it cost me $35 per
week and I had my own room with a bath. The location was right
in the center of New York, and the hotel telephone worked as my
switchboard. I moved out of the Taft into the Schuyler 30 minutes
after I made the new rental arrangements.

Office Down the Street


On the first night I had to write a business letter to confirm the
arrangements I had made with one of my prospective customers.
But I didn't have a typewriter. Nor could the Hotel Schuyler lend
me one. Then I remembered. I took my stationery and walked down
Fifth Avenue, about 9.30 p.m. in the dark. Snow was drifting down
in light flurries and it was cold.
There at 584 Fifth Avenue was Olivetti's showroom, with beautiful
office machines, calculators and the like on display. Now the store
was closed, but in front of the window was a narrow marble pedestal
with an Olivetti typewriter mounted firmly onto it. The purpose of
this typewriter was to give passersby the opportunity to try out this
wonderful piece of Olivetti equipment by typing a few words or so.
The typewriter was somewhat beat up by now, but it had a relatively
good ribbon in it, and it surely worked, for people were still hammer-
ing away at it during the daytime. Now, nobody was near, the lights
in the store were dimmed, and there was a semi-moist piece of paper

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter two

in the machine with a sentence somewhat like this: Now is the time
to come to the aid of Betty Conover... Call EM9. 3841.
I took the paper out and put my stationery in. Then, after look-
ing around to see whether anybody would notice, I started my first
piece of U.S. business correspondence. Some snowflakes settled on
the paper while I typed, but the typewriter worked beautifully.
I came back several nights for the same exercise. One night I
replaced the ribbon after having prepared myself for a long piece of
correspondence in the morning by purchasing the new ribbon. But
a few days later, I invested in an electric portable Smith. Corona
typewriter which I took to my room at the Schuyler, which served
my purpose well from then on.

An Address and a Desk


Soon the switchboard at the Hotel Schuyler wasn't the ideal com-
munications center for Straube Industries any more. I checked out
a long list of telephone answering services and went up and down
5th Avenue inspecting them. Some were holes in the wall, staffed by
shady operators. Others were run by old ladies who'd misplace their
notes. The newest and most efficient of all seemed to be the one on
the 6th floor of 663 Fifth Avenue. This was a business. like answering
service. They even had nice quarters, just like Helena Rubinstein's
export department on the 8th floor above, with a pleasant reception
area, and I could use their conference room any time I wanted to
— for a total monthly cost of $15. For this they'd also receive Straube
Industries' mail. I could go there and make my telephone calls. And,
once in a while, I'd meet with prospects in the conference room. This
was the deal.
When I told a good friend at the German. American Chamber
of Commerce about it, he was disgusted. How could anyone settle at
such a pretentious address and merely have a telephone answering
service! This was only done by cheap, non-serious operators, out to
fleece the public, only to disappear tomorrow.
Oh, I felt the sound of Kellermann, Wachsmuth et al., again. How

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did he know what was proper and acceptable? Oh no, I told him. I
had checked out these answering services, and certainly there were
many of the type he was describing. But I also found that many large
and some national companies were listed with a telephone answer-
ing service in New York if they didn't have their own office there. A
proper answering service was an entirely legitimate institution, ful-
filling a need. There were people and firms who quite naturally and
by necessity had to use such services. There is nothing pretentious or
wrong with it. It is just good business for them to do so. And for me,
too. I wasn't going to pretend to anybody that I owned a skyscraper
at 663 Fifth Avenue, but they could leave messages there for me and
I would be able to meet them there in the conference room — for as
long as I didn't have my own office in the vicinity.

Friends From Hoboken


In the meantime, my friends at Keuffel & Esser in Hoboken found
out that I had left the Kuhlmann organization. Actually, they felt that
they were left somewhat in the air with a new product — Paramount
Boardcover—in the development stage, which I had started to develop
for them and which had many bugs in its original stages. They were
afraid that Kuhlmann might not be able to carry on with the project,
particularly producing the material in North America. They found
out where I was and invited me to carry on with them.
A little later my first American order for $144,000 worth of Para-
mount boardcover followed, one year's supply for K & E. Straube
Industries U.S.A. was in business.
Princeton With Flying Colors
Now the time was ripe for moving the family to the States. We'd
like to do this during the summertime, Hildegard and I decided, so
that the children wouldn't miss any school. This also would give us
good time to find a suitable place to settle. Manhattan was on our
mind.
We conducted the search for a residence like a research project.
I wrote to 86 communities in and around Metropolitan New York

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asking for brochures or other material on their community. Then I


asked friends and acquaintances for good places to settle. If it sounded
good, again I'd write for material.
Most localities didn't answer. This reduced the list. Those that
did were thoroughly screened. Six were taken into closer consider-
ation. By final elimination two remained: Montclair, New Jersey and
Princeton, New Jersey. Hildegard flew down for a day, and we went
looking at both these communities. We talked to prominent citizens
in Montclair and Princeton and inspected community facilities. We
investigated the school systems. In the evening of the second day the
decision was clear: Princeton, New Jersey. From there on the rest
was routine.

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Chapter Three

From Total Immersion to Selling Out

Building up Resources
More important than money are credit and the creation of value.
By making better ideas work, one creates value. Real credit can only
be built up over time, and only by knowing the right people. How
do you get to know these people? By introduction. From whom? By
those people you know. And if you don't know any? By introducing
yourself.
We moved into our house near Princeton on July 1, 1963. From
my banker in Oakville, Ontario, I carried a letter of introduction

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to the Bank of Montreal Agency, 2 Wall Street, New York. There I


met a couple of fine gentlemen who were able to recommend me to
a Vice President of the Princeton Bank and Trust Company. It was
only common sense to introduce myself to Mr. Taylor Woodward
at the PBT, and he in turn introduced me to Mr. Bill Cosby, the
President, and to Mr. Harold Zarker, Senior Vice President of the
banking division.
On Sunday, September 22nd, 1963 Hildegard and I gave an open
house party at our new home. Mr. Cosby, Mr. Zarker, Mr. Taylor
Woodward, the bankers from New York, and many others were in-
vited. Mr. and Mrs. Rotchell, the Canadian banker from Oakville,
Ontario, were flown in at my expense as the guests of honor ( their
first airplane ride in their life ). Here, over cocktails and in a friendly
atmosphere, Mr. Rotchell, who knew me well as well as my record,
had opportunity to answer the questions of the curious U.S. bankers
who had just met me. Not that any deals or promises were made,
but we all got to know each other much better, and the foundation
was laid for friendly cooperation and business understanding in the
future.

Bankable Ideas
Our Paramount product business started developing. Competitors
of K & E came to me and we supplied them with similar materials
for their own purposes. The Canadian company was moving ahead
with full steam. It was time for us to start in the promotion of our
engineering office program in the U.S. For this purpose I brought
Earle Lee to New York, who now, just like me a little time before him,
moved into Hotel Schuyler, and worked out of 663 Fifth Avenue.
Actually, we rented a desk and a separate telephone line for Earle at
663 Fifth Avenue. Up in Ontario, Gunter Wirth had been hired and
took over the production.
One of the first deals Earle got himself into in New York was a big
flop—a $6,000 loss. Of course it didn't look like that from the start.
Actually it looked like a fine beginning when Earle got the order until

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the day that we had deliv-


ered the merchandise and
the customer refused to pay.
His reason: the wrong mer-
chandise. A legal encounter
followed, which was never
settled, except for the fact
that Borden & Riley, the
New York customer, had
our merchandise and must
have sold it somehow, and
we never got our money.
But better things were
shaping up now, too. Our
new drafting systems
aroused interest, although
prospective customers were
reluctant to buy. For, who
was that "Straube Indus-
tries? ” Never heard of that
name before. And when they wanted to know where we had some
satisfied customers they could talk to, we had to refer them to Canada.
Our largest installation there was 28 of our units at Westinghouse in
Hamilton, Ontario.
Few American customers were very impressed with this kind of
reference. Nevertheless, Earle succeeded in having Chuck Stoecker,
the assistant manager of engineering of the Parsons. Jurden Com-
pany, 26 Broadway, New York, come up to Toronto to have a look.
Earle met him there and showed him an installation of 10 units at
Massey. Ferguson in Toronto, and our "famous" 28 unit installation
at Westinghouse in Hamilton. Then Earle put Chuck Stoecker back
on the plane to New York.
You guessed it. Chuck convinced his colleagues in New York that
they should give us a chance to equip Parsons. Jurden with Straube
equipment. We promised a ridiculously short time of delivery for

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter three

over 200 drafting


units to be made
by ourselves in the
Canadian factory
— all to be installed
in New York within
six weeks. And
we got the order:
$138,713.90 worth
of business.

Ready, Set, Go
Then the
scramble started.
The Canadian plant
ran practically day
and night. Some of
the parts we flew
in from Europe di-
rectly to New York.
The total assembly
took place right in
Parsons. Jurden's
premises during
the last five days and nights of the six weeks. Earle and one of our
Canadian men from the service department worked 122 hours in 6
days.
There was our first impressive Straube equipment installation
in the U.S.A., larger than any of ours anywhere else. Now, even our
competitors started to take notice. Now, it was merely going to be a
question of time until we would be well established in the U.S.A. We
were on our way. Soon it would be time to have our own production
facilities in the U.S. For the time being we established a warehouse
in Somerset, New Jersey.

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Before starting entirely from scratch again with production, I


looked around for a company to buy. There certainly were lots of
small companies in this field of engineering office equipment. Many of
them were not profitable. But their owners were proud and wouldn't
part with their business. I ran across one of those companies by the
name of Emmert Manufacturing Company.

Shortcut to Gaining Size


Emmert had been incorporated on December 4, 1900 and manu-
factured some of the finest vises in the country. Later on Emmert
started to make drafting machines. In 1948 the then practically bank-
rupt company was taken over by Mr. Aaron Sollenberger who made
a medium success of it. However, now he was growing old and, as it
appeared to me, the company was losing ground to its competitors.
Mr. Sollenberger had lost some of his best employees in a quarrel.
They had then set themselves up in their own competitive company,
producing a drafting machine competitive to Emmert's.
When I approached Mr. Sollenberger for the first time asking
whether he would be willing to sell out, he said that he'd give it some
thought. Upon my prodding, some time later a meeting was arranged
between Mr. Sollenberger and me in his home town. When I was led
into Mr. Sollenberger's office, I found also Mrs. Sollenberger and
their son, Benjamin Sollenberger, Jr. there. The conversation started
very slowly broaching the subject and Mr. Sollenberger explained
that, if I wanted to buy Emmert, I'd have to get all the facts about
the company and he'd like to give them to me so that we'd have a
basis for discussion.
At that point, Sollenberger, Jr. stood up, his face red and swol-
len, and talked angrily to his father: "You are not going to sell this
company! Right over my head! I am against any deal whatsoever! "
His father tried to quiet him down, “Don’t get all worked up.
This is merely a preliminary discussion. There will be lots of time
to consider.”
But Ben didn’t listen any more and walked out.

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When I left, a little later, Ben was waiting outside. He asked one
question: "What is your age"? "Well," was my answer, and I swallowed,
not to say "none of your business". Instead, I continued with a smile,
“your father is going to get a Dun & Bradstreet credit report on me;
you can easily find out from that.”
I was thirty five years old at the time, Ben probably about the same
age. He hadn't completed any formal education, but left school early.
He had married and went out selling insurance. Now he had joined
his father in the position as sales manager for Emmert. He knew
little of the engineering equipment business, even less of how to run
a business profitably. I guess that’s why he was asking the question.
Well, it took another year. Ben quit his father's business and
went back into insurance. I finally was able to buy 100% of the stock
of Emmert Manufacturing Company from various shareholders,
of which Mr. Sollenberger was the largest. The company had lost
heavily during the last three years, and Emmert's credit at the bank
and elsewhere had ceased to exist. Under the circumstances, I got a
bargain. Mr. Sollenberger got a good penny and also saved his pride,
for his alternative would have been bankruptcy.

Fast Forward
We took over January 1, 1966. But what do you do with a bank-
rupt company? Turn it around ! This is easier said than done. It took
some time to accomplish, exactly one year, and a hard battle it was.
Good men were lost in the process, others were demoted and new
ones advanced. As of January 1, 1967, Emmert as a separate name
was given up and the company absorbed in the growing Straube
organization.
The Straube engineering business kept growing feverishly in the
late 1960s. Not only in mechanical engineering products, which in-
cluded a new push button lock technology that eventually was adopted
by many industries for locking luggage and doors, but particularly
in electrical engineering. Thus the product line expanded to include
the manufacture of microfilm equipment since microfilm was the

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preferred storage medium for engineering drawings. Marketing grew


from a national to an international effort.
No wonder that offers came in to buy us out. The day came when
one was too good to be ignored. As a result, in November 1969, the
Straube business was acquired by Advanced Technology Corp. I
stayed on for the transition until early 1970, and then said goodbye,
never to look back.
The milestone of relative financial independence, envisioned 20
years earlier, had been reached. But what does it mean? Retire at
age 37? No way!

Reinventing Oneself
I had obtained my law degree from LaSalle Extension University
five years earlier, in 1964, specializing in patent law. Now came the
time to capitalize on my learning and experience obtained to date.
I set myself up as an international consultant, providing hi. tech
marketing and licensing help to major corporations, particularly in
computer peripherals and microfilm applications. Two of the compa-
nies I worked for were Dexion and Digital Data Systems Corporation

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter three

— there were quite a few others.


As a result, my travels became global. On many trips Hildegard
was able to come along. We also served as People. To. People in-
ternational ambassadors for then U.S. President Nixon in Eastern
European and Asian countries. A totally new part of our lives had
opened up and begun.

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Chapter Four

Close Relations
Why is a person the way he/she is? Could it be that genes as well
as inclinations were passed down from earlier generations? Just to see
what family influences might have contributed in shaping my world,
please meet some of my more (or less) splendid relatives.
The description of my paternal grandfather and grandmother
comes mostly from Dr. Helmut Straube’s family chronicle minimally
supplemented with my own recollections. However, about my grand-
mother’s youngest brother, most of the information comes from me
based upon my long and deep personal relationship I enjoyed with
Uncle Bruno.

Oswald Richard Straube


Oswald Richard Straube,
my paternal grandfather, was
born on March 21, 1868, in
Obergruna, Saxony. He was
married in Rüsseina on Febru-
ary 18, 1901, and died in Dres-
den on January 11, 1935.
Richard, as he was called,
was his parents’ third child
after two sisters. Since the
mining industry, as well as
local agriculture, didn’t offer
any favorable employment
outlook, he apprenticed as a
baker. Although he finished
his apprenticeship in 1885,
nevertheless, he still remained
for one year with baker Barth
in Siebenlehn. While there, he
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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter four

became infected with typhus and he had to stay home with his parents
for three months. As was customary then, thereafter he went for his
journeyman’s years of travel to Dresden, Jüterbog, Berlin, Potsdam,
Magdeburg, and Kalbe/Saale.
In 1888, Gumal Christian Peuckert, the bakery master and owner
of a popular bakery in Rüsseina, died. Apparently this is what brought
the 20 year old Richard Straube to Rüsseina to work at that particular
bakery. That’s probably when Richard saw Gumal Peuckert’s oldest
daughter, Louise. She was 15 years old then, and 13 years later, she
become his wife and eventually my grandmother.

Settling in Dresden
Allegedly due to his being extremely flatfooted, Richard needed to
serve only 10 weeks of military service. At that time military service
was mandatory for all young males in Germany.
Later on, again, he worked in Dresden, serving several bakeries.
During this time he worked and studied hard, and passed his master
baker examination. After his master certification, he leased the bak-
ery “Dressel,” in Dresden. Cotta, Auf der Schanze, and operated it
together with his youngest sister, Hedwig, then in her late teens or
early twenties.
When almost 33 years old, Richard married his Louise, who im-
mediately stepped into the job his sister had been performing, freeing
Hedwig to get married to Max Paul, another baker.
About 1910, Richard bought the property at Klopstockstrasse 29
in Dresden. Cotta. It had been constructed as a rental apartment
building with a bakery on the ground floor and basement. From then
on, he worked as an independent bakery master and owner, jointly
with his wife, until 1929.

Destination Retirement
After several years of persuasion by my grandmother, my
grandfather turned over the bakery to master baker Petzold on a
lease starting in 1929. (That’s the year I was born). Mr. and Mrs.

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Straube stuck around and continued living in Klopstockstrasse 29


until summer of 1932. Then they moved to another property they
had acquired at Dresden. Leuben, Guerickestrasse 34. At that time,
that apartment building was in what was then a further out suburb
in a bucolic setting. It was an ideal place, suitable for retirement in
the popular mindset of the times.
Grandfather stopped working as a baker at age 64. He was in
robust health then. In retirement for two years he died of a stroke
at the age of 66.
In his family chronicle, Uncle Helmut points out that he, himself,
only knew his father as an older man because Helmut was born when
his father was 45 years old.

Personal Characteristics
According to Helmut, his father was about 175 cm (approx. 5 ft
9 inches) tall, solidly built, without an ounce of fat. He exuded raw
strength and vibrant health. Except for the typhus referred to before,
he never suffered from any serious illnesses.
He had a sunny and good-natured disposition, and was a fiercely
tolerant and caring family man. He was easily approachable emotion-
ally and could get easily excited, particularly when family members
appeared to be exposed to any danger. Parts of his character were:
diligence, as shown in the many pieces of confectionery he turned
out
endurance, as demonstrated daily by starting work from the wee
hours in the morning and not letting up until late at night when ev-
eryone else had completed their jobs
ambition, by expanding his market and getting involved with buy-
ing and developing realty
courage and decisiveness, by being able to make far reaching
prompt decisions, often also for others
Personally he was conscientious, reliable and modest, maybe
somewhat too thrifty. Although his general education came from a
very narrow base, he was mentally very active and many dimensional.

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In his earlier years he was politically sympathetic to the left and later
on endorsed the centrist ideas. (My Uncle Bruno, who apprenticed
under my grandfather, much, much later confirmed the same to me
independently, or even as a sort of complaint, saying that my grand-
father used to read a rather left leaning newspaper when he started
in his business, but ended up reading a conservative, centrist daily
for most of his life.)
Richard was a true master in his bakery business, and yet, he
still found the time to attend auctions and buy properties he then
modernized and operated.
Considering where
he was coming from,
becoming a bakery
master entirely on his
own was a consider-
able achievement. A
greater entrepreneur-
ial accomplishment
yet was his becom-
ing totally indepen-
dent and acquiring
Klopstockstrasse 29,
which had a book val-
ue of 100,000 Marks,
an enormous amount
of money for that time,
starting from his own rather weak financial means, dealing with
considerable risks.
In spite of the difficult times, he was able to keep going and even
improve and widen his economic base. This didn’t come without
setbacks and wrong choices he made. For example, he sold the two
best ones of his 5 apartment buildings during the time of the German
inflation and, as a result, he ended up with lots of worthless paper
money. Nevertheless, the retirement of Richard and Louise Straube

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were secured by the income from the remaining properties and from
the lease of the bakery.

Recollections
I remember Grandpa Straube mainly from the references other
relatives and people who had known him made, particularly, also, be-
cause I was often pointed out as being his reincarnation. I was not quite
6 years old when he died and I do have a few personal recollections.
One of them I clearly remember is the day Grandpa was buried. It
seemed like the entire community had turned out at Guerickestrasse
34. It was a cold day. Snow lay on the ground, but not everywhere.
The house inside and the walkway were draped in black and everyone
wore black. Everybody was sad, lots of tears were shed. My grand-
mother wore a black veil and cried all the way to the cemetery. Four
black horses came with a black ornate hearse, on which the coffin
was loaded. Then everyone followed, slowly, to the cemetery for the
final good-bye. His casket was lowered, and, as it turned out, the
start of the Straube family grave site was made.
Another memory that sticks vividly in my mind is: My father’s
parents and our family lived in the same house, just different apart-
ments. Doors were rarely locked, unless you went away for a long
time. I must have been maybe four or five years old then. One day I
walked into my grandparents’ apartment early in the morning and
found that they were still in their bedroom, probably sleeping. Curi-
ous, as little kids are, and not taking no for an answer, I knew I had
to knock at the door, and I did. My grandmother came to the door
in her white nighties and opened it just a bit, essentially to send me
away. But the fleeting glimpse inside sufficed to stay with me for the
rest of my life. Grandfather was still sleeping, but under the conju-
gal bed were two decorated porcelain chamber pots, something I
had never seen before. I went back to my mother and asked what
they were. Whereupon I learned what chamber pots were, how they
worked, and why my grandparents used them, because they came
from a background where water toilets didn’t exist.

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Grandmother Louise
Marie Louise was the first of a total of eight children born to
Gumal and Emma Peuckert in Rüsseina, Saxony, on September 3,
1873. Grandma died April 21, 1953 in Dresden.
At the tender age of 15, Marie Louise lost her father, the baker
Gumal Peuckert described earlier, and her mother when Louise was
only 19 years old. Yet there were seven younger children. No doubt
the early death of their parents created disadvantages for the children.
Together with her 7 or 8 year younger sister Emma Hedwig, Louise was
placed with relatives in Schneeberg in the Ore Mountains. Under gen-
tle, or not so gentle, pressure by the relatives, Louise, at 19. 3/4 years
of age, there became the wife of butcher master Eisenreich. According
to uncle Helmut’s chronicle, his mother described her first husband as
“abnormal.” The marriage lasted only a few years and grandmother
obtained, what was most unusual then, a divorce. In 1896, at age 23,
she ended up as a maid to a Frau Methe in Dresden.

The Connection
Somehow, Grandfather must have stayed in touch with Louise
throughout her travails. After considerable hesitation, she eventu-
ally responded to his courtship and was married to Richard Straube
in February 1901 in Rüsseina, her home town. She brought 4,000
Marks into the marriage. As mentioned earlier, Grandma immedi-
ately stepped in to manage the household previously run by Grandpa’s
sister Hedwig, as well as took over running the store of the bakery full
time, first “Auf der Schanze” and from about 1910 on Klopstockstrasse
29. She gave birth to three healthy sons, my father being the first
born in 1902, and Uncle Helmut the last in 1913.
Uncle Helmut makes the same reservations in his chronicle
regarding his mother which he made about his father. Although
his mother lived considerably longer than his father, from 1933 on
Helmut’s connection to his mother was limited to occasional visits
and unessential correspondence due to his absence for academic
studies, the World War II and the postwar years.

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Her Characteristics
Louise was slender, good looking, friendly in her relationships
with others and also somewhat reserved. She ran the bakery store
by herself. She also did the cooking for about seven to eight persons
(parents, 3 children, 1 journeyman, 1–2 maids). These tasks took
up all her time so that little was left to attend to the education of
her children. She was sensitive and thoroughly familiar with good
social manners, which she had observed when working as maid for
Frau Methe. However, what was missing was the additional energy,
and maybe also strictness, to apply to her children. There was no
thought of helping with or supervising their homework, for instance.
Also, in religious, cultural or political regard, both parents exerted
no influence on their children. The business, their basis to exist, was
always priority #1. Social intercourse was minimal, entertainment

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter four

hardly ever pursued. Nevertheless, the Straube house soon developed


into the meeting place for relatives from near and far. Especially
at Christmas, everybody congregated at Grandparents’ house for
celebration.
When Helmut’s school had its long summer vacation, his mother
went with him for about two weeks then, back to her home town
Rüsseina to stay with her sister Martha and brother-in-law Gustav.
That was her recreation for the entire year. Her husband Richard
never took a vacation.

Expectations Realized?
As she grew older, and the family richer, it became harder and
harder for Louise to keep up with her tasks. And as a result, she
regularly worked on her husband to lease the bakery out and retire.
Originally, Richard didn’t want any part of that, for the bakery and the
real estate were his life. But seeing his wife suffer, yet trying to please
her, he eventually agreed. That’s when they moved to their suburban
property in bucolic surroundings, acres and acres of rose fields to the
east, ringed in by a rich orchard of Eden to the north and west.
It was that orchard which, a little more than a decade later, helped
the family avoid starvation during the final phase of the Holocaust
and through the post war years. Since then the entire environment has
changed. The rose fields have long gone, replaced by ugly factories
built during the times of the Communist regime. Most of what used
to be a manicured orchard that produced bumper crops of apples,
pears, plums and cherries was turned into rows of single unit garages.
What progress!? And death of what used to be.

Uncle Bruno, the Independent


His name was Hermann Bruno Peuckert, born September 18,
1885 in Rüsseina, Saxony, the youngest brother of my grandmother,
twelve years her junior. He was the eighth child of their parents, not
yet three years old when his father died, and seven years old at the
death of his mother.

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Bruno, like so many other rela-


tives, went into apprenticeship at my
grandfather’s and became a baker. He
absolved his mandatory military ser-
vice with the Grenadiers in Dresden.
Almost half a century later Bruno told
me that at that time the army clothed
and fed you, but payment for the ser-
vice was made only once a year. He
then recalled that, whenever that hap-
pened, he’d spend all that money in a
week or two.

Rebel in Practice
After his mandatory service in
the army Bruno briefly returned to
Grandpa’s bakery. When he turned
21, Bruno received the cash payment
of his part of father Gumal’s inheri-
tance, who had died 18 years earlier.
Bruno promptly quit his job and left
to go on a pleasure and spending
spree. Eventually waking up one morning in a brothel in Amster-
dam, Holland, with all the money gone, Bruno decided to make it
to France to join the French Foreign Legion.
But he never got there, because he was intercepted by his oldest
sister, my grandmother Louise. It was the winter of 1906/07, two years
after the birth of her second son, Werner, born January 28, 1905.
Somehow, word about Bruno’s whereabouts and exploits along the
way had travelled back to my grandfather’s bakery in Dresden. The
family council decided to try and catch up with the runaway before
he was going to be lost forever. My grandmother was chosen for the
task because she had filled the parents’ role before for Bruno when
he was a little boy, lacking a mother and father.

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Caught and Returned by Detective Surefoot


Thus, she tore herself away from the bustling bakery and her then
two young children, to try and find her brother, Bruno. Finding him
was relatively easy, as she recalled later, for all she had to do was to
locate the most scandalous houses of ill repute, describe this bull of
a man to the prostitutes, and, sure enough, they were able to guide
her in the pursuit of the German free spender gone broke.
Once my grandmother caught up with this hunk of a man, she was
able to wake him up from the mirage he was pursuing, and brought
him back to Dresden, to be reinstated as a worker in her husband’s
bakery. Yes, that’s the same Bruno Peuckert, the Chief of Police in
Frankfurt/Main South, 40 years later, who helped me after I fled
from Communist East Germany.

Military Training
In the meantime, he had a long way to go to build a career. Dur-
ing World War I, Bruno was drafted and served in the front lines at
the eastern front. He was discharged at war’s end as a sergeant.
After the war, Bruno did not return to my grandfather’s bakery,
he took a job with the police in Frankfurt/Main. That employment
lasted until his retirement in the early 1950s. Some time between 1920
and 1925 Bruno married a lady by the name of Martha, who nobody
from the family ever met. They had one daughter, who, also, nobody
ever met except Uncle Bruno’s second wife, Maria. She told me about
that once-in-a-lifetime meeting from which Maria excluded herself
when a young woman once came to the house to see her husband and
introduced herself as his daughter. A surprised Uncle Bruno and his
daughter from the first marriage met, talked, and he gave her money.
Then she departed and was never seen or heard from ever again,
although it was understood that Uncle Bruno was in touch with her
regularly. His first wife had died of tuberculosis.

Building a Nest
On March 31, 1928, Uncle Bruno married for the second time.

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This time around he married Maria, the mother of his two daugh-
ters, Lioba, born February 1, 1927 (13 months earlier), and Ulla,
born November 27, 1929. Bruno had met Maria at the home of Frau
Reifschneider, who was his landlady in Frankfurt. Frau Reifschneider
was a young widow with kids in their early twenties. Maria was her
youngest daughter, born April 14, 1904 , still living with her. Early
on in the rental arrangement, tenant and landlady shared more than
the premises, and it looked like they were going to marry. But to
the surprise of the mother, her daughter Maria got pregnant from
the tenant, and eventually Bruno ended up marrying the daughter.
Needless to say, that was the end of the rental arrangement. Bruno
moved into the Gutleutkaserne (police barracks), and once they were
married, was joined there by Maria and little Lioba.
Oma Reifschneider, as I remember her, a wonderful woman,
and her daughter avoided each other and didn’t talk for 10 years.
But eventually the older Reifschneider accepted the cards fate had
dealt her. She forgave her daughter and her daughter’s husband. The
family came together again and Oma did her part in bringing up her
daughter’s children. She was a beacon of strength through the war
years and after. Oma would come one day a week to the Peuckert
residence to do the cooking and take care of the daughters, to give
the parents opportunity for other pursuits. She’d walk all the way
from Schwanheim where she was living to Frankfurt/Main South,
picking flowers along the way, which she’d then put in a vase upon
arrival at their home.

Steering an Own Course


During Hitler’s reign, Maria repeatedly urged her husband to join
the Nazi party, for that would have meant clear sailing for promo-
tion and other benefits. Bruno, however, did everything to stay out
of politics entirely, which, as it turned out, made him one of the very
few police officers suitable for higher responsibilities after the war.
Both daughters of Bruno and Maria married Americans, Ulla a
G.I. from the occupying forces, and Lioba a friend of Ulla’s husband

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she met at their house. Both moved to the U.S., became Americans and
had their own families, Lioba with two children, and Ulla with four.
Bruno Peuckert, the spendthrift turned Chief of Police and wise
family counsel, died of cancer in Frankfurt on September 14, 1955,
a few days before his 70th birthday. The pomp and display of grief
expressed at his burial was comparable to that of the death of my
grandfather in Dresden. The Frankfurt Police Department was out
in great force as organizers and participants, in addition to family
members from near and far. Bruno is buried in the Sachsenhausen
cemetery overlooking the city he loved so much, in so many ways.
Maria survived her husband about half a century and lived very
well off the pension Bruno had left behind.

The Miracle Woman


My mother’s father, Gotthelf Karl Vogt, born 1871 in Silesia (now
Poland), had come to Dresden as an illegitimate child who nobody was

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anxious to claim. But he was determined to carve out an existence one


way or another, and Dresden was a promising place for it. He did get
a job in maintenance at the Johannstadt Hospital which he pursued
until retirement late in life when he turned blind from glaucoma.
My mother’s mother was nee Berta Emilie Heinze, whose fam-
ily came from Denmark, but who also was born near Sagan (now
Zagan), the area my maternal grandfather came from in what is
now Poland. Her birthdate was June 22, 1868. She also ended up in
Dresden in search of employment, in her case as a maid. She and
grandpa, two kindred souls and new to the territory, met, married
on February 21, 1899 in Dresden, and started a family. My mother
was born Frida Johanna Vogt on January 31, 1900, the first child of
my grandparents, with five more to follow.

Advancing via High Tech


With his exposure at the leading hospital, Gotthelf Vogt saw where
important jobs for the future were, right there. That’s why my mother
became a nurse and x-ray technician at a time when x-rays just had
been discovered. Actually, at that time, not much was known about the
damage x-rays can do to human tissue. There were no protective mea-
sures taken, yet, for anyone working with x-ray equipment which then
was still very primitive, with wires exposed and sticking out. If touched,
they could electrocute the patient, which occasionally did happen.
As knowledge was gained, lead aprons were introduced, as well as
other precautions taken, to prevent one from exposure to too much
deadly radiation, plus other protective procedures and shields were
installed. But my mother had been working under high dosage ex-
posure for many years. Thus the doctors she worked for determined
that she would never be able to have children. Well, she eventually
did have four healthy children, of which I was the first.

To Give and Give, and Give


My mother’s mother died of tuberculosis on March 15, 1927, at
age 58, more than two years before I was born. Her health had not

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been good for many years before that so that my mother, as the eldest
and being female, was an essential support of the family, plus had to
look after bringing up her younger siblings. Her dad had practically
an around-the-clock job. So she, as the eldest, carried out many of
her mother’s jobs. That’s also a reason why she didn’t get married
until after the death of her mother and the younger siblings were
well on their way in their own careers.
My mother was a career woman before she got married and had
children. She went back full time serving as a nurse after she lost
her husband, and after her children eventually were all in their own
careers. In between she went through most wrenching times and ex-
periences, never losing her faith or cool, hanging on and digging out
tenaciously, always comforting others and doing the best she possibly
could, day after day, until her very last day in 1975.
During WW II and thereafter, when everything went to pieces,
not only did my mother have to fend for herself with four under age
children, but by default she also had to run my grandmother’s affairs,
who was slowly deteriorating, until she died in 1953. This meant
looking after the apartment houses in Dresden as long as they were
not confiscated by the East German Communist regime, and after
they were, to make sure the gardens were tended. Mother, contrary
to everyone around her, never gave up on the thought that justice
would be dealt, eventually, and the apartment buildings would come
back into family ownership. Little did she know that this really was
going to happen, if only almost a quarter century after her death. At
the time, nobody there dared even dream such a dream. Yet mother
continued maintaining property records and dealt with property is-
sues, going after the government owners to make repairs in order to
prevent the buildings dying from neglect.

A Change in Scenery
Mothers do so much for their children, it is hard, if not impos-
sible, to pay them back. Mother worked with the utmost commitment,
cheerfully, in many roles, all through her life. She always worked for

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a better day ahead. She knew it was coming, if not for her, for sure
for her children. She never had the opportunity for a vacation. The
Soviet and East German authorities even did not allow my mother
to travel to then West Germany to take part in Hildegard and my
wedding in 1951. However, ten years later, they did consent to let her
visit us while preventing everyone under 60 years old and capable
of working to leave. Actually, their policy had changed. They would
not have minded if mother didn’t return, for it meant one less mouth
to feed from their meager national resources. At age 61 she was con-
sidered a burden rather than an asset to the regime.
By then we were living in Canada and had two little children of
our own. I arranged for and took care of all details for this very spe-
cial trip. Mother travelled as a passenger on a freighter which was
going back and forth between Hamburg, Germany and Quebec City,
Quebec. I picked her up in Quebec and took her back to the same
ship at departure time 6 months later. Mother lived with us from July
3 to December 2, 1961 in Oakville, Ontario, outside Toronto.
She enjoyed this very much, for this was an unimaginable break
in her life in Communist East Germany. For the first time ever, at age
61, mother travelled outside her country. She was pampered as one of
the few passengers on the steamer, with plenty and wholesome food
of the kind they didn’t know existed any more in East Germany. With
us she enjoyed the children, the summer and the fall. When back in
Dresden, mother wrote that the time with us had added 10 years to
her life. I hope it did. She deserved a lot more than that. But I am
happy to know that the Canadian experience remained with her for
the rest of her life, a treasure she was able to draw from during the
rest of her years in the drab Communist environment.

Committed to Serve
Why did she go back to East Germany? Because that’s where her
roots were, where her contributions made a difference to the remain-
ing families’ lives who had no choice but to exist on the other side of
the then “iron curtain.” She would have loved to stay with us, but

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she felt that her role was to put in her last ounce in helping the less
fortunate family members to come along. Plus she wouldn’t have to
learn a new language for doing so. Obviously, everyone in the East
was anxiously waiting to get her back. Bouncing with yet more energy,
she did return and bring her Western experiences to share. Although
she didn’t live to see the Berlin wall come down, she is the only per-
son I know of who knew already then, in her heart, that it eventually
would. And the observations and thoughts she brought back into the
Eastern totalitarian world did, no doubt, help in hastening the day
of its demise and the beginning of new and better times.
If all mothers were like my mother, there’d be no misery in this
world. I wish I could be as good, resourceful, productive and inspir-
ing a person as she was.

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Chapter Five

Inside Pegasus International

Now, about the professional perspective, the setting I found my-


self in, the company I became attached to (or it to me), and how it
all played out.

New York, New York, if you can make it there...


Pegasus International Corporation was incorporated in New York
City in 1951 by Paul N. Weil, Andrew H. Wolff and Allan F. Conwill.
Paul and Andy were the true founders. Paul, the President; Andy, the
Vice President; and Allan, a corporate lawyer and Assistant Profes-
sor at the Law School of New York University, Secretary-Treasurer
and General Counsel.
October 1, 1952, another Vice President was added, Floyd A.
Stephenson, stationed in Tokyo, Japan.
Paul Weil had been a captain in U.S. Intelligence in the Eu-
ropean theatre of World War II, and Floyd Stephenson a Marine
Colonel under General MacArthur in the Pacific. Floyd accompanied
MacArthur to Tokyo and chose to stay there when the war ended.
His civilian background had been as an accountant, while Paul Weil’s
educational background was in engineering with a degree from Iowa
State College. On March 10, 1953, Floyd married the former Impe-
rial Princess Ghodsee of Iran, but the childless marriage was not to
last. On November 17, 1969, Floyd remarried, this time to a Japanese
beauty, less than half his age, Chizuko, the daughter of M/M Keiji
Takegaki. They had two children.
Paul Weil and Floyd Stephenson had been in the front lines during
World War II. They were battle hardened pragmatists who had seen
the war’s destruction first hand. Now they joined forces for the pur-
pose of bringing American technology, the world’s top technological
power, to the destructed economies of Europe and Asia. Their idea
was to do this by licensing superior American technology to who-
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ever needed it overseas. Paul was going to take care of the European
market, and Floyd of Asia. Paul set up shop in Frankfurt, Germany,
and Floyd stayed in Tokyo.

To run things in the U.S., they relied on Andy Wolff, a recent


graduate in scientific research from Yale University. Pegasus’ Ameri-
can headquarters was located at 11 West 42nd Street in Manhattan,
which at that time truly was the center of the economic world.

A Global Need to Fill


“Pegasus International Corporation,” they wrote, “is devoted to
the furtherance of mutual understanding and a spirit of cooperation
between the free nations of the world through a more comprehensive
and efficient exchange of technical and economic information.”

