Below the Speech from Gabi Rasthofer
‘Lost and Found’
When I was a little girl aged about 5, I wondered why the majority of other children around me had a father. I did not have a father and as the years passed by I sort of accepted this situation!
I was born in Lübeck in 1946 and had a wonderful childhood together with my mother, uncle, aunt, cousins and some other relatives.
But between the age of 16 and 18 I got curious. I found some documents in my mother’s desk indicating that she had corresponded with the protestant church. In fact she had told the church that she had a child – a daughter from a man in the allied army who had stayed in Germany between 1945 and 1946.
A meeting had been arranged between my father and the church. Unfortunately he denied ever having a German daughter!
I also found out where my father lived – a small town called Peabody near to Boston, USA. Finally I confronted my mother wishing to be totally informed about my origin!
The truth is that after the war (in 1945) my mother had been ordered to move from Berlin to a place called Hallein near Salzburg.
It was there I was created! Back to my roots! By the way I discovered in the internet that there were about 20.000 women in the same situation as my mother. Many of them were raped or had love affairs and were simply left to fend for themselves after the war.
My mother passed away in 1988. Just prior to her death we had had a long talk. I made a promise to her that I would only search for my father after her death. Actually my mother never married ……..because of me! She didn’t want to bring a new man into either of our lives.
I remained very curious and had a great idea which turned into a wonderful experience! As I was a Lufthansa flight attendant in Frankfurt, I was privileged to very cheap flights.
In order to round off the story……. I had at that time a very good German friend called Gloria who was married to an American and living in Atlanta. We both wanted to visit my father and having Gloria to support me in this undertaking was extremely helpful!
We agreed to meet in Boston. She arrived from Atlanta and I came in from Frankfurt. We rented a car and drove to the small town of Peabody. Sitting in the car looking at the little house in front of us, I started trembling. I was still full of doubts. My fearless friend Gloria went into the house and introduced me to my father as his long lost daughter from Germany!
Finally I stood in front of him. At that time I was already 42. All this happened in the summer of 1988. With my reasonable English ability, we spoke to each other for some time. As Gloria and I left we both had tears in our eyes. My father invited me to return again to the US…..next time accompanied by my husband. My father had married for a second time and had 4 daughters from his first marriage. Suddenly I realised I now had 4 half-sisters! This made me very happy.
My father said he wanted to speak to his family about me first. I understood his situation very well. When I returned for the second time, I met his very large family. Initially my youngest sister could not come to terms with my sudden existence. But she changed her mind after some time had passed. Everyone was so kind and loving. You probably can imagine my feelings. Since that time there has been lots of correspondence especially with one of my sisters Elaine, her children and grand-children.
A year ago there was a panel discussion held at the Volkshochschule. The subject was ‘Wir Besatzungskinder’– a description applying to so many children. On this occasion I met many interesting people who shared the same upbringing. A lady from Berlin who had organised the meeting and a man a ‘Besatzungskind’ living in Österreich. We had long conversations which made me feel free and happy.
I must admit for a while in my life I somehow felt lost but eventually discovered my origin and found out that I belong to a wonderful American family!
‘Lost and Found’