Quite poignantly, today of all days, I completed the girls’ letters’ strand on the novel. So, I have just three chapters to go which hopefully will bring closure for all of them but leave the story open-ended enough for my readers.
In my poppy-wearing today I’d like particularly to think of:
Clara Lehrs who lost her life in Treblinka.
Kathe Edler who lost her homeland and her husband in the Holocaust.
Renate Edler who lost her teen hood and her opportunity to go university because of the Holocaust and World War II.
More generally I think of all the men and women, whichever side they were on, symbolised in my novel, who were killed in World War II.
I think of all those who lived with the burden of war upon them.
I’d like to thank those who arranged the Kindertransport and who in other ways showed mercy and kindness to the Jews, and to enemy prisoners of war.
I’d like to thank the real people, symbolised in my story, who enabled the Hilfsklasse to carry on at Haus Lehrs throughout the Nazi time.
Poppy day originally commemorated the Great War. For me, though, now it is for all wars. It’s a complex issue. At which point do you fail to defend your country, your home or your family because of some greater moral or political issue? Or your own person if you are afraid? Sometimes fundamentally good people appear to do bad things. More often than not they didn’t intend to be bad but they have misunderstood something. And sometimes they’ve pledged to serve even though they don’t agree with everything being done. That people are prepared to give their lives to defend what they hold dear – even if they’ve lacked judgment – has to be honoured.
Some of these issues are important in my novel.