A World Elsewhere
By Sigrid MacRae
THE EXTRAORDINARY LOVE STORY OF AN AMERICAN BLUE BLOOD AND A GERMAN ARISTOCRAT- AND A RIVETING TALE OF SURVIVAL
The box was beautiful. My mother had bought it in Morocco many years ago, and as a child, I admired it in secret, stroking the tiny pieces of mother-of pearl inlay on the surface, dreaming child-dreams, Its ivory keyhole held a key with a striped ribbon attached. Turning the key always produced a soft pling-plong, but never opened the box. After many decades, my eighty-five-year-old mother was tired of Maine winters and was moving to Arizona. Parceling out her possessions and the memories they held to her children, she now held the box out to me, saying simply: “Your father’s letters.”
I had always suspected that the box held them. Exotic and mysterious, it was the perfect receptacle for the treasured relics of a husband long dead and a father I had never known. It contained a chapter of my mother’s life that she had closed long since, one I was reluctant to reopen. The moment was freighted with feeling; her expression suggested things that I was afraid I could respond to only with tears. Neither of us felt comfortable in such emotional territory and we cut it short. I stowed the box tenderly in the car along with the other pieces of her life she had designated for me. As the car pulled away, she stood, small and contained, the enormous firs by the garage dwarfing her as she waved good-bye. Behind her, morning sunlight skittered across the bay.
At home the box sat—still beautiful, but still steadfastly, stubbornly locked – and forcing this family reliquary open was wrong. Besides, I was reluctant to discover what the box held. Inside was the person who had changed the shape of my mother’s life, whom my older brothers and sisters loved and remembered, a real person to everyone in the family except me, the youngest. For years his mythical presence had loomed large, but as an absence—an immense absence. Opening the box — resurrecting him, would mean finding not only the man who became my father, but also the man responsible for the “Nazi!” a first-grade classmate had yelled at me as a six-year-old, newly arrived in the States from Germany. I didn’t know then what that was, but whatever it was, I knew it wasn’t good. The taunt stayed with me, and eventually, I blamed my father.
My mother died about ten years after she gave me the box of letters, and not long after, turning the key opened it. Inexplicable, I thought, magical, until my husband confessed that he had tinkered with the lock.
I began to read. After all these years he revealed himself quickly. The voice of my mother’s young lover, so long silent in the Moroccan box, emerged from his letters like a genie out of a bottle. Out of one letter slipped silken, nearly transparent poppy petals of the palest salmon pink. As I came to grips with his loose, generous hand, the father I had never known came spectacularly, breathtakingly alive….
A WORLD ELSEWHERE AVAILABLE TO BUY:
Alliance of Enemies
By Agostino von Hassell and Sigrid MacRae
THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE SECRET AMERICAN AND GERMAN COLLABORATION TO END WORLD WAR II
“This eye-opening account details the German opposition that long predated the well-known July 1944 putsch to assassinate Hitler…[and] the number of top officials who not only opposed Hitler but also actively aided the Allies… Von Hassell (grandson of a plotter) and MacRae, an editor and translator, have done an impressive job of demolishing the myth of a German monolith, united behind their fanatical leader.” (Nov. 23) – Publishers Weekly
Largely unknown by most of the world, resistance to Adolf Hitler by hundreds of thousands of Germans began as soon as he seized office illegally in 1933. Soon after Hitler came to power, many highly placed Germans begged both the British and the Americans to help them unseat the Nazi dictator. This is the story about the many Germans who conspired to kill Hitler; and why the Allied leaders in Britain and the United States did not take any advantage of this resistance, which would have ended World War II more quickly, and saved millions of lives.