The Alzheimer's Society run a popular monthly group called Buxton Memory Cafe, for people with dementia, their carer, family and friends. Sat in the elegant surroundings of a spa towns hotel, we gathered together in little groups. The Alzheimer's Society staff have created a relaxed and warm atmosphere where people can share their concerns, share advice, make friends and pass the time of day, or in the case yesterday reminisce and stitch. Two of the group sat next to each other for the first time, without prompting soon found they were deep in conversation- I dipped in and out of this remarkable encounter and tried to get a flavour of their conversation in my notes- Eva and Francis shared stories of humanity in war torn Berlin from a German and English perspective.
Each child had a rucksack to pack every night, with a change of clothes and something to eat. When the alarm went of, would run down to the cellar, you’d be sat waiting for things to happen. My father was a top judge, so had to stay and work in Berlin. A rucksack packed every night and left by the front door.
We had been breed to believe the German’s were rotten. The German’s weren’t rotten, except those up to their neck in it, the Nazi’s.
I was born in Berlin. Had to leave in '43, my mother and 6 kids, the youngest 3 months old, we went to a very small holding, in Bayrisher, right on the boarder of Austria. With the Russians on one side and the American’s on the other. When the American’s came my mother did the translations, she could speak German, French and English, sometimes she did the cooking to if they shot something in the woods.I could write a book about my experiences. If you tell the family about your life, they find it hard to visualise it, they cant believe it.
A land of contrast, buildings knocked down- I was there right at the end of the war, the Russians waiting to see if they could take Berlin.
It enriches your life to see people suffering and how they get over it. You live with it. The nights are worse than the days. It made us better people, understanding others. We were children at the time, we didn’t know what it was all about and father didn’t talk about it.
I wasn’t in the Hitler Youth, my father got a big fine because of it. He had fought in the 1st World War, so knew what was coming.
I only saw my father once, that was when the wall came down in 1989, he had turned up in East Berlin, my mother had thought he was dead, they had both remarried.
I was stationed in Spandau at the end of the war, a guard in the prison.
I worked in an orphanage not far from there, that’s where I met my husband an English man.
I was lucky enough to get into the courts when there were the trials of the Nazi War Criminals.