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter five

This they were going to


accomplish through “Tech-
nical, Economic, Licensing,
Representation, and Trade
assistance.”
As far as the Licensing
was concerned, it meant
the “Establishment of ini-
tial contacts, background
investigation, preparation
for licensing discussions,
and assistance to principals
abroad in the formulation
of the license contract and
in reaching agreement
in negotiations with U.S.
firms regarding the content
of such contracts.”
Licensing American
technology overseas was the
horse which made Pegasus
take off, for almost every
nation in the world was
clamoring for American
technical know-how and
technology. And here was
Pegasus to provide it.
Example:
First thing in 1952,
Pegasus became the international licensing agent for the aerosols
technology of Sprayon Products, Inc. in Cleveland, Ohio. Aerosols
were a new thing then, and practically no one used it except in the
U.S. Sprayon was an early entrant in the field, founded and run by
engineers rather than marketers, far removed from international
distribution. The idea of spraying paints and other liquids was in its

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infancy, but public acceptance was growing rapidly. Consequently,


Sprayon became a growth company, expanding year after year, until
eventually being bought out and becoming part of the well established
public Sherwin Williams group of companies. The relationship with
Pegasus survived countless management changes at Sprayon later
on at Sherwin Williams. It still exists, 50 years later. Obviously, this
was only so because Pegasus was providing Sherwin Williams with
a very worthwhile service which, if done by Sherwin Williams itself,
would have cost them more and be less effective.
Selling American technology abroad started out by Pegasus li-
censing over 50 aerosol fillers around the world, companies which
would use the Sprayon filling technology. One of the items necessary
in producing a filled aerosol can is the spray valve. To spray paint
is trickier than spraying perfumes, for instance. Thus, Sprayon had
developed its own valve which it produced in large quantities for
the domestic market. If each one of the 50 overseas licensees had
started producing their own valves, these would have been very ex-
pensive, for the production runs would have been limited to only fill
their own demand. Therefore, Pegasus started selling these valves,
made in Cleveland, to the licensees, practically as a by-product of
the licensing process.
This is how Pegasus International changed from being just a li-
censing company to also becoming an exporter. In most instances it
made sense to not only license a technology, but also to supply key
components, which the licensor was producing anyway, and which
were critical in the performance of the product and thus, could be
furnished at the lowest possible cost to the licensee.

Riding a Wave
On the heels of its licensing efforts, Pegasus became a substan-
tial high-tech exporter from the U.S. Over time, however, the world
economy improved, and this became a two-way street. New technolo-
gies emerged, particularly in countries like Germany, France and
Japan, which were found in demand in the U.S. Pegasus, with their

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own offices in those and other major countries, was there to take care
of the details and make the arrangements.
No wonder Pegasus was doing extremely well. The principals
were running themselves ragged in keeping up with the mushrooming
demand for their services, not to mention the company’s continuously
increasing financial requirements. The boom of conglomerates was
taking off in the early 1960s, and one of them, ASPRO Inc., eventually
made an offer to the Pegasus owners which was too sweet to resist.
In 1961, Pegasus International sold itself to ASPRO and became one
of its many divisions. ASPRO comprised a hodge-podge of unrelated
companies, one of which made automotive pulleys for the major
car manufacturers; yet another made steel lockers for the industrial
market; several were in different electronic fields. And now there was
Pegasus as an added profit center.
Paul Weil, Floyd Stephenson and Andy Wolff must have driven a
good bargain. In addition to substantial chunks of ASPRO stock, they
ended up with well paid executive positions, including guaranteed
life-time employment contracts. In the process, Floyd Stephenson in
Tokyo became the largest shareholder of ASPRO, with close to 3%
of its outstanding stock. From then on the conglomerate manage-
ment had a direct line to Stephenson and consulted him frequently
on corporate decisions.

Adopting a New Routine


Paul Weil was taken away from Pegasus and put in charge of an-
other ASPRO Division, Technitron Inc., an international electronics
concern of which he became President. Floyd Stephenson stayed in
Tokyo to run the Pegasus Far Eastern Operations. And Andy Wolff
became Chief Executive Officer for Pegasus International headquar-
tered in New York City.
Things kept rolling along through the rest of the 1960s and ev-
erybody was happy with the results. ASPRO and its divisions contin-
ued growing, while, simultaneously, ASPRO continued buying and
adding more divisions. The conglomerate under Harlan W. Smith,

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President, and James Gerrity, Vice President, Finance, was a con-


tinuously growing money machine. Harland and Jim had developed
a formula which worked like this:
• Borrow money from the bank.
• Find a rising star company, regardless of the field it is in.
•Acquire it for cash and ASPRO stock.
•Polish it up, impose strict financial controls, tie it in with the
rest of the ASPRO companies by providing expert management
corporate-wide.
• Put it on an ambitious, but realistic, performance plan, and
make sure it is being accomplished.
• Go out to the public and sell more ASPRO stock, which by then
should have greatly appreciated because of the conglomerate’s
increased value.
• Pay back the money borrowed from the bank.
• Based on the increased capitalization, borrow money from
the bank...
• Go out and find more rising star companies, and so on and on,
ad infinitum.

During the 1960s and early 1970s this worked extremely well.
The companies ASPRO acquired became much more valuable the
minute they were acquired, for now they were part of a powerful
conglomerate whose shares traded in the stock market. ASPRO’s
share value went up and up.

Success Needs More Success


It was in October 1972 when I returned to the U.S. from an ex-
tended business trip in the then Soviet Union and the Middle East,
when the office of ASPRO’s Chief Executive Officer had several mes-
sages waiting for me to come right away and see Harlan W. Smith,
its President. Another consulting assignment in the wings? I was
happy to comply.
As I learned much later, the ASPRO executive search team had

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looked at a long list of others before me — lawyers, marketers, what-


have-you. They also learned about me and my background, dug in
deeper, checked out companies and individuals who had done busi-
ness with me, and came away with the decision that they wouldn’t
make any deal with anybody until they had talked with me. Even if
I was overseas at the time,
they’d wait.
ASPRO was trying
to find someone with
thorough technical and
international marketing
experience who was to
take a critical examina-
tion of their Pegasus
International Division,
which was profitable, but
in their minds could be far
more profitable. They ar-
rived at this conclusion by
the observation that Andy
Wolff, the CEO of Pegasus
International, rarely came
to work before 11 am and
left again by 2 p.m.. Dur-
ing the summertime he
didn’t show up at all, but
d i r e c t e d th e comp any
from his summer home in
Vermont. The company
was doing fine. But with
that little management at-
tention, wasn’t it likely that it could do a lot better? They couldn’t fire
Andy because of the terms under which they had acquired Pegasus,
which was a cushy guaranteed lifetime employment contract, and by
now, Andy, was taking full advantage of it.

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Driving Ahead
ASPRO’s assignment to me: Analyze what Pegasus is doing,
whether it is competitively up to par, and what, if anything, could
be done to improve its performance. Phase Two: initiate the neces-
sary steps after approval by corporate management.
I accepted the assignment. I did my homework and met all the
players, some of whom were very reluctant to let me in on anything,
particularly Andy Wolff. That’s also when I found out, from Paul Weil
the founding Pegasus President, that Andy had voiced many objec-
tions to my getting the assignment in the first place. The reasons he
had advanced were that I didn’t “have that big American smile” and
that I wouldn’t be a “bullshitter.” Andy was convinced that it takes
a lot of BS with Pegasus’ clients to clinch any deals. Andy, of course,
didn’t realize that’s precisely why Harlan Smith and Paul Weil had
brought me aboard. Both of them obviously thought otherwise.
Even with Andy’s lack of cooperation, we still managed to work
things out. I presented my report to the corporate management team
on time. It outlined what was wrong, what was fine, and how specific
items could be improved. The ASPRO executives liked what they
saw, and Harlan Smith asked me whether I’d be willing to put in
a year to implement my recommendations. The remuneration was
attractive. I accepted.
On Tuesday, January 2, 1973, I started as “General Manager” at
Pegasus International Corporation headquarters on the 15th floor
of 625 Madison Ave., New York City.
Andy wasn’t there much. When he did come in, he was polite and
we got along fine. For the rest of our hardworking staff, every subse-
quent day became easier and easier working together and melding
into a forward pulling team. I visited Pegasus’ foreign offices and met
with each one of the overseas employees and collaborators, pulling
together the organization into a sharper focus on growth-oriented
performance. I went to see many of Pegasus’ established customers,
listening to their ideas and fears. The end result was rapidly improving
profit generation, exactly the picture which ASPRO wanted to see.

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The Whims of Wall Street


As my year of new heights of Pegasus performance was about to
end, Harlan Smith came to my office with a totally new situation:
Almost over night, the stock market had soured on conglomer-
ates. Suddenly, in the eyes of stock analysts, the concept of “synergy”
was a lot of bunk and didn’t work. For a company to be successful,
and warrant a high stock price, they reasoned, it had to be in a well
defined business, not in many different kinds of businesses. ASPRO
stock, which was as high as $15 a share, came down rapidly to around
$8. This was dangerously close to the $6.88 to $7.24 which was the
stock’s book value, depending which valuation was used. Once the
stock market price approached its book value or fell below, a com-
pany became a ready target for corporate raiders, who like hyaenas,
descended fiercely on their prey, tore it apart and devoured it to
become part of a totally different system, or just to make a gain on
short selling the stock of a company while it was going through the
wringer.
All of a sudden ASPRO corporate management was very vulner-
able to hostile take-over bids unless the stock price could be shored
up. Actually, in the following period the share price dropped below
the book value, and even went as low as $3 a share, less than half of
book value. At that price anybody could have bought the conglomer-
ate and liquidated it, making a 100%+ profit in the process.
These were no ordinary times. The Smith-Gerrity formula of
borrowing from the banks, buying companies, selling more stock,
and repaying the banks, was now working in reverse. The banks were
calling their loans, not trusting the conglomerate any more, seeing
the conglomerate’s stock and collateral value declining daily.
That was the time that ASPRO really needed money, not only
to keep its businesses going, but to pay back the banks, and at the
same time, somehow, try to get out of this down-spiraling situation.
A panicked Board of Directors instructed the management to do two
things: (1) sell as many companies as quickly as it can for as much as
it can get in cash, even if at bargain prices, and (2) hold on only to

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the electronics companies, shaping the remaining conglomerate into


a “one theme” electronics concern. That was Harlan Smith’s task the
day he walked in my office on Wednesday, November 21, 1973.

Now or Never
Harlan put the
cards on the table.
Pegasus International
was for sale. The Di-
rectors had figured
out the amount they
needed to get for it, in
cash, no bargaining.
Before they went out
into the stock market
to announce their
decision, they wanted to give me the chance to buy the company, a
mere courtesy rather than a realistic expectation on their part. I’d
have until Friday, maybe Monday to come up with the money. But by
Friday, two days from then, I’d have to have proof to consummate the
transaction. Otherwise, Pegasus would be on the selling block down
at Wall Street, and it would go one way or the other. ASPRO’s Annual
Shareholders Meeting was scheduled for the following Tuesday. The
resolution had to be ready for the public by then.
For me, this meant that here was a major milestone to realizing
some of my life’s goals, almost a life-altering experience. Yeah! I know,
I was not supposed to show any emotions, rather remain calm and
collected, just all business. And I did, never mind how much I felt
that my feet were being pressed to the grinding stone.
It was the Wednesday just before Thanksgiving Day that year. In
other words, Thursday was a holiday. Friday, November 23, we were
to meet again at 2.30 p.m. in Paul Weil’s office, and if I intended to
go ahead with acquiring Pegasus International, it was the time to
do it.

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Late, still that Wednesday night, I went out for roast beef dinner
with Hildegard at the Nassau Inn in Princeton and a family strategy
session. Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, I counted my blessings, plus
prepared for a quick action on Friday morning. I was running on
pure adrenaline.
Two days is not a very long time to come up with a major cash
payment and its financing, particularly when one of the two days
was a holiday. A time when bankers as well as the general public
have shrinking confidence in anything coming out of conglomerates.
Yet, in our case, I was able to reach back to some of the assets I had
accumulated over the years during my earlier career, plus, I was to
initiate several credit lines with banks and suppliers first thing on
Friday morning. These actions were not based on the conglomerate
experience, but on my own previous business record.

Cash is for Committing


Friday, promptly at 2:30 in the afternoon, Harlan Smith, Paul
Weil and I met at Paul’s office. Yes, I had the check to bind the
agreement in hand, and proof of the rest of the financing as well.
Handshakes all around. The deal was done. The down payment was
put in trust for ASPRO, subject to the details of the transfer being
taken care of in due course. I was on the way to becoming Pegasus’
sole new owner.
Before the meeting, I felt like a well prepared samurai, muscles
tight, mind focused, going into battle. After the meeting, I felt like
I had landed on Mars — elated, relieved, ready to tackle a new
world.
Still at the session, Harlan asked me to be at the ASPRO Share-
holders meeting in New York on Tuesday for sure, which I was. It
started 11 a.m. on November 27, 1973, at the Chase Manhattan Bank,
1 Chase Plaza, on the ground floor auditorium. It ended about 12:30
and I was invited to have lunch with the directors. The minute details
were now falling into place with regard to the disposition of another
one of their “unrelated” companies. The valuation of November 30,

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1973 would be the basis for the final numbers. December 1, 1973, I
could start operating the company as my own, although technically
the transfer date would be December 31, 1973. This was in order to
give the lawyers and accountants sufficient time to produce reams
of documentation required by the parties concerned as well as the
various levels of government.
Pegasus International, born as a New York corporation on No-
vember 28, 1951, had now acquired its third owner, almost to the
day, 22 years later.

A Twist in Perspective
One ironic footnote: As part of the deal, I acquired ASPRO’s ob-
ligation to provide lifetime employment for Andy Wolff, its General
Manager at the time they had acquired Pegasus. I, thus, inherited
the issue which had brought ASPRO to look for an alternative to
Andrew Wolff in 1972, and how I had entered the picture. Now Andy
was on MY payroll, doing close to nothing. In order to resolve that

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headache, I sat down with Andy and we worked out a buy-out deal,
which meant another substantial payment due on top of the Pegasus
acquisition cost. But it was better paying the price and parting ways
than having Andy sit around, giving his “American smile” and “BS-
ing" the rest of the world.
Although a difficult issue to resolve, both Andy and I were of good
will and sufficiently smooth to strike that bargain so that we each
could go on with our lives without being contractually bound to each
other. “It was nice knowing you! ” And as far as I know, Andy has
been living happily ever after, minding his own business.
When I broke the news to Floyd Stephenson on the phone to To-
kyo, he answered: “I am a soldier at heart. And always remember,
Win,” he said, “you can always count on me in whatever we might
encounter.”
He continued: “I’ll always give you my true thinking at all times,
and, by the way, if you don’t like it, I’ll still follow your commands,
nevertheless, as a true soldier, clicking my heels saluting ‘Yes Sir!’
and do the very best I can possibly do for you and the company.”
I had an excellent rapport with Floyd Stephenson until the day
he died. And, true to his word, he was a great pillar of support to me
in our Asian operations.
The rest of our employees, however, feared dealing with him,
particularly since he wouldn’t respond to anyone else but me.

Moneymaking Machine
How precisely Pegasus International made its money by licens-
ing American technology abroad is dealt with in a separate chapter,
following this one, for those who are interested.

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Chapter Six
Moneymaking Machine

Author’s Note:
According to long time Wall Street observers, the
greatest fortunes in this world were not made by the
biggest risk takers, but by extremely cautious and calm
investors. So, where do these investors find such invest-
ments? As everyone knows, in the real estate world, the
three most profitable words for investing are “location,
location, location.” In the field of High-Tech, however,
which was our home ground, the key to building wealth
is “licensing, licensing, licensing.”
Many may not have been aware of this when Pegasus
International started its business in 1951. By now, that
procedure ought to be common knowledge, though.
Pegasus was riding this wave from its very beginning
and refined its performance as it went along. Readers
interested in how such licensing works, read on, although
the subject may be rather technical. Whoever prefers to
simply follow the action of the characters in this book
instead, skip the “Moneymaking Machine.” The witness
account continues “On the Other Side of Checkpoint
Charlie” with the entry into Communist Eastern Europe
at the peak of the Cold War.
WS

How, precisely, did Pegasus International make its money? Here


is an example, as excerpted from the book “Technology Transfer,”
edited by Harold F. Davidson, Marvin J. Cetron, Joel D. Goldhar;
Noordhoff International Publishing, Leiden, The Netherlands; pages
477 to 484,— a presentation given by Win Straube from Pegasus In-
ternational Corporation at the Advanced Study Institute in Paris on

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter six

June 26, 1973, under the heading “How to Obtain Higher Financial
Rewards from International Technology Transfer.”

Intellectual Property Value


The exchange of technology can do more for a country than keep
it competitive in world markets. It can add considerable prestige to
both licensor and licensee. AND it can be profitable.
…higher than 5% royalty rates can be obtained — and rates of
up to 200% are being paid …cheerfully.

At this conference I said: “I hope that you agree with me that


profits are desirable, because no one wants to incur a loss in exchang-
ing technology, nor does anybody want to give away the fruit of his
labors for free. In international technology, transfer profit is not a
dirty word.

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We at Pegasus International Corporation in New York — and in


our branch offices around the world — consider it one of our main
tasks, not merely to accomplish technology transfer, but also to make
sure that both seller and buyer reap the highest possible financial
rewards possible.
We have no magic wand to accomplish this. On the contrary, we
do a lot of painstaking detailed work. We also use computers. How-
ever, maybe the most decisive ingredient for our work’s right outcome
is to combine a maximum of available facts with imagination. There-
fore, our formula
for maximizing
profits from tech-
nology transfer is
no secret…
But please do
not expect a simple
recipe…

Worthwhile
Benefits
Technol-
ogy transfer in the
form of licensing
a product or pro-
cess to others is
by itself a form of
maximizing profits
based on an exist-
ing know-how. For
instance, if all your
production capac-
ity is used up, or if
you don’t want to
invest in markets

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter six

you are not ready for, or unable to cover properly by your own ef-
forts, technology transfer through licensing does two things:
First, it makes somebody else in those international markets work
with you instead of against you, and it may keep others from trying
to copy or overcome your technological advantage — at least tem-
porarily. In other words: It helps you maintain your international
competitive position.
And second, it gives you additional revenue for which you don’t
have to expend material or production labor.
I will disregard the obvious rewards of technology transfer here,
such as being competitive or deriving a normal licensing income. I
am dealing here strictly with the PLUS in profits which can be ob-
tained. Anybody can give some technology away or obtain it, and
profit somehow by doing so. My concern, and the concern of my
colleagues at Pegasus is: How much MORE can we obtain?

Also Cooking With Water Only


Let me stress at this point that successful and profitable technology
transfer is NEVER a one-way street. Like in any good, long lasting
relationship of buyer and seller, both must obtain adequate benefits.
The minute a licensor is so hungry to try and get all the profits for
himself, leaving the licensee with little more than work and a nominal
advantage, the relationship is not going to last very long.
Sharp deals are out. A steal or negotiated give-away is worth-
less. Apart from the fact that it would be unethical, since technology
changes very fast nowadays, long term cooperation is more important
than a short term financial gain. And only a clear understanding
of who derives which benefits from what will ensure a healthy and
lasting relationship.
The basis for MORE profits between parties offering and buy-
ing technology is solid ethical conduct and complete disclosure of
intentions.
Coming to the HOW of maximizing profits from technology
transfer, you are all familiar with the patent attorney or corporate

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licensing department, where, when the question of technology transfer


comes up, this issue is mainly a question of percentages and form.
Standard contracts are used with blanks to be filled in
What is the percentage we charge on licenses of this type? 5%.
Well, let’s try for 8%.
Or if he represents the other side: Let’s try and get it for 3%.
Or: Of course the agreement must be in our language and the ju-
risdiction, in case of court action, is to be that of our home town…
I am not saying that these questions are not important and should
be neglected. Of course not. But what I am trying to focus attention
on is this: If you want to increase financial rewards in technology
transfer transactions, you cannot look at the process piecemeal, as
a patent project, a licensing project, a marketing project, etc., but
you have to look at it as a whole. You have to be very skeptical with
boiler plate agreements and you cannot use a stereotyped approach
to finding a market.

Homework Pays Dividends


Research in depth is necessary. This is hard to do from your desk
at home or by merely writing to consulates or chambers of commerce.
You must get up close, very close. Your problem is always very specific
— not general. If you want to get more for your technology or derive
more benefits by obtaining it, it is obvious that you will have to do a
little more than the ordinary.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. This case study is


a true relationship as handled by our company. It also is not a closed
and shut case out of a dusty file, but one that is alive and producing
healthy revenue every day.

The Prop on the Table


I have brought with me a sample of the product which we were to
sell or license for one of our American clients. Here it is (presenting
an aerosol can filled with propellant only, a plastic “bridge” connect-

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter six

ing a glass jar filled with a fluid to be sprayed). The device is very
simple. It combines the compressed gas principle of the aerosol with
an ordinary atomizer. There are three parts:
(1) the can holding the propellant gas closed off by a valve
(2) the glass or plastic reservoir container, which holds the mate-
rial to be sprayed
(3) the bridge, which links the two together.
Only the last, No. 3, is patented—a novel design of expansion
chambers results in an increase of efficiency in the amount of gas
being used to propel the material being sprayed — an increase of
about 35%.
From a pricing point of view, the separate components cost:
(1) 65 Cents for the propellant container
(2) 10 Cents for the jar with cap
(3) 15 Cents for the plastic bridge

The Devil is in the Detail


In our initial thinking about this item for export sale, we had to
consider that most customers might desire to produce the two non-
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patented components locally, and thereby avoid transport and import


duty costs involved in purchase from the United States. This would
mean that export sales would very quickly be limited to the bridge
only, which at 15 Cents each — and considering that they are reusable
— would mean a very small dollar volume in return for the consider-
able promotional effort involved in introducing the product.
Since most license agreements provide for the manufacture, use
and sale of the product being licensed, we felt that in this case we were
not merely selling, but also conveying a right to USE the patented
item, and that consequently, a royalty, as part of the sales price, would
be appropriate. Our market studies showed that five refills plus five
jars were used — and I emphasize again the word USED — with each
single bridge before the bridge wore out or became clogged or lost. It
seemed appropriate to assess a royalty figure that approximated 5%
of the total value of the USE of the product. Totalling up one bridge
at 15 Cents, plus 5 jars at 10 Cents each, plus five refills at 65 Cents
each gave us a total figure of $3.90. Applying 5% royalty thereto gave
us a royalty figure of 19.50 Cents. This would be a royalty higher than
the cost of the bridge itself. Therefore, we compromised and added

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter six

only 15 Cents royalty to the price of the bridge, making its cost for
export sale 30 Cents each.
We were careful to point out in our negotiations with prospective
licensees and customers that the royalty was calculated on the cost
of not the bridge alone, but rather the cost of all the components
used throughout the expected life of the bridge. At 15 Cents royalty,
this meant that the actual royalty percentage was 3.85%, which is
generally considered an equitable percentage — although, in fact,
this means a 100% royalty being paid on the items our client is sup-
plying.
In the larger sense, thus, we established this pricing policy with
the long term view that licensing the production of these units was
inevitable, and we wanted to have our logic straight from the start
to justify this figure.

Practical Application
License negotiations did, in fact, occur, with the result that a li-
censee was set up in one major industrial country with rights to sell
there and in a few selected areas elsewhere. There was no objection
to the 15 Cents royalty rate, because of what we had done in the
market first, which was to establish an export price based on the use
of all components which was still competitive.
We now had a source outside the U.S. for the unpatented com-
ponents of the unit, namely the refills and jars — as well, of course,
as the bridges. With a growing international market for this device,
we considered that one or more additional licensees might be re-
quired.
But, before going to this stage, we did another study to find out
what it would cost to have the refills and jars made in the interna-
tional market. It turned out that we could buy the refill fully pack-
aged for 40 Cents and the glass jars for 6 Cents each. Rather than
license someone else we went to our customers and told them that we
would shortly be able to supply them with refills and glass jars at the
prevailing U.S. factory price, but instead of their paying freight and

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import duty on products from the United States, the U.S. domestic
price would now apply, delivered duty paid to their factory. They,
of course, were delighted, and immediately held forth about tripling
and quadrupling sales in a few years.
We then, in association with our American principals, set up
a separate company to develop this international market. With a
nominal capitalization, this form contracted with manufacturers
to produce refills and jars and hold them in their warehouse until
instructed to make deliveries in accordance with orders received
by the joint venture company. Invoices were then rendered by that
joint company to the buyers at the prices previously agreed upon.
Eventually we arranged with the suppliers to accept orders directly
and invoice directly to the buyers, remitting to us only the price dif-
ferential.

Common Sense
The net result of all these individual steps was: Instead of receiving
a “normal” or “ordinary” royalty of 5% or 15 Cents or 3/4 Cent per
bridge, the American licensor is now receiving 15 Cents royalty per
bridge plus the markup on the refills and jars, which amount to a total
of 25 Cents for the former and 4 Cents for the latter, making a total
per set of 29 Cents. Going back to our original premise that five refills
and five jars are used with one bridge, his total profit now amounts
to $1.45 plus the 15 Cents from the bridge royalty, or $1.60.
Therefore, instead of 3/4 royalty income per piece through “ordi-
nary licensing,” our American clients are receiving $1.60 maximum
profit.
In this case, maximizing profits represents a 200 fold increase
in expected income through a combination of policies involving ex-
port sales, licensing, and joint or wholly owned subsidiary activities
in the international market. All three activities cannot be divorced
— one from the other — all these must be totally integrated. And,
most importantly, a master plan has to be established BEFORE any
commitments are made. Too often, isolated international activities

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are generated within a company with, in the end, a truly unworkable


and frequently unprofitable conglomeration of separate, and often
conflicting, operations being conducted.
In many places outside the United States, American technologi-
cal progress reaching around the world has been felt as a challenge.
However, as you can see from my presentation here, maximizing
profits on international technology transfer transactions need not be
an American privilege. The same avenues and combinations of effort
are available to everybody else, also to be practiced in the United
States by non-Americans. Technology transfer is an international
necessity. Whether it is profitable or not depends on the technology
itself, the market conditions, research and sales efforts. But HOW
profitable depends on you.

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Chapter Seven

On the Other Side of Checkpoint Charlie

Return After 26 Years


The cold war was going strong. I had avoided any return to East
Germany for fear of being arrested for having fled its Communist
rule in 1947. There was a stamp in my American passport which said
that if I went back to a Communist country in which I was born,
that country could choose to treat me as one of their citizens, and
the U.S. would not be able to help me in any way. But now it was
1973, twenty six years after my escape. The “German Democratic
Republic” didn’t exist when I fled. It was the Soviet occupied zone
of Germany at the time. I was an American citizen, an emissary of
American presidents who had been invited and hosted in the Soviet
Union itself, as well as in other Communist ruled countries. The
ground rules should have changed, so I thought.
Therefore, before leaving for my first trip back to Eastern Germa-
ny, I made sure at its diplomatic representation in the United States
that I had the required business visa and was not going to run into
any problems. The East German functionaires assured me I was very
welcome now. East Germany was then very much isolated from the
rest of the world, a totalitarian prison state if there ever was one. It
had cordoned itself off from the West with eight feet and higher elec-
tric barbed wire fences, tank trenches, and machinegun-toting watch
towers all along its borders with capitalist West Germany. The closely
patrolled Berlin wall was the supreme example of East Germany’s
policies. These barriers were not at all a defensive measure; but they
were erected solely to prevent East Germans from escaping to the
West as I had done a long time ago. Yet, as an otherwise shunned
member of the world economic community, East Germany was very
anxious to develop business, obtain technology and technical know-
how— a tough task under the circumstances.

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter seven

Desirable Visitor
Therefore, from their perspective, I now appeared as the kind
of individual who they would like to meet, because I was the guy
with access to American technology and know-how. At least diplo-
matically, the red carpet was rolled out. I was officially invited to the
Leipzig Trade Fair in 1973, and I accepted. Also, ASPRO felt that the
trip would be worthwhile, for they saw potential markets, as well as
sources for inexpensive Eastern European subcontract work which
possibly could be opened up. So far, ASPRO didn’t have anybody
familiar with that territory. The cold war would have to be over some
time, and here was a good opportunity to see what kind of business
could be had there. East Germany and Hungary were in the forefront
of Eastern European technical development, therefore good target
markets for us.
A lot of preparation from all sides went into the trip I was to make
for Pegasus International. It was to start in Leipzig, East Germany,
location of the oldest German International Trade Fair, to meet with
a long list of Eastern European companies which were going to have
exhibits and/or representatives there, as well as appropriate govern-
ment organizations. Thereafter I was to go on to Budapest, Hungary
to meet with Licencia, the Hungarian Company for the Commercial
Exploitation of Inventions, as well as with the equally state owned
Inter-cooperation Co. Ltd.
Since I was going to be in East Germany, word travelled fast to
my former boss, Dr. Walter Riedel, my relatives and friends. Com-
ing from a capitalist country, travel within East Germany would be
restricted for me. My visa only allowed me to come by train from
East Berlin to Leipzig and then depart Leipzig for Budepest by plane.
Even though, I made sure that Hildegard could come along and that
we’d have a few extra days there to hopefully meet my mother and
many others after such a long absence. All of them, of course, could
hardly wait to see us, for this was like the possibility of an embrace
through a briefly open window of the iron curtain. For Hildegard it
was the first time at all that she was going to be in East Germany.

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Border Crossing Going East


On Thursday, March 8, 1973, the day after Ash Wednesday, we
departed from London Heathrow Airport at 8 a.m. with Pan Am
flight #002, changing planes in Frankfurt/Main to Pan Am #686,
which delivered us to Berlin Tempelhof airport in the Western Sector
of the divided city at 12:15 noon. It was a beautiful day.
We got into a taxi which was to take us to the East Berlin railroad
station. This meant having to cross the tightly guarded border, which
here was the infamous Berlin wall. For Americans the only border
crossing was Checkpoint Charlie. There were no formalities on the
American side, but plenty on the East German one. While Hildegard
and I got out of the taxi and stood in line outside the small hut which
served as the visa checkpoint, the taxi and our baggage in its trunk
underwent thorough examination. Grim looking East German
border guards opened about everything. They rolled large mirrors
underneath the car to check for contraband or whatever one might
smuggle into their Soviet paradise.
When it was our turn at the visa examination, our passports
were closely scrutinized, and one could see that when they read my
birthplace, Dresden, it immediately aroused yet sharper scrutiny.
An officer was called in and re-examined my passport. Then both
our passports were passed on to a third policeman who fed it into
some machine where it disappeared. Then we were told to go around
the corner of the hut to another window, and there, eventually, our
passports were returned, with big DDR stamps in it. Now we were
allowed to proceed to the railroad station. The taxi was waiting, and
we went on.

Communist Environment
The appearance of East Berlin was grey and unfriendly. Changing
from Western to Eastern sector was like a color movie that suddenly
changed into black-and-white. People walking along the streets kept
to themselves. There were no smiles on the faces, no flowers in the
windows, no signs of welcome for anyone by anybody.

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The taxi driver drove fast to get done with his assignment, the
quicker the better, and back out of these dismal surroundings. He
helped getting the heavy luggage out of the trunk on the sidewalk at
the railroad station, and off he went as fast as he could.
The East Berlin railroad station is underground. There were no
escalators nor elevators, only a long staircase. Getting the luggage
down between the two of us was going to be a job. So, Hildegard
stayed with the luggage while I went downstairs to get some help.

Welcome to Socialism!
Once in the station I couldn’t see a porter, near nor far. Instead,
people walking by gave me a look, like, oh, a Westerner, for already,
by the difference in clothing, Westerners were immediately recog-
nizeable, standing out against the drab clothing of the Easterners. I
went in the station master’s office and asked him where I could find
a porter. That thoroughly Communist station master just looked at
me, sneering, and said: In our workers’ state everyone carries his own
suitcase, and he walked away. So much to East Germany’s customer
service.
OK. So I started carrying one suitcase at a time down the long,
steep stairs, while Hildegard stayed at the top until everything was
below. It so happened that just then a class of older school children
came down the stairs, loud and laughing in stark contrast to the rest
of the surroundings. They saw what I was in the process of doing
and, although unasked, they stopped and voluntarily pitched in. They
helped me carry everything we had downstairs, and once they saw
the station master, they hurried on.
Hildegard and I made the train on time, and, at 5:24 p.m. local
time, it pulled out of the station.

Your Reservation is Waiting?


At 7:27 p.m., we arrived in Leipzig, checked our luggage and
went straight to the Fair’s visitor center where we were to receive our
accommodation details. Everything in that Communist world was

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run by the government, including where visitors stayed. There were


not enough hotel rooms, which were reserved for the East’s politi-
cal elite, anyway, thus private quarters were made available, and it
seemed like every Leipziger had to open his home to one or more
strangers as long as the Fair lasted. Apparently, a lot of planning went
into who was to stay with whom. It mattered a great deal whether
the visitor came from a socialist or capitalist country, plus the rates
which the state charged differed accordingly. No doubt, Westerners
were placed only into homes where they couldn’t infect the minds
of the Leipzier buerger.
Yes, they had our booking, and yes, they had a name and an ad-
dress for us where we were to stay. It turned out to be somewhere far
out in the suburbs. There was a long lineup for taxis, none of which
was in sight, so we took a streetcar. It took some time to get there
and when we arrived, it turned out that somebody else had beat us
to these quarters. Apparently the apparatchik had double booked
the place, and we were too late. It was totally hopeless to get a taxi
from that remote location.
We waited for the streetcar and went back into town to the visi-
tor center.
No apologies, but they did give us another address. In the mean-
time it was 11:30 p.m. and we were looking forward to finding a
place to put our heads. This time, we did stand in line for a taxi, and
eventually got one. It took us to the new address, but as it turned
out, nobody was home. The place was locked up. After waking the
neighbors, they said that, no, that apartment was not available for
visitors, anyway, but belonged to a party functionary who never took
in any visitors, and he was away. This time we had asked the taxi to
wait until we really connected. Good that we did. Thus we did have
a ride back to the visitor’s center. By now it was after 1 a.m. Friday
morning.

Warm Bed is Ready


Without the slightest sign of emotion they gave us a third address.

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter seven

About 2 a.m. we stood in front of another apartment on the second


floor in an apartment building, and rang the door bell, several times.
It was the apartment of
Mr. and Mrs. A. Handrick
Haydn Strasse 6/206
After a little while, Mr. Handrick appeared at the door. Yes, they
were listed with the visitors’ bureau and yes, they’ll be happy to have
us as paying guests at DDR Mark 30 per night. Come right in. So
we did. Mr. Handrick woke up his wife, Ingeborg, who immediately
started changing the linen of their bed. The couple told us that their
bed was for us to use, and they moved to a wide couch in another
room of their small apartment. Thus when we got to bed, the linen
were new, but the bed and down cover were still warm from the bod-
ies who had just moved to the next room. By then we were dog tired
and fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.

Red Tape and Slogans


Friday was a full day at the Fair, and so were the following days
until one week later on Saturday, March 17— St. Patrick’s Day
elsewhere, not known in East Germany. In between my business
appointments I kept up a liaison with the visitors’ bureau and visa
desk. Early in the week I asked for Hildegard and me to be given
permission to visit Dresden after our time at the Fair. This meant an
exception to their rules, which took ministerial approval to obtain.
Thus the week almost went by, but approval was finally granted: 3
days in Dresden, as long as we would stay in the designated state hotel,
which turned out to be the Interhotel Newa in the center of town, at
an outrageous US dollar per night price, payable in advance in US
dollars. Plus we had to convert a fixed amount of hard currency into
worthless DDR money, so much per day, again to follow their rules
applicable to visitors from the capitalist world. But we had come so
far, this was the opportunity to introduce Hildegard to my hometown
and my relatives.
Yet, before leaving Leipzig, the following pictures stuck in my
mind:
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Sunday afternoon. The street I am about to cross is deserted. No


cars coming from either direction as far as one can see. No people
anywhere. The traffic light is red, but I cross the street anyway. At
that moment a middle aged woman comes rushing from nowhere
towards me, shouting: You capitalist (again probably recognizing
such by the clothing), the light is red! In this country you only cross
the street when it is green!
Socialist banners and placards were displayed all over town, in-
cluding this one: “Learning from the Soviet Union means learning
to be victorious.” (Von der Soviet Union lernen heisst siegen lernen).
Not far from it was another sign: “Caution! Glass pane missing.”
(Achtung! Glasscheibe fehlt).

Own Initiative at Own Risk


Sunday morning March
18, my brother Manfred
came to pick us up and took
us to Dresden for a series of re-
unions with family members,
new editions, and friends. On
Monday night we celebrated
with a private party at the
Gust’l Eck at Jacobi and Eise-
nacher Streets in Striessen. For
Hildegard it was the personal
introduction to most of them.
For me it had been a long time
since we had seen each other.
As it turned out, it was the last
time we met with quite a few of
them who died in the following
years, including my mother in
1975.
In order to hold on to that moment of happy togetherness, some

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of my friends suggested: why not change our flight, which was to


leave from Leipzig early in the morning of Wednesday, March 23,
to using the train which was leaving Dresden in the afternoon. This
would give us still the entire morning in Dresden, no rushing back to
Leipzig, and a smooth and pleasant ride in the sleeper to Budapest,
arriving there early in the morning on Thursday. The three-day visa
granted for Dresden would be more fully utilized. No laws would be
broken. Everything should work out just fine. It seemed like a good
idea, and we reshuffled our travel arrangements.
A large group of family and friends saw us off at the main railway
station in Dresden when we boarded train D56, car #44, and took
our seats #17 and 18 in the sleeper. The train pulled out 2:43 p.m.
going east. Once it got past the suburbs of Dresden it went along the
Elbe River, through the picturesque Elbe sandstone forest (Elbsand-
steingebirge) in the direction of Czechoslovakia. Early, 5:37 a.m. the
next morning, we were to arrive in Budapest.

