The Education of a German Girl|
Three weeks after I was born, Hitler entered Prague.
In Berlin, my father, Kurt Künzel, quietly put
down his pencils, quit his job as an insurance clerk, kissed his wife Helen and
his only daughter Beate-Auguste good-bye, and left on a long journey.
Infantryman Kurt Künzel had rejoined his unit. He spent the summer of 1939
on maneuvers, and the summer of 1940 somewhere in France.
I have a picture of him smiling as he stands guard
before a command post in Normandy. In those days he used to send us packages.
Then, during the summer of 1941, his regiment was moved to the East. When
winter came, a lucky case of double pneumonia got him transferred back to
Germany, where he did bookkeeping for the army.
The English quickly set him free in 1945, and he
rejoined his little family in the village of Sandau, where we had been
grudgingly taken in by a relative after being driven from Berlin by the
bombings. It was there that we and a group of terrified old people, women, and
children witnessed the arrival of the "Tartars on their shaggy ponies." Polish
laborers occupied our cousin's house and took our belongings doubtless
an even exchange, for we had spent several prosperous months in Lodz, then
known as Litzmannstadt, with my godfather, a Nazi official.