Since these stories are all about looking at what happens when otherness is feared, it seemed natural to look at what my girls might think about what happened on 23 June 2016.
Wow! I’ve not learnt a thing from her. She too had too much faith that people would do the right thing. Her story seems to be a tragedy and her fatal flaw is that belief. Yet that is what saves her in the end. There is a bit of a twist at the end of her story. I won’t say what – I don’t want to give a spoiler. She like I might say to Boris “You can’t be serious.” And if her son, Ernst, had said, “Mum, it’s going to be bad tomorrow. They’re going to vote Leave.” She would have said “Don’t be silly. People have got too much common sense.”
Has to flee to the Netherlands from Germany at the end of World War II because of her no longer being a Nazi and also being a lesbian. EU regulations would have stopped her from being in danger because of her belief system in the first place, but if she’d considered the Netherlands as culturally slightly LBGT more tolerant, actually moving there would have been easier as well. No need for visas etc. Ah, but the Netherlands is going to get overcrowded if all disillusioned lesbian ex-Nazis go there. Well, it isn’t overcrowded because she and her partner manage to find a flat. They contribute to the local economy. They pay taxes. Eventually Gisela is able to explain how the whole Nazi thing arose to people she teaches German. Eventually, she and Trudi go back to Germany.
Jewess by race only. Agnostic scientist by belief system. Exiled to London because of anti-Semitism. She had to obtain both exit and entry visas. Britain wanted to help the Jews but feared Anti-Semitism and violence because there was a recession in England anyway. We decided only to allow a few children, so 10, 000 (just under actually). She had to get an offer of work and a work permit. Any moment before that happened she could have been sent to a camp.
Of course, there was room for her in Britain. In fact she was needed as a worker. She worked until she was 80. She contributed to the economy and paid taxes from the moment she arrived here until she stopped working. Yes, she used the NHS but her taxes and NI contributed to it.
She was delighted when we went into the Common Market, not just because it was easier to get her beloved salami and cheese cake, but for the freedom of movement and also because she could be Jewish, British, German and European at the same time.
Poor girl is very mixed up for a lot her story. English? German? Jewish? None of these? Ah, but she is European. She came to England with no English. Had the EU directive that every EU member must speak three community language been in place then, she would have had less of a problem. She spoke German and Italian. A third language might well have been English. There was no directive as there was no EU.
She became politically very savvy as an adult and even stood as a candidate for the Conservative Party in a strong Labour area.
She cursed the bureaucracy of the EU but her words to us before the 1975 referendum were “You did vote Yes, didn’t you?” (Remember, it was about whether to go into the Common Market)
Be in it and reform from the inside rather than have a great galumphing neighbour over which you have no control.
And like her mother she became a citizen of the Common Market, the European Economic Community and the Economic Community. She died before we became the European Union.
She was a real Mischling. I often feel that I am one too. I have a great empathy with our European neighbours because I speak their languages and have learnt their cultures through that. I have lived for extended periods in France, Germany and the Netherlands There is much I love about the UK also but am aware of other possibilities and like Renate and Käthe can only truly feel comfortable if I can call myself European. An uncomfortable process but an amazing product that the EU facilitates.
The Round Robin Girls
I’m not writing about them at the moment. However, I’m sure that as it gradually dawned on them what had actually been happening they would welcome a system that secured the peace.