You are on page 1of 441

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

i

ii

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

iii

iv

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

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

3 15 22 33 40 49 59 68 79 84 93 99 108 117 126 131 141

1/18

Ontario, Canada

157

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

165 178 186 194 211 224 234 250 261 272 277 289 297 300

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

311 317 329 337 342

3/06 3/07 3/08 3/09 Appendix

American by Choice Beauty and Wealth Paradise Found Just for Today

355 367 379 391

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

395 400

Personal Health Data A-03 Win Straube’s Diet, one typical month Author’s Sources A-04 Author’s Sources A-05 References

404

419 425 427

Color Plates

vii

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 forebears, 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 because it is meant to say “thank you” to everyone around the world who touched my life and thus helped make it the wonderful experience 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 anywhere. 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 ix

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 survival, 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 fulfillment 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 Manfred’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 individuals 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 photographic memory which vividly depicts and brings back otherwise long forgotten events. A great thank-you-verymuch goes to David M. Sablan, who served as the local handson 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 experiences. xi

One thousand thanks to Josephine Moraa Moikobu who provided most invaluable assistance in editing the material. Her friendship, 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 aftermath. 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 pictures of some of the key characters and others I met along the way, xii

as well as documentary 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 seeing. 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

xiii

xiv

Book One

Merci Mon Ami

2

Book One Merci Mon Ami Chapter One

chapter one

Following the Roots
Guiding Lights
My mother had two idols. One was Madam Curie (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 properties. 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 activity 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,
3

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 damaged 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 become 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 possibly 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 learning 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 Theodora 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 unconsciously, 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 different 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 creature… 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 undertake. He may exhibit the same fervent ardor in chasing a muchcoveted 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 natural 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 Capricorn. 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 determination 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 avoiding 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, practical, methodical and ambitious… they are creative and good founders
10

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 parents, 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 extreme, 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.
11

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

Capricorns make of themselves resourceful, determined managers, setting high standards for themselves as and others. They strive always 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 hardship, 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 ambitions (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 pessimism, 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
13

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 thinking. 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.

14

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 heredity). We can also look at the features of an individual and compare

15

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

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 partners — consciously or unconsciously — to produce healthy offspring, hopefully with genetic competitive advantages, which is the opposite of homogenization. Third, are subjects of academic controversy belonging 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 forebears 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
16

Book One Merci Mon Ami

chapter two

who attended to their every want and need, and to receiving government handouts. They rebelled 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 renounced the rule of Honorius. The dethronement of Attalus, however, brought no conciliation from Honorius, who was holding 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 normal 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
17

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

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 desolation 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, buildings 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 breadbasket of Italy, itself a center of many wealthy cities, ripe for the plucking. The barbarian chieftain 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 Sicilians 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
18

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 growing 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 ruling 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 personal19

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

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, carried 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 religious 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 beneath his dignity to ask alms. By day he walked through the streets
20

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 philosopher 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.

21

I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride 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 astonishing 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 conclusions, 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 father 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, apparently many of them had been miners in the Ore Mountains of Saxony. They lived in rented shacks in and near a very small village called Obergruna. Later on, my father took his family to this village. In 1939, I no23

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

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 emigrate 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 operated 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 Richard was doing well in Dresden. Actually, it was Richard who sent word back to Obergruna, because he needed helpers. 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 asserting 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
25

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 hyperinflation 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

27

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

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 becom29

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

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, particularly 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 insurance 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 political 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

31

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

only alternative to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Rationalizing 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 probably 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 future. 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 sessions 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
33

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 afternoon conversation, talked with us, like an afterthought, and brought up another angle on the same subject: You know, she said, Grandfather 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 belong. America belongs to the Indians." Grandpa Straube considered emigration, 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, collecting 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 scattered 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 spectacular — to establish a new record in an exotic field, such as razor blades or copper eavestroughing.
36

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 collection 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 something 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 at low tide via a shallow sandregardless of Mr. Hitler, or contests, 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 disappear 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
37

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 atmosphere 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 occasion 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
38

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 outcome. 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.

39

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 attack, 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 resources 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
41

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.
42

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 disturbed 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
43

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 relatives and friends living in the city.
44

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

45

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 buildings 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 smouldering ruins to look for signs of life, I heard the sound of airplanes overhead. Turning my head, I heard the whining 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 overhead 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.
47

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. Noone 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 available. 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 defense efforts. The old ones had nothing but contempt for the Hitler
49

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

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 preparing for the end. The Nazi propaganda machine pronounced that Hitler had secret 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
51

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 German Army equipment, such as bazookas, and we were trained on how to use them. In the meantime, the Soviet front was rapidly approaching Dresden. 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 "authentic" 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.

