Anni Craemer, nee Sperling, was born in 1924 in Witten on the Ruhr River, the daughter of a railroad employee. She died in Bad Duerkheim in the Palatinate in 2003. In this book, she remembers her life between 1924 and 1960 for her grandsons. But at the same time, she testifies for a whole generation of her contemporaries.
Her mother dies soon after her birth, and Anni spends the first six years of her life in the care of her beloved “Oma”. Not only this grandmother, but the whole village of Holzhausen near the town of Hoexter, provides her with a feeling of safety and caring. She feels a strong connection to Holzhausen for the rest of her life.
Completely unprepared, she is yanked out of these surroundings when it is time to enter school. Her father brings her to the city of Witten to meet family members whom she had not known about and who remain strangers. She has trouble adjusting to city life, and is happy when she can return to the village during vacation times, alas, never to stay for long. This conflict overshadows her whole life.
Then comes WWII, the horrific war started by the Nazis. It brings with it new losses for the long-suffering family, and is followed by the difficult years after the war with its many deprivations. But finally, there is hope. She meets her future husband, and despite initial conflicts because of their different religious denominations, she is finally able to start her own life with him. They dedicate their lives to social work with youth and the handicapped.
She writes short chapters about her difficult life with almost detached objectivity, describing the lives of many others whom she meets along her life’s journey. In few sentences, she sketches characters and events so well that they mange to capture the very spirit and essence of the times. Her almost poetic descriptions of village life become a monument to her beloved Holzhausen.