No Good Money and Nothing to Eat


Little did we know! While the train was chugging along next to
bucolic trails approaching Bad Schandau, the last station on the East
German side before entering Czechoslovakia, East German guards
went through the train locking compartment after compartment.
With all the activity going on in Dresden we had run out of time to
eat lunch. Now I happened to be walking in the corridor of one of the
other cars of the train searching for the diner, eventually finding it at
the end of the train, but it was locked. No, there was not going to be
any service, for we were approaching the border. So I turned back
to make it to our compartment. But, no luck, the cars were locked.
The compartments were locked.
I did, however, attract the attention of a rude train police woman
who bellowed at me, how come I was here and not in my section. I
explained. She insisted that I must have a key to these cars, otherwise,
I wouldn’t have been able to get to the end of the train. I should im-
mediately surrender the key or she’d arrest me. I challenged her to

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search me, but I didn’t have the key. When I came, the doors were
open. She, however, denied this. Yet after a verbal stand-off, she
eventually opened the doors for me and led me back to my seat. This
didn’t bode well.
The train stopped in Bad Schandau and I tried to go out to change
DDR money into Hungarian Dinars, for that’s what would be needed
at our destination. I had tried before to make such a money change
at both the visitors’ bureau in Leipzig as well as at the state operated
hotel in Dresden. However, both places only changed money one
way, from hard currency into DDR paper notes. Both had told me
that such a money change could be made at the border when I left
to another socialist country. So here was the border checkpoint, but
they wouldn’t even let me out of the train. And money changing? No
way! Who told you that! No, there is no place here to change DDR
money into anything else.
Both East German and Czechoslovakian border guards went
through the train to check our passports. Then the train moved on
into Czechoslovakia. Night fell, the apartments and the doors between
the cars were unlocked again, and I made another attempt at getting
something to eat. Having gone without lunch, Hildegard and I were
really hungry now. But again, the dining car was closed. I knocked
at the door and raised somebody, eventually spoke with the manager.
No, it was past dinner time now. No food was served since we left
Dresden and no food would be served until we approached Budapest.
Dinner time fell at border crossing time, therefore the dining car
never opened for dinner. Rules were rules, and there were stiff penal-
ties otherwise. OK then, could they sell us a sandwich, or anything,
to eat which I could take back to our car. No. Rules are rules… etc.
Under Communism, pleasing customers was not one of their objec-
tives, particularly not visitors from capitalist countries. Communist
market theory demanded that customers were to clamor the services
of and please the workers. Two economic theories facing each other:
A society built on scarcity vs the other on surplus and plenty.

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Meeting in Prague
So, this night we could add the rumbling of our stomachs to the
melody of the train rolling along on railroad track. But it was too
early for laying down. From 6:47 to 7:26 p.m. there was a stop-over
in Prague. You were allowed to leave the car during this top, but not
the platform. Heavily armed guards were everywhere. However, I
had arranged beforehand that I would meet on the platform with
Jerry Hart, another ASPRO associate, from the Detroit Automotive
Products Division of ASPRO in Warren, Michigan, who was on a
brief assignment in Prague drumming up business. Jerry did keep
the appointment and could come to the platform, although under the
close supervision of a Communist Czeck government official, prob-
ably also a secret police agent. I handed over to Jerry several tapes
of dictation which I had produced during my trip so far and which I
wanted to go directly to our office without having to pass any Com-
munist censors. Jerry’s government sidekick probably wrote a long
report that night to his superiors on what he observed. Jerry took my
mail along and safely out of the country one day later.

Since Jerry didn’t know how hungry we were, he didn’t bring


anything to eat along. Nor were we allowed to leave the platform
and try to get some food elsewhere in the station. We had a little chat
which the Czech government man made sure to get every word of it.
Then it was time to reboard the train, and we pulled out of Prague
at 7:30 p.m. into a dark night.

Holdup
Eventually we crawled into our bunks, Hildegard the lower one,
I the one above. To the hum-drum of the rolling stock we fell asleep,
at least sort of. The train went slow, stopping once in a while. I tried
to look outside, but it was pitch dark, nothing to see. So it went on
until again I woke up, or was awakened. The train was dark. It had
stopped, maybe was standing for quite a while already. Czech soldiers,
armed with rifles, apparently working their way from apartment to

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apartment through the train, pointed flashlights at us and wanted


to see our passports. We were at the border of Czechoslovakia and
Hungary. As I learned later, the name of the place on the Czech side
was Komarno. On the Hungarian side it would be Komarom. If there
were such towns nearby, they certainly were not near the crossing.
It looked like there was nothing outside, just desolate landscape and
pitch dark night.
It was past 2 a.m. The guards went through our passports with
their flashlights, reading page by page. Eventually they indicated
that they’d have to take the passports along and would come back.
Which didn't’ take too long. But the news was that we should get
dressed and come outside. Which we did. But no, that was not good
enough. We should bring along all our belongings, too! That was
strange. They kept hurrying us and even helped in getting the not
quite closed suitcases outside. There we stood, in an open field, next
to the stopped train, facing more soldiers who wanted us to come
along to somewhere.
And then the train started up, very slowly. Lightning-like I thought
of the train tickets and consular papers which we had to surrender
to the conductor when we boarded the train in Dresden, and which
we were told we’d have returned in Budapest. I turned around and
ran along the train, trying to reach the conductor who must be some-
where, to retrieve these vital papers. Simultaneously the soldiers lifted
their rifles and took aim at me, telling Hildegard to make me stop or
they’d shoot. Hildegard yelled and I stopped. The train picked up
speed and moved out into the night and Hungary.

Interrogation
The soldiers motioned us to leave our luggage at the tracks, and
marched us to a small hut which I had not noticed before. It was a one
room, small shelter with an electric light inside. There was a potbel-
lied wood stove in the corner, the fire fiercely crackling inside. The
room appeared excessively hot in contrast to the chilly night outside.
A Czech officer sat behind a big desk. He was already waiting for us.

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The soldiers saluted him and turned us over, laying out our passports
on the desk. Then they left.
The officer motioned us to sit down on a wooden bench against the
wall, the only other seating in the narrow quarters. So we sat down.
Then he got on the phone, our passports before him, the shaded single
light straight above, and made call after call to I don’t know where.
He spoke in Czech, getting quite excited at times. Although we didn’t
understand much of the conversations, we definitely recognized the
repetitive mention and spelling of our names and birthplaces, other
entries in the passports, of which there were many, and that this was
the border checkpoint at Komarno.
After considerable time of this he finally was done with his tele-
phone calls. He turned and explained to us in Czech, which took me
many times to ask back again and again to make sure we understood,
that we had broken the law by entering and riding through Czecho-
slovakia without a Czech visa. To cure this problem his soldiers would
put us on a train in the opposite direction in the morning which
would take us to Bratislava where we could see the Czech consular
office to settle up.
In other words, having changed to the train turned out to be a
bad idea. Communist bureaucracies were not capable of dealing with
such unplanned movements. Worse, they immediately suspect that
such was done for a purpose, which must be contrary to the aims of
their social republic. In this case and at that time, also, any means of
extracting some more hard currency out of those darn capitalists was
certainly something they’d go for. The fact that the train was sealed
while riding through Czechoslovakia and we were not allowed off
the platform in Prague while it stopped there didn’t matter to them.
We should have taken the plane, and we’d never had to face a Czech
border guard, nor pay tribute for the right to cross their territory.

Detour
But now it was too late. Here we were, stuck in Nowhere, hungrier
than ever before. Our train had gone to Budapest and our business

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friends who wanted to pick us up at the station would wonder why


we didn’t come out of the train. If they were to talk to the conductor,
he should be able to give them our tickets and consular papers. But,
as we found out later, that didn’t happen. They just shrugged their
shoulders and went back to work.
After the lengthy back and forth of explanations the officer gave
us back our passports and told us just to sit and wait. His soldiers
would let us know when the train comes in. Then he went on with
his duties, every so often leaving the hut, and for the rest, reading
papers. He didn’t speak another word with us.
So while sitting there we were able to look out one of the little
windows of that well heated hut, although by now the fire was dying
down. We saw several long freight trains coming in from both direc-
tions. Each time they’d stop and entire commandos would inspect
them with their flash lights, up and down and around, and under-
neath. It looked like the Checkpoint Charlie inspection on a larger
scale, geared to railroad cars. Also, it was sort of spooky since there
were no overhead lights, just pitch dark night and lots of soldiers with
flashlights and guns. Eventually the trains would move on. Were the
communist allies so distrustful of each other? Or was this an employ-
ment scheme in order to keep countless young soldiers occupied? I
doubt that they ever found anything, for who would want to secretly
transport anything across a communist border to another communist
border? It sure didn’t look like they did that night.

Excursion to Bratislava
Eventually, daylight came and a couple of hours later a passenger
train pulled up. It was almost entirely empty. The soldiers escorted us
across the field, along the track to where our luggage still rested, left
there from the Dresden-to-Budapest Express, now next to the train
heading in the opposite direction. They helped us onto the train,
helped with the suitcases, and told the conductor who we were and
where we were to go. Then the train took off.
Again, there was nothing to eat on that train. It didn’t have a din-

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ing car. Nor was there any way to get even water to drink. It was a
slow train, stopping at several places along the way, including Calovo
and Dunajska Steda, before it pulled into Bratislava just before noon.
Getting off the train, a railway employee helped me with the luggage.
I wanted to give him a tip but didn’t have any Czech currency, thus
gave him a couple of dollar bills. He looked at the paper like, what
am I going to do with these? The possession of foreign currency was
a crime in these socialist countries. But he put the bills in his pocket,
anyway.
We sat down with our luggage in the railroad station’s waiting
room. I tried to find a money exchange, ended up with the station
master, but no, there was no money exchange at the station. This
again meant that we couldn’t buy anything to eat, although by now it
was over 24 hours since we had had our last bite. Also, it meant that I
couldn’t take a taxi to go to the consular office in town, for taxis here
had to be paid in advance at the station. Actually, payment had to be
made at a counter. The taxi driver didn’t get any money.

The Language of Money


There was no time to lose. Hildegard stayed with the luggage
while I walked into town asking directions along the way. Maybe 2
p.m., I arrived at the building which was the consular office. It was
a residential house along a row of houses, identified by a sign. The
door was locked, but there was a bell and next to it a built-in box
which looked like a microphone. I rang the bell. Nothing happened.
I rang again. And again. What else could I do? So, I just kept ringing
that bell for longer and longer periods.
Eventually an unfriendly voice came out of that box: We are closed
today. Come back tomorrow.
That didn’t help. Thus I took up the bell ringing again. Once
more, in a now still more aggravated tone, the voice announced that
they were closed on Thursdays and I should come back tomorrow.
Quickly I tried to get a few words in explaining that this was an
emergency and I needed to see them now. The intercom conversa-

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tion picked up after that, and after several go-arounds I was told to
just wait.
It took maybe half an hour. Then an official opened the door
and let me in. He looked like he had just been awakened and hur-
riedly dressed for the occasion. Grudgingly he let me in and led me
to an office. I explained what had happened and why I was there.
He wanted to see our passports, which I gave him. Then he got on
the phone, and again long conversations with apparently different
people, again spelling our names, birthplace, passport numbers and
so on. Eventually he got off the phone.
OK, he’d make an exception and he’d issue visas for Hildegard
and me to enter and pass through Czechoslovakia. The charge per
visa was US $75 a head, payable in cash, plus another US $75 per
person for doing this during a day when the consular office is closed,
plus a third US $75 for each as a fine for trying to cross Czechoslova-
kia without a valid visa — US $225 for each of us. But I didn’t have
US $450 in cash left in my purse.
Would he take the equivalent in East German currency? Of that
I had plenty left which I had been unable to convert back into hard
currency. But, no way. East Germany may be a socialist comrade for
Czechoslovakia, but in dealing with capitalists only hard currency
would do.
Would he take American Express travellers checks? Yes, he would.
OK. So I paid the fee, the extra fee, and the fine for both of us. He
got his stamps sorted and finally made these most important entries
into our passports.

U.S. Dollars go a Long Way


But before leaving I had another question: Could he change some
more US dollars for me into Czech sloties so that I could pay a taxi,
buy some food, and pay for our tickets from Bratislava to Budapest?
Sure, he could — at a highly unreasonable exchange rate, in his fa-
vor. But what was I, as a beggar, to do? So I parted with another US
$500, most of which probably went into his pocket.

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Then I asked him to get me a taxi, which he did. And voila, I was
able to get back to the railroad station in style.
Hildegard was still sitting there on our luggage, starving and won-
dering whether I’d ever return. I rushed over to a little kiosk which
sold bread rolls and other, if primitive, goodies, including mineral
water. Only then did Hildegard and I finally have something to eat.
Plus we kept some for the trip.

Finally Budapest
There were not too many choices for trains going to Hungary from
Bratislava. We were able to buy a ticket for one which left late that
evening. It didn’t go via Komarno but across the border at Sturovo
and would bring us into Budapest about the same time as the other
one was supposed to, except one day later.
This time there was no sleeper. When we came to the border dur-
ing the wee hours, the crossing into Hungary went smoothly. The
train did have a dining car which did open, but only shortly before
pulling into Budapest. They laughed at me for trying to pay with
East German currency, even for trying to pay with Czech currency
which I had just acquired. Only US dollars or West German Marks
would do.
One day late, over US $1,000 poorer, but richer for firsthand
experience with the Czech communist bureaucracy, we did make it
to Budapest. It felt like a big weight fell off our hearts. Hungary was
a different kettle of fish, welcome to “goulash communism.” But this
is another story for another time.

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Chapter Eight

The Director of
Pegasus Saipan Speaking
This chapter was writ-
ten by David M. Sablan in
Saipan, Northern Mariana
Islands, which is located in
the western part of the Pa-
cific Ocean. David served on
our Board of Directors from
the day Pegasus took out its
charter in Saipan. David
Mangarero Sablan was well
known throughout Micro-
nesia as one of its leading
entrepreneurs and business-
men who brought hotels,
airlines and many other
businesses to the islands.
He has been a visionary and
guiding light in building our
business there.
D a v i d ’s v i e w s h e d s
light on how we searched
for business opportunities
and, once found, dealt with
them before the competition
arrived.

Saipan 1988/89 by David M. Sablan


As the local director of Pegasus International Corporation in
Saipan, over a long time I was exposed to many activities of the

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter eight

company, some of them very intriguing. Here I would like to report


on two unique developments within the company during my tour of
duty.

The Pegasus — Rider University Connection


The first one has to do with a young student, at the time a sopho-
more at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, Michael N.
Gallina, a successful banker in New York City.
Never in his wildest dreams would Michael have thought of serv-
ing on the board of directors while a junior year business student
at college. But that’s precisely what happened in 1988 when Win
Straube decided to spin off the export operations of Pegasus into a
corporation separate from Straube Center and his other holdings.
Five percent of Pegasus International’s common stock was donated
to Rider University.
The donation to Rider was not a typical benefaction to a uni-
versity. Since the company was closely held, all of the shareholders
were to be represented on the board of directors, and Rider was no
exceptions. But instead of having the university appoint one of its
administrators to sit on Pegasus' board, Win Straube stipulated that
a student be selected to represent and vote the university's shares.
This student would have full voting and other rights and privileges
of board membership enjoyed by other board members. Straube
believed that the directorship would be a meaningless experience
for the student if not accompanied by full voting authority provided
by an ownership stake.
At the same time it would allow the selected student to witness
firsthand the operation of a company from the strategic policy level
that otherwise would only be available to him in the classroom. These
facets included budgeting, personnel policies, marketing and pricing
strategies, capital structure and dividend policy. Plus, Win Straube
wanted the unbiased, fresh perspective of the new generation to
participate in steering this “go-get-them” corporation.
Michael Gallina was the one chosen by Rider, subsequently re-

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viewed and approved by Win Straube, to serve as the first student


director in that program. What an experience, not only for him but
also for the other board members, including me!

Reformulating Itself
Although Pegasus' franchise was more than 40 years old, in 1988
the new version in the form of its spinoff became again, in effect, a
start-up due to the divestiture. All export operations were thereby
consolidated under Pegasus International Corporation, and all other
enterprises were spun off as their own entities. As the functions of
the corporation changed, the duties of the personnel changed and
had to be redefined. Also, the company's compensation and benefits
structure had not been reviewed in quite some time. Therefore, the
board was charged with the responsibility of updating the compensa-
tion and benefits structure while at the same time keeping in mind
the company's day-to-day cash flow and marketplace uncertainty.

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter eight

This was one of the hardest issues to deal with for Michael, I recall,
since it was extremely difficult for him as a student to get data on
how other corporations are approaching these issues.

Connecting the World with Each Other


Now this is where the first unique development merges into the
second one, in this case right into my backyard.
Part of the board of directors’ responsibility was to seek out and
research new marketing opportunities. Out of the many hours which
were spent determining the feasibility of marketing satellite dishes
and related hardware, the following is a firsthand example. It also
illustrates how Pegasus International made money, and the risks it
dealt with.
The basic idea was to find market niches which created unique
demand situations either overlooked by the major players in the field
or needing special attention which the major suppliers were unwilling
or unable to give. For instance, Pegasus’ research showed that there
were fringe areas of the world, such as in the Pacific Islands, where
television reception was generally poor, or in some cases, non existent.
Example: In 1984, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands north
thereof, had no live television link to anywhere. TV stations in Los
Angeles taped 24 hours of their daily programs and then airmailed
the tapes to Guam and Saipan. In Saipan they were played by the
local television station precisely 2 weeks later, day after day. And woe
if something should go wrong with the airmail, such as a typhoon
interfering. The television connection to the rest of the world was
haphazard at best.
Enter Win Straube and Pegasus International. Michael Gallina
was the director assigned to take part in identifying and meeting
with consultants and suppliers. As part of that exercise he also had
the time-consuming task of learning as much as possible about how
such dishes would work and reporting the facts back to Pegasus
management. Ten years later satellite dishes are ubiquitous in the

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United States and around the world. Yet, being ahead of the times,
like Pegasus was then and always had been, was the precondition
for making money on it.

Bringing Live TV to Saipan


They said it couldn’t be done. After all, Saipan and the rest of the
Northern Marianas chain was out of the “footprint” of any satellites
carrying commercial broadcasts. It costs a lot of money to keep those
satellites up there. The owners don’t place them in locations where
they serve what would be a negligible or insignificant market. Nor
did the inhabitants ever question this prevailing wisdom. Neither did
they experiment with finding accessible satellites.
From their Pennington, N.J. headquarters, on Sunday, June 11,
1989 Win Straube took Mike Gallina along on a drive to a place
northwest of Baltimore. This was to begin Michael’s immersion in the
science and practicalities of satellite TV reception. Win had already

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter eight

taken a 17 ft satellite dish to Saipan and, after some experimentation,


locked on to several satellites, one of which was PALABA covering
Indonesia, and another one with 8 channels by INTELSAT. One
of those channels was AFRTS, including AFN, American Forces
Network, which carried CNN live and broadcast New York’s David
Letterman show at what turned out to be about lunch time in Mi-
cronesia.
On June 8, 1989, Win met with Dr. Kathleen Sunshine at Ramapo
College in Mahwah, New Jersey, an expert on distance education.
Ramapo already, in 1989, was downloading conferences and used as
sources for its programming NTU, the National Technical University,
which did degree programs via satellites. The hardware installation
was done by Dave Hall of Multi-Sat. That’s where they were headed
that Sunday, to Reisterstown, Maryland, to meet with Dave Hall of
Multi-Sat Communications, Inc.

Putting the Pieces Together


Win already had lined up a source for suitable satellite dishes,
large enough to reach far away satellites low on the horizon. The
manufacturer was Paraclipse in California, and Pegasus had been ap-
pointed as international reseller. Pegasus’ task now was to find those
niche locations which were on the fringe of existing satellite footprints,
then sell appropriate satellite dish installations. Since the users had
little knowledge about the technology, and in most instances didn’t
want to be bothered, Pegasus actually had to install the dishes and
set them up to download the desired signals. For Saipan, Dave Hall
was a potential contractor who might be capable of doing that job.
There were not too many experts available at that time, particularly
for outside the continental U.S. where infrastructures were different
and often non-existing.
Win met with Dave Hall who demonstrated his experience via a
14 ft dish attached to his house. They discussed the Saipan situation,
the next closest satellite footprint in the Pacific, and how to reach
low horizon satellites, even north of Saipan over Japan. Those satel-

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I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride

lites were not beamed in the direction of Saipan, but straight down
just to cover Japan. But Hall thought that with a large enough dish
and fine tuning we should be able to reach into that footprint from
Saipan. If so, the 19 major Japanese hotels on Saipan, catering to the
honeymoon trade, would be able to give their Japanese guests Tokyo
TV in their rooms. Wow!
From then on Michael was closely involved in the Satellite project.
He even went out to Singapore to attend a directors meeting which
Win Straube was hosting there. However, another major player also
entered.

The Challenge
The plan we came up with was to put Valerie Wee, the manager
of Pegasus’ Singapore office, in charge of this project. She’d handle
the details and go on location in the Pacific to meet with Dave Hall
and his associates. First she’d have to see the hotels and sell them
the whole idea. Valerie was chosen because she speaks Japanese,
while also being fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and English.
Singapore was Pegasus’ closest office for that Pacific location, a well
connected operational base.
The next thing I learned from meeting with Valerie on Saipan
and by following the correspondence and receiving reports from the
parties involved. Valerie came to Saipan and solicited the hotels.
They were enthusiastic about the thought of getting live TV from
Japan into their rooms, but doubtful whether it could be done. The
Saipan Diamond Hotel at the beach in Susupe, Saipan, became the
lead contender which was going to take the plunge first, provided
we could deliver. Shinichi Yamada, the General Manager, signed an
order with Valerie Wee for a one dish installation at US $89,600.00,
conditional on Pegasus installing the dish, connecting the feed to the
inhouse TV network, and producing live TV from Japan.
We were on! A 17 ft Paraclipse satellite dish was ordered and
shipped to Saipan. Dave Hall, together with Kyle Briscoe, another en-
gineer from Multi-Sat, made the two-day air journey from Baltimore

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter eight

to the West Coast, via Hawaii on to Guam, and finally into Saipan.
They stayed in an apartment at the Straube compound in Saipan.
Valerie Wee had flown in from Singapore and stayed nearby. While
the job at the Saipan Diamond Hotel started for Hall and Briscoe,
Valerie visited other potential buyers on the island and lined them
up for the live demonstration once it’d be up.

Finding Their Way


Originally the idea was of installing the dish somewhere on the
roof of the Diamond Hotel. But that turned out to be not the best lo-
cation because of the exposure to powerful typhoons which regularly

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blast into the Marianas. A better protected location adjacent to the


main building of the hotel was found with the dish also having easy
access to the part of the sky, low on the horizon, where one or more
suitable satellites could be reached.
The first satellite locked on to was INTELSAT’s, which broadcast
CNN via the American Forces Network, unscrambled. In other words,
it was free for anyone who could reach it. So even if there should
be problems with the transmissions from Japan, English language
broadcasts and shows were accessible, and, at least for the moment,
free.
Getting to connect to the Japanese satellites turned out to be quite
a task for many technical reasons, most of which were compatibility
issues coming from differences of American vs Japanese hardware
standards. Thus it took more time for Hall and Briscoe working out
the glitches.
In the meantime Valerie Wee became very impatient with the
two engineers who, as it appeared to her, were more interested in
having a good time in Saipan, relaxing, snorkeling, partying, than
attending to their job and getting it done with. All this while the me-
ter was running and Pegasus was paying the bill. Yet Dave Hall and
Kyle Briscoe had persuasive answers why more time was needed.
Actually, time had to elapse before adjustments they had made could
be properly evaluated, and maybe further adjustments needed to be
taken care of.

Surprise, Surprise
Eventually the assignment did wind down, and the installation
worked, if ever so tenuously. Valerie delivered the two engineers to
the airport and off they went. But not very far. The Customs and Im-
migration inspection in Guam, a major entry point into the U.S.A.,
is meticulous. Hall and Briscoe’s luggage was inspected. Marihuana
was found, and the two went straight to jail instead of going to their
connecting flight home.
In the meantime, Debbie, Dave Hall’s wife in Reisterstown, was

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter eight

extremely disturbed as her husband didn’t show up with the flight


which he had told her he was going to be on. Actually Debbie was
the first one to call Pegasus with an indication that something was
wrong. But what?
Valerie Wee, in the meantime, had left Saipan and was en route
to Singapore. Once we caught up with her, she said that she didn’t
know what was wrong with these guys, but that they appeared to be
spaced out frequently, and she had had to shepherd them and coax
them most of the time to attend to their job and do what they had been
sent out to do on Saipan. To Valerie, this was just another example
of undisciplined freewheeling Americans, who were out for having a
good time. In her summary report Valerie wrote that in the future,
we should use Asian engineers for such assignment. They’d be more
responsible, plus, more adaptable in dealing with Asian customers,
such as the Japanese in this case. Black eye for America!

The American Way


I don’t recall how long Dave Hall and his colleague smothered in
the Guam jail. But eventually they had a court hearing, and eventu-
ally they were allowed to fly home, probably having to report to the
authorities in their home communities, taking it from there. We at
Pegasus were more than disgusted, scratching our heads on how to
prevent hiring or contracting with drug users. Maybe anybody com-
ing on the recommendation of a University ought to be suspect, for
that’s where the drug culture comes from and is frequently covered
up. On many campuses smoking Marihuana is probably thought of
as a cool thing to indulge in.
As it turned out, Pegasus did what it set out to do. Larry Hillblom,
the “H” among the founders of DHL Courier Services, made Saipan
his operational base and was very interested in developing Pacific
islands communications. Together with his attorney Bob O'Connor
he came to inspect the first Pegasus dish installation and subsequently
opened his own TV broadcasting operation on the island of Rota,
which is the next island of the Marianas chain north of Guam.

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Today, live TV coverage in the Marianas is routine. Win Straube’s


flying horse, Pegasus, brought it there. In the meantime, Win, the
innovator, is on to new opportunities in the continuously churning
world market. Follow him, and you’ll make a million dollars or more,
for sure. Plus you’ll see and learn things you never dreamed were
possible.

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Chapter Nine

From Generation to Generation

Best Plans of Mice and Men


It’s ironic how the best inheritance plans worked out for the
Straube’s since the death of my grandfather. Richard, like most found-
ers, started with nothing. He came from the backwoods and ended
up owning three apartment buildings, the intention being that one
would go to each of his three sons. After all, the tenets of society at
his time demanded that the parents slave to create something which
then could be passed on to their children, ideally so that the children
would be well off, enjoying the fruits of the trees their parents planted.
Ideally, also, the inheritance should be sufficiently substantial so that
the children never need to create their own income but be able to
support themselves from the inheritance. At least that was — and
maybe still is — common thinking. As an example, look at the Ken-
nedy family of Massachusetts where father Kennedy gave each of
his children one million dollars when they came of age, no strings
attached. At that time one million dollars was a lot of money.
In our case, three fully rented-out apartment buildings was a
substantial base. However, fate interfered, not to mention that the
government always lurks right there when somebody dies asking a
hefty tribute in the form of inheritance tax.
When Grandpa Straube died in 1935, the buildings continued
under the ownership of my grandmother. I remember, as a child ac-
companying her once a month while she made the rounds, visiting
each tenant, collecting rent, in cash. There was no such thing as credit
then. Paying by check meant not having the money. I learned a lot
about tenant relationships in those days. Each stop meant listening to
many stories. I got to know the background of practically every single
family occupying Straube apartments. It was a mixed lot. Most of
them had the money ready in their cookie jar. But some of them had
to be visited twice (in the same day), although, as my grandmother
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pointed out, rent was a debt which was to be prepaid by the tenant
bringing it to the landlord on time, not an account receivable to be
collected. Her collection trips were merely a friendly gesture, at the
same time an inspection of the premises to ensure they would be in
good shape, and to make sure the tenants’ needs were taken care of.
Like in any business, there is nothing like firsthand knowledge and
direct relationships.

Is Ownership Good or Bad?


Then came World War II. We were lucky. Our houses survived.
But after the war came communism, the end of capitalism, at least
in East Germany, and all real property was confiscated by the state.
The old deeds and ownership records became just paper with, at

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best, sentimental value. After grandmother died in 1953, my mother


held on to them like sacred scrolls. That in spite of the buildings now
belonging to the government and deteriorating quickly, for the state
did very little, if anything, to keep the buildings properly maintained.
Rent now had to be paid to the state.
To add insult to injury, Mother’s local son-in-law told her that
this was only right, for capitalism was the scourge of the earth. Indi-
vidual ownership meant exploitation of the masses for the benefit of a
few. Therefore, all means of production, as well as all real property,
should be owned by the state. Never mind that this young communist,
the husband of my youngest sister, now lived with his family in our
family’s former apartment in one of the Straube apartment buildings
while the rest of East Germany suffered a housing shortage presided
over by the state.
My mother died in 1975 and I don’t know what happened to the
building ownership papers. House ownership in a communist country
by then was just a memory of a bygone era few could remember. After
all, the communists had taken over in 1945. A new generation had
grown up in a new world. The old buildings were still there, though
poorly maintained and crumbling. Nobody thought that the issue of
ownership would ever change.

Views do Change Over Time


But change is what this world is all about, and sometimes it strikes
in the most unlikely places at the least expected times.
In 1989, the unexpected happened: the Berlin wall came tum-
bling down and East Germany was reunited with the West, shedding
its communist laws in the process. It took a few years for the mess
to be sorted out, but in the mid-1990s the now democratic govern-
ment started turning over the confiscated properties to their original
owners, provided they could be found and could prove their right
to ownership. At any rate, what was going to be returned to them
was far from being in mint condition. Most of it was in a state of a
half century of neglect and disrepair. Most of it needed heavy new

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investments to be brought up to date and make it rentable at market


rates again.
Now with the tables turned, my brother-in-law shed his com-
munist thoughts of what is good for the masses and turned into a
capitalist, militant along the lines of hard knuckle capitalists at the
time of Karl Marx. By now the rights to inheritance had moved down
two generations, to the children of the children of my grandparents.
That is, those who were still around.
Dr. Helmut Straube’s son,
Helmut Jr. in Aachen, Germany,
and my brother-in-law in Dres-
den, were the main proponents
in getting all those entitled to
part of the inheritance together
for united action. I took part in
one of those meetings with all
my siblings and their spouses
in Dresden during the evening
of Saturday, May 20, 1995 in
the home of my youngest sister.
That’s where I announced that I
was declining the inheritance.

Transition to Me-First
Capitalists
The remaining group of
inheritors was made up of East
Germans, newly liberated and
thrust into a market economy,
and a few West Germans, such
as Helmut Jr., the latter being a
school teacher now thrust in the
position of a practicing capitalist.
The group’s consensus was that

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they’d like to convert these assets coming their way into cash as fast
as possible. All sentimental issues were to be disregarded. Investing
in the properties, bringing them up to snuff, and turning them into
up-to-date apartment buildings where people would enjoy living,
and pay a reasonable rent for, was totally out of the question. The
inheritors didn’t want work and responsibilities on their hands, but
hard cash, and that, now.
So that’s how it went. In a secret transaction — even I was not
allowed to see any details or accounting — they sold the three prop-
erties for a pittance. The new owners were developers who got a
bargain, and then poured in lots of new capital to totally renovate
and update the buildings. How does the saying go: It takes three
generations, one to make it, one to enjoy it, and the third one to blow
it. They surely blew it.
If Richard Straube, the founder, were to receive the news, he’d
start spinning in his grave. That was not what he and his wife had in
mind when they saved every penny they made and put in building
up money-making machines. All of the final inheritors who, 64 years
later, cashed out, were not born at the time of my grandfather’s death.
Richard had no idea who those beneficiaries were going to be, nor
what they were going to do with the product of his life’s toil. The last
he would have expected is that they would blow it.
Also from the position of the final spenders of that money, they
didn’t do a single thing to deserve anything. Like in the case of my
brother-in-law, he berated my mother for trying to maintain the
buildings, that all ownership was bad. But then he became the cash-
out capitalist, no matter what, for sure no regard for social, or even
family, historic responsibilities.

What’s Left Behind


Whereby goes a myth, the myth of inheritance. In my book the
thought of inheritance is bad, the seed for misdirection, misuse, sup-
port of the wrong people with the wrong ideas, abuse and injustice,
not to mention that it creates family disharmony. For want of a better

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idea it may be ingrained in society, but property inheritance is a bad


practice. Maybe through the ages the builders of property thought of
creating some sort of immortality for themselves by forming inheri-
tances, or making their descendents love them, hopefully worship
them. I don’t know. But I think there is a better way. In my opinion
the American Indians had it right, that we have the temporary use
of the tangible world as long as we live. Thereafter it goes back to
Mother Earth to be recycled.
In my case I didn’t have to make many moral decisions in this
respect. I didn’t inherit anything. I didn’t expect to inherit anything.
I probably also wouldn’t have liked the thought of the possible strings
attached to an inheritance, even if they were merely moral strings.
When the time came, in the 70th year of my life — and as described
above — to take part in an inheritance, my views were firmly estab-
lished and not going to be overturned by the possibility of sharing
in some sort of jackpot.
I believe that, yes, you should be productive like Grandfather
Richard and build one or more money-making machines if possible,
but not for the purpose of turning them over to your heirs. Instead
you should make sure to invest in the education of your children as
they grow up, to give them access to the best learning you possibly
can, to enable them to do for themselves what even the biggest inheri-
tance won’t do. Then turn over whatever is left to the improvement
of your community, your country, to the human endeavor overall.
That’s where whatever assets you leave behind can make a difference
for the better, and nobody gets a special benefit just because he/she
happened to be related to you.

The Testament
The inheritance we pass on to our children should be in the form
of hopefully healthy genes, learning and experiences. All our mate-
rial wealth should go to the human race in building a better world
for all.
In our situation both Hildegard and I have acted according to

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this principle since the start. We don’t want to be the recipients of


unearned income or undeserved goodies of any sorts. Instead, we
want to be self-sufficient in all respects if we can, to generate wealth
and to share it. We made every effort to have our children develop
into self-sufficient self-supporting individuals who are spiritually,
emotionally, and practically able to support not only themselves,
but also contribute to their communities, be they physical, scientific,
political, whichever, and take it from there.
Our will, therefore, provides for all personal property, that which
has personal and possibly sentimental value attached to it, to go to
our children, while all real property and investments will go to our
Foundation which was set up for the public good.

Helping Others Help Themselves


The Straube Foundation, Inc. was founded in 1995 to develop,
distribute, and teach the use of interactive educational materials for
the purpose of making the highest quality educational presentations
from the world's best teachers to more people, ideally to everybody.
This means that the classroom can come to anybody at any place
where he/she can be in front of a computer or TV screen. Likewise,
anybody thus being exposed to such educational presentations will be
able to interact with them, asking questions, receiving additional and
deeper background information, taking tests, and communicating
with a teacher, regardless whether that teacher is physically nearby
or continents away.
We chose this particular form of contribution to the international
community of our friends because of our particular backgrounds,
since most of our learning came not from conventional educational
institutions at well acknowledged locations, but from wherever we
could find it. We know that the majority of our fellow humans do not
have easy access to the best forms of education. Maybe our effort will
help in easing this situation.
We didn’t arrive at this particular form of charitable contribution
by a snap decision or through straight logic. Rather, it’s the result of

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what, in retrospect, might be a funny story about the shortsighted-


ness of “government for the people by the people.”

Giving Back to the Community


When Hildegard and I moved our small family to Pennington,
New Jersey, in 1963, we were also in the process of building a small
but growing nestegg for ourselves. Apart from participating in com-
munity charities (I became president of the Mercer County Cancer
Society fund drive in 1969), I felt very strongly about giving back to
the country that had taken me in and accepted me so freely, giving
us the opportunity to grow and to contribute. As outlined above,
right from the very start, both Hildegard and I did not intend to
build nesteggs to leave to our children. Rather, we wanted them not
only to be capable of building their own, but also to make significant
contributions to the world they were going to be part of. So, who
should inherit whatever assets beyond the personal which we’d ac-
cumulate?
Well, the list of charities in need which would be delighted to
receive the product of our lives is long. But looking at each of these
recipients individually, maybe we could do a little better than sub-
scribe to their particular agenda, unless it was very much of concern
to us also. Why not have some of our own ideas built into the use of
these funds?

Big Government
So the first idea I came up with was that I would want our funds
to be used for the purpose of reducing the national debt. On July
13, 2000 the U.S. national debt stood at US $5,648,338,818,934.67
(in words 5.6 trillion US dollars. That was 5,648 billions.) Actually,
it was not standing still at all, but advancing every day, at that time,
by $42 million in interest alone. A steadily larger and increasing per-
centage of the annual federal budget went for financing the national
debt. By August 23, 2002 the U.S. national debt had advanced to US
$6,173,421,262,568.00, increasing by $1,111 million per day since

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Book Two Illionnaire Handbook chapter nine

September 28, 2001, continuing up and up…


If you ran your family or your enterprise that way, you’d be broke
in no time. It’s just bad business to have that much debt and doesn’t
bode well for the future. Where can a country go with that much
debt? There will be a reckoning unless adjustments are made fairly
soon, no doubt about it. It will not be at a convenient time. Nobody,
including the USA, can go on increasing national debt indefinitely.
Instead, where could the country go without debt? Somebody, some
time, hopefully some time soon, will need to bring that business of
the nation back to reality.

Taxpayer’s Concern
Again, we as a family always believed in no debt as the normal
state of affairs, and if debt had to be taken on, such as for a mort-
gage, it would be paid back in the shortest possible time. As a result
we’ve been totally debt free most of our lives and remain so today.
That’s what gives you strength, mobility, and the capability to take
advantage of opportunities when they come along. It also helps with
relative peace of mind, makes you a giver rather than a taker, makes
you strong. The same is true for corporations and countries, common
practice to the contrary.
When I first came up with that idea and presented it to my good
friend and lawyer, Victor Walcoff, who was the writer and adminis-
trator of our will, he thought it over and convinced me that whatever
contribution we were going to make, it was going to be less than
super-insignificant in reducing the federal debt or influencing the
federal government to change its ways. No question about it, Victor
was right. It was not a practical idea, but if executed, a total waste of
money, maybe the laughing stock of the recipient while at the same
time, infuriating potential inheritors who customarily might stand
in line to benefit directly.