53

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 remaining 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 villages, 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
54

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 collected. 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 Czechoslovakia. I oriented myself by the stars at night, and directed myself south, because I wanted to make it to the Americans who were supposed 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 going 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
55

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 troopers). 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 permanent 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
56

Book One Merci Mon Ami

chapter six

hate went up and down my spine. Little did I know that the WaffenSS 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 everybody 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
57

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 possible 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.

58

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 Americans 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 German 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
59

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 creeping 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 tranquility, 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
60

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 smallminded 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
61

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
62

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
63

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 delicious! 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 American 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
64

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 allegedly 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 regime 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 compound 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
65

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 Saxony, 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 morning 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 confidently 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
66

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.

67

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 midnight. 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 remained 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 garden. 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.
68

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 Communists 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 gardening 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
69

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 understated 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 recovering 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 during 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
70

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 healing 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 trepidation. 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
71

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

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 collection. 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 denouncedbytheregimeandforbiddentobegivenany 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.

Käthe Kollwitz 1867-1945

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 everybody 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.
72

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.
73

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

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 Communist 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 luxurious 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.
74

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 uncommunicative, 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, propelling 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 concentration 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.
75

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

The realization that my father had died didn't happen that fast, however. At first there was still considerable hope. There were indications 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 gruesome 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 during 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
76

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 meantime, 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 success. 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 visitor 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 handwritten 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
77

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

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.

78

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 connected 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

79

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.
80

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 competition, and although initially they showed me how to overcome 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 first boss (in 1945), under whom I served as glassblower apprentice

Active Labor Relations

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
81

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 being 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
82

Book One Merci Mon Ami

chapter nine

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

83

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).
84

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 arranged 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 unavailable. What was available, if you were lucky, was at best, coal scrapings, 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
85

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” (substitute). 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 powerful 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 occasionally 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 forging 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

87

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

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.
89

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

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 nourished 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 returned 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
90

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 woodcutters’ 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 enchanting temperature in the apartment. To our surprise we discovered that the moist birch wood burned fine, but the heat started thawing the
91

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

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 warming 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.”

92

Book One Merci Mon Ami Chapter Eleven

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 February 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
93

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

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 possession 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.
94

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 soldiers 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 allowed 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 tattling 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.

95

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

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 Russian 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 accusations 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?
96

Book One Merci Mon Ami

chapter eleven

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 interrogation. 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.
97

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

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.

98

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, partitioned 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 occupation 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.

99

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

Stealing Away
After careful preparations, eventually, without permission from the East German authorities or the occupation forces, I left Dresden 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 German 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 suspicious 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.
100

Book One Merci Mon Ami

chapter twelve

“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.
101

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

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 delivered 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.
102

Book One Merci Mon Ami

chapter twelve

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 taking. 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 military 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
103

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

direction. Maybe they caught somebody else trying to escape. Finally, I made it all right, until at the West German side I accidentally 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 contemplated 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 railroad 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.
104

Book One Merci Mon Ami

chapter twelve

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 disembarking, 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 locomotive 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 German 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
105

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

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
106

Book One Merci Mon Ami

chapter twelve

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.

107

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

108

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
109

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

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, apparently 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 luxuries 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 accommodate 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
110

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 issue 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 GreatUncle 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 shortage 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
111

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

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 living 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 because 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 Frankfurter 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
112

Book One Merci Mon Ami

chapter thirteen

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 wonderful 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 excellent, 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.

113

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

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 challenging 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 increased with the growth of the camp, a daytime nurse was brought in to help.

114

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 emergencies 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
115

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

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.

116

Book One Merci Mon Ami Chapter Fourteen

chapter fourteen

Out of the Family Treasure Box
From the Substitute Reporter
My wife is a very private person, very personable 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, empathizes, 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 journalist 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
117

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

of Hildegard’s background. Although, admittedly, the information coming from me becomes second-hand, nevertheless, under the circumstances, 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 somewhere 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 during 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 countryside. 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 conductor. Except for his time drafted in the military, Christian had only one employer for all his life. He was a very solid individual, often
118

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 anywhere. 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 father thought she was a beautiful baby. Hildegard had no brothers or sisters. Yet, she was brought up to excel, be task-oriented, industrious and self reliant. Her father worked irregular hours, away a lot working on trains crisscrossing Germany. 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
119

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

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 champion. 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 onlychild’s attention into a young professional. Frankfurt was bombed often, and as dictated by his job, Hildegard’s father was away frequently. 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 blistering 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
120

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 Frankfurt was looking for an assistant to the chief executive officer of a company 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 reconstruction 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,
121

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

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 taking 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 certainly taken by surprise, particularly her mother. She would much rather have had her daughter stay around the house while they were still in the process of settling in. But Hildegard convinced her that the time to get a professional life was here. Ever so reluctantly, Margarete and Christian agreed
122

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
123

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

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 determination, 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 heredity. 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
124

Book One Merci Mon Ami

chapter fourteen

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

125

I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride 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
126

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 company 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
127

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

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 going 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
128

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 climate 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 morning 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
129

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

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.

