From 1948-51, Julie lived in Bremen and Hamburg, Germany, where her father’s job was to oversee the resettlement of the survivors of the concentration camps and other displaced persons. The Conan family was part of the Allied High Commission Occupation Forces. In Hamburg, they lived in a 40-room house that had been owned by a ship builder.
Julie remembers it had a duck pond. Her parents gifted her with a German teddy bear, which she still has and which she is holding in both photos.
Rudi’s bear is executed
At the same time, my family lived eight miles from Julie in Hamburg. We were the occupied. I was probably two or three years old when I got a teddy bear and then one day, when I was about five or six years old, my much-loved teddy bear was executed by my mother.
Without much preamble she took the bear from my arms, looked at it and said, “this bear is dirty.” She opened the door to the stove and threw the teddy into the flames. The bear was my friend. I screamed and dove to the stove and tried to reach into the flames to rescue my friend. It was too late.
My mother must have realized how cruel she had been. A few short days later she came home with a new bear. It was a new bear; it never became the old friend but I still have it and that is the bear I’m holding in the photo on the back of the book.
In the next edition of the book, we’ll be using a different shot of us.
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