Local Government
So why not chose something closer to home? Something that

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could really work. OK, here comes idea #2 and it did become incor-
porated in our will: All our realty, later known as Straube Center,
would become the property of the Borough of Pennington. Thus, it
could help provide economical quarters to some needy businesses
and individuals. It also would tend to keep the town’s property taxes
low, because it would produce 100% income which would go into the
operating funds of the community.
There were several legal angles whether or not a town could own
commercial property outright, but Vic worked it all out, and yes, the
Town of Pennington could have owned what ended up being one of
its largest income producers and tax payers.
For a number of years, had we died, Pennington would have been
the ultimate recipient of our total assets. That’s how our will read.
Of course, the Town of Pennington was never told. We didn’t want to
provide any easy incentives to our own demise to any one. So, until
now, the town never knew that it was sitting on a chest of gold which,
during some time in the future, was going to be its own.
That day, however, will never came. Not that we will live eter-
nally, but because the town government’s greed and need for power
intervened.

Narrow Perspective
In 1985, we resurfaced one of Straube Center’s parking lots and
the contractor asphalted 4 ft more of land than the drawings approved
by the local Planning Board showed. Therefore, instead of making
us aware of what the town’s inspector had found and asking us to
change it, the Town of Pennington hauled us into court.
One day I saw James Dellemonache, the town’s only full time
policeman, walking across another parking lot of ours towards me.
I greeted him enthusiastically “Hi Jimmy, good to see you here! ”
But these comments were premature, for Jimmy had come to present
the town’s summons to me. The court date was November 26, 1985,
before Judge Robert F. Moore.
That day came and Robert C. Billmeyer, the prosecutor, painted

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a picture of me as the scrupulous developer who disregarded govern-


ment guidelines, unconsciously expanding asphalted area instead of
seeking proper approvals and executing the work accordingly. Ken
Blackwell, my General Manager and only witness for the defense,
was cross examined. As Ken told me later, he thought we already
had lost the case. After Ken, whose heart had fallen into his pocket, I
took the witness stand, and the next cross examination started. This
time, supported by two young attorneys, Jim Colaprico and Doug
Long, the picture started to change. We were able to show that the
entire area, including those 4 extra feet, had been used for parking
since tens of years, although only gravel coated. Therefore that was
not a new, non-allowed use, but merely the asphalting over of an
existing parking space.
End result: Judge Moore threw the case out, telling the pros-
ecution that he thought that things like this should be worked out
between the parties, particularly in a small town of less than 2,500
people, that there was no real cause for a suit, particularly since
Straube Center was willing to comply with whatever the Planning
Board wanted to see.

A Better Solution
Added result: I called Victor Walcoff and asked him to write the
Borough of Pennington out of my will. Our lives’ work is too valuable
to go to the petty executioners of shortsighted policies.
And that’s how the idea for the purpose of the Straube Founda-
tion was born, a far better use of our assets, an idea we should have
arrived at in the first place. But that’s how it goes.

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Chapter Ten

Why Saipan?

A Southwest Pacific Island


Saipan is the second largest of the Mariana Islands in the western
Pacific Ocean. Volcanic in origin, Saipan has an area of 47 square
miles (120 sq/km). The average annual temperature is 28 ° C (83 deg F),
and yearly rainfall averages 2,540 mm (100 in). The population of the
Northern Marianas of 69,221 in 2000 included a very large contingent
of non-resident aliens who worked at low-paying jobs in construction
and the service and garment industries. Tourism and U. S. military and
government spending were the economic mainstays, and clothing, as-
sembled from imported textiles, the only export. Most of the Chamorro
population was, and still is, employed in service or government jobs.
Evidence of human habitation dates from 1500 BC.
The Marianas were discovered by Ferdinand Magellan on March
6, 1521, who called them the “islands of thieves” because the island-
ers helped themselves freely to his crew’s supplies and belongings.
Spain promptly claimed the islands and sent Jesuits to teach the na-
tives Christianity. In 1668 the islands were named the "Marianas" in
honor of Mariana of Austria, widow of Philip IV of Spain. In 1899,
after losing the Spanish-American war, Spain needed money and
sold the Marianas for 5 million gold dollars to Germany. In 1914,
when World War I broke out and the Europeans were pre-occupied
with each other at home, Japan sent invading forces and assumed
control of the undefended islands. After World War I concluded in
1918, the League of Nations in 1919 legalized the Japanese occupa-
tion retroactively and gave the islands to Japan.

History of Severe Human Sacrifice


Some of the most bitter fighting in the Pacific of World War II took
place in 1944 when the Marianas fell to U.S. forces. More than 30,000

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Japanese defenders died as well as more than 16,000 of the invad-


ing Americans. The Americans immediately built two long parallel
runways for their B-29 long range bombers on Tinian, the neighbor
island to Saipan, and started bombing Tokyo. The atomic bombs
dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were flown from Tinian.
After World War II the Marianas became part of the Trust Ter-
ritory of the Pacific Islands under U. S. administration. In 1975,
Mariana residents voted for separate status in political union with the
United States. They became internally self-governing under a new
constitution in 1978. On Nov. 3, 1986, the United States proclaimed
the Marianas a commonwealth of the United States. This status was
internationally recognized in December 1990, when the UN Secu-
rity Council formally terminated the islands' trust territory status.
Residents of the commonwealth are now U.S. citizens.

Strategic Location
So why would the Straubes come to the Marianas?
Because in October of 1984 U.S. Congress passed a law which
enabled American exporters to set up shop in foreign locations and
be freed from certain American taxes. The purpose of that law was
to make American products as competitive as the products of other
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developed nations which exclude their export sales from domestic


taxation. For U.S. exporters this meant that they wouldn’t have to
pay sales tax in their respective state any more, for instance, plus
would be exempted from other taxes which were leveled on domestic
sales and income. From then on export sales would be looked at as
sales outside the U.S.A., not subject to direct U.S. taxation. For the
purpose of that law, American territories which are not states, such
as Guam and Saipan, were considered foreign locations.
In our case that would give us the benefit of having a “foreign
location” yet still, being in the U.S., territorially protected, operat-
ing from a U.S. Dollar base, while being physically located in the
middle of our fastest growing market, Asia. Saipan is less than 3

hours flying time from Narita, Tokyo’s airport, while it may take
you longer to drive across town in Tokyo itself. Thus the location of
Saipan had everything going for it, at least from our perspective. Not
to mention that Saipan was anxious to receive investors like us who’d

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move their operation to its shores. Our Foreign Sales Corporation


was incorporated in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana
Islands on December 13, 1984 and started operations as the CNMI's
first Foreign Sales Corporation on January 1, 1985.

The Local Climate


A separate book could be filled with the eye-opening experiences
gathered while working out of Saipan. Suffice it to say that, in spite
of the new law’s lofty purpose, the reality of the situation was that
Saipan was not ready to support what, to the local government and
community, seemed strange and foreign businesses. Nor did the U.S.
Congress stay the course. Political pressure soon made those who
had voted for the Foreign Sales Corporation law in 1984 to reverse
course and take back the tax benefits granted. Result: most Foreign
Sales Corporations soon disappeared as quickly as they had shown
up. Everything was back to the status quo.
Except for us. We hung on because Saipan was a good American
location from which to cover Asian markets, and we were in it for the

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long run, not just for a tax quickie and run. That’s why even today
our company is still there, and it is doing well, although most of its
activities are really conducted offshore Saipan, directly in the markets
we cover, particularly Japan. In a way, you can consider Saipan a
part of Japan. It is very much so economically. The language spoken
and read most prevalently, for instance on all the menus in Saipan
restaurants, is Japanese. Thus working from Saipan is like working
in and with the rest of Japan while in fact doing so from American
soil, following American laws.
Right from the start we not only put our company on Saipan, but
Hildegard and I moved there since covering Asia was our top prior-
ity. We signed a long term lease for a lot where we built our Saipan
office-home. It’s right on the water’s edge where, on dawn of June
15, 1944, the U.S. 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions began the Saipan
landing on a four mile stretch of beach. Our lease expires in 2054.
Much has happened on that blood soaked land, and it still is. Also,
it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The sunsets into
the Philippine Sea are nowhere as magnificent as here, with a green
flash in the very last moment before the rim of the sun sinks away.

Promise and Predicament


Saipan is at the edge of the Marianas Trench, which is the deep-
est point on earth where the ocean is the deepest. If the elevation of
Mount Tapotchau (1,545 ft = 515 m), the highest point on Saipan,
were measured from the bottom of the ocean, it would be the world’s
tallest peak, higher than Mt. Everest in Nepal.
By the way, the Marianas Trench and the surrounding waters of
Saipan are among the world’s most shark invested waters. Yet the reef
surrounding Saipan keeps the sharks away from the beaches. Thus
Saipan can serve as a metaphor. The most beautiful things in life are
often surrounded by deep trenches and plenty of sharks. If you want
to enjoy the one, you need to be able to deal with the other.

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Chapter Eleven

How Come Singapore?

Super-typhoon Kim
Because of good advance warnings from Saipan typhoon-watch
we had our buildings shuttered, sandbagged and emergency sup-
plies laid in the house. Then late on Wednesday, December 3, 1986,
super-typhoon Kim lashed into Saipan with torrential rains and
winds exceeding 200 m.p.h.. That’s not your everyday storm, but
as seen through the eyes of my dear wife, was comparable to the
bombardment she went through during bombing raids in WW II
Frankfurt. While we were trying to stop water flooding the house,
which was being forced in through cracks under the door and every
other possible avenue inside, Hildegard said that if she had known
that there would be hardships such as this super-typhoon, she would
never have come along to Saipan.
First thing that happened was that the power went off — island
wide. Next thing, the telephones went dead. Our 17 ft. dish antenna
for independent communications had been turned flat to better with-
stand the typhoon’s onslaught. Now it served like an open garbage
can for the collection of trees and debris the storm was depositing
in it. The standby 40 kw Perkins generator we had ordered from the
Estuary Works in Felixtowe , England, as our own power source for
precisely situations like this, was still on the high seas and wouldn’t
be delivered until many weeks later.
We had built our office and home from concrete throughout,
with typhoon exposure in mind. A good part of the local population,
however, lived in simple wooden structures, several hundred of which
were either blown away that night or washed out to sea. There was
no more public water supply, and it took the authorities six weeks
and longer to re-establish power and water again. All the trees on
the island lost their leaves that night. What before was impenetrable
rain forest was totally defoliated and suddenly looked like a ghostlike
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wilderness.
Not to mention the broken-down power lines, flooding sewage,
homeless, drowned boonie dogs, and the much higher than normal
ocean level which now had submerged the protective reefs while
heavy waves were still going strong. It was in that ocean where we
went to clean ourselves up the next morning, soap in hand, and big
fish swimming around us. Our roof had held, the typhoon shutters
could come off the windows. Everything was still wet inside. The
refrigerator, air conditioning, communications — everything, was
dead. And it was going to stay so for a while.

Sorting Priorities
As much as we were prepared, we were not sufficiently prepared
for such a gargantuous storm and the inability of the local govern-
ment to deal with it. This meant that we needed to make ourselves yet

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more independent from local infrastructure, which we did, eventu-


ally. Nowadays, our complex is pretty much self-sufficient. Although
it is hooked up to the island’s public service providing electricity
and water, we do have our own generator house with lots of fuel on
hand. We do have our own water supply which we collect in large
cisterns from the roofs and then filter it. In addition to the diesel
power generator we have solar panels on the roof which provide the
uninterrupted power for our computers. Thus, also, communications
no longer is a problem.
But in early December 1986 things moved very slowly on Saipan.
The government had priorities other than ours, primarily to take care
of people who had lost their homes, trying to prevent health epidem-
ics because of the non functioning of the sewers, at the same time
trying to get drinking water back to people’s homes, and of course
trying to put the power grid back together again.
We did what we could, but then there’d be just time to wait, for
instance until our generator would finally arrive. And even for that
we didn’t need to sit there waiting. Therefore, we pulled up a trip we

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had scheduled for a later date, and on Sunday, December 14 took a


commuter flight to Guam to catch Garuda Air Indonesia’s #803 to
Singapore via Jakarta.

Getting There
We had a reservation at the Raffels Hotel in Singapore. As it
turned out, however, we didn’t get there that night, thus forever miss-
ing the chance to stay at Singapore’s most famous old Raffels Hotel
before it was renovated and now, again represents Singapore in new
splendor. Instead, we spent a very short night at Hotel Horison on
Jalan Pantai Indah in Jakarta, because Air Indonesia had been late,
and the Jakarta connection to Singapore had been diverted to flying
pilgrims to Saudi Arabia in celebration of Ramadan.
One day late, we did get
into Singapore and stayed
at the newly opened Westin
Stamford and Westin Plaza
Hotel in Raffles City, across
the street from the Raffles,
in the most modern comfort,
airconditioning and commu-
nications working, water to
drink from the tap… a long
way from Saipan, back in the
bustling world.

Efficient, Well-run,
Business-Friendly
Our plan was to move
most of the physical activity
of our Export Sales Corpo-
ration from Saipan to either
Hong Kong or Singapore, in
the middle of our Asian mar-

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kets. Both Hong Kong and Singapore were ideally suited for hosting
a foreign sales corporation. They were almost the opposite to Saipan.
They offered a well educated multilingual workforce with high per-
formance standards. The infrastructure was well established, for ex-
ample, with fiber optic communication lines to the curb throughout
Singapore. Transportation was no problem. You could catch a flight
to almost anywhere, any time, and also get back. Both city states were
well connected to their neighboring markets, Hong Kong to China,
Singapore to Malaysia and Indonesia.
I had been to Hong Kong and Singapore before many times on
business trips and had done our homework. Although there were
many benefits from locating in Hong Kong, which was scheduled to
become part of China again in 1997, we decided on Singapore, for
it was more independent, free and democratic, clean and efficient,
the ideal base for a business.
At the December 1986 visit Hildegard and I took the steps for
opening our Singapore office and to buy an apartment to live in there.
Both materialized eventually, the office was opened first thing in the
new year. We acquired our personal residence condo on the top floor
of Centre Point on April 13, 1988 and had grown sufficiently to buy
our first fee simple real estate office within walking distance at 545
Orchard Avenue on September 2, 1989. Straube Center now had a
base in the center of Asia.

Living by Their Wits


We’ve never regretted it. Singapore is the best place we could
have chosen. We could never have had a better team of employees to
work with, or a government more supportive in letting us pursue our
business. Singaporeans are survivors. They have no natural resources,
3 million people on an island the size of Manhattan, surrounded
by developing nations where everything is comparably backwards
needing investment and nurturing. Singapore realized from the start
that her people are her only resource, the pursuit of excellence its
only chance of being world competitive. And excel they do, based on

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rigorous multilingual education with emphasis on science, technol-


ogy and finance. Singapore has more national gold reserves than
the United States. She has no national debt, could actually run her
government for over four years without taking in another penny in
tax revenues. Therefore Singapore is able to roll with the punches
when necessary, and come out fighting strong.
Just one example: The annual net tax payment on a 30 sq/m = 323
sq/ft fee simple piece of commercial property owned by us in 1994
was US $1,800.00. In 1997 when a deep economic recession hit Asia,
including Singapore, and many other governments devalued their
currencies and scrambled for tax revenue, Singapore, on her own,
reduced the annual tax on the above property to US $388.80. As the
economy turned around, for the year 2000 the payment was back
up to US $965.70. During the height of the recession the Singapore
government reduced everybody’s paycheck on the government’s
payroll by 10% and encouraged industry to do likewise. Singapore
knows that you need to adjust when the world around it so demands,
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and then come back strong. Needless to say, there is no capital gains
tax in Singapore. There are no welfare rolls in Singapore either, for
the state stays out of trying to micromanage its society’s personal
lives. Instead, it strengthens families to take care of their own and its
individuals to thrive. The mission of Singapore is to be a Global City
with total business capabilities, an Intelligent Island, and it is.

Following Thomas Stamford Raffles’ Footsteps


Mind you, it wasn’t always so in Singapore. Only its strategic
location and people made it that way. Located about 110 km (70
miles) north of the equator, the nation has a tropical, wet climate. The
average temperature in January is 26 degrees C (79 degrees F) and
in July, 28 degrees C (82 degrees F); rainfall totals 2,413 mm (95 in)
annually. Since Singapore lies almost on the equator, its temperature
and precipitation are distributed quite evenly throughout the year.
A town named Temasek existed on the island as early as the 11th
century. The name Singa Pura (Sanskrit for "city of the lion") was
given by Sumatran settlers in the 13th century. During the 13th and
14th centuries this was a prosperous city. It was destroyed, however,
by the Javanese in 1377, and the island remained almost uninhabited
until the beginning of 1819.
That’s the year when Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles arrived from
Britain to establish a trading station under an agreement with the
Sultan of Johore and the Temenggong (governor) of Singapore.
Raffles saw the strategic advantages of the location and urged Brit-
ain to purchase the territory. In 1824 it was established as a major
British trading post in Southeast Asia. It was ceded by treaty to the
East India Company in perpetuity, and in 1826 it was incorporated
with Malacca and Penang to form the Straits Settlements. Chinese
and Indian traders, Indian indentured laborers, and Malays began
arriving in large numbers, and the population increased rapidly. By
1836 the Chinese outnumbered all other groups. In 1836 Singapore
became the capital of the Straits Settlements, which were adminis-
tered by the East India Company until 1867, when they passed under
the direct control of the British Colonial Office, thus becoming a
British crown colony.
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That British Crown Colony was composed of Singapore Island,


some adjacent islets, and Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. The
Cocos, or Keeling Islands, formerly under the jurisdiction of Singa-
pore, were transferred to Australian administration on Nov 23, 1955.
The city of Singapore remained as the capital of the colony.

Japanese Occupation, Malayan Expulsion


While Singapore’s prosperity continued undiminished, in the
1930’s a supposedly impregnable British naval and air base was es-
tablished on the island. Its strength was tested when, simultaneously
with the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Japanese
launched a major air assault on Singapore December 8, 1941. (The
difference in dates results from Honolulu being on the other side
of the international date line, Sunday in Hawaii was Monday in
Singapore).
Shortly thereafter, in February 1942, the British fortress of Sin-
gapore succumbed to another Japanese surprise attack, this time on
land from the Malayan mainland. The designers of fortress Singapore
had considered the Malayan jungle impenetrable, and therefore had
left that side of the island unprotected. As a result, the Japanese were

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able to cut off the drinking water supply to Singapore island which
was coming in from Malaya across the causeway. The largest British
army ever to surrender did so here in February 1942. Only towards
the end of WW II was Singapore recovered by the British, in 1945, and
in 1946 became a separate crown colony. Internal self-government

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began in 1959, and in 1963, Singapore became a semi-autonomous


state within the Federation of Malaysia.
Malaysia eventually ousted Singapore because it didn’t want a
secular non-Muslim Singapore in its union. On Aug. 9, 1965, (now
Singapore’s National Day) Singapore was separated from Malaysia
and became an independent republic. Since 1959, politics has been
dominated by Lee Kuan Yew, head of the People's Action Party (PAP),
prime minister from 1959 to 1990. The government committed itself
to multiracial harmony, stability, and economic modernization. Aided
by the pursuit of these policies Singapore became an industrial and
financial power with one of the highest standards of living in Asia.

Paradise Beckoning
Our December 1986 mission in Singapore accomplished,
Hildegard and I left the city early Sunday morning, December 21,
1986, and flew to Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. While working from our
base in Singapore we would continue this practice of going to Bali
that time of year for the following 9 years. In Bali we usually stayed
at the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel to recuperate from the stresses of the
year, far removed from the Christian world’s commercial Christmas
hullabaloo, for Bali is almost exclusively Hindu. We spent the days
visiting places such as the Mother Temple Pura Besakih on the slopes
of Mount Agung, Gianyar, Bali’s weaving center, Klungkung, the site
of the ancient Kerta Gosa “Hall of Justice” with its painted ceiling
depicting the punishments in hell and the rewards in heaven. We saw
the village of Mas, and, of course, Cibud, the artists colony, Celuk,
the village of woodcarvers, silver and gold smiths and many more
uniquely Balinese places. Each year, of course, we’d include one or
more visits to Pasar Badung, Denpasar’s central market, haggling
for Balinese cloth and art.
On Hanukkah that year, Saturday, December 27, 1986, we said
goodbye to Bali and flew back via Manado and Guam to Saipan. A
new phase in our life had begun.

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Home for the Heart?


One may wonder, if I think
that Singapore is so great, why
wouldn’t I rather be a Singa-
porean by choice? For many
reasons. First of all, Singapore
doesn’t want me or people
like me. I don’t fit their racial
purity profile. So far, the Sin-
gapore government has been
bent on maintaining a racially
homogenous society, which
is about 76% ethnic Chinese,
15% Malay, 7% Tamil Indian,
and 2% other. Furthermore,
Singapore would consider me
too old. After all, I was 57 years
old in 1986, and the prevailing
Chinese perception was that 55
years is one’s desirable retire-
ment age. Today’s Singapore
doesn’t believe in “give me your
tired, your poor, your huddled
masses yearning to breathe free…” Singapore couldn’t afford it. It
would be overwhelmed with people from Bangladesh and other
places, near or far. Thus, Singapore has to restrict its growth from
the outside to a process which might be similar to creating and nour-
ishing a test tube baby. It’s very artificial and hopefully will bring the
desired results for the city state. At the same time, it becomes a rather
sterile place, shutting out many of nature’s miracles. For instance, the
continuous rejuvenation which the United States undergoes through
its ongoing influx of new blood and ideas. The U.S.A. are what they
are because of immigrants, the children and children’s children of
healthy, ambitious immigrants adding new perspectives and energy

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to the pot, raising the level of fortuitous outcome for all. That’s where
I belong and am at home, here — in the U.S.A.

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Chapter Twelve

The End of Sogo Shosha’s

Author’s Note:
Very much like the “Moneymaking Machine”
chapter, “The End of Sogo Shosha’s” belongs in this
volume at this place for technical completeness’ sake,
giving names and connections to readers looking at the
technicalities of our international business. But you
won’t miss a step in the action of the prime characters
when you skip this chapter and go right on to the “75th
Birthday Celebration, With a Twist,” which leads to a
tightly held, deep secret of my family. The secret would
still be in place if it were not for this publication.
WS

Pegasus over time became what the Japanese would call a Sogo
Shosha, an international trading company, with holdings in related
companies: some of them manufacturers, others service providers, all
of them interconnected to maximize profits in the process of creating
products and moving them into the hands of customers around the
globe. However, times keep changing.

Blossom Time
A leading American forerunner of Pegasus was
Rocke International Corporation at
Rocke International Building
13 East 40th Street
New York 16, NY
In 1951, Rocke International was the exclusive export house for
the following leading American companies—among many others:

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Rocke Associated Factories


Electrical Products
1 Allen-Bradley Co. Motor Controls
2 The Louis Allis Co. Industrial Electrical Motors
3 The Hoover Co. Kingston-Conley Division Fractional horse-
power Electrical Motors
4 Bulldog Electric Products Co. Switch-Gear & Distributing
Systems for Electric Power & Light
5 Arthur Colton Co. pharmaceutical manufacturing & pack-
aging equipment
6 Lynch Corp. packaging machines
7 Jack & Heintz inc. Rotomotive equipment for aircraft
Electronics Broadcast-TV Radio Communications
1 Gates Radio Co. AM, FM, TV Broadcast transmitters, studio
& speech input equipment
2 Amperex Electronic Corp. transmitting x-ray & industrial
vacuum tubes
3 Ampex Electric Corp. High fildelity magnetic tape recorders
4 General Precision, TV cameras & studio equipment
5 Link Radio Corp., Mobile & relay FM communications
equipment
6 Stainless Inc., Broadcast & TV antenna towers
7 Audio Devices Inc., Recording tapes, Discs & Needles
8 Astron Corp., Fixed radio receiving & transmitting capaci-
tors, motor capacitors
9 Potter & Brumfield, Relays
10 General Industries Co., Phonograph motors & assemblies
11 Electro-Voice, Inc., microphones, high fidelity speakers
12 Hammarlund Manufacturing Co. Inc., communication
receivers & radio transmitting components
13 Heath Co., electrical measuring instruments, amplifiers,
broadcast & short wave receivers in kit form

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14 Webster electric Co., EKO-tape recorders, phonograph


pickups, teletalk intercommunication systems
15 National Union Radio Corp., radio receiving & TV picture
tubes
16 United Transfomer Corp., transformers for all electronic
purposes
17 Utah Radio Products Co. Inc., loudspeakers, output trans-
formers
Instruments
1 Nuclear & Atomic
2 Basic Research
3 Production & Quality Control
4 Service & Test
Refrigeration and Airconditioning
1 United States Air Conditioning Corp., self contained air
conditioning equipment, unit heaters
2 A-P Control Corp., refrigeration valves, automatic controls
for gas & oil burning appliances
3 The Bush Manufacturing Co., commercial & industrial air
conditioning & refrigeration equipment
4 Lehigh Manufacturing Co., Refrigeration Division, condens-
ing units open type & hermetic
5 Penn Controls Inc., automatic controls for refrigeration, air
conditioning, heating pumps, air compressors & engines
6 Wolverine Tube Division, non ferrous seamless copper tub-
ing
Rocke International Branch Offices were located at:
1 Rocke International Corp. 72 Ave Des Champs Elysees,
Paris France
2 Rocke International Ltd. 59 Union St., London England
3 Rocke International Limited 23 Rue Philippe de Champagne,
Brussels Belgium.
4 Rocke International Co. Via Cesare Battisti 2, Torino Italy

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5 Rocke International India Ltd. Connaught Place, New Delhi


India
6 Rocke International India Ltd. 71 Queens Rd., Bombay 2,
India
7 Rocke International India Ltd. 4 Chowringhee Place, Cal-
cutta 13, India
8 Rocke International India Ltd. 7 Woods rd. Madras 2, In-
dia
9 Rocke International De Mexico S.A. De C.V. Articulo 123,
No 122 D Mexico I.D.F., Mexico
10 Rocke International De Cuba S.A., Trocadero 212, Havana
Cuba
11 Rocke International De Venezuela C.A. EDF. Paris Plaza
Candeiaria, Caracas Venezuela
12 Rocke International Do Brazil LTDA., Rua Marques ITU.,
58 Sao Paulo Brazil
13 Rocke International Do Brazil LTDA., Av 13 DeMaio 23
S/934, Rio Dejaneiro, Brazil
14 Rocke International Corp., Calle 3A Sur 1067, Sanjose
Costa Rica.
15 Rocke International Corp., Graham & CIA Florida 165,
Buenos Aires Argentina
16 Rocke International Corp., Suite 1010, 10th Floor 1625 Eye
Street N.W., Washington D.C.
Arthur Rocke had started it all from scratch. He was a wonder-
ful guy, the ideal Yankee trader. Arthur spent a lifetime building
his empire, most of his own time overseas sipping tea with sheiks in
what is now OPEC country, dining with generals in South America
selling them radio transmission towers and transmitters, in Europe
and Asia, wherever American technical products could be sold. The
Rocke International Building at 13 East 40th Street in New York City
sported a fancy bar on its top floor which could have served in any
Hollywood mogul set. That’s where you could find Arthur with his
international guests, working up deals when they were in town.

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The Ways of a
Winner
Rocke Interna-
tional raked in mon-
ey beyond Arthur ’s
wildest dreams. He
turned it over to his
stock brokers to invest
in the market, rarely
checking up on how
he was doing. After
all, Arthur was an
extremely busy man,
and hardly there at
his headquarters.
No wonder that his
brokers churned
Arthur ’s accounts,
selling and buying all
the time, which meant
fat commissions for
them, and hopefully
a gain for Arthur. As
it turned out, how-
ever, over time, while
the stock brokers got
rich on serving what
seemed to be Arthur’s needs, the value of Arthur’s stocks declined.
When Arthur finally woke up to what was going on, he cashed out,
but at a deep loss.
That was the moment when Jack Cleary, one of the Pegasus Inter-
national directors, introduced Arthur Rocke to me, in 1975. Arthur
had grown old and his company was pretty much on the rocks now.
The more successful he had been in establishing foreign markets for

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his American factories, the sooner they became convinced that they
could carry on without the middleman Rocke International. Thus
Rocke International lost more and more of its illustrious sources. A
few remained, but it would take a lot more effort, including invest-
ment in overseas endeavors, to continue selling their products com-
petitively overseas. The rest of the world had come back from the
war and the pressure was on to bring prices down, for there was now
fierce international competition. Export companies, such as Rocke’s,
were now seen as middlemen whose margin added to the price of
a product. Only if that margin was going to be less than the cost at
which a manufacturer could do the same job, was the exporter kept.
More and more international marketing became the direct business
of the manufacturers, especially the large ones.
There was lots of spunk left in Arthur Rocke. He had reached the
point where he wanted to sell himself and whatever business remained
from his company. Pegasus was going strong, and we took him on,
including whatever accounts he brought along.

End of an Era
In the long run, the overall trend also applied to Pegasus. In the
1980s and early 1990s, the more successful we were in establishing
overseas markets for our clients, the more they eventually decided to
cover these markets themselves. There were exceptions, though, all
of which came down to the cost difference in covering and servicing
these markets. If Pegasus was able to do the job for the manufacturer
at less cost than the manufacturer itself was capable of, then Pegasus
had a chance to hang on to that business. Some of it went back to the
factories nevertheless because of somebody’s pride there. It became
now fashionable for everyone to become his own global marketer.
And then, in the mid-1990s, came the Internet, the world no
longer a Babel of languages with markets continents apart. The true
global village was here. The concept of “exports” became almost
irrelevant as practically everything could be bought from anywhere
at the click of a mouse.

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An era had ended. Death and/or transformation was ahead for


what had been export companies before. Ever so swiftly, in Japan,
Sogo Shosha's became Kokusai Sogo Kigyo, which means interna-
tional general enterprises, concentrating their efforts in telecommu-
nications, research and development, and consulting, evolving into
a totally different business.

Life Recycles
Pegasus International Corporation was dissolved by its sharehold-
ers on June 28, 1994, after 43 years of successful operation, and every-
body was paid out. However, a new birth took place simultaneously.
Straube Centers International redefined the business to service for-
mer Pegasus customers via a new Internet format. The management
of it, and all operations, moved out of the U.S.A. to our Singapore
office, establishing a global distribution and servicing center. It is a
24 hour, 7 days a week fulfillment center in all languages, accessible
to, and supplying all countries around the globe.
Via email, fax and phone connections, customers now place orders
any time from anywhere with assured turn-around response. Custom-
ers access available stock data via a special web site, thus check and
obtain information on backorders, shipping details, etc. Shipments
from anywhere to anywhere are handled by Straube Center Asia’s
fulfillment center. For example an order originating in Venezuela gets
shipped from the U.S., but processed electronically — or if necessary,
by knowledgeable employees — at the Straube Fulfillment Center in
Singapore. All this is possible only because of high speed electronic
connections, instantaneous information exchange unimaginable at
the time of Arthur Rocke. Often times neither the customer nor the
supplier are aware that they are dealing with Singapore, since, for
them, the transaction is local. The new world of global village mar-
keting is here, a new life has begun.
New vistas are opening, and everything moves a lot faster. For
instance, Straube Center Singapore also is the fulfillment center for
intellectual property, such as software and the translation of elec-

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tronic presentations, particularly in Asian languages.


To view details, the Straube web site www.straube.com has more
information in the following categories: Fulfillment Center, Software,
Straube Center, Health Products, For Sale Items / Auction, Fine Arts,
as well as Available Space at Straube Center NJ USA, Other Services,
Executive Profiles, the Straube Foundation, and more.

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Chapter Thirteen

75th Birthday Celebration, With a Twist

Family Get-together
It was a catastrophe, according to several of the participants at
that meeting in Arnsberg, Westfalen on Saturday, January 23, 1988.
Little did they know the extent of it.
Uncle Helmut’s own father, my paternal grandfather, died when
he was 66 years and 9 months old, many of the ancestors before him
at an earlier age yet. For Uncle Helmut, therefore, 75 years was an
accomplishment. It was a once-in-a-life opportunity to celebrate, to
look back and share and look at so much that needed perspective.
January 20, 1988, a Wednesday, was Helmut Straube’s 75th
birthday. For the convenience of friends and relatives, however, the
official celebration was held on Saturday, January 23, 1988, at a
small hotel in Neheim-Hüsten, a small town maybe 15 minutes by car
west from Arnsberg. Helmut and Gerda, his wife, had made every
effort to invite close relatives, including those from far away, to join
in making this a memorable family occasion.

Festive Setting
The party started with a sumptuous luncheon at the hotel. In
the afternoon it moved to the Straube’s large residence in Arnsberg.
Uncle Helmut had prepared well for all aspects of the meeting.
Not only stocking up with delicious food and wine at home, he also
planned to talk to the group about the past, disclose details he had
never disclosed to anyone before. That revelation was likely to be
shocking or enlightening, depending on whose opinions were going
to be aroused. But it was time for the facts to be known. The rest of
the clan should know the truth. He prepared his speech well.
Never did he anticipate what was to happen that evening. Almost
everyone who was expected had shown up, even from afar, including

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my sister from Dresden with her spouse. Making that trip at the time
was not easy since East Germany was a separate country then, and
special permission had to be sought, which was rarely granted, from
the Communist regime for visits to the capitalist West. Nevertheless,
somehow, my youngest sister’s brother did receive East German gov-
ernment permission to attend, and take her along. In contrast, my
brother, also living in East Germany, and his wife, were not granted
that privilege. My West German sister, however, and her daughter,
Martina (24), were able to attend. Living in the West, they didn’t need
anybody’s permission. And also present, of course, were Helmut Jr.
(45) with his wife Gabriele, and Ingrid (42), the children of Gerda
and Helmut, both living in West Germany.
Hildegard and I, although warmly invited, did not make it, for
we couldn’t fit it in our schedule. Actually, Hildegard was in Saipan
while I arrived from Tokyo in New Jersey the day before, on January
22, 1988, and was in our head office there that day. Thus we missed
the disaster, but the waves travelled to us, too. In retrospect, I regret
very much that I wasn’t in attendance that night, for I would not have
allowed the disaster to happen. At least, I would have stood up for
Helmut and let us all hear what he had to say.

Scuttled Announcement
It happened at the end of dinner in Uncle Helmut’s home Sat-
urday night, while he, the honored guest, presided over his brood
at the table. Helmut put down his napkin and wanted to start his
speech. But the visitors were restless, deeply engrossed in all kinds
of unrelated conversations. The most restless were his own children,
Helmut Jr. and Ingrid, who thought that they had heard it all before,
many times, again and again. For example, that during their father’s
youth, every member of the household participated in earning a liv-
ing, that Helmut as little boy had a route for fresh baked buns from
his parents’ bakery to be delivered to customers before breakfast,
which he did before going to school. Helmut Jr. and Ingrid didn’t
want to hear all these old stories again. They showed their lack of

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respect as well as a definite shortcoming of whatever relationship


they had with their father.
Uncle Helmut, however, knew that he really had something new-
for-them to say and it was his day, after all, to bring it out. Totally
ignoring his wishes, though, his own kids, who were gronwn-ups
in mid-life themselves now, became quite unruly. Exasperated and
overspilling with emotion, Ingrid walked over to the adjoining room
where her mother had a collection of unique porcelain plates hang-
ing. Ingrid grabbed one of those plates off the wall, charged back
into the dining room stopping in front of her dad, shouting at him
that she didn’t have to take this any more, and smashed the plate on
the floor in front of him.

Sad Conclusion
Everybody gasped. End of the attempted speech. Aunt Gerda
turned to the guests to usher them out of the house. The party was
over, though Martina stayed at her mother’s side and didn’t want
to leave that abruptly. She thought that Uncle Helmut should have
sensed that the congregated guests were going to be bored with his
old stories. Herbert Wiegand, my brother-in-law from Dresden, was
embarrassed to no end, and disgusted with the way Uncle Helmut’s
children were treating him. Yet nobody stood up for the celebrant.
Not even his own wife, who rather acted as if the happening could
be wished away.
Like after a funeral, everybody left, some of them very angry,
most of them deeply saddened, yet vital facts not disclosed as if bur-
ied with the corpse. The visitors went back to the hotel in Neheim-
Hüsten where they were booked for the night. On Sunday, January
24, 1988, they departed for their respective home towns. In Arnsberg
that evening it started to snow.
However, that is not the end of the events as they unfolded. The
truth always wants to come out, and it did, only at a later time, not
to the group for which it was intended but to Uncle Helmut’s nephew
who wasn’t able to make it that night: me.

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Chapter Fourteen

Wrong Blood

Last Face to Face Meeting


Two years later, on the way back from Singapore to the United
States, Hildegard and I came via Germany for a brief business stop-
over from May 16 to 25, 1990. It so happened that Thursday, May 24th
that year was Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt), a legal holiday
in Germany, also that year Fathers’ Day there. We used it for a visit
with Uncle Helmut and Aunt Gerda at their home in Arnsberg. This
was the last time we met, for Uncle Helmut died on August 20, 1991.
Nobody knew then, of course, what the next year was to bring.
Coming from Frankfurt/Main airport via Hagen that day, our
train arrived in Arnsberg 11.49 am. Uncle Helmut was waiting at
the station and brought us home where Aunt Gerda had prepared a
delicate luncheon. Everybody had a great time. We exchanged family
updates. The Berlin wall had fallen the year before, and practically
every East German member of the Straube family had shown up in
Arnsberg since then, many of them just to collect the free cash stipends
of up to 100 German Marks per person offered by West Germany
communities to Easterners in celebration of reunification.
Later on, Aunt Gerda served the traditional afternoon coffee and
cake. For Uncle Helmut it was just like old times and he enjoyed it.
He took us back to 1947 when he and I had tried to find living quar-
ters in Frankfurt/Main with little success. Noticing that Aunt Gerda
wanted to talk about things other than that, he excused himself and
me for, as he explained to his wife and Hildegard, he needed to talk
with me separately, and give the women opportunity to pursue their
topics at leisure.