130

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 working day I started promptly at 5.30 am. I distributed newspapers
131

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

(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 station. 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 arrangement 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
132

Book One Merci Mon Ami

chapter sixteen

at the Joint Export Import Agency At that time, it was the only official organization in Germany that conducted foreign trade. And, to my complete astonishment, there was a job opening, not for an interpreter, 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 donor station. I had gone there several 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 centimeters 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 session. 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.

133

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

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 occupation, 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 visitor 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
134

Book One Merci Mon Ami

chapter sixteen

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 America 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 million 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 philosophers 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 figured, 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 newspapers 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
135

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

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 organized 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

136

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 Frankfurter 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 discussing 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
137

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

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 believable 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 sitting 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
138

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 patient,” 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 consciously 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 millionaire, 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 manuscript 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.
139

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

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 precious 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 mankind in general. This is the only way which does work. Here I was, determined to carry it out.

140

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 suitable 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
141

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 chosen. 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 doing 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 presidents and so on, did not necessarily speak English. This meant interpreters 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 marrying. 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 Representative to Germany. He was my boss at the time, and Kay, his charming wife, meticulously arranged and financed our entire wedding
142

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 Frankfurt 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 wedding presents, confetti and colorful decorations. 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 crushing 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
143

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

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 language 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 Washington. 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 reflect 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 extremes. 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
144

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 biggest compliment was paid to me in Boise, Idaho by an American irrigation 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 accompanying 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
145

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

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 shoulders 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 engine 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.
146

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 previous 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
147

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

strange liquor laws. He had been up there with a group of countrymen. 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 buying 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 seeping in and through us. Or was it more natural to live this way, any148

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 charitable 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
149

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

Lookout Mountain, twenty miles from Denver in Colorado. I followed 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, describing 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. Nobody 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 questionnaires 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
150

Book One Merci Mon Ami

chapter seventeen

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 returning 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 Representative 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
151

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

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 German American Trade Promotion Company with offices in New York, Frankfurt and Cologne. GATPCO was a company set up by the German Government for promoting exports of German goods to North America. Germany was suffering under the "Dollar Gap" at the time, i.e., it imported by far more — mainly food stuffs — than it exported, creating an unfavorable 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 written to say that the position had to be filled right away, and, it was
152

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 background 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 structure, 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 Company, that I got involved in analyzing the markets for German products 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
153

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

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 distributor. 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 obviously 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: Durability, 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
154

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. Everybody 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 America. 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.
155

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 advised Dr. Graf that he was going to get me. Period. That settled that and gave me a basis for applying for and getting 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 converted 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.

156

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 industry 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 concluded 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 developments were on their way. There would be dams and aircraft to build, power to generate, almost limitless opportunities for engineers and engineering.
157

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

I thought that I was a practical person who would fit into this engineering world. I had seen many engineering offices in North America on my travels as an interpreter. I had translated at engineering conventions and conferences. One thing that made me think "opportunity" was to see these high priced engineers working in crowded, grandfather style offices. How could it be that the most advanced nation in the world had engineering offices comparable to those shown in pictures of the same offices 100 years ago? A revolution in how engineers produced their information 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 important 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.

158

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-engineer 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.
159

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

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 December, I was home with her for a few days. Then, again, we took up
160

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.

161

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

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 narration 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 benefits 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 an165

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

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-capitalist, 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 suffered 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 millennium, 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 instance, 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 re166

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.

167

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

After the exposure I had in the introduction of technical products to the North American market via the German American Trade Promotion 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 machines 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 opportunities. 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 American 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 Canadian operation wouldn't be too prohibitive. If our project was to flop, the losses could be absorbed. No one would find out. If, however, the project was successful, then, of course, the same concept and formula could be replicated in the U.S.A.
168

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter one

Birth of A New Venture
And that is how we started “Kuhlmann Straube Company Limited” 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 agreement. 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 reasonable 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 purchased 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

169

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

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

170

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 travelled 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 country, 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 Canadian 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 negotiated the purchase of Impex Inc., an importing company which
171

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

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 merchandise 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 increases 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 reshuffle orders previously received and inconvenience old, established customers. Without change in priorities there was nothing they could
172

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 relieve 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
173

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

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 operation. 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, accountants, 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 agreement mechanism. As I explained to him: “Then I could still go ahead with my plans and would still represent his wonderful products.”
174

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
175

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 advisers 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 mechanism 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 executives 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 con176

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.

