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Gretel’s son Hubert portrays Grandfather Wilhelm

In this photograph we see the actual inn that inspired our Wirtshaus zum Goldenen Ritter-Inn of the Golden Knight.  Hubert is standing next to the grapevine that is mentioned on p.17 when Wilhelm sat on a bench that was located under the vine, kitchen windows, and where the flower boxes are stacked today.  In one scene from Gretel’s Cross Wilhelm sits on the bench to rest and smoke his pipe.  As he blows smoke rings he remembers his wife Barbara, who died under mysterious circumstances.  Then too, Hubert’s grandmother-Gretel’s mother-Rosa, stood at this kitchen window when she overheard a conversation indicating that her lover, Franz, was marrying her half-sister!  This grapevine has been growing here for about 100 years and we hear about it often throughout the book.

 

We had the great good fortune of acquiring two TV interviews in Germany during September of 2016.  Below are the links to TV Touring from Schweinfurt and Regio TV Stuttgart.  When you click on the Regio TV interview, please move the cursor over to number 4 to begin watch the portion that is about scenes you will read about in Gretel’s Cross or Gretels Welt.  

Marco Marty umbrella Christoph Bahnhof B

Marco Marty umbrella Christoph Bahnhof

http://www.tvtouring.de/mediathek/video/krieg-verbotene-liebe-tragischer-tod-glueck-und-leid-hofheimer-roman-gretels-welt/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RzTMmMCBL4


English or/oder Deutsch

September 21, 2016; Hofheim in Unterfranken, Germany

Today I would like to share a wonderful article with you that was in a recent edition of the Franklin College Alumni Magazine.  In May Hubert and I visited Franklin to celebrate 50 years since my college graduation.  At that time I had an interview which I will share with you here.  It is so thoughtfully written that it almost brought me to tears!

 

 

 

July 22, 2016

I just received a really nice Facebook message with comments about Gretel’s Cross.  Here is the note from Jackie which has her kind permission to share it.

(Meredith’s nickname) Marty….I just finished reading your book last night! It is fabulous!!! I enjoyed every chapter of it and am left wanting to read more!! I feel sad that I have finished it!! It is very well written and leaves the reader anxious to read more!! Bravo!!!!!!

(sent as a Facebook message from Jackie.)

June 7, 2016

On the opening page of “Gretel’s Cross,” I begin the story with something rather unusual. Gretel and Fritz are cleaning up horse poop at the arched gate to the Goldener Ritter. I wanted to catch the reader’s attention because this big gate and the little girl who was on the receiving end of the horse poop, each play a role in the final chapter as the US Army drives into Überauen.

Horse poop as intro!

Gretel and Fritz introduce an important character who becomes a Nazi.

May 25, 2016

For many years some loyal visitors from Holland have rented our tourist rental.  While they’re here we discuss the international situation together, so we have become friends.  When Gretel’s Cross finished, Bert was willing to read it since his English language skills are quite good.  He wrote such an insightful note to me that I want to share with you here.

Dear Meredith,

Today I finished reading Gretel’s Cross. It is a fascinating story. Although we know each other already many years, I sometimes felt a bit uneasy to peek unsolicited into the intimacy of Hubert’s family roots. It toke some extra attention to read the first section because of the many person described. The family tree on one of the first pages, however is very helpful in identifying all the persons. The many photos contribute a lot to the identification as reader with the persons in the novel. When the story develops it became more and more attractive and I could not stop reading. Many stories of my parents about the second WW came to life again. We all know that the German population has suffered a lot in the Nazi time. Through your story this suffering and heroism is personalized and became very close. It results in great respect for all people who were, and currently are, involved in the chaos and destruction of war and terror.

Thank you for letting us share in this history.

Bert Vermeij

Gorinchem_BinnenstadGorinchem, Holland

April 11, 2016;  Over the past few days I have received several supportive emails, cards and friendly conversations about Gretel’s Cross.  I’d like to share the nice card from my friend Lynn.