Family Treasure Chest


Then Uncle Helmut took me to his study. There he showed me

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an ornate, heavy wooden chest, and its content, which consisted of a


lot of paperwork and documentation, including the letter a friend of
his on the city council of Kahla had secretly taken out of the Com-
munist Party boss’s file, (a) so that it was “lost” and (b) to give Uncle
Helmut advance notice of his arrest. It contained his denunciation
as a Free Democrat councilman who was continually opposed to the
Communist party line. Helmut subsequently was successful in fleeing
to then West Berlin, leaving his medical practice and all the family’s
belongings behind.
Helmut explained that this chest and its contents was going to
be mine after his death, and he let me read a letter to his executors
stating such. As it turned out, Helmut Jr., his son, never did turn over
the chest, nor one piece of its contents.
Helmut Sr. told me that he was disappointed in his children’s
apparent disinterest in their roots and all that goes with family
tradition, that he had always considered me like a younger brother
(we are only 16 years apart, the closest link between his generation
of the family and the next), and that he was proud of my progress
upholding the Straube record of hard work, courage, commitment
and accomplishment. If someone was to be the standard bearer for
the ancestors’ values, it was I, and he hoped and wished that I would
carry the family torch and pass it on.

The Rules of the Day


He said that this could be the last face-to-face conversation we
might have and he wanted me to know a few things which were
weighing heavily on his mind, but which he had never disclosed to
any one, nor had anybody to share them with. He had thought of
bringing them out on his 75th birthday, but his children, as well as
the others, were not willing to listen.
Uncle Helmut wanted me to know about the secret he had car-
ried with him all his life and had sworn to my father that the two
of them would never disclose. Yet he felt that I should know now. It
would give him great relief to know that someone he loved and greatly

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trusted, who understood him, was going to share this knowledge,


maybe explain it to others at some future time. Again, this was not
supposed to be a public disclosure, and I rather should let sleeping
dogs lie, particularly since the rest of the family was obviously preoc-
cupied with everyone’s own little concerns, not the whys and hows
of the course things had taken, why in essence we are who we are
and what we are.
The North Americans were more practical in this respect than the
Europeans right from the start of their young nation. They considered
anyone an American citizen who was born there, no matter his racial
origins. In Europe place of birth meant little. Instead, citizenship went
with the blood. Whatever your parents were, that’s what you were, no
matter where born. This rule actually applies still in most European
countries. One of the staunchest defenders of this principle at the
time of these events was Germany. Only more than half a century
later it has allowed limited exceptions and in the year 2000 passed a
law to permit the place of birth to determine nationality.

Building on Precedent
In the 1920s / 1930s, however, Europe, and particularly Germany,
couldn’t imagine any other way of seeing nationality than through
blood lineage. It was the perfect setting for discrimination on the
basis of race. And that was really nothing new, for that’s what it had
been since the dawn of time.
Thus, when the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazis)
gained more and more influence at the end of the 1920s beginning
’1930s, it didn’t take a lot of foreknowledge to understand that racial
background would play a bigger role in Germany soon. The way it was
going to shape up was that the purer the Aryan background you could
claim, the greater your opportunities were in the “1000 year Reich”
ahead (which eventually lasted a mere 12 years). For the others, well,
their rights were going to be less. If they were Jews, they’d heard
“Juden raus” (Jews get out!) already during the ’20s since members
of their race were blamed for profiteering from Germany’s earlier

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debacle, which meant that they should be denied participation in


Germany’s coming paradise.

Question of Race
Most German Jews, however, didn’t see themselves as Jews, ac-
tually hadn’t done so for a century or more, but saw themselves as
good Germans, coincidentally of Jewish descent. They were on the
side of Germany, not on that of its enemies. Only few Jews saw the
rise of the German swastika as a threat to their life as usual.
And what about all those in-between? Those who had Aryan
blood, but also Jewish strains, maybe Mongolian, Gipsy, Slavic,
whatever? They soon were to find out that clean Aryan blood lines
mattered very much.
Adolf Hitler, like John F. Kennedy, was elected in a free election
with a comparable margin of a simple majority. Except that, once
in power, Hitler and his supporters perverted these powers and
provoked their enemies, culminating in World War II. As Hitler’s
star was rising in Germany, anti-Semitism was rampant, cascading
towards what was going to become the holocaust. In hindsight that’s
what happened. At the time it wasn’t so clear and human hope for a
good outcome is eternal.

Skeletons in the Closet


Yet in the early 1930s Herbert Straube, my father, and Helmut
Straube, his younger brother, were very uneasy with the political
developments. They realized that Germany as a whole, not just Hitler
alone, was on a path to violent confrontation with Judaism. They
knew just by looking around them that the ascending regime was
going to deny rights to Jews which were common to everybody else,
such as going to college. They had no idea what was really ahead
and lacked the imagination of the holocaust to come.
But they knew that their ancestry research in preparation for
that new German epoch proved the Straube’s being far from pure
Aryans. They were a mixture with substantial Jewish content. Their

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forefathers had names like Eisenreich, Schoenberg, Abendroth,


Thierfelder, Pilz, Bilz, and others, all good Jewish names. Yes, most
by then were derisively called “baptized” Jews, which means that
they had run away from their original faith to adopt the prevailing
religion, or their parents had done it for them. This was the way, par-
ticularly during the 19th century, to escape what by now may appear
somewhat lesser forms of discrimination against Jews. Although they
had no choice in who their forebears were, at this point in history my
father and Uncle Helmut, representing the overall family’s feelings,
didn’t want to be Jews, didn’t want anybody to know that they had
Jewish blood pumping in their veins.

The Making of a Conspiracy


Now came the Nazi party which promised to disregard all forms
of camouflaged Jewishness and follow the bloodlines back as far as
they could go. Herbert and Helmut knew what this meant in their
case, and they didn’t want to be part of it, actually found it highly
unjust, particularly since they didn’t see themselves as Jews at all.
They wanted to be seen and judged as Germans. They, however,
realized that if they wanted to be part of the revolution, they’d have
to join not too early, but also not too late, before it could turn against
them, as revolutions often do and did, just as the French revolution
devoured its own founders such as Robespiere, and many others.
This, then, is the beginning of the conspiracy.
The two brothers decided that Herbert, my father, would join
the Nazi party and become the family’s official ancestry researcher.
This would give them two advantages: (1) it would demonstrate that
the Straube’s were part of the German main stream, and (2) it would
serve as an early warning system from within, just in case the true
bloodlines were discovered and pursued. Herbert’s task became to
find the ancestral evidence, and if need be destroy it or bend it to
appear in the desired light of the time. For the rest, act out as though
he was the good German.

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Buried Secret
Nobody was to know about this, and both Helmut and my father
were to act out the roles they decided to assume. As a result, Helmut
ended up studying medicine while his openly Jewish classmates were
denied such a privilege in Germany. End result for his brother Her-
bert Straube: My father died in a concentration camp when he was
43 years old.
Now, of course, what were for me contradictions at the time of
my early youth, especially the official party line as pronounced by
my father and his actions contradictory to it, started making sense.
Too bad that he ended up paying the ultimate price. In retrospect
it was a deadly game with fire, a Faustian pact which he was bound

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to lose one way or the other. Helmut escaped, maybe just to tell us
what happened.

More Skeletons
As the policies of the Third Reich unfolded, other incriminating
racial evidence came to light in the case of my mother. She and her
5 siblings came from a marriage of a Scandinavian woman and a
man from the East. My grandfather came from a mixture of Mon-
gols, Chinese, Huns and Slavs, precisely those people who Hitler
later determined were subhuman races (Mongols = mongolites), of
no value except maybe as slave labor. To the credit of my father and
the great relief of all concerned, he was able to extinguish all traces
of this background and destroy the evidence. Obviously nobody was
told about this, least we children, but instead everybody bought the
concocted story that Grandpa Vogt had been an illegitimate child,
his parents gave him up and didn’t want to be identified. At that
point in time couldn’t be identified any more. Luckily, my parents
got away with that.
With a cover letter from Arnsberg dated April 17, 1984, Uncle
Helmut sent me a copy of his final update of the family chronicle.
Looking it over today I notice in the epilogue a reference to his
sources, including one which reads as follows: “Those in the ‘Preface’
mentioned handwritten notes from the ’30’s were destroyed since they
were fully taken into consideration and partially written in shorthand,
which nowadays would be undecipherable.” - Aha! Now I understand
why. They were part of the otherwise incriminating evidence which
he and Herbert couldn’t afford to have around.

Attempted Coverup
There are other references in Helmut’s family chronicle which
now become more understandable, such as his pointing out that
names like Samuel were good Christian (not Jewish) names in the
1700 and 1800s. That was the last line of defense he and Herbert used
where the Jewish background showed too much. And he, of course,

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never changed his point of view, for it could have started to unravel
the entire Aryan background logic.
There’s another piece of the puzzle I never could figure out, al-
though the above might point a light in the direction. Non-Jewish
Germans didn’t circumcise their men as a general practice, and, to
my knowledge, they still don’t do so today. So, I’ve always wondered
why I was circumcised and my brother wasn’t. The difference might
just have been my being born in 1929 when the German scene was
relatively temperate, while in 1932, the year my brother was born,
the shadows of the new Reich were over the horizon, and the above
decision had been arrived at in the meantime. Whenever I asked my
parents about the difference I was told that in the olden days it was
believed that circumcision for boys improved their health. It kept
diseases away, yet that this had been found to be an old superstition,
unproven and unwarranted, therefore unnecessary and no longer
part of modern medical practices. My brother just happened to be
born in more modern times, after enlightenment.

The Truth Shall Set You Free


Well, we almost ran out of time that afternoon. The ladies had
finished their chit-chat and cleared the coffee table. Hildegard came
to the study and made us aware that the return train D-Zug 2328 was
leaving 4:16 p.m. and we better wrap it up. So we did.
Helmut took us back to the train station. Gerda came along. We
snapped a couple of pictures on the platform just before the train
arrived. I later glued them into our Reportage, thus still to look at
for whoever is interested. It was good-bye, as it turned out, for good,
also for Aunt Gerda, who followed her husband to die on January
16, 1996.
Hildegard and I sat in the dining car while riding along the Rhine
back to Frankfurt, pointing out the sights to each other guided by the
“Polyglott-Reiseführer, Der Rhein von Mainz bis Köln,” however,
going backwards in the little booklet which Uncle Helmut had given
us as a going-away present. We were riding the Cologne to Mainz

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direction. Punctually, at 7:57 p.m., punctually the fast train spit us


out at the Frankfurt/Main Airport station.
The next morning we left Frankfurt/Main at 10.00 am on
Lufthansa flight #400 to New York.

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Deep Inside
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Chapter One

Thinking of Retirement?
Forget it! Retirement is not good for you anyway. Everybody
should know that, but old myths die hard.

Wishful Thinking
I don’t know who came up with the idea that humans should have
a golden age of “retirement” at the end of their lives. Maybe when
this idea was born it was a good one and made sense. The average
life expectancy at that time must have been short, work hard. Retire-
ment at ease must have looked like a wonderful spot at the end of the
rainbow. It was an idealized state to reach, well deserved. I can hear
the politicians of the time waxing with enthusiasm. And the public
bought it. Over time the thought became so ingrained that nobody
dares to think back far enough when it might have been otherwise.
Now it’s an entitlement.
The only question remaining is when that glorious period of
retirement should start. Different cultures, different ideas. Maybe,
also, different political or economic requirements result in different
outcomes, some of them quite arbitrary.
During the 1990s in Singapore, for instance, many Chinese con-
sidered the age of 55 the correct time for starting their retirement. It
is common practice there that the children of a couple start paying
toward the support of their parents from the day they receive their
first paycheck. Not to mention that the oldest son is responsible for the
housing of the parents and for taking care of them physically as they
grow older. One of the first issues aging Chinese have been known to
discuss while sipping tea with contemporaries is “how much are you
getting from your daughter” or son—or number of children, each.
It’s a matter of pride if they can demonstrate that their children are
supporting them with high monthly stipends. At that time, US $600
per month, per child, was about the norm. Modern Singapore has
a recently confirmed law on the books compelling children to sup-
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port their parents, under which the parents can sue their children
for adequate support.
If a Singaporean Chinese who followed that thinking and prac-
tice was working beyond age 55, he or she would feel disfavored by
fate. A certain amount of shame might even go with that feeling also,
that the children are not doing as well as they should, and the fam-
ily is underperforming. The rest of the community will look down
on them.

Western Ideas
In Europe children are not expected to contribute to the retire-
ment income of the parents. On the contrary, many parents support
their children way beyond the age of maturity. I know of many in-
stances where parents
paid for the education
and support of their
offspring until the kids
were in their mid-for-
ties. The thinking
there is the opposite
of the Chinese. The
“children” expect to
be supported to the
maximum, never mind
the parents’ needs at
retirement. European
thinking is that the
state is supposed to be
responsible for most
of this, anyway, edu-
cation to retirement,
welfare from cradle
to grave.
In America, many

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retirees dare not spend their well earned money because they’d be
“robbing their children” of their inheritance. Interestingly, there
are offspring who also see it this way precisely, some who even may
sue their parents in order to get that money coming to them at an
earlier time.

Darwinism at Work
When God created man and woman, he didn’t guarantee retire-
ment. Nowhere in the universe is there such a provision. A tree grows
and eventually gets felled, or dies. An arctic wolf either survives by
living a full wolf’s life or he falls behind in catching his prey and
dies. There is no in-between. It’s either live or die. If there were a
state in-between, it might be one of just vegetating along for a short
period until death catches up. Maybe that could be called retirement,
for retirement means having given up on the pursuit of making a

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living and/or partaking in the


challenges of life. Retirement
means being passive, having
things come your way, not
being active, creating and giv-
ing.
My grandfather Richard
Straube couldn’t have worked
harder all his life—and enjoyed
it. The bakery was his pursuit.
He helped educate not only
his children, but many oth-
ers who apprenticed with him
to become bakers. He cre-
ated value whichever way you
looked, including the apart-
ment buildings discussed in a
previous chapter. His wife Lou-
ise worked with him, minding
the store, feeding and looking
after the help, bringing up the kids, and more. Her constitution was
different. As time went on and the Straubes became relatively wealthy,
she started questioning whether hard work was the only purpose of
this life. She started dreaming about that golden retirement.

Dreams Are Made of This


Her husband didn’t want to know anything about retirement.
But she kept working on him, and as the good husband he was, he
eventually gave in to the wishes of his Louise. In 1933 they retired and
withdrew to the pleasant surroundings of Dresden-Leuben at that
time. It happened to be the house of theirs I grew up in. I was 4 years
old then. The house was adjoined by acres and acres of rose fields,
owned by a company whose business was the growing of roses. The
house itself was surrounded by its own well manicured garden and

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an orchard with maybe 80 fruit trees, an area for growing our own
vegetables, a section for berries to grow, and an enclosure for chick-
ens which were producing fresh eggs every day. Next to the house,
in the garden, at the border to the fields of roses was a gazebo-like
structure, the roof overgrown with sweet grapes and decorative vines.
It was as idyllic a setting as you could imagine. Plus my grandparents
certainly had the money to afford living in this paradise.
One and a half years later my grandfather died. Yes, most people
die in retirement sooner or later. More likely, however, sooner rather
than later. Not because something was wrong in the paradise they
withdrew to, but because their own system adjusted from GO to
STOP, and the human being is not designed for that.

The Choices Are Limited


A woman turning 65 today can expect to live another 22 years,
a man, 18. As time goes on, and assuming that health conditions
continue to improve, life expectancy might increase. What a waste
of human resources and enjoyment to spend it in retirement!
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Robert Kahn, research scientist emeritus at the University of


Michigan, said: “What’s good for people is meaningful activity…
People who are productive score higher on tests of functional ability,
both cognitive and physical…”
No doubt, switching a human animal, from going for it, to passive
participation in the life process, means turning off juices that flow
within us, turning off circuits that were sparkling with energy. It’s
preparation for death. Who needs it?

As Long as it Lasts
Maybe if I contracted Alzheimer’s or another disabling disease,
I’ll have no choice but to retire. If so, so be it, and then yes, making
the best of it in the spirit of the golden years with all the care I can
possibly get is preferable to total disability on its own. Otherwise, if
I want to live, and I certainly do want to live, there is no room for
retirement. It’s the wrong idea, for sure, at the wrong time.
Thus, if you have to retire, plan ahead, do your homework, do
a tryout, prepare yourself, and then choose wisely. If you are not
capable of doing so any more, make sure that there is someone who
can do so for you.
For me, however, as long as I am able to get out of bed in the
morning and count backwards in 7s from 98 down, don’t expect me
to retire. Life is too precious and too short for that.

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Chapter Two

To Health and Happiness


According to the American Declaration of Independence, we
have “the unalienable right” to the “pursuit of happiness.”—How
about health?
During WW II, I was hoping to make it to age 32… not being so sure
at all whether I’d ever get there. I had fixed in my mind that, whatever
I wanted to achieve in this life, I’d have to have it accomplished before
my very likely demise, no later than age 32. Then, when I did reach,
for me, the ripe old age of 32, totally new vistas had opened and I set
my new aim at age 64, again not expecting any life after that.
Time moved a lot faster from age 33 on, and 64 came and went
by in a flash. Only then did I realize that life really just begins at age
65. Now time is moving faster than ever before. I am enjoying it more
yet, and turning out better results, too. I am much more experienced,
more skilled, seeing so much clearer in my mind, although my actual
eyesight has deteriorated. Metaphorically speaking, I now can move
with my little finger what took my entire hand before, and earlier yet,
the entire arm, to do. Of course, societal improvements, better medi-
cal understanding and attention, as well as technology, help. Email
speeds up communications, finding information—calling up books
for instance, and searching electronically for what otherwise would
have taken a long time by visually scanning the pages. Videoconfer-
encing cuts down on travel, yet puts us in touch and into the offices
and homes of the people we want to be with, thus making time for
travel and enjoyment of the places where we really want to be.

Finding Happiness Where?


That’s important: Places, or the place, we want to be. In my case,
I wouldn’t mind a side trip now and then, to, for example, the Blue
Grotto on the Isle of Capri. Actually I’d like to swim in the Blue Grotto
as the Roman Emperor Tiberius did after he moved there towards the
end of his life 27 to 37 A.D. Ancient accounts of Tiberius described his
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retirement in the pursuit of vice on the Isle of Capri. Serious scholars


nowadays dispute that, although I can easily imagine, for the setting
of Capri is perfect for the pursuit of a harmless vice or two. The vice
could be sheer heaven and maybe I’ll get a chance to try as… present
law on Capri forbids the swimming in the Blue Grotto. That makes
the forbidden fruit so much more desirable…
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was 35 years old when he died,
George Gershwin 38, and Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole, the legendary
singer under the name “Iz” 38 when he passed away. To give at
least one example other than people whose music I like, Alexander
the Great, the famous Macedonia King who conquered the known
world of his time, who established Alexandria on the Nile, he made
it to age 33. No more! And look at what each of these individuals
accomplished in their short life spans!
Which is to say, that if one is blessed with living three life-times of
geniuses like the above, and not having to relive one’s extreme youth
each time, think of what one person could accomplish! Contribute
to the world! And enjoy for himself.

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Disgustingly Fit!?
That’s what one of my contemporaries has been calling me all
along, disgustingly fit. But he has no idea.
During my early years and immediately after WW II, I was run-
ning scared for my life. In the age range from 33 to 64 I was running
scared for failure to perform in all that was asked of me, and more
so what I was asking of myself. But since age 65, I am no longer
scared at all, no matter what. How relaxing and at ease tasks can
be accomplished now! In hindsight, I should have been that relaxed
and uninhibited all my earlier life. How much further I could have
gone, and enjoyed it so much more!
Therefore, I can prove health is a precondition for the enjoy-
ment of happiness. If you want to go to the limit in whatever you
want to achieve, contribute, and/or enjoy, the first requirement is
robust health. Without health, it’s going to be a drag. You won’t get
very far, and others may even push you around. Nobody needs that.
Consequently, I always was aware of the fact that my body as well
as my mind need to be thoroughly tuned. No fooling around here. It
got to be the real thing.
Some people can take this philosophy to extremes and become a
Mr. Atlas or a self-centered hypochondriac, just living for their health.
If it gives them satisfaction, fine with me, but that’s no way I see my
conditioning for health and happiness. For me it’s merely the foreplay
to the real action, yet playing it all along as best as I can.

Defining the Goals Helps


In my 30s I started setting a “Personal Annual Performance Plan”
for myself, or PAPP for short. It’s amazing when I go back over the
years reading what I wrote in those plans then. Some of the themes
seem to repeat themselves over the years:
• Continue and deepen the practice of Tai Chi.
• Faithfully attend to my physical fitness program minimums:
daily exercise, daily swim or walk, depending on location, weekly
dance, monthly hiking or other extra effort.

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• Limit in my diet the intake of sugars and try to eliminate yeast.


Limit salt intake, except for salt needs in extreme heat. Let vegetables
be the main part of my food intake. Eat more fish than meat, and
only lean meats. Make sure to eat a balanced diet, yet try to eat less.
Get enough rest.

• Continually work on reducing my needs.


• Build a solid home base, emotionally and physically, to be
happy on my own grounds, regardless of interference by others.
Have a balanced approach to satisfying my emotional and physical
needs continuously, to take care of myself under all circumstances.
Be cheerful and enjoy life.
• Cultivate my relationships with personal friends. Intelligently
enlarge the circle of friends. Stay away from old fuddy-duddies.
Instead spend more time with the young and growing and follow a
continuous program for staying in touch with them.

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Age Can be Good or Bad.


It Depends on You.
Well, at my age now, oth-
ers may consider me one of
those old fuddy-duddies. But
if so, just come and let’s take
a test. The rest of the world,
and I, are still measuring my
performance against that of
others far younger than I. Age
should not be ignored—it has
little relevance—comparable
capabilities have more. That’s
why Louis Armstrong used to
sing from his experience, “you
can be old at 33.”
And experience is what
gives you the edge over the
younger set. How can someone
possibly beat a guy (or gal) with
so much more experience? It’s
almost impossible, except when
brute juvenile strength is the
comparative base. But what is
the use of all that power when
judgment and finely honed
skills make the real difference
in the outcome?
As the Chinese discovered a
long, long time ago, BALANCE
is what matters, not how much
weight you can lift or how high
you can jump. Yes, individual
one-strength records will stand

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and impress, such as in the Olympics. But for the accomplishment of


better health and happiness, they mean very little. And that’s, after
all, what we are after.
I could not be used as an example for outstanding athletic per-
formance, nor outstanding health performance. But I have survived
to what in the past was considered a ripe old age. I COULD be used
as a typical example of an ordinary individual who, in spite of hav-
ing encountered all kinds of common and uncommon problems, has
survived and is stronger and fitter now. From which follows, if I can
do it, you can do it… easy.

How Did I Stay in Shape? Physically? Mentally?


Well, I started with three great advantages.
Diet
My mother, already as a young professional in the 1920s, was a great
believer in healthy food. She knew that vegetables are better than meat,
not to mention a lot cheaper. She knew about vitamins, and grew her
own vegetable garden from which I had to bring in whatever was needed
for the next meal. We had our own fruit trees, and I’ve probably eaten
more sweet cherries, ripe, and not yet fully ripe, right from the tree, than
anybody I know of. Different kinds of apples and pears were sorted and
stored for the winter. We ate fruit year round, when it was available.
Physical Exercise
My father was a strong amateur athlete in spite of his crippled leg.
He couldn’t be a runner, but instead became a good swimmer and joined
the Dresdner Rowing Club. He took part in many regattas, and later
owned his own rowboat, “Cobra,” which was a two-seater with room for
a coxswain in the back. I learned to swim from my dad, and therefore
swam his breaststroke until fairly recently, which, nowadays is WAY out
of style, and slow. Early on, my brother and I practiced rowing on the
Elbe, and took the boat out for many a spin up and down the river.
Mental Exercise
Our family was into reading and mental exercise games from as
far back as I can remember. That included uncles and aunts, and

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grandparents, who read to us, taught us unique pieces of knowledge,


like, for instance, the “Dulufu” or L-F language, and drilled multipli-
cation tables, we children reciting them forward, backward, snapping
out the answer to “what is 7 square?” and the like.
Thus I was launched into a healthy life style to start out with, for
these three categories are what it takes to stay healthy, and go on
my way to happiness. Which, however, doesn’t mean that whoever
didn’t have that launch has no chance. Not at all! To the contrary,
those who come from backgrounds where none of the above existed,
should have so much more incentive to change to a healthy life style
once they realize what this is all about. Developing healthy habits
is the key to becoming and staying healthy, setting the precondition
for true happiness.

More on Diet
Being extremely fortunate in this department, I went from the
kitchen of my mother to that of my wife, who was, and is, super health
conscious in all respects. Hildegard learned to cook from her mother
and in school, but, as she grew up and discovered that eating healthy
is quite different from what she learned, made great efforts to study
and find what would be best for her and me. Which, by the way, means
that what each of us eats is not necessarily the same at all and most
of the time, actually, is distinctly different. For example: Hildegard’s
favorite food is natto (fermented soy beans), which is nowhere in my
diet. I, on the other hand, eat lots of poi (starchy, liquid pudding of
ground taro root), particularly for breakfast, which Hildegard rarely
touches. Hildegard likes to prepare food for me, so she says, and I,
at best, do the dishes. Wow! Lucky fellow, eh!

For those interested in a close look at my personal diet, the Ap-


pendix has a record of what I ate during a typical month, listing
everything consumed and when. In my consideration, the secret of
following an intelligent diet is this: Find out and eat what is good for
you, and make up your mind to like it. I love mine, that’s for sure.

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Exercise Choices
All through my life I kept active physically as well as mentally,
outside of what my job was or the duties I was pursuing. My body
and mind cried out for that. I needed, and still do need, both types
of exercise just to keep sane, at least so it appears to me. And what
a difference it does make!
By inclination and experience I’ve found the types of exercise
which do the most for me and give me great satisfaction. They are:
Tai-Chi, swimming, and dancing. Each individual really has to find
his or her own preferences. So, mine are in no way better than oth-
ers. They may be totally unsuitable for someone else. For me, they
worked, and keep working.

Tai-Chi
Tai-Chi, one of the martial arts, is wonderful for harnessing your
inner energy, putting you in control of your body and mind, making
you move smoothly and giving you balance. Tai-Chi can be practiced
anywhere—indoors, outdoors, together with others or by oneself. You
won’t need equipment. Nor do you have to follow a time table if you
don’t want to. Just anywhere, anytime will do.

Swimming
Swimming wakes you up and lets you swim with the turtles and
the dolphins. At least, where I am right now in Hawaii. But even in a
pool, swimming is easy to do and available almost anywhere. I swam
my entire life wherever I was, in ice cold or nicely warm water, with
others or by myself. When I get into the water, the rest of the world
stays behind and my mind is free to visit whatever topic I want to deal
with, in depth or be open to let come to me. I never swam competi-
tively, just for the fun of it, until one day in the year 2000 when my
son, who is an accomplished Ironman at least twice, pointed out to
me the Hawaiian Yearend Biathlon. Dave knew that I was a regular
swimmer and he thought of it as a family thing, doing something
together, father and son. He told me that the Biathlon could be done

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as a relay, and suggested that he would


do the running and I do the swimming.
But his was merely advance notice for
the year 2001. Accepting it as a great
idea, I, started looking at my times and
began training. At my computer club
I found a local running partner, Pat-
rick J. Moore, a devoted vegetarian.
On little notice, Patrick and I did the
2000 Biathlon as a team. Surprisingly,
we won first prize in our age class.
No doubt, now I am a competitive
swimmer, for the rest of my life. I am
grateful to my son, and proved it; It’s
never too late. Even in your seventies
you can start, as I did, working out
with the athletes, and having a lot of
fun doing it.
It seems a new door was opened: At the Senior Olympics in Hawaii
on November 17 and 18, 2001, I earned two gold and two silver med-
als, the golds in 1 km ocean swim and 50 m butterfly, the silvers in 200
m backstroke and 100 m breaststroke. But that’s not what motivates
me. Medals or no medals, I am enjoying doing the best I possibly
can, training for it, and being part of the competitive swim.

Dancing
There are many forms of dancing one can pursue. All I did and
am doing is social dancing,—Ballroom and Western, as well as Line
Dances. Social dancing allows you to float across the floor to bouncy
or soothing music with a curvaceous gal in your arms, or not, if that’s
what you prefer. Or, if no dancing partner is available, line dances will
do, which means dancing by oneself in a group, following the steps
of a leader. One of the best known melodies used for line dances is
“New York, New York.” But there are many, many more, plus they

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continuously change and evolve. Line dancing is a cheerful, happy


activity with like-minded individuals. Sooner or later, one or more
may emerge with whom you’ll be able to dance. Thus, dancing is not
just an exercise, but also very much a nice social activity.

Checklist for Healthy Living


(1) Exercise
Make it a DAILY practice, suitable to one’s needs and likes.
(2) Weight
Not too much, and not too little. Make sure the weight you have
is made up of what is needed most for a healthy body. In my case,
my personal body fat content is 8%. Find out what is best for you and
feels best for you, then get it there and keep it there. I still have the
identical weight I had the day I married, over half a century ago. So
can everyone else, if they want to, and do something about it.
After age 50, one cannot rely on one’s genes alone to do the job
of staying in shape and, as a result, keeping one’s looks. The older
one gets, the more both are the result of the person’s own personal-
ity. Needless to say, keeping one’s body in shape has many benefits
other than fitness and health, and can make life a lot brighter. Just
think of the magnetism a smart, healthy, fit, good looking person
exudes on the other sex.
(3) Smoking
Drugs, and Such: Only fools think it’s cool to be part of the smok-
ing and/or drug world. Why make those tobacco companies and other
drug lords rich? No way!
(4) Watch Out For Hypertension, High Cholesterol/Triglyceride
Levels, Diabetes
Get regular checkups. Eat right, exercise. If it takes medication
to control a condition, take it religiously.
(5) Vitamins: Take them, either by eating vegetables and fruits
aplenty, or in the form of supplements. Vitamins as part of a diet high
in vegetables and fruits is better than in the form of pills.

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(6) Stress: To be completely stress-free is to lie horizontal, face


up, with a white lily in your folded hands. So, that’s carrying it too
far. But too much stress is harmful, also. And that’s where high blood
pressure can come from, for instance, or other impediments to your
health. Therefore, if you can’t avoid it (and who can?), learn to live
with stress and how to deal with it. Some people are better at this
than others, maybe better conditioned. It’s definitely doable. The
following four checklist items will help:
(A) Music: The world without music would be a mistake. Music
makes the world go round. It’s balm for one’s soul. For me it’s like
bathing in an aphrodisiac all day, all night. I love it, must have it,
can’t be without it; plan for it, expose myself to it, and do it myself.
How about everybody else?
(B) Lifelong Learning and Practicing: Since a child, I’ve been
playing chess, and, time permitting, I could do this forever. I love
learning more about the languages I know, going more and more
into their depth. I also love learning new languages, spoken words as
well as computer languages. There is no end to it. The more I learn,
the more I realize how little I know. But the process of getting there
is fun, and it can be exhilarating.
(C) Touch: Don’t forget the most powerful means of connecting to
another person, to the rest of the world—by touching someone and
being touched. Holding hands might do, mere nearness to someone
you admire, treasure, or love, or better yet, an embrace. Receiving
a body massage will relax overused muscles, help the body—and the
mind—to fully relax, and recharge. Reflexology does the same thing
through the nerve endings in your foot. There are many, many ways.
Just don’t forget to open yourself up to TOUCH.
(D) Spirituality: People with a true sense of purpose are less
vulnerable to depression and have stronger immune systems. The
widely published Okinawa Centenarian Study of over 600 cente-
narians showed that a well-defined sense of spirituality—a higher
purpose—supported through prayer and meditation makes people
live healthier, happier, and longer lives.

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But Sometime Death Will Come


As one fifty-ish friend of mine scoffed when he had a Vodka with
his beer while I ordered a mineral water:
“Are you working on living forever?”
“Not quite,” I said, “but first of all I want to enjoy what I do, I
want my body to deal with it easily, and I want to be in top shape as
long as I am going to be around.”
“Well,” he asked, “how do you think you’ll depart from this world,
eventually? ”
“I have no idea,” I answered. “I try to live only one day at a time.
It may be all over tomorrow, who knows. But in the meantime I want
to have a good time.”
“The day will come,” he couldn’t stop pursuing the issue. “How
do you see yourself departing eventually? ”
“Well,” I said, “I don’t know and I am really not concerned. But
since you persist, I’ll quote to you what Thurgood Marshall, U.S. Su-
preme Court Justice, appointed by President Johnson, said when he
was asked by emissaries of then President Nixon, when he planned to
retire: I have a lifetime appointment and I intend to serve it. I expect
to die at 110, shot by a jealous husband."
Just for the record, Justice Marshall did die after living a full life
in all respects at age 84 in 1993, no jealous husband in sight, at least,
not to my knowledge.

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Chapter Three

Soul Searching

Curious Kid
I’ve always been curious about the shape and form of the soul.
When I was 5 years old I had heard the word “soul,” and asked
my mother: “What is the soul?” Others used the word but I had no
idea what it meant. My mother, who was a professional nurse, cer-
tainly had to know.
Mother answered: “Everybody has a soul.”
I wanted to know more than that: “But what is it? If everybody
has one, where is it in your body? ”
She said: “Nobody has ever seen it, but it’s there.”
I didn’t give up: “But you’re a nurse in the operating room. You’ve
been there when they open up people and look for things inside.
Wouldn’t someone have come across it?” In my mind I was search-
ing for something like an appendix or other anatomical part, and my
mother certainly must have known.
Mother explained: “No, they’ve looked, but nobody has yet found
a physical soul. It’s there, you just can’t see it.”
The conversation went along that line for a while and this little
boy ended up not much wiser than he had started out with, except
that there was mystery about the soul. It seemed unexplored and
unexplainable. There was a soul, each of us had one, but what was
it and how could you find it?

There is More Between Heaven and Earth...


In the meantime I’ve learned a few things. Here is my considered
answer, not in a metaphysical sense where you need to believe re-
gardless of proof, but in fact, on the basis of territory which you and
I have covered, places and points in our lives where we’ve been.
How can I be so presumptuous to know, especially since I am

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the first to acknowledge, just as Socrates, that I do know that I know


nothing? Yet this might be a splinter of the real truth: Knowing that
I know nothing is SOMETHING I do know, after all: not much, but
something. Likewise, the soul reveals itself and its existence pretty
much by what it is NOT.
My mother might have had that same answer or a better one
based on religion. But how was she going to explain this to a 5 year
old? We know 5 year olds are not particularly religious and question
everything. Well, try this:

Others Looked at This Before


Absence religion. Which doesn’t mean deny religion. Faith to
one form of religion will be a comfortable coat for a soul otherwise
out in the cold. But here we want to seek and find the soul of you
and me, and others, regardless whether we share religious beliefs,
or believe at all.
The Greeks called the soul psyche. In Latin the word was anima.
Over millennia, philosophers have argued whether the soul is some-

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thing which only humans possess or also animals, maybe even plants,
or the whole universe. Leibnitz (Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, 1646-
1716) referred to it as the “automaton spirituale.”
Gun powder was invented in China many centuries before it came
to the western world in the 14th century. The Chinese used it early
on in firecrackers and rockets. Their rocket design of that time was
the shape of a cigar with a hollow center starting, maybe one third
down from the tip of the rocket. In that hollow the thrust developed
to propel the rocket. That’s why the Chinese called it the soul, for it
was the soul which provided life and direction to the rocket.

Souls With Needs


Switching to modern times, in Singapore, August of 1989—Hil-
degard and I found a centrally located office at 545 Orchard Road
which we wanted to buy for our growing business, and eventually did
buy. We wanted to make a down payment to hold the property until
closing, but to our surprise the sellers, though anxious to sell, were
not ready to act and would not accept any money. Nor would they
sign any papers that the sale was to be consummated at a specific
time for the amount they demanded. Why not?
Because it was the month of the holy ghost. That’s when the souls
of the deceased need to be fed. Chinese believers do this by bringing
offerings to the shrines and burning paper offerings in front of their
houses and offices. Consummating a real estate transaction during
that time would bring bad luck, for it offends the hungry souls. Su-
perstition? Or are hungry souls really out there waiting to be fed?

No Soul, No Nothing
From the early Chinese rocket we’ve learned that there is nothing
physical that is the soul. Or, at least, it can be just an empty space
like in the rocket’s hollow. But it sure can get active in there. Once
the soul comes to life, there is force, power, direction, character. It
can act as a single unit or in unison with others. It’s like a computer
program, just thoughts in themselves; however, well articulated to

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move electrons and hardware.


If this applies to rockets, why shouldn’t it apply to organic matter
as well? Without a soul, all the organic cells of a plant, an animal, or
a human being are just dead, decomposing matter without life. Which
means that the soul is a force, the will, the essence of a program.
It can be asleep, even very deep sleep, such as in a stone… but it’s
there. The soul permeates matter just as gravity can, and it is able
to radiate force like magnetism. It can also be there where no matter
can be detected, such as in the hollow of the early Chinese rocket or
in a black hole in the universe.
An imprint of the soul can be left in your work, like in a picture.
As much as it can be individualistic, it’s like a drop, part of an
icicle or part of an ocean, calm or wild. It’s there, it’s alive. The soul
need not die, although it might, or at least fall into a deep, deep
sleep, particularly if it doesn’t get refreshed from new association or
infusion or is worn out.

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Souls With a Mission


Which brings me to angels, for angels are souls out there seeking
to support you, or even be called upon. In America, wealthy indi-
viduals who invest substantial amounts in new unproven Broadway
plays, are referred to as angels. They demonstrate well what an angel
is about. The angel has faith in you, supports you, is willing to risk
its own capital to make you succeed. Being proactive in your favor
is what makes a soul into an angel. The Chinese might say it’s no
longer a hungry soul, but one that is well fed.
The real angels (not those of Broadway) are souls trying to guide
you and help you in attaining your goals, as long as your goals are
intelligent, or trying to protect you from harm when they are not. It’s
because of the pull of the angels that some people can be luckier than
others and defy statistical probability. I am convinced that the an-
gels are out there.
They’ve guided
me and kept
me from harm,
again and again.
Without them I
would have died
many a time and
would have ac-
complished close
to nothing.
Actually there
are armies of
angels out there,
souls on a mis-
sion. They are
the souls of those
who have gone
before through
the millennia,

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plus others from elsewhere, programs which were begun, looking


for completion. If you can get in sync with these souls, you’ll have
tremendously powerful allies.