177

I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride 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 products 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.
178

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 asking 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
179

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 equipment 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 after business. I knew a company in Long Branch, New J e r s e y, w h i c h was building optical plotting and layout machines. They had problems with the plotting and printing surface, and I thought I
180

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 reception. Nor did I ever return to try and stay with them again.

181

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

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 hammering 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
182

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 looking 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 communications 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
183

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

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 answering service in New York if they didn't have their own office there. A proper answering service was an entirely legitimate institution, fulfilling 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 Paramount 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
184

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter two

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 consideration. 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.

185

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

186

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter three

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 invited. 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
187

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

the day that we had delivered the merchandise and the customer refused to pay. His reason: the wrong merchandise. 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 Industries? ” 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 Company, 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
188

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 directly 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.
189

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

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 manufactured some of the finest vises in the country. Later on Emmert started to make drafting machines. In 1948 the then practically bankrupt 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 swollen, 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.
190

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter three

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 bankrupt 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 included 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
191

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

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 companies I worked for were Dexion and Digital Data Systems Corporation
192

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 international 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.

193

I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride 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 grandmother’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 February 18, 1901, and died in Dresden 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
194

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 bakery “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 immediately 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.
195

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

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 emotionally 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 everyone else had completed their jobs ambition, by expanding his market and getting involved with buying 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.
196

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter four

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 grandfather 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 considerable achievement. A greater entrepreneurial accomplishment yet was his becoming totally independent and acquiring Klopstockstrasse 29, which had a book value 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
197

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

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, because 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 grandmother 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 apartments. 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. Curious, 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 conjugal 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.
198

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter four

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 gentle, 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 eventually 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 immediately 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.
199

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

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
200

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.
201

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

Bruno, like so many other relatives, went into apprenticeship at my grandfather’s and became a baker. He absolved his mandatory military service 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 service was made only once a year. He then recalled that, whenever that happened, 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 inheritance, 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 Amsterdam, 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.
202

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter four

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. During 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.
203

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

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
204

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter four

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
205

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

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 family 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 measures 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 exposure 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
206

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter four

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 experiences, 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 issues, 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 impossible, to pay them back. Mother worked with the utmost commitment, cheerfully, in many roles, all through her life. She always worked for
207

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

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 considered 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 special 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 remaining 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
208

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter four

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 person 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 inspiring a person as she was.

209

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

210

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook Chapter Five

chapter five

Inside Pegasus International
Now, about the professional perspective, the setting I found myself 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 Professor 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 European 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 Imperial 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 purpose 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 who211

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

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’ American 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.”
212

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter five

This they were going to accomplish through “Technical, Economic, Licensing, Representation, and Trade assistance.” As far as the Licensing was concerned, it meant the “Establishment of initial 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
213

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

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 licensing 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 expensive, 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 licensing 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 substantial high-tech exporter from the U.S. Over time, however, the world economy improved, and this became a two-way street. New technologies emerged, particularly in countries like Germany, France and Japan, which were found in demand in the U.S. Pegasus, with their
214

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter five

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 another 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 headquartered in New York City. Things kept rolling along through the rest of the 1960s and everybody was happy with the results. ASPRO and its divisions continued growing, while, simultaneously, ASPRO continued buying and adding more divisions. The conglomerate under Harlan W. Smith,
215

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

President, and James Gerrity, Vice President, Finance, was a continuously 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 extended business trip in the then Soviet Union and the Middle East, when the office of ASPRO’s Chief Executive Officer had several messages 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
216

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter five

looked at a long list of others before me — lawyers, marketers, whathave-you. They also learned about me and my background, dug in deeper, checked out companies and individuals who had done business 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 arrived 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.. During 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 attention, 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.
217

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

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 necessary 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 objections 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 subsequent 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.
218

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter five

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 conglomerates. 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 company 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 vulnerable 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 conglomerate 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
219

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

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 Directors 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.
220

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter five

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 Shareholders 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,
221

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

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 November 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 obligation 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
222

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter five

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 “BSing" 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 Tokyo, 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 licensing American technology abroad is dealt with in a separate chapter, following this one, for those who are interested.