Friends have been so supportive in their comments about Gretel's Cross.

Friends have been so supportive in their comments about Gretel’s Cross.

Click on the following link to see the video:    Frankenlied Rita

Daytona Beach has a wonderful German shop at the Volusia Mall named Mr. Dunderbak’s.  Here is a link to their website:< http://dunderbaksdaytona.com.s3-website-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/menu.html>

 

Here are a few photographs that you will find in the book:

  1. A propaganda photograph of a German WWII tank similar to one that Rudolf Bergmeister would have been assigned to when he was badly burned in a tank explosion.cBundesarchiv_Bild_101III-Zschaeckel-208-25,_Schlacht_um_Kursk,_Panzer_III
  2. The is a family photograph of a group of guys in an orchard.  On the top row in the middle we have Joseph Geyer, Gretel’s father.    Frantz and Joseph  At the lower right we have a photo of Rosa’s “lover.”
  3. The picture of the Gerstenfeld Gate reminds us that something interesting happened here when the Americans arrived.2Gossmansdorfer Tor 1910
  4. The young couple are Otto Forner and Gretel Geyer when they were dating in 1926.Otto & Gretel 1926
  5. This is Meredith outside the town of Mechenried.Humprechtshausen, Germany copy 2
  6. This is the original small picture of Gretel’s mother, Rosa.  Touching stories of her life are in the beginning chapters.Rosa Geyer Rosa Geyer B&W
  7. In the bottom right corner you can see a picture of an American WWI soldier.  That is Meredith’s Grandpa Ira Price who was one of a handful of Americans in Germany as the war ended.

 

In the book, Gretel’s Cross, the St. Severinus Church is the center of idyllic village life. In a scene from chapter one, Gretel, Fritz, and Ernst make faces and stick out their tongues at each other during church until the adults make them stop.  As Gretel grows up, the Great War begins and her wonderful Uncle Friedrich is killed.  His funeral at the church was Gretel’s first shock in the real world but it wouldn’t be the last.  For the rest of her life Gretel and her extended family experienced the happy and sad events of life in the St. Severinus Church of Uberauen.

On a recent trip to Franken, one of or closest friends took us to Unfinden to sample the beer at a neighborhood brewery.  As you can imagine that was a great “cultural” experience.  When we came out of the brewery and looked around the village we saw a path made from shredded pine branches that the family and friends of a bride and groom had strewn to make a path to the church where the wedding ceremony would take place.  We did like Hansel (little Hans) and Gretel (little Margaret) and followed the path to the church.

 

 

In 1907 Gretel Geyer’s family arranged to have her photo taken by a professional photographer in Coburg, Germany. The noble family, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, were made famous outside Germany because their family member, Albert, had married Queen Victoria of England. The English royal family used that family name until WWI. The photographer for the Coburg noble family was the man who photographed little Gretel. When the photograph was finished, it was enlarged and painted by a professional who specialized in painting photographs. You will see this photograph in the book, “Gretel’s Cross.” It is still beautiful over one hundred years later.  Please see also the information about the author and notice Gretel’s photograph hanging on the dining room wall.

Gretel Geyer age 3

Gretel Geyer age 3

Many German cities and towns in Franken would be perfect as Uberauen.  We would welcome information about your town, stories that are well known and special churches, marketplaces, city halls etc.

Gretel’s Cross begins with some chapters about Gretel’s life in the idyllic country town of Uberauen.   In one scene, Rosa, Gretel, and Anna Geyer walk down the Brunnengasse, pulling the Leiterwagen, on their way to the vegetable garden.  At the end of the street Gretel stops to pet a horse that is drinking at a fountain and pump.  While Gretel talks to the farmer and pets the horse, Rosa worries about neighbors gossiping about her.  Here is a photograph showing the street described in the book along with the pump where Gretel and her mother would have stood in 1914.

Grüne Marktstrasse c. 1920 w. pump

Fountain and pump on the Brunnengasse

 

 

 

 

 

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