Sticking Around
One day your soul, presently living within you, can join them.
Thus, even what you might not be able to carry out today, you might
have a chance to help accomplish through others later on. We are
the same blood and flesh, anyway.
I personally know some of the friendly souls and angels, plucking
away for me, preparing the way, and helping to keep me from harm.
They are the souls of my mother and father, for instance, physically
long passed away, but yet so near in thought. They are also the souls
of teachers and bosses, also long dead, but the souls still around, very
actively trying to help me see what needs to be seen, to understand
and act in harmony with the universe.
There are still many more, I know for sure, reaching back through

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the ages. These souls have been working with others before, but now
they are working with me. They expect nothing physical in return,
just want to see their own thoughts realized. This is also how I am
free to adopt my own supporting souls, regardless of whether they
were previously related or not. They’ll come and support me any
time. The truth is, we are all one big family, you just need to go back
far enough. And we, in fact, can be “one heart and one soul.”

Like the Power of Mathematics


Conclusion: The soul is the inner identity of a person, a tree, a
stone… Angels are for real, not in the shape and form of allegorical
paintings, but in the power exerted by all present, active souls. Those
who deny the existence of angels do so at their own peril. They are
truly lost souls or soon will be, and that is possible, too.
Don’t underestimate the powers of the universe, and the powers
within you. The soul provides an unfathomable reservoir of strength
which everyone can tap. To do so, however, you need to be listen-
ing. Try to understand, keep your mind and heart open, be ready
to embrace the inevitable. This way you will find that we are true
soulmates and the future looks brighter because of it.

Soaking up Strength
Did you ever doubt that there is a God? You are not alone. But
once you find him or her or it, and you are connected, in your own
very special way, the power coming to you can be truly electrify-
ing.
Just open your eyes. Looking at the sky with powerful telescopes
you’ll find that the universe is continually creating new worlds and
old ones are disintegrating. Somehow, we all can agree that the uni-
verse itself is eternal, chaos, order et al. If it is eternal, then there is
no beginning and no end, or the other way around, the beginning,
as well as the end, are today.
Which is another way of saying that what you see is what you
get. Finding your soul mates and allowing them to find you builds

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strength. It doesn’t matter whether those friendly souls have body


or not. The less physical mass they have, the more they can be with
you and be there when they are needed.

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Chapter Four

The True Honeymoon

Better Late Than Never


The purpose of Hildegard’s and my going to Europe in late April
2001 was twofold: to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in the
church where we were married on May 20, 1951. And to finally have
the honeymoon Hildegard and I didn’t have then. In 1951 a honey-
moon was planned, but my job demanded otherwise. I was assigned
as interpreter to the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. and
went there while Hildegard stayed in Germany. Hildegard did the
planned trip to Italy without me in a group later that summer. How-
ever, 50 years later, we retraced the same route, together, by motor

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car. Nowadays, the route we chose would be called the “classical tour
of Italy,” or something like it.
Our itinerary included Milan, Verona, Venice, Padua, Pisa, Flor-
ence, Siena, a ride through Tuscany, along the Tiber river valley
to Naples, then Sorrento and by hydro-foil to Capri, and finally 3
days in Rome. We did the museums, saw the sights, such as Milan’s
“Duomo,” Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” the Doge’s Palace
in Venice, the Bridge of Sighs. We went to the Lido, in Pisa to the
Leaning Tower (leaning at 10 degrees), saw Michelangelo’s “David”
in Florence, visited Pompeii, in Rome the Sistine Chapel, the Colos-
seum, and many more highlights of history.
Along the way we had many wonderful tête-a-têtes, such as the
one in the Ristorante Sempione at San Marco 578 in Venice, where
we stopped for dinner on May 10, 2001, just the two of us, on a table
next to a door-sized open window, framed with live flowers, a couple
of feet above one of the canals where gondolas with happy lovers and
singing gondoliers were passing by leisurely. It couldn’t have been
more romantic and most enjoyable.

A Date With the Past


On Friday, May 18, 2001 we boarded the night train in Rome’s
central railroad station. Our reserved roomette was waiting, and the
sleeper attendant served us champagne as part of the unasked-for
service. At 7:47 p.m. the train departed on time, picking up speed
while it went north. We watched a wonderful sunset while the Italian
landscape outside was rushing by. Night fell and we snuggled down.
One hour before arriving in Basel, Switzerland, the sleeper attendant
knocked at the door, and maybe 10 minutes later served us breakfast.
If this wasn’t honeymoon service, what else could be!
Saturday, May 19, 2001, on time at 7:35 in the morning, the train
pulled into Basel. We changed to an InterCity fast train, which took
us along the Rhine, north to Mainz, then east along the river Main
to Frankfurt, again watching, this time, the south western German
landscape rush by.

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We had met with Nulf A. Schade, the current pastor of our church
in Frankfurt, before we went to Italy and had told him why we came
to Europe this time and that we wanted to attend his service on our
50th wedding anniversary. Nulf was delighted and asked whether it
would be all right if he called us to the altar after the regular service
to celebrate the event and bless us again. Of course, this was all right
with us, but little did we know, nor did he know, how this event would
play out with the congregation.

Happy Day
On another sunny Sunday morning just like 50 years earlier,
this time May 20, 2001, we came to church, together with Walter
and Elisabeth Schmitt, (a former colleague of Hildegard at the time
when we got married) and my sister Elfriede, who resided in nearby
Offenbach. This meant one witness was there from each side, the two
women also equipped with cameras ready to shoot. The large tower
bells were ringing overhead. The church was crowded, standing room
only, with an overflow of young people, parents, grandparents, little
kids shuffling in the aisles. It was the day of confirmation service.
We took our seats at the center aisle in the very last row in the back
of the church, at the central portal, which had been kept open for
Hildegard and me.
When the church bells stopped ringing, the organ started with
“Amazing Grace.” Everyone got on their feet, and the young pastor
led the procession of 19 confirmands through the portal, down the
center aisle, to the stage. The service began and had many partici-
pants. There was frequent singing, not of conventional hymns, but
well-known songs, such as “Kumbayah-my-Lord, Kumbaya,” the
pastor leading with his guitar, backed up by a choir, other musicians,
and the organ. It was like a revival meeting, lots of beat, lots of clap-
ping. One by one the confirmands were called up, briefly reviewed
for the benefit of the congregation, and then confirmed. There was
handshaking all around with parents and friends. And then, when
everybody thought it was over, the pastor quieted down the masses

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with an announcement:
“I have a very special surprise for you today,” he began. And
while a hush fell over the audience he explained that “50 years ago
this day, in front of the same altar, two young people were married,
one whose profession was listed then as student and the other as
secretary.” Nulf had looked up the church records and found some
more details which he shared with the community. “Now they live
in Hawaii” he said, and a loud sigh went through the masses. “They
are here today,” and then he asked us to come up to the altar.

Hey Jude...
While Hildegard and I slowly went down the aisle, the orchestra,
accompanied by the organ, played “Hey Jude...” my favorite Beatles
song, also their longest. How could he have known!?
The congregation spontaneously rose, clapped and cheered loudly
as we reached the altar. Tears welled, not only in our eyes. The pastor
beamed. He said a few words, gave us a copy of our wedding records
of 50 years ago as well as a certificate of the 50 year anniversary cel-
ebration, together with a book and a photograph of the feet of some
of his confirmands superimposed on the globe as seen from space.
He then blessed us, and again to uproaring applause, we returned
to our seats in the back.
Then the pastor distributed one long stemmed rose to each
confirmand, and after that came up the aisle to us to hand one
rose each to Hildegard and me. Afterward, he led the procession of
confirmands out of the church, followed by the congregation, empty-
ing the church through the center aisle, starting with the front rows,
until the church was empty. As they passed by us, people were pushing
and shoving to shake our hands, emotion still running high.

Memories Are Made of This


It was a wonderful event, a lot of crying and hugging with many
people, many of whom we didn’t know. One of Hildegard’s school
classmates happened to attend the service. Gustel Bode helps in the

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church administration. She had no idea what was up, but when she
found out, Gustel came over and introduced the community members
who lined up to us. Being in the last row, we were the last to leave
and met with the pastor and other well wishers again outside. Lots
of photographs were taken.
Eventually we were driven away to a nearby Yugoslavian restau-
rant, recommended by the pastor, where we had made a reservation
earlier, to have lunch with the Schmitts and Elfriede. And that was
it.
Two days later we flew back via Newark, N.J. to Honolulu, a long,
long flight. Upon arrival we dropped our baggage and I got into my
swim trunks, went out to the beach and swam a mile in the warm
ocean. A milestone had been passed. Welcome back to the Pacific
world! New tasks ahead.

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Chapter Five

Hawaii

Which is the Best Place on Earth?


That’s the question I was asked often while traveling worldwide
for our export business. The inquirers thought that I ought to have
come across a paradise or two. My answer always was: Wherever I
hang my hat is the best place in this world for me. I was truly con-
vinced of that, for it’s we who make up our minds to feel good about
something, to like it, enjoy it. Any place can be the best place on earth
for the person who makes it his best place. Paradise is in us, to see
and cherish. It’s in our minds and hands.
That was true until I came to Hawaii. It was not my first time, but
maybe my 20th. Flights from the U.S. to Asia used not to be nonstop
as they are today. Airplanes didn’t have that reach and they usu-
ally stopped over in Hawaii. Thus, like it or not, I’ve touched down
in Hawaii many a time, more than I can remember, and mostly at
some ungodly hours, not even leaving the airplane while it refueled.
But over time I made it a practice, particularly when Hildegard was
travelling with me, to stop over in Hawaii on our way back home,
not for a touchdown, but for a day or two of recuperation. This was
good for our bodies and minds. It prepared us for the work that was
waiting for us back home. It gave our bodies’ clocks a little more
time to adjust for the time change, and it gave our minds a chance
to put things into their proper perspectives between the Far East and
North America.
That way, over time, we got to know most of the hotels along
the Waikiki Beach, and a bit of Hawaii. We even came back for a
week’s vacation or so when we could fit it in, and on one occasion we
brought our children out to get to know all the Hawaiian islands, one
by one. It’s a wonderful place. Nature excelled itself in providing all
the amenities you could possibly want in a paradise. Gentle winds
blowing, fanning the palm trees all along golden beaches. The hula
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dancing maidens in grass skirts may be the cliche, but it’s not too
far-fetched a description of paradise. The aloha spirit is alive and
well in Hawaii.
It wasn’t always so, and the more fascinated by Hawaii, the more
I felt compelled to dig deeper and back into Hawaiian history.

Polynesia
Hawaii’s history before the Europeans arrived is shrouded in
legends. The islands were settled in the course of centuries by Polyne-
sians who were believed to have originated in southwestern Asia. Bora
easily comes to mind. The songs of Hawaii tell stories of travels in
long canoes, using stars and ocean currents as navigational guides.
It is alleged that some Spanish ships visited Hawaii in 1555. But
the first recorded European visit was that of Captain James Cook,
an Englishman, in 1778, who was killed on Hawaii’s Kealakekua
Beach in 1779.
The present Hawaiians’ ancestors were fierce seafaring warriors
who had their own slaves. Their leaders murdered those commoners
who had the audacity to violate a taboo, such as getting in the way
of an “alii’s” (royalty and noblemen) shadow. Every 5th fish caught
belonged to the chief. Women were not allowed to eat with the men.
Nobody but the “alii” could own land.
After the Europeans’ arrival, Hawaii quickly developed into a port
of call. A minor chief by the name of Kamehameha rose to power
through a series of campaigns conquering all the Hawaiian islands,
except Kauai, and by 1810, he established his sovereignty over the
group. This was the beginning of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
By then many foreigners had come to Hawaii, and in 1820 the
first group of New England missionaries arrived. They established
schools, learned the language and were the ones to reduce Hawai-
ian language to written form. A new era had started for the islands,
brilliantly described in James Mitchener’s book “Hawaii.” More on
Hawaii’s colorful past can be found in “Shoal of Time,” a history of
the Hawaiian islands, by Gavan Daws.

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Decisive Influences
Another page of Hawaii’s history was turned on December 7, 1941,
with the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor which plunged
the United States into World War II.
To give you a better sense of what Hawaii was like during the
beginning of the 21st century, here is a brief, and in no form com-
plete, description of its music, for most everyone has heard Hawaiian
music. The Hawaiian heritage builds very much on its music and
might be the easiest way to introduce anyone to the islands with the
Aloha spirit.
You may be surprised, as I was to learn, how much German in-
fluence there was, and still is, in Hawaii. I am not talking about the
commercial influence, of which there was plenty, also. For instance,
in 1848 a German ship captain, Heinrich Hackfeld, arrived in Hawaii
to go into business. Gold had just been discovered in California and
supplies were few. So Hackfeld began shipping shovels, tents and
other paraphernalia at tremendous profits. Because anti-German
sentiment was high during World War I, Hackfeld changed the store’s
name to Liberty House, after Liberty bonds. Until very recently,
everybody visiting the islands was likely to shop at Liberty House,
recently acquired by Macy’s of New York and its name changed to
“Macy’s.”
But following is a glance at some of the best known Hawaiian
music;

Lovely Hula Hands


The birthplaces of Hawaiian melodies were inspired by original
pagan chants, Christian hymns, European marching songs, sea chan-
teys, waltzes and all other forms of music, both classical and popular,
from all over the world.
From 1820, and through the end of the 19th century, the music
of Hawaii went through a period of “sounds” inspired by nose flutes,
gourds, sharkskin drums, church organs, German brass bands, Por-
tuguese strings, visiting sailors with accordions and other foreign

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influences, plus the invented instruments, the ‘ukelele, the slack key
guitar and the steel guitar.
Kamehameha V wanted a royal band like those that existed in
Europe. So, he imported a brisk little man with a sweeping mustache.
His name was Heinrich Berger, from Germany. He was called ‘Henry’
Berger in Hawaii, and eventually became known as the “father of
Hawaiian music.” His musical influence was very much felt from
1872 to 1915, even much longer, way past his retirement years, until
the day of his death in 1929, blind and frail, but surely not deaf.
Berger conducted more than 32,000 band concerts, arranged
more than 1,000 Hawaiian songs, helped compose many of them.
He himself created 75 original Hawaiian songs, many of them still
popular today.

A Talent for Music


Berger taught the Hawaiians to create the music before they cre-
ated the words — revising a Hawaiian trend. Before Berger, Hawai-
ians wrote only words to existing songs, they wrote no music. Even
Lili‘uokalani wrote “Aloha ‘Oe” to the music of an existing hymn,
“The Lone Rock By the Sea.” “Aloha ‘Oe” is Hawaii’s most famous
song. Queen Lili‘uokalani (i.e. Lydia Lili‘u Loloku Kamaka‘eha
1838-1917), who in her private life was Mrs. John Owen Dominis,
wife of the Governor of Oahu, wrote the text circa 1877. Of all the

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royal Hawaiian composers at the time, Lydia was the only one who
had any formal musical education. She studied both piano and organ
under Captain Henry Berger.
“Beyond the Reef,” another famous song of Hawaii, was com-
posed by Jack Pitman, a haole. “Haole” is the Hawaiian word for a
Caucasian. Only much later was “Beyond the Reef” translated into
Hawaiian and is now also sung in Hawaiian.
The “Kamehameha Waltz” was written by Charles E. King,
another haole, who contributed more to the Hawaiian musical de-
velopment than any other single composer.—Kalua—“This is the
night of love, the shining hour of Kalua,” was written by Ken Darby,
still another haole. “Across the Sea” was written by Ray Kinney and
Johnny Noble.
“Tiny Bubbles” written in 1966, by a mainlander, Leon Pober, is
the song which made Don Ho famous and is closely identified with
Hawaii. Now it is also sung in Hawaiian. “I am Hawaii” is the main
theme of the movie “Hawaii.” The score for the picture was composed
by Elmer Bernstein, lyrics added by Mack David in October 1966.
Anyone can see from this that many individuals from non-Hawai-
ian stock contributed significantly to Hawaiian music and, to a large
degree, created the main themes which are considered to represent
typical Hawaiian music today.

Prior Prejudice Prevails


The preference of one race over another didn’t die with Hitler. It’s
still very much alive, in many places. One of them is in Hawaii where
it’s currently popular to claim Hawaiian roots, no matter what. Maybe
I am sensitive on this subject because I know only too well from my
own family’s background how false a presumedly well-documented
lineage can be, and also that if the absolute truth could be followed
back far enough, it would lead us to the realization that we all are
brothers and sisters.
Staying with music for a moment, Keali‘i Reichel is the child of a
Hawaiian mother and a German father. His name even acknowledges

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his German ancestry, but his songs and his relationship to the rest
of the world are exclusively Hawaiian. Maybe that’s what the spirit
of Hawaii can do to people so inclined. They just claim one side of
one’s ancestry, and everything else is forgotten, or purposely swept
under the rug. Yet the fact is that we are all one human race with
lots of variations in color, shape and intellect. Whatever we choose
to be is left all up to us.
Making a racial statement, even if it is well intended or just a step
of one-upmanship, will always tend to limit one’s future development.
For instance, still staying with the Hawaiian music scene as an ex-
ample, “Iz” was a famous 800 pound Hawaiian male singer. His full
name was Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and he died of respiratory failure
on June 26, 1997, at age 38. His 17 year old daughter Ceslieanne
had a baby girl in 2000, who she named Kiara Kaleinanihiwahi-
waakawainohiaokauanoelaawehiwaonalani Parker-Kamakawiwoole.
Question: How much of a Hawaiian statement can you make and
where will it take that child?

Absorbing Aloha
Today’s Hawaii, like its music, is very much the product of many
non-Hawaiians who adopted the islands’ Aloha spirit, which in itself
is a deep felt, friendly welcome to others, closeness to nature, and the
understanding for sharing resources. However, some full blooded,
as well as other highly diluted native Hawaiians, haven’t reconciled
themselves with the way Hawaii has turned out to be today, a State
of the United States of America. In a perfect world, the acquisition
of Hawaii by the U.S.A. would have been less tumultuous and less
contentious. If today’s America could roll back the time, it certainly
would and should. One thing is for sure, though, even if the Americans
had stayed away. Hawaii would have been taken over in one form or
another by maybe the British, the Russians, the Germans, the Japa-
nese… just to mention a few of the real contenders at the time. And
if that had happened, it is doubtful that today’s Hawaiians would be
better off than they are under the “Star Spangled Banner.”

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Be this as it may, however, there is true discontent among those


“native” Hawaiians who feel shortchanged versus their non-Hawai-
ian rooted neighbors. They also point to their culture having been
neglected by the Americans. The fact is, yet, that all those Hawaiians
ARE Americans. So, what they would like to receive from America,
and are most likely going to receive one way or another, is more rec-
ognition for their culture… and money. Therefore, a group of self
proclaimed indigenous and militant Hawaiians is trying to become
a nation within a nation, just like many American Indian tribes
have become. There are actually over 500 Indian tribe nations in
the United States. They mostly live on their own reservations, pay
no federal taxes, and are among the highest welfare recipients of the
population. Some enterprising ones among them have used their
independence to build and run gambling casinos, being assured ex-
emption to otherwise prevailing laws, also being entitled to tax free
income, and they practically roll in money. Obviously, many with
the slightest claim for such special treatment are trying to obtain it.
In my opinion, however, such are short sighted steps into eventual
isolation and decline.
At the same time it has been mainly haoles who have led the
preservation of Hawaiian culture and promoted the revival of the
Hawaiian language. In 1950, the melting pot of Hawaii was made up
of 17% ethnic Hawaiians, 23% Caucasians, 7% Chinese, 12% Phili-
pinos, 37% Japanese, and 4% other. To preserve Hawaii’s cultural
heritage, over the years, many programs were started which by
today have become entitlements. Unfortunately, as elsewhere, when
government handouts become the incentive to obtain, self-initiative
declines, and anyone who can, eventually stands in line to pull down
as much government support as he can. Obviously that is not a good
practice, neither for the government nor the recipient. Nor is it likely
to continue forever.
Opposite cultures, such as those of the Israeli Jews and the Sin-
gapore Chinese, where the incentive is outperforming competitors,
thrive and grow strong. To stay with these two counter examples,
they are both thriving societies with no natural resources of their

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own whatsoever. Unfortunately, in many places around the world


where nature is blessed with natural abundance, the inhabitants do
less to advance their society. Often they complain the loudest of how
disadvantaged they are. Some of today’s ethnic Hawaiians belong in
that group. They would like to shut down tourism in the islands, let
everybody depart, and live in the Reservation of Hawaii, drawing
U.S. government subsidies for the use of its waters and air space.
Obviously, that’s a sure road to extinction, except that they don’t
see it that way. In their minds, the rest of the world should go away,
pay tribute, compensation, rent, and more, then leave them alone
to enjoy their paradise.

Crisp Criteria
So even in paradise, not everything is as peaceful and wholesome
as it could be. Maybe those militants will wake up some time and go
for the real thing instead, which is performing the American way, not
being limited to the horizon surrounding their shores, contributing to
the overall well being of the nation, including their islands. At least,
that’s the way I would do it if I were of Hawaiian descent, which, on
the surface I am certainly not, but who knows?
Instead, right now perceptions are being pursued by some who
believe they have a sufficiently high Hawaiian blood content, such
as trying to obtain free education for one’s children at the famous
Kamehameha School in Honolulu. It has a mega million endowment
from the Bishop Estate to provide the very best possible education
for all the children of Hawaiian ancestry. At this point in time, to be
considered “of Hawaiian ancestry” and thus qualify for the school,
means your blood has to be a 1/32 Hawaiian ratio or better. One
thirty-second is about 3% of your blood! Plus no proof required. All
you need is to say so. It is comparable to the year 2000 census of the
U.S.A. where anyone could fill in anything they wished. Just say-so,
or worse still, political preference, is enough.

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In Search of a Free Lunch


With today’s DNA tests, it should be possible to obtain the real
heritage, and go way back. But I suspect the results could turn out to
be shocking. Consequently, in the meantime racial as well as ethnic
discrimination reigns in its purest form, condoned by the government.
In the case of Hawaii, only a very small fraction of Hawaiian heritage
children get the benefit of a Kamehameha School education.
The real effort by Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike should be
to obtain the world’s best education for ALL the children of Hawaii,
regardless of their ethnic heritage. At the same time it would be pru-
dent to realize that this costs money, and that it is the same parents’
duty, not somebody else’s, to provide for it. Once this reality is faced
and dealt with, then Hawaiians in particular will have a chance to
advance, even beyond the average of the rest of U.S.A. or the world.
In the meantime local politicians try making the voters believe that
yes, they can provide a free lunch for everyone, and having others
pay for it from here to eternity.

Fundamental Advantages
So, with all those highly emotional and politicized problems
named above, why would I choose Hawaii as the best place on earth
to live versus it being wherever I was hanging my hat? For a number
of reasons:
To me, first and foremost, Hawaii is American, which is the big-
gest blessing of them all. This, to me, means it is open, it is free. It
is protected (as it was in WW II at great human and financial cost to
ALL of America). It is part of the American national infrastructure,
the political and legal systems. Its economic strengths were built by
immigrants and still, Hawaii welcomes immigrants.
Next, its location halfway between Asia and North America makes
it the natural bridge for the two continents, and in a way, for the
world. Japanese, Chinese, Tagalog are spoken as well in Hawaii as
is English. Asian, European and North American cultures mix freely.
Cross cultural pollination thrives. You’ll find as many cuisines in

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Hawaii as in Manhattan, Tokyo or Hong Kong, and restaurants of


equally high caliber, not to mention, all the melding of local flavors,
including fish and poi dishes.

The Wires Are Humming


Hawaii is a global communications center. It has to be. It is of
prime strategic importance to the U.S.A., militarily and economi-
cally. It works extremely well for me while pursuing our international
business from Honolulu. The time difference to the U.S. east coast
is either 6 or 5 hours, depending on whether daylight savings time
is in force or not. Two o’clock in the afternoon in New York is 8 or 9
a.m. in Hawaii. Reversely, Japan is 5 hours different in the opposite
direction, and Singapore is 6 hours. Two o’clock in the afternoon on
Monday in Honolulu is 9 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo or 8 a.m. in Sin-
gapore. This means that I can conduct my business live with all of
the U.S. during the entire morning in Hawaii and then go on doing
so with Asia all afternoon. Who else in the world can do same day
transactions this way? Everywhere else it is more likely going to be a
two day transaction, or over night communications. In other words,
Hawaii has a tremendous time advantage in conducting business
between North America and Asia.
The flip side of this is that, as Hildegard likes to point out, you
could go on 24 hours a day conducting live business with your associ-
ates East and West, because when one goes home the other one is just
coming to work, and so on until Friday 2 p.m. It is Saturday in Asia
by then, normally not a business transaction day, and California (3
hours time difference to the east) is closing down for the weekend.
However, Sunday afternoon at 2.00 p.m. normal business life starts
again with our Singapore staff opening the office there. It is then
8.00 a.m. Monday morning in Singapore.
Waves to Your Liking
When I look out my office window, I see the surfers riding the
waves all along the Waikiki Beach. From sunrise to sunset there are
sometimes over a hundred or more surfers out there. Some of them

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seem to be surfing forever. And I often wonder how they do it. They
just love it. I know many people who go surfing before the sun comes
up or after it sets, either before they go to work or after they are
done at the office. And I know people who do nothing but surf, day
in, day out. It’s their life. Great lifestyle—if you can have it! It’s not a
regular routine for me, but I, too, like catching the waves when they
are high. Most of the time, however, I merely swim and wave to the
surfers as they paddle out on their boards while it’s still dark in the
morning. I routinely do swim between 1 to 2 km every day around
sunrise, for sure. Where else could I have that kind of luxury, right in
front of my office and home? And as far as I am concerned, nowhere
else can beat that. Hawaii, even with the undercurrents of human
strife, unsatisfied local ambitions, and its government’s unfulfilled
economic development dreams, is still paradise to me.
By the way, every so often a shark takes a bite out of a surfer’s
surfboard, or out of a surfer. In the early morning, or at night, are
their preferred feeding times. Close to the shore, however, the water
is shallow enough that 12 foot sharks normally don’t like going there,
although it has happened. A patient reminder that even in paradise
there still are perils. So, to be on the safe side, I do most of my swim-
ming along Ala Moana Beach which is protected by a long reef. More
than 14 large green turtles are living and swimming there, too, for
the same reason.

Gentle Breeze Caressing Palm Trees


Not getting wet at all and staying on the beach is playing it en-
tirely safe. A lot of activities take place there. It’s the preferred venue
for hula dancers whose movements remind me of my membership
in Singapore’s Cairnhill Community Center Taijiquan Club. I had
taken up practicing tai chi early on in the United States. But when
I went to Singapore I got totally immersed in Wu style tai chi as
practiced there, most likely the purest form of the exercise. For its
25th anniversary celebration, the Republic of Singapore produced a
movie, “Homeland,” about the island nation that came into existence

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under most unlikely circumstances. The leader of our martial arts


group and I were chosen for the tai chi parts in it. The movie played
continuously on the omni theatre screen of the Singapore Science
Centre for an entire year, and it is probably still available today to
any history movie buffs.
The movements of accomplished tai chi practitioners look like
those of cats, incredibly super smooth and powerful. And so are hula
movements. And although the underlying philosophies that govern
them be entirely different, nevertheless, the outcome is comparable;
the practice of balance and harmony by the human body and mind.
Hawaii’s beautiful beaches are made for it. No wonder statistics
show that people in Hawaii, on average, live six years longer than
mainlanders. This is not to mention the quality of life that goes along
with the Hawaiian lifestyle.

Climate Conducive for Sharpening Thought


There are many other good reasons why Hawaii, like a magnet,
attracts people from everywhere. Some of these people have accom-
plished great works while on the islands or prepared themselves for
performing them elsewhere. This includes, for instance, Robert Louis
Stevenson who wrote some of his wonderful poetry under a tree on
the Beach at Waikiki. One of his poems I particularly liked when I
was attending High School was, “Rice Pudding Again.” At the time,
I always wished I could have rice pudding again, and again, and
again, ad infinitum.
Between 1874 and 1883 Sun Yat Sen, the founder of modern
China, attended Iolani School and Oahu College. Throughout his
most formative years Sun's ideas were drawn from both the east and
the west. He inspired the 1911 revolution that overthrew the Qing
Dynasty, the last of China's great imperial dynasties. He served as
the first provisional president of the new Republic of China. His aim
was to unite China politically along his Three Principles of the People
— nationalism, democracy and the people's livelihood, inspired by

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Abraham Lincoln's "government of the people, by the people and


for the people."

Cradle and Catalyst


In Hawaii, life bubbles like molten lava. With its active volcanos
spewing out streams of glowing substance from the depth of earth
below, the actual land mass of the Hawaiian islands is growing, and
will be, for some time to come. Not only flowers, fauna, and fish,
including whales, flourish in the Hawaiian environment; so do we,
particularly with our senses wide open, soaking up strength and pass-
ing on energy like a high powered battery.
If the 21st century is going to be that of the Pacific, why not be
right at its geographic as well as renewal center?

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Chapter Six

American by Choice

Comes With the Territory


America is not for the timid. It’s a dangerous place. More people
are killed on its highways every year than those who died in the Viet-
nam war. The founding fathers gave every American the right to carry
arms, which in today’s age includes automatic weapons. Some hold
hand grenades and bazookas. A little 6 year old boy, just recently,
brought a gun to school and killed a girl classmate with one shot. Yet
the National Rifle Association, a powerful voting group, says crime
is committed by people, not by guns. And so far, the majority of the
American public likes to see it that way.
Not only common folk get shot in U.S.A. but also Presidents, such
as John F. Kennedy. The Warren Commission, appointed by Presi-
dent Johnson to find out the truth in the matter, concluded that Lee
Harvey Oswald, a lone gunman, was the culprit. Subsequent investi-
gations found that, in fact, Lee Harvey
Oswald was not. There were at least
three gunmen who fired at least four
shots from different directions. The
team of assassins was never caught,
not even pursued. Vital evidence was
collected by the FBI but never pro-
duced in court.

Crimes and Punishment


American justice? It tries to reach
almost anywhere, including the drug
lords of Columbia, and since Septem-
ber 11, 2001 international terrorists
everywhere, starting in Afghanistan.

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In America’s home yard the application of justice is more un-


predictable. It took a charge of income tax evasion to convict Al
Capone, America’s favorite gangster. More than half a century later,
after a widely televised trial, a jury of his peers found O.J. Simpson,
a popular athlete, innocent of the alleged murder of his wife. Yet
convicted murderers, particularly in the State of Texas, end up in
the electric chair. The death penalty is up to the states, not a national
affair. The punishment for lesser crimes varies widely from coast to
coast, if it ever is carried out. Overall, U.S. justice is tremendously
forgiving, at least, for Americans. That’s probably what its people
meant it to be.
Even American Presidents include people who, if they had not
been President, might have gone to jail because of the crimes they
committed themselves or commissioned. They might have been
publicly shunned because of their immoral behavior in and outside
the White House. Examples: Richard Nixon orchestrated a break-in
at the Democratic election headquarters which resulted in the Wa-
tergate scandal and Nixon’s eventual resignation from office. Nixon
was never prosecuted for any wrongdoings and fully pardoned by his
successor, President Gerald R. Ford, who was appointed by Nixon
before leaving office. Under President Clinton, a female White House
intern performed oral sex on the President in the Oval Office while
he conducted telephone conversations with members of Congress.
“Only in America” was it possible for Clinton to hold on to his job
since the majority of Americans felt that moral issues and plain bad
taste shouldn’t interfere with the President’s business of state.

Made in U.S.A.
Is this decadence in the making or is it already here? It could be
the result of living in a fortress for too long, for knowing all the hu-
man rights to claim but few of the duties to perform, which go along
with every right. Following such a self-centered course for a society
includes losing its immigrant culture and values, disavowing “Give
me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe

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free…,” the “golden door” closing, and the lamp going dark.
Is that America? For some it is, and for others it is worse. You just
need to read the daily newspapers. The United States government
is supposed to be kept in check by a triumvirate of balanced power:
Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court. In fact, however,
the press has assumed more power than any one of the three pil-
lars of government. It is free to sound off, right or wrong, in most
cases with no penalty for untruth or bias, all “protected by the First
Amendment.” Since bad news sells best, guess which happenings get
top billing, and which slant is applied to the rest?

Entertainment as King
In order to keep the masses content in ancient Rome, entertain-
ment became one of the top priorities in many lives. That included
among many other “sports,” the gladiators who tore each other apart
in the arena of the colosseum, as well as wild animals loosened against
captured foes.
In the Rome of today, which is U.S.A., to some degree and in
slightly different form, that tradition has been taken up by at least
part of the press where the “news” becomes the ultimate form of
entertainment.
Like any good thing, news as a form of entertainment can be
overdone. A free press is admirable and highly desirable, but with
this precious right goes a duty to the unfettered truth, nothing but the
truth. Factual reporting, instead of bias, should be the rule. Opinion
interwoven with facts ought to be identified as such.
News and entertainment are contradictions in themselves,
although they get mixed all the time. News might be amusing or
anxiety arousing in itself, but the purpose of entertainment cannot
possibly drive the news. At this point in time, however, no constraints
whatsoever exist. If there were constraints exercised, that news is
unlikely to sell. Yet selling it is its entire purpose. That’s why many
times the news is entirely misleading, that’s why we have spin doctors
nowadays… make-believe and entertainment. That is a dangerous

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development. Look at what happened to ancient Rome with its en-


tertainment culture.

Dark Shadows, Bright Light


After all those glaring faults in these United States, how can
America be great? How can it be the magnet it is for “the wretched
refuse of your teeming shore... the homeless, tempest-torn…” and
many more? Why, then, be, or become, an American by choice?
Because America, even with all its convolutions of ill, is still the
forum where even the tiniest of voices has the opportunity to be heard.
It is where prejudices can be overcome, where the good eventually is
able to defeat the bad, and the bad is recognized as such, even if at
times very, very late. America is where continuous creation of value
and better values is always in process. It’s where the melting pot stirs,
and people, as well as the nation, can be better off tomorrow than they
were yesterday; not only materially, but also much more physically,
as well as spiritually. It’s not for the fainthearted. It is not for those
who seek comfort and want to ease up, or just don’t want to see, hear
or feel anything but their own roots, race, and religion.

How Long is it going to Last?


Becoming defenders of the status quo rather than participating
actively in a changing world is impossible in America. Trying to bring
about changes for the better is the American way. The Marshall Plan
after WW II is an unprecedented example of a victor turning over some
of its wealth to the victims, including the defeated, to build a better and
more just, harmonious world. Maybe achieving such is really impossible.
But trying to do it is truly American. And, hopefully, over the long run,
at least some of it will be accomplished. So far the record is not bad.
Self-absorption is what can derail this American spirit, and ar-
rogance. Example from my international experience: An American
executive was looking at a gift he wanted to buy for his wife at a Paris
cosmetics counter. All prices being given in French francs, and he
asked: How much is this in REAL money!?

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Another way leading to an eventual stall: Giving up self-reliance


by handing over more and more responsibilities to the government,
such as the upbringing of one’s children, education, and risk-taking
of any form. Look around in the world and you will see that, wher-
ever the government has taken on more and more of the functions a
family or private individuals could perform far better, the costs for
all have mushroomed and the performance of functions taken over
by the government has stalled or suffered.

For the People, by the People


There are some roles that the government plays far better than
anyone else—for instance, international security, safeguarding sound
finances, enforcing the laws. The government needs to do things
which individuals are less capable of doing by themselves, such as
building the atom bomb in WW II, recognizing and dealing with
international terrorism.
The government can be great in teaching farmers better ways
of planting and harvesting. It should lead the way for its citizens to
develop on their own, guide groups to pursue specific results. Its role
is to tear down barriers to earning one’s own keep, or obtaining food
and care, not to become the providers of a chicken in every pot and
providing free caskets when we die.
“Social Security,” invented by President Roosevelt in the 1930s,
turns out to be Social Insecurity today. In fact it is Social Betrayal and
Social Irresponsibility. By law the government has been collecting
from all workers throughout their lifetimes, whether they wanted to
be part of the system or not, and now it does not have enough money
to pay them back. In my case, for example, 100% of my Social Secu-
rity receipts, for years now, has been paid back to the government in
the form of taxes. If a private business were run that way, it would
be considered fraudulent. The owners, no doubt, would be forced
to go to jail. Still, the President and Congress continue to “borrow”
billions of dollars from the Social Security fund. This is no way to
run a business, including the business of government.

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Families are the Foundation


The strongest nations in the world are the ones where family values
are the highest priority. Society survives through families, personal
responsibility and accountability, and love. This is why Bolshewism
was doomed, for there, private initiative was suppressed totally and
everything was supposed to be done by the state. It didn’t work.
Instead of government operated “Social Security,” families
provide social security, efficiently, if they are allowed to, when
they need to, government or no government. Chances of fraud are
greatly minimized, for family relationships don’t lend themselves
to the long-term exploitation of members. Everyone is expected to
carry his part of the load, and normally does. Everyone is helped
to get back on his feet again, and then is on his own once more.
Normally, individuals requiring continuous care receive it with love
from the rest of the family. It’s only because the government has cut
the connection between the family and its members that many born
Americans have abandoned their family responsibilities. It is high
time that the government stops this harmful practice and instead al-
lows families to keep and accumulate the means for caring for their
own. Individual “social security” will be reinstated immediately and
the participants will be better off than under any government “Social
Security System.” Plus there will be automatic controls, understand-
ing, and maybe love.

