The world is an odd place, and the internet has made it considerably smaller, yet bigger, since I was kid. For example – and to younger people this may sound funny – when I was in school, formal essays were turned in with perfect penmanship, without words crossed out, or application of white out. Spelling errors were not tolerated. Final exams were also handwritten, but with a bit of leniency because of the fact they were written on the spot.
So what is this all about? It is about how I have learned about people I knew years ago – childhood friends, old classmates, people I have thought and wondered about. With the internet, I can look them up. I have learned that two of my closest childhood friends are now gone. Others are living in towns nearby, or far away in other countries. It is very strange for me to think that I used to wait weeks for mail to arrive from Europe, and now, an email takes seconds.
One day I came across a book while looking through Amazon, and came across a book that caught my eye: Maria’s Story: Lost Youth in Hitler’s Germany, by Maria Wolf Stella and Robert Stella. The name Stella is not common, and I have only known one person by the last name of Stella – a classmate from 9th grade many, many years ago.
This turns out to be the autobiography of my classmate’s mother, and it is a really, really good story – well done, good narration. This is a story of life under Hitler’s regime – not fiction, but fact – not as one of the persecuted under the Nazis, but what the daily population endured.
So much happened in the short time Hitler was in power. For students of history – pre-WW2, post-WW2, the days of the Cold War and Star Wars – there are a number of appendices which provide additional historical information. Because my own father was involved in these eras and enterprises, it is something to which I can relate, and find interesting. History written and made during my lifetime. Beyond the appendices, I think I may have gained a bit of understanding of my own family left behind, and lost, in WW2 Europe.
Stories need to be told, written down, published, made into movies. There are so many eras in which people lived, when times were tough, times were good, families made, adventures lived. All over the world this goes on, every day. My own time of the world is still evolving – but I also feel my mortality. Perhaps this is what has been pushing me to pick up literature again – fiction, nonfiction – to feel part of the great world around me, even as I take a walk in the local parks looking for spring’s new wildflowers.