223

I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride 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 investments? 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 International Corporation at the Advanced Study Institute in Paris on
224

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 exchanging 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.
225

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

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. However, maybe the most decisive ingredient for our work’s right outcome is to combine a maximum of available facts with imagination. Therefore, our formula for maximizing profits from technology transfer is no secret… But please do not expect a simple recipe…

Worthwhile Benefits
Technology transfer in the form of licensing a product or process to others is by itself a form of maximizing profits based on an existing know-how. For instance, if all your production capacity is used up, or if you don’t want to invest in markets
226

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter six

you are not ready for, or unable to cover properly by your own efforts, 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 temporarily. 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 obtained. 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 worthless. 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 buying 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
227

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

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 jurisdiction, 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” connect228

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 material 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 non229

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

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 considerable 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
230

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 supplying. 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 licensee 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 components 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 required. 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 international market. It turned out that we could buy the refill fully packaged 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
231

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

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 differential.

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 “ordinary 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 export 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
232

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter six

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 technological 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.

233

I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride 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 Germany, 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 electric 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 knowhow— a tough task under the circumstances.
234

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 diplomatically, 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 government 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. Coming 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.
235

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

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.
236

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter seven

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 recognizeable, 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
237

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

run by the government, including where visitors stayed. There were not enough hotel rooms, which were reserved for the East’s political 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 address 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 visitor center. No apologies, but they did give us another address. In the meantime 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.
238

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 bodies 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:
239

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

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, including 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 reunions with family members, new editions, and friends. On Monday night we celebrated with a private party at the Gust’l Eck at Jacobi and Eisenacher 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
240

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter seven

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 (Elbsandsteingebirge) 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 immediately surrender the key or she’d arrest me. I challenged her to
241

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

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 penalties 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 objectives, 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.
242

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter seven

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, probably 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 Communist 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
243

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

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 somewhere, 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 potbellied 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.
244

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter seven

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 telephone 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 Czechoslovakia 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
245

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

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 directions. Each time they’d stop and entire commandos would inspect them with their flash lights, up and down and around, and underneath. 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 employment 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 din246

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter seven

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 conversa247

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

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 hurriedly 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 Czechoslovakia 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 favor. But what was I, as a beggar, to do? So I parted with another US $500, most of which probably went into his pocket.
248

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter seven

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 wondering 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 during 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.

249

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

The Director of Pegasus Saipan Speaking
This chapter was written by David M. Sablan in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, which is located in the western part of the Pacific 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 Micronesia as one of its leading entrepreneurs and businessmen 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
250

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 sophomore 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 serving 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 university. 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 re251

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

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 compensation and benefits structure while at the same time keeping in mind the company's day-to-day cash flow and marketplace uncertainty.
252

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

253

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

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
254

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 Micronesia. 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 appointed 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 satel255

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 engineer from Multi-Sat, made the two-day air journey from Baltimore
256

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 location because of the exposure to powerful typhoons which regularly

257

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

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 meter 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 Immigration 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
258

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 eventually 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 coming 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.
259

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

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.

260

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook Chapter Nine

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 founders, 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 Kennedy 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 accompanying 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
261

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

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
262

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter nine

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. Individual 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 tumbling 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 government 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
263

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

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 communist 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 Dresden, 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
264

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter nine

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 properties 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 cashout 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, support of the wrong people with the wrong ideas, abuse and injustice, not to mention that it creates family disharmony. For want of a better
265

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

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 inheritances, 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 established 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 inheritance 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 material 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
266

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter nine

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
267

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

what, in retrospect, might be a funny story about the shortsightedness 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 community 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 accumulate? 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 subscribe 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 percentage 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
268

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 mortgage, 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 administrator 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
269

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

could really work. OK, here comes idea #2 and it did become incorporated 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 eternally, 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
270

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter nine

a picture of me as the scrupulous developer who disregarded government 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 prosecution 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 Foundation 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.

271

I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride 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, assembled 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 islanders helped themselves freely to his crew’s supplies and belongings. Spain promptly claimed the islands and sent Jesuits to teach the natives 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 occupation 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
272

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter ten

Japanese defenders died as well as more than 16,000 of the invading 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 Territory 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 Security 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
273

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

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, operating 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
274

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter ten

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

275

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

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 priority. 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 deepest 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.