Competitive Advantage
The same applies to education. America as a country spends the
most money per capita in the world on the education of its children.
And yet, it comes up with very low academic scores, frequently
graduating virtual illiterates. The best educational performers in
the country most often come from private education and from the
parents who have supplemented ordinary school education with their
own additional input.
There is a lot of narrow-mindedness around, where the advance-
ment of gifted children is considered unequal, where mediocrity is

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made to be the norm and considered sufficient. This is not how


America achieved the position of its greatness it is today. Catering
to the lowest educational denominator is a sure prescription for total
failure. More and better paid teachers in more well-equipped class-
rooms is no guarantee whatsoever that more students will learn and
do better in school. It may just be a more deluxe venue for crimes,
which neglected, non-understood kids are going to perform, like
students in Columbine High School in Colorado did on Hitler’s
birthday, 1999.
It’s not enough to study American history in depth, and little
about world history, of which America is a part, where the genes of
every American come from.

Twisted Tongues
Language, suddenly, is another challenge for America. Many
home-grown Americans don’t know their own language well. They
can’t read or write. They have trouble even with pidgin English. And
yet, government policy, anxious to gain votes, tends to favor making
more languages acceptable to be taught in school for communicating
with the government, for applying to whatever entitlements someone
might be able to reach. The end result of this can only be unemploy-
able graduates who can’t work in a job which requires the country’s
main language. ONE common language is a rudimentary require-
ment. Second and third languages are wonderful additions, and help
in the comprehension of other cultures and the rest of the world, but
only if they come on top of the country’s common language.
In Singapore, signs at the bank tellers say “Speak Mandarin first!”
And that is in a country where four languages are basic, taught and
spoken everywhere. (They are: Mandarin Chinese, Malay, Tamil,
and English).

Still Sorting Priorities


I don’t know why, but a growing American government bureau-
cracy is trying to occupy itself with more and more details of the

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governed. Many of these details are meaningless, or right out mis-


leading. For instance: The year 2000 census included the question:
“What is this person’s ethnic origin or race? ” Then it gave examples,
in Saipan they were: “Chamorro, Samoan, White, Black, Carolinian,
Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Palauan, Tongan, and so on.” The true
answer would be that if we are Americans, that’s what we are, never
mind our ethnic background. Individuals may perceive themselves
to be Samoan or Tongan, Black or White, but are they, really? DNA
examination most likely would reveal and prove that, one way or
another, they are mixtures. In the meantime everyone is free to per-
ceive himself to be whatever he wants to be, including the choice of
straight forward lying about it. The government then sucks up these
answers as if they were God-given truths. Worse, it may develop new
“social programs” to address the perceived needs of those groups,
such as why not primary school education in Tongan instead of the
common American language?
Pursuing this road appears to me rather like we’re on the way to
another Tower of Babel, to America disintegrating into multitudes
of self-serving interest groups disenchanting each other. Maybe it’s
just the American process which, eventually, via common sense, will
lead to common good will. All Americans ought to be equal under
the law and in the access to opportunities. The whole idea of creating
special privileges is un-American and has proven to be disastrous in
the long run, wherever applied. This is true for language as well as
for everything else.

The Bad
The crimes committed by Americans are as appalling as those
committed by criminals elsewhere, maybe proportionally worse, and
more numerous. For sure they are better recorded and widely publi-
cized. Justice is not rendered equally, although that’s what the U.S.
Constitution demands and efforts are certainly made to accomplish
this goal. Indeed, as not only the U.S Supreme Court Justice Thur-
good Marshall noted, there is yet a long way to go.

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One of the United States strengths is that most of its people want
to be Americans, even though they happen to be born in America.
Most of the harm that has been brought to the U.S. originates from
people who didn’t care a fig about their being American.
Their crimes were not only against fellow Americans, such as
supplying the atomic bomb secrets to the Soviet Union. This feat,
for example, was accomplished by Klaus Fuchs and Ted Hall, and to
some extent with the help of
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
Hall, an American aca-
demic, ended up never
even being charged. He
was allowed to live out the
rest of his life unbothered in
the United Kingdom while
the Rosenbergs died in the
electric chair in 1953.
The discovery of crimes
against humanity is not
restricted to the individu-
als who were on trial in
Nuremberg after World War
II. They were already being
committed in the United
States before, and more so
United States President Ronald Reagan after, the American Civil
War, particularly in the form
of lynching black people,
and the criminal mistreat-
ment of Jews, Catholics and others.
Only 23 years after the lessons of World War II, American soldiers
raped and executed Vietnamese noncombatants, including women,
children and the elderly in what became known as the My Lai mas-
sacre with over 500 dead on March 16, 1968. Regarding this holo-
caust-like event, only one American soldier, Lt. William Calley, was

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ever tried and convicted of a crime and served all but 6 months in
jail. The remaining perpetrators, conspirators and accomplices of this
gruesome act against humanity were allowed to go free and to con-
tinue with their normal lives. Similarly, as the accused in Nuremberg,
when asked why they did what they did, they simply said, they were
merely following orders. Justice looked the other way.
The saving grace for America, however, in the case of the My Lai
murders, is that several of the American helicopter crew members
who happened to come across the murderous actions in progress were
able to intervene and save some of the intended victims. Special credit
for this goes to Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, a true American,
while the perpetrators were Americans in name only.
Much later, other real Americans who learned of the incident had
the courage to bring it to the attention of the public and the powers
that be. The authorities and the military tried to first squash the
news. But, eventually, they had no choice but to deal with the shame-
ful event. Maybe that’s the American difference, that there are good
individuals who are willing to stand up for American ideals, against
their own, and in the process risk their own lives to try and do the
right thing, no matter what personal consequences. In the end, the
bad is not allowed to be swept under the rug. The good guys, who
more often than not are the little guys, do have a chance to stop the
mayhem and set the stage for a better tomorrow for all of us.

And the Good


Thus, since the days of the first pioneers, Americans worth the
name have a heritage of heroic, unselfish origins, always seeking
divine guidance while marching boldly, bravely into a future limited
only by their capacity to dream. This is how President Ronald Rea-
gan, the great communicator, saw and expressed it on November 4,
1991. I think he is right:
“With all its faults, compared to the rest of the world, America
is the country dedicated to individual liberty, pursuing economic
opportunity, and advancing democracy. America is a place where

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ordinary people can do great things. It’s the country where every
one is allowed to make as great a contribution to the community, or
the world, as he or she are capable of. There is no discrimination
against good will or talent. Everyone is believed capable of greatness
in his or her own way.”
America, therefore, is a special and unique place. Apart from
having its own uncounted opportunities for individuals to make them
their own, American society allows and encourages people to create
their own.
Yet America is America because of its immigrants. Each of its
states, including Hawaii, is what it is because of the immigrants who
came and made it what it is, a paradise on earth. This immigration
meant a rebirth, then—human, political and economic of dimensions
nobody had ever believed possible before. It still is doing so today and
can continue doing so in the near and distant future. The American
formula does work. However, it is easily forgotten by those longing
for the process to stop and hang on to a precious, past glorious time.
But really, having it all now means leaving nothing for the future.
It’s a sure sign of a star burning out.

Engine Driven by Immigrant Values


Maybe many Americans have had it too good for too long so that
they devalue rewarding hard work and disregard integrity as being
good for the soul. By now many Americans may think that the world
does owe them the high standard of living they are enjoying instead
of realizing that the benefits of life have to be earned again and
again, every day. There is a big danger for Americans of counting
themselves endowed with riches while only productivity increases
warrant better rewards. As elsewhere in nature, just keeping even
means running things down. A tree grows, or it dies, there is no
in-between. Some trees keep growing still, after 800 years or more.
So can countries and civilizations, but only if they are in sync with
nature, human nature.
That’s where the immigrants make their contribution to Ameri-

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can culture. Without them, there would be no America as we know


it today. It’s they who have brought in the values of accomplishment,
who have excelled more so than anyone else, who have passed the
torch to generations of hard working, diligent Americans in their
thrust to better themselves and their country. Growing complacent is
easy. This is how the Roman empire fell apart. Unless every Ameri-
can reaffirms, every day, the choice of being American, and acting
accordingly, good-bye America!
Today, more so than at any time before, the United States of
America is the land of unlimited opportunities, up or down. Not only
in economic use, but also in all respects of human endeavor, includ-
ing spiritually. The country’s diversity can be its strength, or it can
be its weakness and eventual destruction. Each individual needs to
choose, every day. The choices are ours to make, one day at a time.

Wishing to Volunteer
Nowhere else in the world do people volunteer as much as in the
United States of America. Volunteering manpower, raising money,
coming forth freely to help others, their communities, the world com-
munity, not just their own families, but the human family—that is
America. Entirely of their own free will, year after year, Americans
produce and give away to education, charities, churches and for un-
countable other noble causes, more value than many of the world’s
nations gross national product. THAT is one of the key characteristics
of an American. Americans are ready to serve for an unselfish, greater
purpose, to make this a better world, and as a result, they do.

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Chapter Seven

Beauty and Wealth


Isn’t that what everyone wants? Well, Americans have it. The
United States of America is that place of beauty and wealth. At least
that’s how a good part of the world sees it. That’s also why Americans
are envied, and attacked.
Or is it because they are seen as outrageously ugly and their
wealth as an accumulation of supreme sin? Obviously, both, beauty
and wealth, are in the eyes of the beholder. Maybe beauty more so
than wealth, at least so it may seem. Wealth depends on what is seen
as wealth. Gold in Fort Knox or “open credit” on Carte Blanche may
be one person’s perspective, while another sees wealth in personal
and spiritual health
as well as usefulness
to society.
We l c o m e t o
America, where
“having it all” is
continuously being
attempted.

The Land Where


Milk and Honey
Flow
It wasn’t al-
ways thus. To the
American Indians
before they ever
knew of white men,
and to the pilgrims
after their arrival,
America was a tough

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country to scrape a living from. The European immigrants coming


later brought with them new ideas, though, which, in their home
countries, were seen as heresy, or at best seen as unrealistic dreams.
These new Americans wanted not only individual liberty, but much
more... They wanted to pursue happiness.
Since, as it turned out, these dreamers were also hard workers,
and tenacious fighters if they had to, they ended up with a form of
government which, on July 4, 1776, in the American Declaration of
Independence, gave them the right to the “pursuit of happiness.”
Not only by the grace of their government, but as the birth right of
an American, together with freedom, equality and liberty. Not as
a philosophical idea, but as a God-given precondition for the very
existence of a human being.
The “pursuit of happiness” principle has produced for America
both beauty and wealth, at least in the way both are generally mea-
sured. In due course, this has confused and infuriated others in the
world. Other countries are established on other principles, such
as national pride or ambition, blood lines, or religion. America’s
principle, in contrast, is new, introducing the pursuit of happiness,
anchored as an inalienable right in its Declaration of Independence.
Just try looking for the word “happiness” in England’s Magna Carta.
Or in the French Revolution’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and
Citizen. Or the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human
Rights.

Why Happiness?
When the American Founding Fathers wrote the Declaration of
Independence, “Pursuit of Happiness” was substituted for “Prop-
erty,” according to Pilon, not to denigrate material wealth but to
indicate a broader concept of materialism. Pursuit of happiness
included not only being a farmer but also engaging in commerce,
providing services, and using the creative faculties to generate what
we nowadays call “intellectual property.” Or, as P. J. O’Rourke con-
cluded in a December 3, 2001 writing, “… it turns out, our country

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is established upon the useful, the productive, the worthwhile—the


pursuit of work.”
In the same issue of Forbes, Andrew Sullivan observed that
America is not based on the achievement of some goal, the capture
of some trophy, or the triumph of success. It’s about the process
of seeking something. In America, happiness is an end in itself. Its
content is up to each of us. Some may believe, as American Muslims
and Christians do, that happiness is still only possible when allied to
virtue. But just as importantly, others may not. And the important
thing is that the government of the United States takes no profound
interest in how any of these people define their own happiness. All
that matters is that no one is coerced into a form of happiness he
hasn’t chosen for himself—by others or by the state.
“…when the society that has pioneered this corrosively exhilarat-
ing idea of happiness becomes the most powerful and wealthy country
on earth, then the risks of backlash increase exponentially.”
Ronald Reagan forewarned
September 11, 2001:
(to a gathering of Veterans of
Foreign Wars in August 1980)
“…in order to guarantee life,
liberty, and the pursuit of hap-
piness, we must cultivate peace
as our lasting priority.” The full
speech appears in the book,
“Reagan, In His Own Hand”
(Simon & Schuster, copyright
2001).
“ We m u s t t a k e a s t a n d
against terrorism in the world
and combat it with firmness, for
it is a most cowardly and savage
violation of peace.
And we must make it unmis-
takably plain to all the world

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that we have no intention of compromising our principles, our beliefs


or our freedom. That we have the will and the determination to do
so as a young president said in his inaugural address 20 years ago,
‘Bear any burden, pay any price.’ Our reward will be world peace;
there is no other way to have it…”

Did Anyone See it Coming?


Beauty and wealth can turn into a curse, apparently. Or are
Americans just misunderstood? Why did they sit still like ducks wait-
ing for an attack out of the blue sky on the World Trade Center and
the Pentagon? With their own superior flying machines, at that?
Although the civilized world was shocked, as it always would be
at an act of outrage and barbarism of such dimension, the origina-
tors of this war must have felt like the Japanese militarists after their
attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941: Tora, Tora, Tora.
Again, in 2001, America was pre-occupied with pursuing its own
happiness and didn’t see or listen, maybe didn’t want to see or listen.
After all, those terrorists or religious fighters in the name of Allah tried
before to bring the World Trade Center down. Earlier intelligence
reports had revealed the intent of international fanatics to use com-
mercial airliners as missiles against prestigious high rise buildings.
But even the American intelligence community didn’t believe that
anything like this was reality.
Well, they all woke up with a big bang, while in some quarters
of that so called civilized world the feeling was one of pain for those
who died in the attack, but one of overwhelming joy at the same
time that America, the beautiful and wealthy, had been proven to
be vulnerable on its own ground, with its own toys.

Jealousy and Hate


Eleven o’clock in the morning Greenwich Mean Time, on Janu-
ary 19, 2002, flight VS27, a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747, took off from
London’s Gatwick Airport, carrying 339 passengers and 18 crew:
destination, Orlando, Florida. Shortly thereafter, in flight, the mes-

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sage “All Americans must die” was found scrawled on a toilet mirror
of the aircraft. As a result, the flight was diverted to Keflavik airport
in Iceland where the cabin was thoroughly searched, as well as the
passengers and their hand baggage thoroughly examined. Nothing
discriminatory was found, and the flight proceeded to Orlando. End
of incident, four months after September 11.
But why would someone put such inflammatory graffiti on a mir-
ror? Obviously it must be someone with deep-seated hatred for Ameri-
cans. Who could say that it came from a non-American? Whether
non-American or definitely American, there is no doubt about it:
Hating Americans is a deep-seated feeling, for whatever reason. And
it wasn’t just a one time experience. It seems to be prevalent with a
wide variety of people.
Anti-American prejudice is not and was not limited to those who
misrepresent themselves as martyrs for Allah. A very similar event to
the World Trade Center bombing took place in Oklahoma City on
April 19, 1995. The perpetrators were young Americans, Timothy
McVeigh, a decorated Gulf war veteran, and co-conspirator Terry
Nichols. Eventually caught and tried, the unanimous jury verdict for
Timothy McVeigh was death by lethal injection. Six years, one month
and 23 days after his truck bomb shattered the Alfred P. Murrah Fed-
eral Building in Oklahoma City, federal prison authorities placed a
needle in Timothy McVeigh's right leg and pumped a deadly stream
of drugs into his veins. Independently, while in jail, Terry Nichols
threatened to starve himself if he didn’t get a higher-fiber diet.
That’s a snapshot of pre-September 11, 2001 America.

Suddenly, the World Changed


Nobody drew any conclusions, nor raised the questions which
September 11 belatedly brought to the forefront. Was America merely
miscommunicating? For a long time!
Maybe so, because of its own beauty and wealth. So far, Amer-
ica never made its case convincingly at home, and less still abroad:
that the prosperity of the West is in no way responsible for poverty

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anywhere else in the world, nor for other people’s bondage or new
forms of slavery. To the contrary, without American prosperity, the
developing world would be far worse off. Americans should have said,
but didn’t, that any moment any country in the world could begin to
fully share in that prosperity by simply changing its own repressive
political, economic or social system to emulate America’s.
A lot more than the innocent victims of September 11, 2001 died
that day: America’s belief in its physical invincibility, it’s naivete,
it’s blind pursuit of its own happiness. Its beauty grew a little more
mature. Its wealth was realized as more vulnerable, closer at hand
rather than everywhere and unlimited. Yes, America turned a page,
and everybody saw it. The United States of America is older now,
and I think, wiser also.

Sorting Out the Priorities


Amidst the hysteria over deliberately introduced anthrax with 24
cases and 5 fatalities by January 2002, no one apparently noticed, nor
mentioned, that a number of other diseases are much more prevalent
than anthrax in the U.S.A. Seventy-three thousand cases of E. coli
O157:H7 (primarily from eating contaminated beef) result in about
100 fatalities yearly. Salmonellas (usually from eggs) takes about 1000
lives, with an incidence of 40,000 per year.
While I share everyone’s concerns aver chemical warfare, it seems
to me that the lesson since September 11 is that biological warfare
doesn’t work. Anthrax spreads more terror, to those susceptible to
it, than disease.
Also, compare the about 3000 unnecessary deaths in the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon attack to the following figures:
The number of Vietnam War combat deaths was 47,369. The
total American Vietnam war deaths were 58,193. The Vietnam War
lasted from 1964 to 1972, eight long years.
U.S. Highway Deaths in 1997 were 41,967. Eight years of 40,000+
traffic deaths means more than 320,000 American deaths on home
roads. This compares to combat deaths of World War II of 292,131,

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or 407,316 total deaths of WW II, which is about 10 years of USA


traffic deaths!
Yes, yes, yes, the civilian deaths suffered on September 11 are an
outrage and deplorable. They demand new measures, new thinking,
new commitment for dealing with what happened and attending to
the causes of this disaster.
But let’s not lose our perspective! There are lots of other, far bigger
causes of death for American civilians and servicemen alike. They
deserve similar attention.

The Advantages of Age


In the 1960s the time
had come for the American
youth cult going amok. In
retrospect, the way I interpret
Woodstock, indiscriminate
sex, the spreading of AIDS,
“flower children,” and every-
thing else associated with the
“youth rebellion” of the ‘60s,
is that these were desperate
youth eruptions of a society
that was growing into a more
maturely centered generation.
One of the battle cries was:
“Don’t trust anyone over 30”
…years old, that is.
Well, 40 years later, that
very same generation is part
of the more mature part of the
population. Let’s face it: The
American youth cult is over.
In the past, American advertising, which moved the goods and ser-
vices of this prosperous society, depended on youth and sex to sell

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them. I suspect, since September 11, 2001, no more! Americans awoke


with a hangup, but sober. The pursuit of happiness was not in seek-
ing eternal youth, but in the intelligent use of human and material
resources, not only at home, but if possible, everywhere. Happiness
now looks more like a long and useful life, replacing youthful, imma-
ture pleasure seeking. Maybe the ‘60s slogan is going to be reversed
to “Don’t trust anyone under 30.” Who knows.
Looking back over the millennia to previous and current “civi-
lized” cultures, it appears crystal clear that all age ranges have their
value, but old age truly is the most valuable one. Ten thousand years
ago, there was no old age. People died at age 25, or before. Over
time, Chinese culture, which is more than 5000 years old and was
highly refined in the process, realized a long time ago that its older
citizens are the true treasure, not only within their families, but also
of the population.

Modern Old Age


Rie Nakahira, 41, a Japanese lady friend of mine, wrote recently:
“Yes, Japanese people have a long life. My grandmother is 96 and her
mother lived to be 96 years old. I do not know why we have longer
lives than other people in the world. Maybe one of the reasons is that
our country has good health insurance. It is easy for us to visit doc-
tors and hospitals. We work on prevention, therefore do not need a
lot of money for disease. We respect old people and we believe that
real happiness is to feel happy when we are old. So we work very
hard when we are young to have a good life when we get old. The
business for old persons is called the “silver business” in Japan. It is
a big marketing field in Japan. The company I work for, NEC, also
focuses on this field.”
I picked Rie’s example because Japan has proportionally the most
and the healthiest centenarians in the world, and their number is
growing. Fortunately, not only in Japan. So, undoubtedly, something
can be learned from the Japanese.
No wonder old people are highly respected not only in Japan,

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but actually in most Asian cultures. For America that is a rather


new idea, but one that is taking hold rapidly, again via the “pursuit
of happiness” and expressed in beauty and wealth. For some time
already, it’s the older Americans who are holding the purse strings.
And now, more so than ever before, pursuing their happiness. OLD
can be beautiful, and the contributions of older people more reward-
ing to society as well as to themselves.
Maybe for America, this is a new discovery. But there have been
plenty of well-known precedents that life at old age can be healthy,
constructive, and wonderful. Here are just a few examples:
At 100, Grandma Moses was still painting. Titian (who died in
1576) painted "Battle of Lepants" when he was 98 (so they say). At
93, George Bernard Shaw wrote Farfetched Fables. At 91, Samon
de Valera served as President of Ireland. At 90, Pablo Poaches still
drew and engraved. At 89, Arthur Rubinstein gave one of his great-
est recitals in New York's Carnegie Hall, and Pablo Casals, at 88,
still performed cello concerts. At 82, Winston Churchill wrote the
four-volume work, “A History of the English-Speaking Peoples,” Leo
Tolstoy completed “I Cannot be Silent,” and Goethe, at the same
age, finished “FAUST.” At 81, Benjamin Franklin engineered the
diplomacy which led to the adoption of the US Constitution.

“Long Living” Instead of “OLD”


Expectation rules outcome. People often fall prey to the myth that
as they age they will lead dull, sedentary, unproductive lives. But that
attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If our opinions about ag-
ing are negative, our experience will be negative, too. On the other
hand, from my experience, if we approach life with enthusiasm and
common sense, we will find continual freshness and joy in living.
There are three forms of age according to Deepak Chopra, in his
treatise “Ageless Body - Timeless Mind”: (1) chronological age, (2)
biological age, (3) psychological age. You don’t have any choice over
chronological age, but lots of influence over the other two, and they
are the ones that make living worthwhile.

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How do you do it? Again, from my


experience: Especially after 50, Keep
Active! Exercise is vital to one’s health
and wellness. There are four key areas
of fitness to be dealt with, built up over
time: Endurance, Strength Training,
Flexibility, and Balance. Each one of
these would deserve a separate book.
Fortunately, there is a universe of books
available on these and related subjects.
Reading such books will be helpful, but
actually exercising, in whichever form
chosen, combined with an intelligent
diet, are what will do the trick.
Use it or Lose it applies to one’s memory also. According to Marge
Engelman, author of Aerobics of the Mind: “Keeping the Mind Ac-
tive in Aging,” our memory does not disappear as we age: rather, we
do not continue to exercise it sufficiently. So, how do you sharpen
your memory skills?
Physical exercise. What else is new! Physical exercise not only
increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain, creating a healthy
neural network, but it also reduces stress. Stress releases hormones
that are deadly to brain cells, so reducing stress can actually improve
memory. Good physical health promotes good mental health.
Want to exercise your brain?
* “Pay attention.” Focusing on daily activities increases aware-
ness and memory.
* “Memorize.” Memorization helps build new dendrites — the
memory connectors within the brain. Memorize a poem from your
favorite poet, or a family recipe.
* “Think.” Challenge yourself to a crossword puzzle or brain
teaser. Brain exercises will improve your ability to retrieve and re-
member information.
The one I like best is Creative Exercise. Marge Engelman recom-
mends: Varying your daily activities. Make a list of 20 things that you

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can do that would be out of the ordinary or different, then do them.


Cook a dish that you have never cooked before, or write a long letter
to an old friend. Or a book for your family and friends. As you can
see, I took her advice.

Beauty and Wealth from the Inside Out


Ludwig van Beethoven’s (1770 to 1827) Ninth Symphony required
a long period of gestation. Beethoven’s first eight symphonies had
been produced in the twelve years that began the 19th century, but
between them and the ninth, another twelve needed to elapse. The
earliest mention of what would evolve into the ninth symphony was
already evident in 1793 when Beethoven announced he wanted to
set to music the Ode to Joy, a paean to human brotherhood, by the
contemporary German playwright and poet, Friedrich Schiller. Yet
it would be almost thirty years before Beethoven outlined the last
movement of the symphony, using his text for a choral setting with
vocal soloists and orchestra.
By now we all thoroughly know, and may have heard, Beethoven’s
Ninth Symphony as an exultant hymn to the brotherhood of man
and a work of great optimism, one of the cornerstones of the history
of European music. In it, Beethoven celebrates the potential of man-
kind. Historically, Beethoven’s last symphony allowed him to look
back at the demise of Napoleon and ahead, with prophetic vision
and sanguinity to the brotherhood of man. It is music with which
we can identify, especially after an event like September 11, 2001,
to reinforce our optimism and belief in true beauty and wealth, the
brotherhood of man.
When the time came for the first performance of Beethoven’s
9th Symphony, a large group of professional and amateur musicians
petitioned him to allow his own city of Vienna to hear his new work
first. His friends soon issued an announcement that a concert, with
Herr Beethoven personally taking part in its direction, would take
place on May 7, 1824, nearly a year before it was heard in London.
At the triumphal conclusion of the symphony, the audience stood

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up and cheered, enthusiastically waving their hats and handkerchiefs


in the air, but Beethoven was totally unaware of the reaction because
he was still seated facing the performers, with his back to the the-
ater. His complete deafness had prevented him from hearing either
his music or the ovation that followed it. With tears in her eyes, the
contralto soloist took his arm and turned him toward the audience.
In my eyes—and ears—that’s beauty and wealth as it should be
experienced, and celebrated.

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Chapter Eight

Paradise Found

Opening the Inner Sanctum


I don’t remember how and when the subject of God was intro-
duced to me. I assume the same is true for almost everyone. Sooner
or later we get exposed to a picture which our prevailing surroundings
identify as God. When I was a small child, I do remember, when I
learned of God for the first time, God was the picture of an old man
with grey hair and a long grey beard, sitting on a throne-like chair
somewhere in the clouds. Maybe your first picture was like that, too,
or different, but another form of a person somewhere in paradise or
another mystical place, or plainly Christ on the cross.
As we grow up, our thoughts either adopt that image without ques-
tion, as many a church would prefer us to do, or we start wrestling
with that first image and start looking for something we can better
comprehend and recognize as real. I was in that latter category, as
many people, I suppose, probably are. Again, as a very small child,
I started thinking that in reality nobody could sit on a free floating
chair in the clouds, and if one started looking for that old man with
the grey beard there, he probably could never be found.
So, as we grow older and can deal more easily with abstract
ideas, the church at least taught me that, no, God doesn’t sit on a
chair in the clouds. His picture in that form is merely a metaphor for
his power and status over the world and us mortals. OK, one might
say, that makes sense, and Michelangelo’s picture on the ceiling of
the Cistine Chapel with God reaching out to us earthlings becomes
meaningful, maybe even a promise.
But I believe that we earthlings are capable of coming closer to
God than through images like these.

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There is Light
The rational mind—and science in particular—will not accept
anything but solid, visible and repeatable truth. Even the most
clever say-so or representation is not acceptable, because, in the
end, it could be a fraud, even if dispensable like a magic spell. At
least my childish mind told me that the picture of God in a human
body and clothes, sitting in clouds or on top of Mount Sinai is out.
Furthermore, I questioned why God should be a HE. God could
very well be a SHE. Actually, that might make more sense to me, I
thought, because it’s the females who give birth, not males, although
one could say that the male sperm starts at least the creation of a hu-
man being. But then it needs a well-prepared and receptive human
egg. And the entire process of creation—never mind God’s alleged
creation of the earth in 7 days (another allegory?)—is carried out by
a female, not the male. In my mind at least, the SHE deserved more
credit for what comes into this world. Ergo, at least to me when I
was a child, God could as well be female. Needless to say, that idea
didn’t sit well with most authorities on the subject. So, most of the
time I kept that thought to myself.
Looking back in human history becomes more bizarre. Different
groups saw God in the form of an animal, or there was a plurality
of gods, and they came in the body of different mystical animals.
The exception to this is Islam, where no visual images are tolerated
whatsoever. Yet there was always a God, and since the human mind
somehow needed a picture to associate with, if necessary, a picture
was made up. Those who considered themselves as priests of God
treated children, as well as grownups, like children with a vivid
imagination lacking in fully developed observation power. One of
the foremost commands of almost every religion then prescribed: You
shall not have any other Gods beside me! And every thought other
than that was evil, often asking for severe punishment.

It Doesn’t Have to be Blue, Green Will do, too


I just can’t imagine God, with all that awesome power, having to

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worry jealously that one or more of her disciples may go and wor-
ship the wrong idol, because anyone turning away from the truth is
bound to suffer the consequences, anyway. That’s like telling a driver
to watch out for the road. It’s obvious. Otherwise, he will hit a tree
pretty soon. Bad choices turn in bad results. Nothing is more obvious
than that. Sinners do so at their own risk.
Imagining God in a particular form or face is benign, actually
for most of us, very healthy. After all, we need to know that there
is a purpose to our existence, and a powerful God we can visualize
helps our minds to deal with what otherwise we are unable to grasp.
Therefore, I endorse almost any form of religion and have the high-
est respect for every one who submits to a higher being, whatever
the choice.
Most often that choice was made for us by our parents. Or maybe
some missionaries or other agents of a prevailing religion talked us
into it. Or we were attracted on our own, or had a dream. It really
doesn’t matter. Following the Lord or Allah or Buddha is our divine
right, and exercising it can prove to us, as well as to others, that we
are decent individuals, a worthy part of this earth and the brother-
hood of men (sorry—women, too, of course).

But Can we Leave it There?


I don’t think we can leave it there. Here is my view: Life to me
means deciding on a number of basic questions. No one is spared
these decisions, unless he is a coward trying to escape his recognition.
If so, this is likely to result in a neurosis or two.
Why am I? Is there a God? I don't know the answers. At the same
time I am not willing to subscribe to any of the forms of religion
which, in effect, say: “Swallow-the-pill. See-how-it-works.” Mere
logic tells me that man is a complicated, well designed mechanism.
It works and has been working for a million or more years. Leave
out one essential item of this creation, and it won’t work. As with any
machine or piece of art, somebody must have designed it. Or did it
just happen? Therefore, in my mind, the creator needn’t be a man-

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like being at all. Actually I find this most unlikely, although yes, She
can be represented in the body of a man, for instance, or an animal,
or a rock, or in any form this universe contains.
By way of elimination we can define what God is not. That list
would be long. Instead, God ultimately must be a force, probably way
beyond our comprehension and understanding at this time, although
we can try. God could be an idea, a thought, a law. Naturally, God
must be super powerful and thoughtful, that's for sure, for there is so
much energy in the universe which seems to be almost everywhere
in one form or another, and governed by eternal laws, which, to me,
means by thought.

Forever is Now
Why do we have to die? Why can’t we go on living forever? Or
do we? Machines wear out, it seems, regardless of how well they
were designed. But there are some things that seem to go on forever:
ideas and energy. Even Socrates tried to convince his followers that
he wasn’t going to die, for his thoughts would be with them. They’d
be thinking his thoughts, and they’d pass them on to others. Until
his ideas die, Socrates would live. Actually, even if his thoughts were
abandoned, they were necessary and helped in the formation of oth-
ers. And that is how it appears to me: life, in the form of ideas and
energy, does live forever.

“Why do we have to live, then?” you may ask. Nobody told us the
purpose, but it appears to me that a mechanism, when it is designed,
by whomever it is designed, even if it develops by default, the resulting
design serves a purpose. It is primarily the features of a machine which
decide what the machine can be used for, even if we were not told of
the purpose. From this, then, I do assume that we were created for the
purpose of making the best use of whatever we’ve got. The miracle of
creation, not of machines, but living beings, cannot possibly be an ac-
cident or mere imagination. That’s maybe as close to God as we can
come with scientific reasoning, which obviously is highly inadequate.

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From this then I deduce that it is against the will of whoever


created us, for instance, that someone would take one’s own life. It
appears to be against nature to sit down and complain about our
very existence, to do nothing to improve our lot, or to let the rest of
the world go by and be interested only in our own little affairs. I do
consider it our inborn duty to do whatever is humanly possible, to
use our facilities to improve our mental and physical world. It is my
duty to give the best of me, in all respects and at all times. To strive
for a long life of my body is not important. The trip getting there is
the essential part that counts. Not where it leads to, because we are
already HERE as WE and can be US. You can pinch yourself in this
test to make sure it is so (as close scientific proof as you can get). In
this process of life on earth, our time is best utilized in helping to add
a thought or a brick in building a more perfect mental or physical
world for those able to think and able to participate NOW.

When Time Stands Still


As Albert Einstein, one of the most applauded scientists of our
time, proved, time is not an absolute, but a relative thing. A scary
thought, maybe for some, if it weren’t for his common folk expla-
nation. To illustrate what he was talking about in relation to time,
Einstein said: Sitting on a hot stove seems like an hour and spending
an hour with a beautiful girl seems like a minute. Of course, even
popular singers like Zarah Leander at her time knew that “hours can
be like seconds” when you’re in love.
If time is not constant, but flexible, maybe even entirely subjective,
it becomes more than fleeting, but certainly not totally irrelevant. For
the time we do have, to me, quality and achievement is of the essence.
I certainly would consider it pleasant to have my body function and
live beyond the currently average life span for a human being. But I
would find it much more important to contribute a drop of knowl-
edge or understanding or ease pain in the ocean of life, and then lose
my body, to give others a chance to go on exploring and making life
more challenging. Somewhat similar to a machine, except hopefully

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far more inspired, healable, and capable of original thought, I don’t


consider a long lifetime essential, but the contribution I can make
every waking minute.

More Than That


With challenge comes responsibility. Even if we think we were
sent into this world by parents who possibly didn't know why they
had us nor planned to have us here (which is certainly not applicable
in my case), it is no use complaining about the miserable state of this
world. As a plant’s health starts in the smallest cell of that plant—and
so does its sickness—so does the health of our society and mankind
start with man and wife. Okay, forget about the pitiful past. The
future can be better if we want to make it better. What, after all,
is one generation in relation to time? Why be so much attached to
ourselves? We can make life worth more for our children. Therefore
a better world starts with planning for healthy children and giving
these children the kind of education which is necessary to advance
them and to contribute their part to society as a whole.
I believe that no one should have children who is not willing to
fully fulfill his job as a parent. At least so far, traditionally in a family,
it was the man’s first duty to make sure he provides sufficiently for
his family so that children can grow up in relative security. It was the
man's second duty to create wealth for himself and his family and for
the society, so that the children learn thrift and the benefits of getting
an education. As demonstrated in nature all around us, it apparently
is the woman's first duty to look after the children’s physical well be-
ing when they are small, and her second duty to prepare and help in
the education of the children later on. While the man is out working,
she can explore the educational possibilities and direct the children
in the right way, supervising their homework and giving encourage-
ment. I am not saying this must be her role, nor that there need be no
alternative. It is for both of the parents to set good examples for their
children in all respect, and to show them the way to greater achieve-
ments than they themselves were able or equipped to obtain.

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All You Need is Love


Modern individuals may quarrel with these definitions, for it is
currently popular to make everybody’s life tasks equal. Depending
on individual capabilities or handicaps, the above are not rules chis-
eled in stone which cannot be broken. It is, of course, possible that
a family chooses to reverse roles, for instance, where the mother
becomes the primary breadwinner and the father the primary
caregiver to the children. Many attempt the almost impossible task
of both parents trying to be unisex providers of both income and
nurturer to their family in equal amounts—often with disastrous
consequences.
Of course, there ought to be equality among the sexes, equal pay
for equal performance, etc., but still most relations are likely to ac-
complish more, and be more mutually satisfying, if there is a division
of tasks and responsibilities. Genes, brain and physical differences
equip humans for better utilization of their capabilities this way. At
least so far, humans are not clones, and if they ever become clones,
better yet neutered clones, yes, then one clone should be able to excel
or not excel at specific tasks exactly as the other. But that would be in
a different world than the one we know. Until total equality equals a
sexless cloned society, better be prepared for inequalities between the
sexes and groups of people. In sum, and particularly over time, the
cosmos provides for balance and compensations. While someone may
be less equal in one respect, he is likely to be more equal in something
else. And that’s how it should be, a fair chance for everyone to make
the best of himself in a fair game which is his life.
Education is example and love, said Pestalozzi (Johann Heinrich
Pestalozzi, leading Swiss educator, 1746–1827).

More Adaptability Makes Better Survivors


As a person grows up, it is my idea that he should prepare himself
for three categories of jobs. Each man or woman should endeavor
to prepare himself for a minimum of three lines of life along the fol-
lowing basic groups:

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As a tradesman or craftsman, such as a carpenter, or plumber,


or barber, or tailor, etc. In other words, learn a blue color job
for the hands.

In an academic profession, i.e., as a doctor, accountant, lawyer,


computer engineer, scientist, etc. This is the job for the mind.

In a line of art, such as painting, music, acting etc. This is the job
for the muses and emotions.

To me, these three formats actually can work very well simultane-
ously, throughout one’s life. Not everyone may be able to accomplish
this. However, speaking for myself and some of my friends, I have
noticed that there is a need within us to satisfy these three lines of
professions. Furthermore, adequate training from early youth, sus-
tained interest, and the possibility to apply ourselves in the various
sectors, have a very practical advantage: a person of this type will
never be without a paying job, regardless of where he is and what
are the times. Also, he will never be without personal satisfaction in
life, and have lots of friends.
I know, for instance, a lawyer who served his apprenticeship as a
carpenter before studying law. He is also an accomplished violinist.
There were times after the World War II when there was no need
for his legal services. But there was need for carpenters. Today he is
a successful executive, and plays the violin with some of his friends
for his own satisfaction. I could name many examples of fortunate
people whose parents, or who themselves were farsighted enough to
get such a triple education, or got it by accident, and I haven’t met a
single one of them who hasn’t benefited greatly from this three-way
approach to education. Also, their children are benefiting. Further-
more, a person with active interest in the three basic fields of human
endeavor is seldom alone, nor biased with a single-track mind.

