This is a tale of the Heimbach family: Peter, Lisa, and daughters Helly and Inga, struggling to find their way in the immediate years after World War I when Germany was defeated and humiliated by the Versailles Treaty. They lived in Biebrich on theMoreThis is a tale of the Heimbach family: Peter, Lisa, and daughters Helly and Inga, struggling to find their way in the immediate years after World War I when Germany was defeated and humiliated by the Versailles Treaty.
They lived in Biebrich on the Rhine River under French occupation.. The inflation created havoc with the fortunes of Peters mother, called Omi by her granddaughters, and sister Sabina Heimbach, who lost everything. They were dependent on the bankrupt state for a subsidy and on Peters generosity.The pharmaceutical company who employed him sent Peter to Moscow where he toiled without his young family during the darkest days of Stalins regime.
Lisa and the girls were finally allowed to join him for extended visits. Life was hard. When their bell suddenly rang incessantly in the middle of a wintry night, the many residents crammed into this one-family villa had only one thought: the GPU was after somebody. By a stroke of genius, janitor Ivan solved the mystery.From Russia, the Heimbachs moved back to Germany in 1929 and Helly started school. Two years later the company transferred the family to Berlin, an exciting city where Lisa met up with her Jewish girlfriend and former classmate, a fine violinist, who saw the danger looming on the political horizon.
Peter had a nostalgic reunion with a friend and fellow internee with whom he spent four years as guest of the Russians during the war. Inga started first grade there but all four Heimbachs were overjoyed when they could return home once more after the year was up and be with their friends and Omi and Aunt Sabina at Christmas. Listening to their stories from the good old days, their fathersescapades as a boy, entertained the girls royally. Visiting Omi and Tante Sabina in their third floor apartment with gas light and primitive toilet, the youngest sleeping in a zinc bathtub decked out with plumots was a real adventure.
But, oh, Omis cooking and Sabinas baking were superb. Listening in on her piano students perform was inspiring- and being treated to ice cream cones at their favorite Italian ice cream parlor was heaven.And then Peter Heimbach discovered Hollow Rock Castle with its ancient towers and 200 year-old Schloss, the most romantic vacation spot imaginable. Here time stood still. It was a refuge from stress, afforded bonding with beautiful nature and rural life.Meantime, the outside world plunged into a depression further weakening the Weimar Republic causing the successful rise of the National Socialists in the early thirties.
Once more, Peter Heimbach was sent abroad to represent his firm in Romania. He and his family left their fatherland in January 1933 for an indefinite stay in Bucharest, where Helly and Inga attended yet another school, more challenging than any one before. With a load of daily homework , there wasnt much time left for anything else. Nevertheless, the boys in the nearby boys school courted the girls and friendships developed and occasional kisses were exchanged at spin-the-bottle games and others.Helly and Inga had no presentiment that six months after their return to Germany in 1939, Hitler would unleash a war that would leave Europe in ruin, bring immense suffering and a Holocaust, the consequences of which would haunt the German people for a very long time..
But their former enemy, America, came to the rescue and taught them Democracy. After a long darkness the sun finally shone again, but that may be a subject for another tale.