276

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook Chapter Eleven

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 supplies 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 withstand 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
277

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

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 government to deal with it. This meant that we needed to make ourselves yet
278

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter eleven

more independent from local infrastructure, which we did, eventually. 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 epidemics 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

279

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

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 missing 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 communications 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 Corporation from Saipan to either Hong Kong or Singapore, in the middle of our Asian mar280

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter eleven

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 performance standards. The infrastructure was well established, for example, 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
281

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

rigorous multilingual education with emphasis on science, technology 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,
282

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter eleven

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 Britain 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 administered 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.
283

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

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 Singapore, 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 established 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 Singapore 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
284

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter eleven

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
285

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

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.

286

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter eleven

Home for the Heart?
One may wonder, if I think that Singapore is so great, why wouldn’t I rather be a Singaporean 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 Singapore 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 retirement 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 nourishing 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
287

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

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.

288

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook Chapter Twelve

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:

289

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

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 horsepower Electrical Motors 4 Bulldog Electric Products Co. Switch-Gear & Distributing Systems for Electric Power & Light 5 Arthur Colton Co. pharmaceutical manufacturing & packaging equipment 6 Lynch Corp. packaging machines 7 Jack & Heintz inc. Rotomotive equipment for aircraft 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 capacitors, 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

Electronics Broadcast-TV Radio Communications

290

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter twelve

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 transformers
Instruments

1 Nuclear & Atomic 2 Basic Research 3 Production & Quality Control 4 Service & Test 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, condensing 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 tubing 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
291

Refrigeration and Airconditioning

Rocke International Branch Offices were located at:

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

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, Calcutta 13, India 8 Rocke International India Ltd. 7 Woods rd. Madras 2, India 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 wonderful 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.
292

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter twelve

The Ways of a Winner
Rocke International raked in money 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, however, 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 International 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
293

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

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 investment in overseas endeavors, to continue selling their products competitively 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.
294

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter twelve

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 international general enterprises, concentrating their efforts in telecommunications, research and development, and consulting, evolving into a totally different business.

Life Recycles
Pegasus International Corporation was dissolved by its shareholders on June 28, 1994, after 43 years of successful operation, and everybody was paid out. However, a new birth took place simultaneously. Straube Centers International redefined the business to service former 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. Customers 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 marketing 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 elec295

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

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.

296

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook Chapter Thirteen

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
297

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

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 government 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 Saturday 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 living, 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
298

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter thirteen

respect as well as a definite shortcoming of whatever relationship they had with their father. Uncle Helmut, however, knew that he really had something newfor-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 hanging. 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 buried with the corpse. The visitors went back to the hotel in NeheimHüsten 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.
299

I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride 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 stopover 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 quarters 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
300

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter fourteen

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 Communist 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 carried 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
301

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

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 preoccupied 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
302

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter fourteen

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, actually 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
303

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

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, particularly 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.

304

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter fourteen

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 Herbert 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

305

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

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 Mongols, 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,
306

Book Two Illionnaire Handbook

chapter fourteen

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, although 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
307

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

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.

308

Book Three

Deep Inside

310

Book Three Deep Inside Chapter One

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. Retirement 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 considered 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 sup311

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

port their parents, under which the parents can sue their children for adequate support. If a Singaporean Chinese who followed that thinking and practice 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 family is underperforming. The rest of the community will look down on them.

Western Ideas
In Europe children are not expected to contribute to the retirement income of the parents. On the contrary, many parents support their children way beyond the age of maturity. I know of many instances where parents paid for the education and support of their offspring until the kids were in their mid-forties. 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, education to retirement, welfare from cradle to grave. In America, many
312

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter one

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 retirement. 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
313

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

living and/or partaking in the challenges of life. Retirement means being passive, having things come your way, not being active, creating and giving. 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 others who apprenticed with him to become bakers. He created value whichever way you looked, including the apartment buildings discussed in a previous chapter. His wife Louise 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
314

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter one

an orchard with maybe 80 fruit trees, an area for growing our own vegetables, a section for berries to grow, and an enclosure for chickens 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!
315

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

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.

316

Book Three Deep Inside Chapter Two

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 medical 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. Videoconferencing 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
317

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

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.
318

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter two

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 running 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 enjoyment 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.
319

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

• 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.
320

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter two

Age Can be Good or Bad. It Depends on You.
Well, at my age now, others 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
321

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

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 performance, 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 having 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
322

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter two

grandparents, who read to us, taught us unique pieces of knowledge, like, for instance, the “Dulufu” or L-F language, and drilled multiplication 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 Appendix 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.
323

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

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 others. 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 competitively, 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
324

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter two

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, Patrick 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 medals, 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
325

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

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 personality. 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 smoking 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.