Being Approachable Helps


Being alone brings me to friends, and the notion of some of us
to obtain the maximum in “popularity” among our contemporaries.
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Book Three Deep Inside chapter eight

What are friends, after all? According to the dictionary, a friend is


one attached to another by esteem, respect, and affection; an inti-
mate. How many of our so called “friends” are such friends? Very
few indeed, I presume. Actually, I always felt that people whose books
I have read and whose music I studied, such as Plato, Shakespeare,
Goethe, Jack London or Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, and George
Gershwin, are much more my friends than some contemporaries who
loudly proclaim that they are. In their works—via the expression of
ideas—men and women of all ages have given of themselves to you,
if you care to pick it up. They thought of people like you to share
in their knowledge and wisdom, for this would give them satisfac-
tion. In this sense I count many long-departed men and women as
my friends, more than many people would count as living “friends”
whose hands they may shake at cocktail parties.
I have experienced great disappointments and great rewards
with friends. So, no doubt, have you. The ones I have studied via
their books and their music, and who themselves died a long time
ago, have stood out well, for their knowledge and ideas have been
crystallized more clearly during the years gone by. As to the ones I
live with, I found that, after all is said and done, you really are alone.
The true friend is not the one you wait for to meet, but the one you
are yourself to others. And, therefore, I have concentrated on trying
to be the friend others are looking for. It may be hard doing this, for
we all try to protect our ego, but I get much more satisfaction out of
trying to be the friend rather than hoping to find others.

Identity Counts
This, then, brings me to the subject of nationality, a subject
of equal importance with some people as the color of somebody's
dress or skin. Wars have been, and still are, being fought because of
“nationality”. I happen to have a belief in this matter. Nationality
is a necessary step in the formation of the human society, the same
as city states of Europe were at one time of essence to the European
development. I was happy to give up my German nationality when I

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was allowed to settle permanently in North America. Germany, then,


meant narrow minded nationality to me. I am grateful to Canada for
allowing me to come in as a resident before I was able to enter the
United States permanently.
For a long time I hesitated to change my nationality. I felt that
nationalism is outdated. We are living in an international world.
Canadians are Internationalists. I would have liked to see Canada
join the United States ( or the U.S. join Canada ) in becoming one
big nation for the better of all concerned. That would make for
many true North Americans who share a continent and a common
market. I sincerely hope that over time the world will shed itself
of the stupid small nationalism of the past, and really grow, step
by step, to a true international community. Eventually I'd wish to
become a national of the world. All other nationalism is merely a
temporary necessity.

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America Leads the Way


America is the dream many aspire to live in, as did I, more so
than many others. If I can, you can. If you can’t come to America,
for whatever reason, the American dream can come to you, because
America was made by people, just like you, and change is in your
hands.
By respecting and truly appreciating all religions, American
thought has created something new in the world: Multi-formed as
well as formless religious faith, based on the belief in man, that almost
anything man wants to accomplish is reachable. And most of all: The
doing is what counts, now. Although it may be extremely painful at
times, that NOW can be exhilaratingly enjoyable. A better future is
built from a solid GOOD today.
America is great now, for it cherishes freedom of the individual
and of society. Today North America is the place for people who want
to do good as well as accomplish something, and the government lets
them. It wasn’t always that way. And it may not remain so, either.
Therefore, wherever you live, if you feel you are at the wrong place
at the wrong time, it’s up to you. If life is not worth living for where
you are, pick up your courage and change your settings, at home or
go where you want to be. I recommend the country or community
which is truly international in outlook and which is strong enough to
let differing opinions have their day. Sever your ties and move on. Go
where the real action is, where your work will count, where you can
fulfill your dreams and those of the greater human community.
It’s all one big world belonging to all of us together. God is in all
of us. We are all made up of the components of the entire universe,
thoroughly interconnected with each other as well as with all other
beings and matter. Thus, sharing the American spirit means being
closer to God, able to push the limits of our capabilities as human
beings much more so than others. For, most of all, America is not
borders and soil, but an idea, of human equality, of human potential,
truly God’s country of unlimited possibilities.

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390
Just for Today
amo, amas, amat;
amamus, amatis, amant…
you and I understand:

Just for today I will do


the very best for you
…and me, too.


Win

391
392
Appendix
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Appendix More Relatives, American Pioneers

American Pioneers
For closer study of the European branches of my family tree please
consult Helmut Straube’s family chronicle (Familien-Chronik der
Familien Straube-Peuckert, Arnsberg, May 1977). Helmut meticu-
lously covered each family member and actual relationships. He also
described some of the American relatives, the ones he was able to
track and trace or those he knew. However, in this chapter I intend
to provide a closer look at a couple of my Americans relatives who
somehow left a larger profile than the others.
In my examination I discovered one thing is for sure: My Ameri-
can part of the family is markedly different. They had to be, because
they are the same people who packed up in the old world, if there
was anything to pack, and left their homeland for a new start in the
New World. Our American branch, compared to those left behind
in Europe, consisted of risk takers, and as it turned out, risk shapers.
Like other immigrants from all over the world who chose to come
to America, they came with an open mind, worked hard, learned,
adapted, and had the stamina to follow things through. Intelligent,
diligent immigrants became a super charge for a thriving nation.
If this special characteristic should ever change in America, it then
would become just another country with just a normal supply of
oxygen to its blood.

Emma
The information that follows was obtained from Helmut Straube’s
chronicle and translated by me:
Emma Pauline Weber, nee Straube, was born September 26,
1863 in Obergruna, Saxony, and died January 1, 1942 in Harlin-
gen, Texas.
In order to achieve the professional and social standing of their
parents, Emma, like most daughters of country folks, had little or
no choice but to go to the city and find a job as a maid. This meant
committing herself to serve for a specific period of time, about one

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or more years.
Emma, like other
w o m e n o f h e r d a y,
had a job as a maid, of
which, unfortunately,
most details were un-
known. About 1882,
at the age of 19 years,
Emma emigrated to
St. Louis, Missouri,
U.S.A. About 1885,
she married a former
acquaintance from Re-
insberg, Saxony, near
Obergruna, Moritz
Weber, a carpenter.
Emma was described
as determined, hard
working and thrifty.
And as a result her
family prospered.
The marriage pro-
duced four children, three girls and one boy. For some unknown
reasons, the marriage broke up later. During the Prohibition period
her husband was alleged to have entered the moonshine business.
During the time of inflation around 1923, Emma visited Dresden.
A picture still exists of that occasion.
Her daughter Helen, married name Scheu, also visited Dresden
with her two daughters during the 1936 Olympics.

Paul
Paul Oswald Straube was born May 27, 1874 in Obergruna, Sax-
ony, and died March 3, 1953 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Paul served a plumber apprenticeship in Siebenlehn. About 1892,

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Appendix More Relatives, American Pioneers

at age 18, and upon a suggestion from his sister Emma, he followed
her to St. Louis U.S.A.
There is little known about his professional activities. It is alleged
that he had his own business with a number of employees, while at
the same time, he ran a gym (German Turnverein) full time.
He visited Germany twice, about 1901 and 1908.
In 1912 he married Agnes, nee von Eckhart.
Since they had no children of their own, they adopted Delphine,
who was a daughter of Agnes’ deceased sister.
Agnes was called Alice by all of us. She was an intelligent, able
woman. She was the one who primarily supported our relatives in
Germany after the 2nd World War. She died in 1965 at the ripe old
age of 97, her faculties intact until the very last minute.
End of translation from
Helmut’s chronicle.
What follows is some ad-
ditional information obtained
from Delphine Nordstrom, nee
Straube, the adopted daughter
of Paul Oswald Straube and his
wife Agnes, nee von Eckhart
— see separate mention.
Paul Oswald Straube,
Emma Pauline Weber (nee
Straube), and her children
Hattie (Hedwig Elizabeth),
Olga, Helen, and Richard,
all lived within streets of each
other in St. Louis.
Helen became Helen
Scheu and had two daughters.
Delphine said Helen was ex-
tremely well off, but she didn’t
know why or what Mr. Scheu
did for a living. All she remem-

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bers from her time as a young teenager is that the Scheus lived in a
beautiful, large house. According to Delphine, Helen’s husband had
either died or she was divorced.

Alice
“Aunt Alice” was a wonder-
ful woman, a femme fatale in
their time, and a pioneer in
many ways, far ahead of her
time. Although there was a 61
year gap in our age difference,
right from the very start she
and I had a very special rela-
tionship. We understood each
other as though we were con-
temporaries. We both saw the
world as a big bowl of cherries,
and both pretty much from the
same perspective. Aunt Alice
never grew old — frail, yes, but
kept her mind sharp as that of
a full time professional until the
day she died at age 97.
My personal experiences
with her as reported here are
supplemented by input from
her stepdaughter, Delphine.
Aunt Alice, or Agnes von Eckhart, was born on January 17, 1868,
in Chicago. She died on February 19, 1965, in St. Louis, Missouri.
To me she was Aunt Alice Straube, the wife of Uncle Paul Straube
(see above). Although all her official records showed her name to be
Agnes, nevertheless, all through her life everyone called her Alice
instead of Agnes.
Aunt Alice was married twice before she, at age 44, and Uncle

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Paul, a bachelor age 38, married in 1912. Her first marriage had
been to a high official of the Canadian Roalroad who must have been
much older than she and quite wealthy. Alice lived in Canada with
him until he passed away. Then she moved back to Chicago where
she married someone whose brother was a major political figure and
whose name is still unknown to me. The two brothers got involved
in some shady deal which eventually went bust. And, as a result, her
2nd husband committed suicide.
As happens all the time still, nowadays among after-hours ath-
letes, also then, the couple met at the gym. In this case the German
Turnverein in St. Louis where each went to work out. Both of them
were in great physical shape, and their attraction was immediate.
Their marriage lasted for 41 years until Uncle Paul’s death in 1953.
Aunt Alice survived him by 12 years, until 1965. And it was during
that short span of time that I got to know her.
When she met Uncle Paul, her full time job was that of a depart-
ment store buyer for the May Company in St. Louis. Talking about
a two income couple, in 1912 Aunt Alice and Uncle Paul were a two
income family couple, already way ahead of more modern times.
There may have been a lot of discrimination still in place against
women then, but not for Aunt Alice. She was the first woman in the
State of Missouri to receive a driver’s license. Alice then drove what
she referred to as her “open machine.” Although in her eighties, she
had her own car, a DeSoto DeLuxe. She would reluctantly cede the
seat behind the steering wheel to Delphine or others, like me. Once,
on the way from St. Louis to Chicago, I was behind the steering wheel,
carefully driving along just below the speed limit, Aunt Alice sitting
beside me. As soon as we hit famous, and fast moving, Route 66, she
exclaimed in reference to my timid handling of the car: “Let her out!
Let her out!” I could see in my mind what a fireball she must have
been in her husband’s life, and obviously still was, never mind the
police which might have been chasing us soon if we had been going
as fast as she would have preferred. Yes, Aunt Alice was a driving
force in her lifetime.

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European Family
not recognized elsewhere

More Recent Westerners


As per the “Deutsches Namenlexikon” (German lexicon of names)
by Hans Bahlow, 1967 edition, the name Straub, or Straube, comes
from the German word: “struppig,” bristly, thus means the bristly
one. The place “Straubing” in Bavaria, Germany, is where at one
time long ago those bristly people were at home.
Here are just two examples of men with the name Straube from
the books of history. (For recent common folks consult Uncle Helmut’s
family chronicle, Familien-Chronik der Familien Straube-Peuckert,
Arnsberg, May 1977.)

Casper
Translation from the original entry in Polish of W. Kopalinski’s
writings found in an archive in Warsaw:
STRAUBE, Casper (a German pronunciation of the name is given),
originally from Bavaria, Germany, a traveling printer, who very
likely sojourned in Augsburg, Dresden and Leipzig and in 1473
stopped at the capital city of Cracow, Poland, where he took
upon himself printing books under the commission from the local
Bernardin friars. He printed 4 works: “Almanach Cracoviense”, a
wall calendar for 1474, imprinted on one side, recognized to be
the very first work printed in Polish; “Opus Restitutionum” (about
restitution, usury and excommunications) by Franciszek de Platea,
in 1475; “Explanatio in Psalterium” (A Psalter explained) by Jan
Turrecremata, about 1476; “Opuscula” (minor theological works
by St. Augustin), 1476-77. He didn’t put his name or date on any of
his prints. The subsequent fate of the print master and his editing
house are unknown.

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Krakow/Dracow/Cracovia was the capital of Poland from the


12th century to 1596 when the capital moved to Warsaw. Cracow
was, and still is, the cathedral capital of Poland. The city is about
200 miles south of Warsaw, on the Vistula river. Among other things,
it boasts the oldest and the most prestigious Polish University, the
Jagieblonian, and a cathedral where most of the Polish kings have
been buried.

Karl
Karl Straube, organ-
ist as well as leader of the
Thomaner Choir and Ge-
wandhaus Conservatory in
Leipzig (Saxony), was born
January 6, 1873 in Berlin
and died April 27, 1950 in
Leipzig.
Up to the middle of the
18th century the organ was
considered “queen of mu-
sic instruments” but then
lost its central position as
a tool of the musica sacra
because of new secular de-
velopments. Only a hundred
years later the organ and its
potential were rediscovered,
to a large extent because of
Karl Straube and his per-
formance of Bach cantatas.
Straube succeeded in freeing
Bach’s organ music from its traditional interpretation by utilizing
all new technical possibilities of the modern sound pioneered by the
orchestras of Wagnerian music. Lifelong he worked on the modern

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presentation of Bach’s music. In part he did this by going back to


Bach’s historic practices which had long been forgotten. As Thom-
askantor he was in an excellent position for doing so. For instance,
the a cappella sound of the boy choir convinced him that a relatively
small choir and orchestra were an ideal medium for the presentation
of Bach, and have been ever since then.
Karl brought about this renaissance of organ music, and par-
ticularly Bach music, first with his “historic concerts” in the old
Garnisonskirche (Garnison church) in Berlin, and later, during the
time of his leadership of the Thomaner Choir at the Gewandhaus
in Leipzig.
On Easter Sunday, April 5, 1931, the Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk-
AG (Central German Broadcasting Corporation) in cooperation with
the Thomanerchoir of Leipzig and the Leipzig Gewandhausorchestra
conducted by Thomaskantor Karl Straube started the first series
of live Bach cantata broadcastings in the world. The first cantata
transmitted was, "Christ lag in Todes Banden" BWV 4. The next
Sunday, "Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ" BWV 67 was transmitted
and recorded on shellacs during transmission (not for sale, but as a
document for the choir). It is thought to be the first complete Bach
cantata recording to survive. (See more music references below.)
The usurption of power by the National Socialists (Nazis) in 1933
had a profound and almost devastating influence on Karl Straube’s
career. It resulted in a twist of Karl’s life which, in retrospect, seems
to have been a pattern for similarly minded individuals at the time.
The new German government was not only anti-church in principle,
but was particularly displeased with the popular Thomaskantor. One
of the reasons was that Karl had publicly spoken against Hitler in the
1931 campaign leading to the Nazis’ election. The National Socialists
would have liked to turn over his office to some diligent servant of
the new regime, which would have meant the musical demise of the
choir and the conservatory. Therefore, and not to lose the direction
of the office himself, Straube signed up as a member of the National
Socialist party.

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The result was that until 1939 he was able to continue his work.
However, his continuing antifascist leanings did not remain a secret
to the party. Straube did not only refuse to go to party gatherings,
he also continued his association with Jewish friends and colleagues.
After a confrontational power play, he handed in his resignation. Until
1948 he remained organ music teacher at the conservatory and tried
to promote the education of church musicians, even if the pressures of
the regime required him to camouflage specific teaching subjects.

Samples of his music:


Karl Straube: Historische Aufnahme
Thomanerchor und Gewandhaus-Orchester Leipzig, 1931
(Sonic)
Kantate: Im Gedächtnis Jesu Christ (BWV 67)
Die Himmel erzählen die Erde Gottes (BWV 76)
Die Elenden sollen essen (BWV 75)
Wachet, betet (BWV 70)

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Win Straube Dietary Record

August 2001

01 Wednesday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and cut peach and pineapple
pieces.
Some walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 11 am)
A medium sized banana
Lunch (main meal of day)
Butterfish with rice, Ogo, pickled turnips. Bean-broth soup. Fresh
cherries for dessert.
No afternoon snack.
Dinner (about 6-7 pm)
Baked potato with steamed red pepper and onion greens. A teaspoon
of Tahini as topping. One glass of red grape juice.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Some soy-yogurt with banana slices.

02 Thursday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and blueberries. Some walnuts.
Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 11 am)
A medium sized banana
Lunch (main meal of day)
Salmon with baked potato, cooked spinach. Onion-broth soup.
Fresh cherries for dessert.
No afternoon snack.
Dinner (about 6-7 pm)
Baked potato with steamed onions and green beans. A teaspoon of
Tahini as topping. One glass of red grape juice.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Some soy-yogurt with fresh Kiwi fruit pieces and banana slices.

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03 Friday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and blueberries. Some walnuts.
Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 11 am)
A medium sized banana
Lunch (main meal of day)
Butterfish with baked potato, lightly cooked beansprouts. Nine-
grain soup. No dessert.
No afternoon snack.
Dinner (about 6-7 pm)
Cooked crisp rice with boiled onions and green beans. A teaspoon of
Tahini as topping. One glass of red grape juice. Half a piece of bread
with almond butter.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Some soy-yogurt with fresh Kiwi fruit pieces and banana slices.

04 Saturday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and blueberries. Some walnuts.
Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 11 am)
A banana
Lunch (main meal of day)
At Zippy’s: Broiled salmon with lemon, broccoli and brown rice. No
dessert.
No afternoon snack.
Dinner (about 6-7 pm)
Baked potato with cooked spinach and fresh tomatoes. A teaspoon
of Tahini as topping. One glass of red grape juice. One slice of bread
with almond butter, wrapped in Nori. Green tea.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Some soy-yogurt with fresh Kiwi fruit pieces.

05 Sunday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and blueberries. Some walnuts.
Rice milk. Half a slice of bread with sunflower butter. Green tea.

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No morning snack today.


Lunch (main meal of day)
A cup of nine-grain soup. Tofu burger (from tofu and oat flakes
baked in Canola oil) with brown rice, cooked onions and garlic. No
dessert.
No afternoon snack.
Dinner (about 6-7 pm)
One hashed potato patty (baked in Canola oil) and lightly cooked
beansprouts. A teaspoon of Tahini as topping. One glass of red
grape juice. One slice of bread with almond butter, wrapped in
Nori. Green tea.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Some soy-yogurt with fresh blueberries.

06 Monday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and blueberries. Some walnuts.
Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 11 am)
A slice of bread wrapped in Nori.
Lunch (main meal of day)
A cup of nine-grain soup. Tofu burger (from tofu and oat flakes
baked in Canola oil) with potatoes au gratin, garlic, and corn with
tomatoes. No dessert.
No afternoon snack.
Dinner (about 6-7 pm)
Brown rice with lightly cooked beansprouts. A teaspoon of Tahini
as topping. One glass of red grape juice. One slice of bread with
almond butter, wrapped in Nori. Green tea.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Some soy-yogurt, plain.

07 Tuesday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and blueberries. Some walnuts.
Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 11 am)
A slice of sourdough bread, plain. Cup of green tea.

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Lunch (main meal of day)


A cup of Tomato soup. Three Tofu slices baked in Canola oil, with
garlic, potatoes au gratin and corn with tomatoes. A Kiwi fruit for
dessert.
Afternoon snack (about 4 pm before going for swim)
A banana.
Dinner (about 7-8 pm)
Sushi with cooked carrots and fresh tomatoes. A little Tahini.
Late night snack (maybe 11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with pear slices.

08 Wednesday
Breakfast
Poi with granola and one teaspoon flaxseed meal. Also peach slices
as well as pineapple pieces. Some walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
No morning snack (about 10.30 am) but cup of green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
A cup of tomato soup. Bento box with butterfish and rice. Cooked
carrots and peas. No dessert.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
A banana.
Dinner (about 7-8 pm)
Sushi with Ogo and fresh tomatoes dunked in Tahini. One glass
of red grape juice. Piece of bread with almond butter, wrapped in
Nori.
Late night snack (10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with pear slices.

09 Thursday
Breakfast
Poi with granola and one teaspoon flaxseed meal. Also peach slices
as well as pinceapple pieces. Some walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
No morning snack (about 10.30 am) but cup of green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
A cup of tomato soup. Tempura with fried rice, carrots and peas.
No dessert.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
A banana.

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Dinner (about 7-8 pm)


Sushi with steamed bean sprouts and potatoes au gratin. One glass
of red grape juice. Rice pudding with cut-up apple pieces in it.
Late night snack (10-11 pm)
Piece of bread with almond butter, wrapped in Nori. Soy-yogurt
with pear slices.

10 Friday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and pear slices. Some walnuts.
Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 10 am)
A granola bar.
Lunch (main meal of day)
Half a cup of Tomato soup. Tofu burger (from tofu and oat flakes
baked in Canola oil) with fried rice and cooked carrots with peas. A
slice of bread with almond butter, wrapped in Nori. Green tea.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
A banana.
Dinner (about 7 pm)
Potatoes au gratin with steamed bean sprouts and corn. One glass of
red grape juice. Rice pudding with cut-up apple pieces in it.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with sliced banana.

11 Saturday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and apple pieces. Some wal-
nuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 10 am)
Several Graham crackers.
Lunch (main meal of day)
Garlic Mahi Mahi with brown rice and mixed vegetables. One lichee
for dessert. Green tea.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm)
A banana.
Dinner (about 6 pm)
A banana rolled into a saltless tortilla with fresh tomatoes. One glass

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of red grape juice. One slice of bread with almond butter, wrapped
in Nori. Another half slice of bread with sunflower-butter. Green
tea.
Late night snack (maybe 11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with sliced banana.

12 Sunday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and apple pieces. Some wal-
nuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 10.30 am)
A few Graham crackers.
Lunch (main meal of day)
A cup of beansprout broth. Apple pancakes with cooked carrots and
peas.
No afternoon snack.
Dinner (about 6 pm)
Apple pancakes with fresh tomatoes. One glass of red grape juice.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Slice of bread with almond butter, wrapped in Nori. Soy-yogurt with
sliced banana. Green tea.

13 Monday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and apple pieces. Some wal-
nuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 10 am)
Several Graham crackers.
Lunch (main meal of day)
Cup of bok choy broth. Mahi Mahi with Okinawa potatoes and bok
choy. Green tea.
No afternoon snack.
Dinner (about 7 pm)
Fried rice with steamed green beans and fresh tomatoes. A teaspoon
full of tahini. One glass of red grape juice.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with sliced banana.

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14 Tuesday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and apple pieces. Some wal-
nuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
No morning snack.
Lunch (main meal of day)
Cup of bok choy broth. Apple pancakes with cooked carrots and
onion grass, garlic. Green tea.
No afternoon snack.
Dinner (about 7 pm)
Sushi with bok choy and fresh tomato. One glass of red grape juice.
One and a half apple pancakes. Green tea.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with sliced banana.

15 Wednesday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and apple pieces. Some wal-
nuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 10 am)
Graham crackers. Green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
A cup of bok choy soup. Ahi sashimi with fried rice and sauerkraut.
Green tea.
No afternoon snack.
Dinner (about 6 pm)
Okinawa potatoes and cooked cut-up carrots with a teaspoon of ta-
hini over it. One glass of red grape juice. One apple pancake. Green
tea.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with sliced banana.

16 Thursday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and apple pieces. Some wal-
nuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 11 am)
Graham crackers. Green tea.

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Lunch (main meal of day)


Cup of refried bean soup. Ahi sashimi with fried rice, steamed onion
grass, and sauerkraut. Green tea.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
A banana.
Dinner (about 7 pm)
One hashed potato patty (baked in Canola oil) Bok choy salad with
garlic and tahini. Slice of bread with almond butter, wrapped in
Nori. One glass of red grape juice.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with sliced banana.

17 Friday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and apple pieces. Some wal-
nuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 11 am)
A slice of sourdough bread, plain. Green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
Cup of refried bean soup. Ahi sashimi with Okinawa potatoes and
sauerkraut. Green tea.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
A banana.
Dinner (about 7 pm)
Fried rice with tomato and cucumber salad, a teaspoon of tahini.
One glass of red grape juice. A piece of bread with almond butter.
Green tea.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt, plain.

18 Saturday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and apple pieces. Some wal-
nuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 11 am)
A banana.

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Lunch (main meal of day)


At Zippy’s: Broiled salmon with lemon, broccoli and brown rice. No
dessert.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
Some walnuts. Green tea.
Dinner (about 7 pm)
Okinawa potatoes with spinach, tahini dressing. One glass of red
grape juice. One slice of bread with almond butter. Green tea.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with sliced banana.

19 Sunday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and fresh, cut-up star fruit.
Some walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
No morning snack, but green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
Cup of refried bean soup. Lightly cooked Ahi with white rice and
eggplants. Green tea.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
A banana.
Dinner (about 7 pm)
Okinawa potatoes with steamed spinach salad, garlic and tahini.
One glass of red grape juice. One slice of bread with almond butter,
wrapped in Nori. Green tea.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with sliced banana. A slice of bread with sunflowerseed
butter. A cup of hot water.

20 Monday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and fresh, cut-up star fruit.
Some walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
No morning snack, but green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
Cup of refried bean soup. Tofu with white rice and eggplant, garlic.
Green tea.

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Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)


A fresh peach with tahini. Green tea.
Dinner (about 7 pm)
One hashed potato patty (baked in Canola oil) and spinach with
garlic. A teaspoon of Tahini as topping. One glass of red grape juice.
One and a half slices of bread with almond butter. Green tea.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with banana slices.

21 Tuesday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and fresh, cut-up star fruit.
Some walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
No morning snack, but green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
At China House: Egg drop soup, Chinese buffet with chicken, dump-
lings, egg fu young, fried rice, fried noodles, green beans and other
green vegetables. Sesame ball with bean paste inside. Hot water.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
A fresh peach with tahini. Green tea.
Dinner (about 7 pm)
One and a half slices of bread with tofu spread (tofu, tahini, and
lightly cooked onion grass) Fresh tomatoes and cooked eggplant.
One glass of red grape juice. A slice of manna bread. Green tea.
Late night snack (about 11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with sliced banana.

22 Wednesday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and fresh, cut-up star fruit.
Some walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
No morning snack, but green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
A cup of spinach broth with semolina. Bento box with butterfish and
rice. Green tea.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
A banana rolled into a saltless tortilla with almond butter. One glass
of red grape juice.

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Dinner (about 7 pm)


White rice with green beans and tahini. Half a slice of bread with
almond butter. Green tea.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with fresh peach. Cup of hot water.

23 Thursday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and fresh, cut-up star fruit.
Some walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 11 am)
Two oatmeal cookies. Green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
A cup of spinach broth with corn meal. Pollock (fish) with Okinawa
potatoes and green bean and garlic salad. A peach with tahini for
dessert. Green tea.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
A banana rolled into a saltless tortilla with almond butter. One glass
of red grape juice. Some rice pudding. Green tea.
Dinner (about 7 pm)
Vegetable tempura, sushi, steamed cucumber slices. Green tea.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with fresh peach.

24 Friday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and fresh, cut-up star fruit.
Some walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
No morning snack, but green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
A cup of spinach broth with corn meal. Pollock (fish) with pasta,
tomato sauce, and green bean and garlic salad. A peach with tahini
for dessert. Green tea.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
A banana rolled into a saltless tortilla with almond butter. One glass
of red grape juice.

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Dinner (about 9.30 pm)


Bento box sashimi with sushi and one slice of bread with tahini and
a large fresh tomato. Rice pudding. Soy yogurt. Green tea.
No late night snack.

25 Saturday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and fresh, cut-up star fruit.
Some walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
No morning snack, but green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
A cup of spinach broth with corn meal. Pollock (fish) with pasta, and
corn on the cob. Green tea.
Afternoon snack (about 4 pm before swim)
A peach and a banana with tahini. Green tea.
Dinner (about 7 pm)
Poi bagel with tofu spread (tofu, tahini, and lightly cooked, grated
cucumber) with snow peas and one large fresh tomato. One glass of
red grape juice.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with sliced banana.

26 Sunday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and fresh, cut-up star fruit.
Some walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 11 am)
Several Graham crackers. Green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
At Compadre’s: Fresh avocado with black beans and salsa. Cup of
hot water.
No afternoon snack.
Dinner (about 7 pm)
Okinawa potatoes with snow peas and one large fresh tomato. Half
a poi bagel with almond butter. One glass of red grape juice. Green
tea.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with fresh peach.

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27 Monday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and fresh, cut-up star fruit.
Some walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 11 am)
A slice of cantaloupe. Green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
A cup of snow pea broth. Tofu/tomato mix with pasta, chick peas,
and green beans. A fresh peach with tahini as dessert. Green tea.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
A banana.
Dinner (about 8 pm)
One hashed potato patty (baked in Canola oil) with snow peas and
several small fresh tomatoes. A slice of bread with almond butter.
One glass of red grape juice.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt, plain. Half a cup of hot water.

28 Tuesday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and fresh, cut-up star fruit.
Some walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 11 am)
One oatmeal cookie. Green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
Half a cup of snow pea broth. Steamed salmon with couscous and
fresh beansprout salad with garlic. No dessert. Green tea.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
Rice pudding and one banana. One glass of red grape juice.
Dinner (about 8 pm)
Eggplant with tahini, and green beans with chick peas. A slice of
bread with almond butter. Green tea.
Late night snack (11 pm)
Soy-yogurt, plain. Half a cup of hot water.

29 Wednesday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and fresh, cut-up star fruit.

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Some walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.


Morning snack (about 10:30 am)
Two fig bars. Green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
A cup of oat flakes in vegetable broth. Salmon with ginger, garlic,
couscous and spinach. No dessert. Green tea.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
A banana rolled into a saltless tortilla with almond butter. Rice pud-
ding. One glass of red grape juice.
Dinner (about 7 pm)
Eggplant with tahini, pasta and corn-on-the-cob. Two cantaloup
slices with tahini. A slice of sourdough bread, plain. Green tea.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with fresh peach.

30 Thursday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and fresh, cut-up peach. Some
walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.
Morning snack (about 10 am, after one and a half hours tai-chi)
One 1.7 oz soy protein toasted nuts and cranberry bar.
Lunch (main meal of day)
A cup of oat flakes in vegetable broth. Tofu/ogo mix with couscous
and rye berries, spinach. A fresh peach with tahini as dessert. Green
tea.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
A banana.
Dinner (about 7 pm)
One hashed potato patty (baked in Canola oil) with spinach and sev-
eral fresh, small tomatoes dunked in tahini. One glass of red grape
juice. One slice of bread with almond butter. Green tea.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with a slice of fresh cantaloup.

31 Friday
Breakfast
Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and fresh, cut-up cantaloup
pieces. Some walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea.

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Morning snack (about 11 am)


Several Graham crackers. Green tea.
Lunch (main meal of day)
A cup of lentil soup. Tofu/ogo mix with couscous and rye berries,
green peas. No dessert. Green tea.
Afternoon snack (about 5 pm before swim)
A banana.
Dinner (about 8 pm)
Rye berries and spinach with Tahini dressing. Half a slice of bread
with almond butter. One glass of red grape juice.
Late night snack (maybe 10-11 pm)
Soy-yogurt with a slice of fresh cantaloup. Half a cup of hot water.

418
Appendix Author's Sources

Authors’ Sources

Book One

Chapter 1
Encyclopedia Americana, 1959 Edition.
Twelve Signs of the Zodiac
http://www.astrology-online.com/persn.htm February 20, 2000
Lau, Theodora. “Chinese Horoscopes,” Harper & Row 1979.
Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, Bibliographisches Institut,
Leipzig und Wien, 1896.

Chapter 2
drefa Produktion und Lizenz GmbH. “Geschichte Mittel-
deutschlands,” Leipzig, February 5, 2000.
Encyclopedia Americana, 1959 Edition.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/, Febru-
ary 12, 2000
Historic Bach cantatas, http://www.jsbach.org/historic.html,
February 12, 2000
Kopalinski, W., PIW. “A Dictionary of Myths and Traditions
of Culture,” Warsaw, Poland, 1985, pp.1110-1111. ISBN 83-06-
00861-8
Mitchell, Lt. Col. Joseph B., and Sir Edward S. Creasy. “Twen-
ty Decisive Battles of the World,” The Macmillan Company,
New York, 1964.

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Chapter 3
LaSalle Extension University, “Success” Magazine, 1964
Straube, Frida, geb. Vogt. “Ahnen-Pass,” Dresden, 1936.
Straube, Herbert. “Ahnen-Pass,” Dresden, 1936.

Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Straube, Win. “Blame it on me,” manuscript, 1967.

Chapter 10
Straube, Manfred. “Recollections,” written in Dresden, Ger-
many, February 1996. Translation by Win Straube 2000-01-18.

Chapters 11, 12, 13


Straube, Win. “Blame it on me,” manuscript, 1967.

Chapter 1/15
Straube, Hildegard. Honolulu, 2000-07-16.

Chapters 16, 17, 18


Straube, Win. “Blame it on me,” manuscript, 1967.

Book Two

Chapter 4
Straube, Helmut. “Family Chronicles of Dr. Helmut Straube,”
Arnsberg, Germany. Translations by Win Straube.

420
Appendix Author's Sources

Chapter 5
Pegasus International Corporation, corporate records 1951 to
1975.

Chapter 6
Davidson, Harold F.; Cetron, Marvin J.; Goldhar, Joel D.
“Technology Transfer,” Noordhoff International Publishing,
Leiden, The Netherlands, 1974.

Chapter 7
Straube, Win. “Day-Timer” entries March 1973.

Chapter 8
Gallina, Michael N., New York City, June 7, 2001
Sablan, David Mangarero, Saipan, June 27, 2001

Chapter 9
Pennington Borough Records, Straube Center, 1985.
Straube, Win. “Day-Timer” entries November 1985.
U.S. National Debt Clock, http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/,
July 13, 2000 and August 23, 2002.

Chapter 10
Fritz, Georg. “Die Chamorro. Eine Geschichte und Ethnogra-
phie der Marianen,” Ethnologisches Notizblatt, Berlin, 1904.
Kluge, P.T. “The Edge of Paradise,” Random House, New
York and Toronto, 1991.

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Chapter 11
Encyclopedia Americana, 1959 Edition.
Government of Singapore. “The Next Lap.” 1991
Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1997 Edition.
Straube, Win. “Day-Timer” entries December 1986.

Chapter 12
New York Times, Sunday, September 21, 1952.

Chapter 13
Lengert, Elfriede. Telephone interview, January 23, 2000.
Straube, Win. “Day-Timer” entries January 1988.

Chapter 14
Straube, Win. “Day-Timer” entries May 1990.

Book Three

Chapter 3
Straube, Win. “Day-Timer” entries August 1989.

Chapter 5
Bishop Museum exhibits, Honolulu, Hawaii, May 15, 1998.
Encyclopedia Americana, 1959 Edition.
Mello, Jack de. “Music of Hawaii,” The Mountain Apple Com-
pany, Hawaii, 1999.

422
Appendix Author's Sources

Chapter 6
Bilton, Michael, and Sim, Kevin, “Four Hours in My Lai.”
Viking, New York, 1992.
CNN News. “Are U.S. Schools Safe ?” June 23, 2000.
Starr, Kenneth. Independent Counsel, “Referral to the United
States House of Representatives pursuant to Title 28, United
States Code, § 595(c),” September 9, 1998.
Warren, Earl, Chairman; Russel, Richard B.; Cooper, John
Sherman; Boggs, Hale; Ford, Gerald R.; Dulles, Allen W.; Mc-
Cloy, John J., “The Warren Commission Report,” The Warren
Commission, U.S. Government, Washington, DC, September
24, 1964.
Woodward, Bob, and Bernstein, Carl. "All the President's
Men," The Washington Post, 1974.

Chapter 7
Forbes ASAP, Winter 2001, “The Pursuit of Happiness”

Chapter 8
Straube, Win. “Blame it on me,” manuscript, 1967.

Appendix

Chapter 1
Straube, Helmut. “Family Chronicles of Dr. Helmut Straube,”
Arnsberg, Germany. Translations by Win Straube.

Chapter 2
Straube, Helmut. “Family Chronicles of Dr. Helmut Straube,”
Arnsberg, Germany. Translations by Win Straube.

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Kopalinski, W., “A Dictionary of Myths and Traditions of Cul-


ture” PIW, Warsaw, Poland, 1985, pp.1110-1111. ISBN 83-06-
00861-8

424
Appendix References

References

Book One Chapter Two

** Barbarians, Mongols, and Those From the West:

* Antisthenes
Greek philosopher; born Athens c444 BC; died there after 371
BC
Antisthenes studied first with Gorgias and later with Socrates,
and after the death of the latter he founded his own school in the
Cynosarges, a gymnasium for Athenian youth who had foreign moth-
ers. His teachings were based on the principle that virtue alone is the
foundation of happiness and that virtue arises from knowledge… He
is considered the founder of the school of Cynics.

** Cynics
An unorganized sect of Greek philosophers who followed the
teachings of Antisthenes of Athens and Diogenes of Sinope. The
Cynics derived their name either from Cynosarges, a place where
Antisthenes lectured, or directly from the Greek word for dog (kyon,
kynos), which may have been applied because of their rejection of all
modest conventions and adoption of many shameless practices. Cyn-
icism’s tenets evolved from the eudaimonistic doctrine of Socrates,
who professed that happiness necessarily results from virtue alone and
that virtue, being the knowledge of what is good, was the sole end of
life. The one-sided interpretation of this theory by Antistehenes led
to Cynicism, from which the later school of Stoicism derived much of
its moral philosophy… To the early Cynics we owe two great ideas;
first, the responsibility of the individual as a moral unit, and second,
the supremacy of the power of the will.

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*** Alexander the Great


King of Macedon
born Pella 356 BC
died Babylon 323 BC

426