war memoir
A Personal Journey Through Germany's World Wars and Postwar Years
by Dorothea von Schwanenflügel Lawson

"Having heard stories all my life from family and friends about Germany during the war as well as post-war time, Laughter Wasn't Rationed only confirms these tales. This book should be read by Germans and non Germans of all generations."
               ~ Christiane Mandukich, Publisher, Gutenberg II, Inc.


The Nazis dedicated the second Sunday in May as the official Mothers Day. That sounds the same as in the rest of the world. But oh no! It was to be observed as a special national holiday. The mother was idolized as a heroine of the home front. With every childbirth, the more the better, she won a battle for her fatherland. Hitler made childbirth a popular duty in our male-dominated society. (Below Photo of Author and her children.)

german familiy photoLater Hitler even created a reward, an honor pin, the Mutterkreuz, a special cross awarded on three levels to all mothers "of favorable standing," which meant from healthy stock with preference for blond and blue-eyed females, (No black hair please!) who fulfilled the baby quota. The competition was to show who had the most babies. A bronze medal was bestowed on mothers with four or five children, a silver one for six or seven children, and finally a gold one for outstanding achievement of eight or more children. These crosses were supposed to be worn openly around the neck on a bright blue ribbon (What? Not a brown one?) with the inscription: Das Kind adelt die Mutter, the child ennobles the mother. People sarcastically called this prestigious award Kaninchenorden, or rabbit award. For Hitler we were guinea pigs for his colossal genetic experiment to produce a master race.

After each BDM (League of German Maidens) meeting we were lined up to march through the town accompanied by loud singing, preferably Nazi songs. This took place after 10 p.m. when other people wanted to sleep. I am, and always have been, a good walker but those man-like strides, stomping through the streets in a pseudo-military fashion, made it hard even for me to keep up. It all struck me as being the beginning of the end of people's individuality.

Our everyday life was dictated by politics and we had no say in it. Since the Nazis were in power, the daily diet was "coordination," with the official title of Genosse, which is comparable to the Soviet comrade. We were all at the mercy of the government's arbitrary actions, and it was not long before a new "brilliant idea" came from Berlin with a most incisive new regulation. From now on, all athletic associations, like local gymnastics and sports clubs, were placed under the authority of the government's athletic leader in Berlin. This meant we were deprived of our last freedom ~ sport. This extended Nazi domination to all non-political areas. Suddenly everybody who belonged to a sports club was transformed into a member of the Deutscher Reichsbund für Leibesübungen, the German government organization for all physical exercise, a strongly centralized system.

At Münster's periphery was the airport Loddenheide for balloon and flying sports, including glider flying. It was traditional on Easter morning for Papa to take Günter and me to watch their many performances. We Münsteraner liked outdoor activities. For as long as I can remember, not only Münster but all of Germany had well-organized athletic activities long before Hitler. To force us into a new form of sports club was like carrying coals to Newcastle. This was to make us comply blindly with their "follow the leader" ideology. A joke was again an escape from out of the Nazi sport strait jacket:

Hitler sits on the banks of the Spree River in Berlin and tries to fish, but with no success. No fish will bite, not even with the biggest worms as bait. He loudly complains about it to a Berliner passing by. "What do you expect?" the man says to Hitler. "Here even the fish don't dare to open their mouths any more!"

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