326

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter two

(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 centenarians showed that a well-defined sense of spirituality—a higher purpose—supported through prayer and meditation makes people live healthier, happier, and longer lives.
327

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

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. Supreme 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.

328

Book Three Deep Inside Chapter Three

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, certainly 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 searching 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 regardless 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
329

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

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-

330

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter three

thing which only humans possess or also animals, maybe even plants, or the whole universe. Leibnitz (Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, 16461716) 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—Hildegard 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. Superstition? 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
331

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

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.

332

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter three

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 individuals 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 angels 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 accomplished close to nothing. Actually there are armies of angels out there, souls on a mission. They are the souls of those who have gone before through the millennia,
333

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

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
334

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter three

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 listening. 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 electrifying. 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 universe 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
335

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

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.

336

Book Three Deep Inside Chapter Four

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 honeymoon 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. However, 50 years later, we retraced the same route, together, by motor

337

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

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, Florence, 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 Colosseum, 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.
338

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter four

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 participants. 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 clapping. 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
339

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

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 celebration, 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, emptying 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
340

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter four

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 restaurant, 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.

341

I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride 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 convinced 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 usually 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
342

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter five

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 Polynesians 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 Hawaiian 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.
343

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

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 complete, 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 influence 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 chanteys, 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, Portuguese strings, visiting sailors with accordions and other foreign
344

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter five

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 created the words — revising a Hawaiian trend. Before Berger, Hawaiians 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
345

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

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 composed 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 development 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-Hawaiian 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
346

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter five

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 example, “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 Kaleinanihiwahiwaakawainohiaokauanoelaawehiwaonalani 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 Japanese… 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.”
347

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

Be this as it may, however, there is true discontent among those “native” Hawaiians who feel shortchanged versus their non-Hawaiian 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 recognition 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 exemption 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% Philipinos, 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 Singapore 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
348

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter five

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.

349

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

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 prudent 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 biggest 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
350

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter five

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 economically. 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 Singapore. 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 associates 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
351

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

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 swimming 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 entirely 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
352

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter five

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 accomplished 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

353

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

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 passing 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?

354

Book Three Deep Inside Chapter Six

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 Vietnam 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 President Johnson to find out the truth in the matter, concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald, a lone gunman, was the culprit. Subsequent investigations 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 produced in court.

Crimes and Punishment
American justice? It tries to reach almost anywhere, including the drug lords of Columbia, and since September 11, 2001 international terrorists everywhere, starting in Afghanistan.
355

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

In America’s home yard the application of justice is more unpredictable. 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 Watergate 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 human 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
356

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter six

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 pillars 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, entertainment 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
357

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

development. Look at what happened to ancient Rome with its entertainment 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 arrogance. 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!?
358

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter six

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, wherever 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 Security 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.
359

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

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 allows 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, understanding, 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 advancement of gifted children is considered unequal, where mediocrity is
360

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter six

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 classrooms 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 unemployable graduates who can’t work in a job which requires the country’s main language. ONE common language is a rudimentary requirement. 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 bureaucracy is trying to occupy itself with more and more details of the
361

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

governed. Many of these details are meaningless, or right out misleading. 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 perceive 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 publicized. 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 Thurgood Marshall noted, there is yet a long way to go.
362

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter six

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 academic, 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 individuals who were on trial in Nuremberg after World War II. They were already being committed in the United States before, and more so after, the American Civil United States President Ronald Reagan War, particularly in the form of lynching black people, and the criminal mistreatment 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 massacre with over 500 dead on March 16, 1968. Regarding this holocaust-like event, only one American soldier, Lt. William Calley, was
363

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

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 continue 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 shameful 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 Reagan, 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
364

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter six

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 Ameri365

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

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 American 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, including 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 community, 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 uncountable 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.

366

Book Three Deep Inside Chapter Seven

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 always thus. To the American Indians before they ever knew of white men, and to the pilgrims after their arrival, America was a tough
367

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

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 measured. 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 “Property,” 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 concluded in a December 3, 2001 writing, “… it turns out, our country
368

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter seven

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 exhilarating 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 happiness, 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 unmistakably plain to all the world
369

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

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 waiting 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 originators 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 commercial 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 January 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 370

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter seven

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 mirror? Obviously it must be someone with deep-seated hatred for Americans. 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 Federal 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, America never made its case convincingly at home, and less still abroad: that the prosperity of the West is in no way responsible for poverty
371

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

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,
372

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter seven

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 everything 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 services of this prosperous society, depended on youth and sex to sell
373

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

them. I suspect, since September 11, 2001, no more! Americans awoke with a hangup, but sober. The pursuit of happiness was not in seeking 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, immature 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 “civilized” 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 doctors 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,
374

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter seven

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 rewarding 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 greatest 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 aging 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.
375

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

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 Active 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 awareness 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 remember information. The one I like best is Creative Exercise. Marge Engelman recommends: Varying your daily activities. Make a list of 20 things that you
376

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter seven

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 mankind. 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
377

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

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 theater. 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.

