This will be a series of stories about living in Germany.  I honestly never wanted to live anywhere but Kansas City, but then got engaged to a man in the Air Force, on the condition that he promised me he would never make me move.  Unfortunately, his papers sending him overseas arrived before his papers exiting the Air Force.

I wasn’t happy about this turn of events, but after all, I was marrying him and  had been taught that the wife goes where the husband goes. 

When I first saw our village, I was so disappointed.  I had imagined gingerbread houses, flower boxes and people dressed in cute German costumes.  None of that where we lived.  Only a small village with row homes, no flower boxes and people who dressed just like us.  Of course, I couldn’t understand a word they said.  If you knew me, you would know that was torture – I had to learn German as quickly as possible!

This is what I saw.

We lived on the third floor of the mayor’s house – $60 per month rent.  Every time we paid the rent, they tried to get us to drink wine.  We were non-drinkers, so I’m sure they thought we were totally rude – (since we couldn’t communicate at all).

This is what I had imagined.

The Air Force Base was approximately 2 miles away.  I enjoyed the commissary (grocery) prices there, but it took some time to learn how to bake in centigrade.  I also eventually got a civilian job on base, which was very helpful for our travel budget.  We were able to travel extensively to many countries over a 2-year period.  I will talk about some of those trips on the “Trips” page.

All food was fried, and I had stomach trouble for about 6 months because I had been raised on grilled or baked food.  We never knew what we were ordering because we couldn’t read the menus.  I loved that I enjoyed so many surprises and decided that this was probably turning into the best adventure of my life.

 

 

 

I remember being amazed that the country was so clean.  People actually washed their sidewalks in front of their houses every day.  The countryside was also quite beautiful because all of the people had their houses close together in town and then drove out to the fields to farm.  There were no fences because they kept their animals in the barns, which were attached to their homes.  Historically, this was done for safety but had never changed.  Each village had its own charm (once I got over the lack of flower boxes.)

When we visited Bavaria, I finally saw the Germany I had expected.  (Where did I get those visions?  From watching the movie “Heidi” – which I think was actually Switzerland.)

Most Americans and Germans didn’t seem to get along very well.  Most Americans seemed to only want to stay on base.  Once I learned German, there was no holding me back.  I was determined to see as much as I could.  One of my goals was to visit every castle I could find.  Most of these were located HIGH on the cliffs on either side of the Rhine River.  We had to hike to the top of the hill, only to discover that there was nothing cold to drink (no ice!!??) and the castle had been bombed by us during WWII.

Typical bombed, castle ruin.

I also became avidly interested in studying about Hitler and WWII.  I really wanted to understand why such horrific things had happened.  I learned a lot, but there’s no explaining an insane, powermonger like Hitler.  I almost wish I had never visited the concentration camp of Dachau, but I’m not one to avoid reality.  Just never want to visit another one…or anything like it…

I attempted to talk to my landlord about it and he explained to me that he was 11 when the war starated.  He also said that the average German knew nothing about the camps.  That helped me some.  However, I would not recommend watching movies like “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “Schlinder’s List,” or various other movies that accurately depict the Holocaust while living there.  I really struggled with anger toward the German people.

I will say that my landlord gave me a different perspective about all of the good things that Hitler had done for Germany – which were numerous.  But nothing can offset the incredible damage that one man did to this world and an entire race.

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  • We had a German exchange student last year named Jana. She was a complete joy to have for 9 months and she became part of our family. So, we feel a bit closer to Germany.

    I think, when God helps us to see people through His eyes, and to get glimpses of how He loves each of us, then we can see how we can all be family.

    We will visit Jana and her family next spring. Thank you for sharing your experience in Germany. We will look for some of those castles.

    December 21, 2011
    • I will look forward to seeing some great pictures from your trip!

      December 21, 2011

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