As I have been assembling sketches of my childhood European experience, I found myself avoiding the considerable time we spent in the Geislingen DP camp. So much growing up happened there that I couldn’t seem to get my arms around the story that would do justice to the life and lives then lived. On the grand scale we found ourselves in the middle of an epic of epochal proportions. Few in America know what went on during those post-war years in Europe, and most likely fewer today care. But WW2 and its aftermath cast a long shadow from which we have yet to fully emerge. Moreover, it was a time and place from which America would welcome millions of immigrants to become its new citizens, new Americans who would help to bring back the country from depression and war, and usher it into its golden age. Having survived the war, my family was part of that DP experience and eventual exodus to the new worlds that selectively beckoned those millions of European refugees.
My procrastination came to an end a month ago as our youngest granddaughter, Catherine, emailed me that she had chosen my early life as the subject of her junior year project in high school. She had read the previous entries in the ‘My Story’ part of RR, and, of course, heard more stories about ‘Papa’ from her mom and grandparents. But she also noticed the big hole in the My Story timeline of the European years.
Well, one thing that grandparents will never put on the back burner is an opportunity to pass on their history, experience, and (plenty of) advice when the occasion presents itself. Heaven knows, such opportunities are already rare enough, and here she comes to actually give that last little nudge which sent me to the keyboard, and Jo Ann scurrying to break out the old tattered Rebane family picture albums. Type, type, type with my editor-in-chief telling me to go back and not forget to add another episode or event that would complete or further illuminate the story.
Catherine got the hot-off-the-press drafts, and wrote a excellent version of my early years in the form of a boy’s ‘diary’ that I had (never) kept, and which was interspersed with editorial expansions in a definite adult voice. It is a well-composed piece that made an enjoyable read besides giving me a view of those early years through her eyes. Now, for the interested reader, I offer my version - Download Geislingen DP Camp Years_v130608.