378

Book Three Deep Inside Chapter Eight

chapter eight

Paradise Found
Opening the Inner Sanctum
I don’t remember how and when the subject of God was introduced 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 question, 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.

379

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

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 human 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
380

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter eight

worry jealously that one or more of her disciples may go and worship 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 highest 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 brotherhood 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 man381

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

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 others. 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 accident or mere imagination. That’s maybe as close to God as we can come with scientific reasoning, which obviously is highly inadequate.
382

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter eight

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 explanation. 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 knowledge 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
383

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

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 being 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 encouragement. 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 achievements than they themselves were able or equipped to obtain.
384

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter eight

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 chiseled 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 accomplish 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 following basic groups:
385

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

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 simultaneously, 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, sustained 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. Furthermore, 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.
386

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 intimate. 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 satisfaction. 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
387

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

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.

388

Book Three Deep Inside

chapter eight

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.

389

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

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

394

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 meticulously 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 American 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 Harlingen, 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
395

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

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 unknown. 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 Reinsberg, 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 produced 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, Saxony, and died March 3, 1953 in St. Louis, Missouri. Paul served a plumber apprenticeship in Siebenlehn. About 1892,
396

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 additional 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 extremely well off, but she didn’t know why or what Mr. Scheu did for a living. All she remem397

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

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 wonderful 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 relationship. We understood each other as though we were contemporaries. 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
398

Appendix

More Relatives, American Pioneers

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 athletes, 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 department 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.
399

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

not recognized elsewhere

European Family

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.

400

Appendix

More Relatives, European Family

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, organist as well as leader of the Thomaner Choir and Gewandhaus 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 music instruments” but then lost its central position as a tool of the musica sacra because of new secular developments. Only a hundred years later the organ and its potential were rediscovered, to a large extent because of Karl Straube and his performance 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
401

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

presentation of Bach’s music. In part he did this by going back to Bach’s historic practices which had long been forgotten. As Thomaskantor 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 particularly 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 RundfunkAG (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.
402

Appendix

More Relatives, European Family

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)

403

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

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. 404

Appendix

Personal Health Data

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. Ninegrain 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. 405

I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride 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. 406

Appendix

Personal Health Data

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. 407

I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride 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 walnuts. 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 408

Appendix

Personal Health Data

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 walnuts. 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 walnuts. 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.

409

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

14 Tuesday
Breakfast Poi with one teaspoon flaxseed meal and apple pieces. Some walnuts. 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 walnuts. 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 tahini 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 walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea. Morning snack (about 11 am) Graham crackers. Green tea. 410

Appendix

Personal Health Data

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 walnuts. 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 walnuts. Rice milk. Green tea. Morning snack (about 11 am) A banana.

411

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

412

Appendix

Personal Health Data

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, dumplings, 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. 413

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

414

Appendix

Personal Health Data

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. 415

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

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. 416

Appendix

Personal Health Data

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 pudding. 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 several 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. 417

I don't know where I am going but I am Enjoying the Ride 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 Mitteldeutschlands,” Leipzig, February 5, 2000. Encyclopedia Americana, 1959 Edition. Encyclopaedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/, February 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 83-0600861-8 Mitchell, Lt. Col. Joseph B., and Sir Edward S. Creasy. “Twenty Decisive Battles of the World,” The Macmillan Company, New York, 1964.

419

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

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, Germany, 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 Ethnographie der Marianen,” Ethnologisches Notizblatt, Berlin, 1904. Kluge, P.T. “The Edge of Paradise,” Random House, New York and Toronto, 1991.

421

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

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 Company, 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.; McCloy, 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.
423

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

Kopalinski, W., “A Dictionary of Myths and Traditions of Culture” PIW, Warsaw, Poland, 1985, pp.1110-1111. ISBN 83-0600861-8

424

Appendix

References

References
Book One Chapter Two ** Barbarians, Mongols, and Those From the West: * Antisthenes
BC Greek philosopher; born Athens c444 BC; died there after 371 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 mothers. 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. Cynicism’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.
425

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

*** Alexander the Great
King of Macedon born Pella 356 BC died Babylon 323 BC

426

Related Interests