life stories

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Der Heringsbändiger

Whoever was born in 1927 was particularly close to doom: This was the first age group that grew up under the complete influence of the National Socialist education system implemented as early as school and “Jungvolk” and was also the last year to be called up to military duty and sent to the slaughter at the front as Hitler’s youngest recruits. Martin Schwabe belonged to this group. As a “quarter Jew” he had experienced the darker side of the Nazi regime and volunteered for military service as he was eager “to belong”. At the age of sixteen he was a soldier, at the age of twenty-one he returned home from a Russian prisoner of war camp to what had in the meantime become the GDR and after all the bitter experiences and swearing to himself to never eat with the wolves again, maybe not all is well that ends well…

Ruth Damwerth: Der Heringsbändiger. Martin Schwabe’s Tale of the 20. Century.
ISBN: 3-937772-05-7; paperback 220 pages, 15,90 Euro

“When I was young Mother occasionally worked as a sales promoter for Persil. While she was at work I was in the Lindenstrasse in the care of teacher Motsche’s wife. Mrs Motsche was the first person to dress me in a uniform of sorts, a brown shirt with necktie. I have no recollection of this myself, but I have been told that I looked very cute trying to imitate the marching SA storm troopers as a three- or four-year-old tiny tot…”

His past is ca 1,5 centimeters wide. He is holding it in his hand. It reads “Der Heringsbändiger.” A life – black on white. 215 pages hot off the press. Martin Schwabe has seen a lot during the past 78 years. The Weimar Republic, National Socialism, the Cold War, the Reunification. “My neighbors said I should write it all down”, Martin Schwabe smiles. In Ruth Damwerth he has found an author who has a strong sense of bringing the spoken word to the page. And Schwabe has a lot of words. Many experiences to recount. “It was definitely 40 hours of tape recordings”, the Munsterian author recalls.

Grevener Zeitung, 09.03.2005, on “Der Heringsbändiger“