Tag: Gottfried Busch

Sad to announce death of Gottfried Busch, Mayor of Nickenich

Both Joe Stirling and I were saddened last week to hear of the sudden and premature death of Gottfried Busch, the honorary Mayor of the Parish of Nickenich, Joe’s birth place in the Rheinland.  Herr Busch had been a member of the local council since 1989 and honorary Mayor (Ortsbürgermeister) since 1992.  He was well loved in the village and followed this blog with a keen interest.  It was Herr Busch who invited me to visit Nickenich in the May of 2016, five months after Escaping Hitler was published.  We found him a delightful generous man, who welcomed us and offering us his hospitality.  The photo shows Herr Bush and I following my presentation to the people of the village.  A few weeks later I received a bulk order for the book, to be given out as gifts to visiting dignitaries.  I was honoured to supply them to Nickenich Council.  Herr Busch died on 17th May 2018, at  sixty-nine years old.  He leaves his wife Lydia and children Sebastian, Patricia, Marco and Leandra.  Joe and I send our condolences to the Busch family and to the people of Nickenich.

 

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Biographer Phyllida Scrivens and former Mayor of Nickenich, Gottfried Busch in Nickenich during May 2016.

Escaping Hitler reaches the Reichstag!

I was delighted and proud to hear that last week the Mayor of Nickenich, my good friend Gottfried Busch, had presented a signed copy of Escaping Hitler to the Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Andrea Nahles, when she was on a visit to the region.  It is wunderbar to think that my book might well cross the threshold of the historic Reichstag in Berlin.  I do hope she enjoys reading about little Günter Stern,  his escape on the Kindertransport from Nazi Germany and his long and illustrious future.

BOOKS BOUND FOR NICKENICH

Delighted, proud and pleased to be parceling up 15 signed copies of Escaping Hitler, to be sent tomorrow by carrier to the Ortsgemeinde (Town Hall) in Joe’s birth village of Nickenich in the German Rhineland.  The Mayor, Herr Gottfried Busch has ordered the books as gifts for his special Civic guests.  I am delighted to be able to fulfil this order and to know that yet more people can now learn about the life of that little boy who left their village with his anguished mother the morning after Kristallnacht after watching his father being arrested by the Gestapo.  The family would never be seen in the village again.

We were fortunate to take the book to Koblenz and Nickenich in May this year, giving an illustrated presentation to an audience of over 80 people in Nickenich, and signing no less than 40 books, many to people whose parents and grandparents had known the Stern family during the 1920s and 1930s when they were an integral part of the community.  These photos show me with Burgermeister Herr Busch at the signing and views of the village illustrating the importance of farming in the past.  The houses do not have back gardens, they have rear yards with former barns and shelters for animals.  It was like stepping back in time. Thank you Nickenich.

 

 

Huge Welcome for ‘Escaping Hitler’ in Germany

Last evening, we arrived home from the promotional trip to Germany, exhausted but delighted by the welcome we received both in Koblenz and Nickenich. Before either of my presentations, Victor and I found the Stolpersteine (Stumble stones) for Joe Stirling’s parents, set into the pavement outside their last known address in Koblenz and laid a white rose in their memory. It was a touching moment.

On Wednesday 11th May I spoke to an audience of about 70 people at the prestigious Bundesarchiv (Federal Archive) in Koblenz, hosted by the President of the Archive, Dr Michael Hollmann and the Kulturdezementin (Head of Culture and Education at Koblenz City Council), Dr Margit Theis-Scholz.  The Chairman of the Koblenz-Norwich Friendship Association, Günter Hahn, valiantly acted as my interpreter. The equipment for my presentation was ‘state of the art’, the Rhineland wine and huge pretzels were delicious and we met many people interested in Joe’s story.  I am most grateful for their support.  The very next day the local newspaper, Rhein-Zeitung carried the story.

On 12th May we arrived in Joe’s home village of Nickenich where we met with Jutta Hansen, local historian and the Town Mayor, Herr Gottfried Busch. Jutta took me for a walk around the village where I could still see signs of the farming village as it was in Günter’s childhood.  Herr Busch then treated us to dinner at our hotel.  During Friday we spent some time at the beautiful Maria Laach (ancient monastery) on the shores of the Laacher See (both of which feature in the early part of Escaping Hitler) where we were thrilled to find a poster for my book event on the tourist board by the lake!  During the late afternoon we helped prepare the room in the Nickenich Pellenzhalle for the evening’s presentation.  This went well beyond my imagination – more than 80 people – mostly locals but some from Andernach and a couple from Luxembourg,  people all fascinated to hear from the man himself (on video on a huge screen) what exactly happened to that little Jewish boy, Günter Stern, once he had disappeared from the village with his mother Ida, on the morning following his father’s arrest on Kristallnacht in 1938.  Joe’s family remains part of the folklore of the village, his parents’ names commemorated in the wall of the church.  My words were translated into German by student and Nickenich resident Jessica Hansen and people were clearly moved by Joe’s story.  Again, the local press were in attendance and the story is now in print.

In total from the two presentations I signed and sold 44 copies, each signed in advance by Joe Stirling.  Considering the book is in English this was an amazing result and in both Koblenz and Nickenich I now have people actively seeking a German publisher who will work with Pen and Sword Books to translate and publish the book for a German audience.  Fingers crossed!  Meantime, here are some photos to give you a flavour of this most satisfying trip to Joe’s homeland.

 

 

Packing for Germany

This weekend is all about preparing for our promotional trip to Germany on Monday.  I am proud to be taking little Günter Stern’s (now known as Joe Stirling of Norwich) life story  back to his roots in the village of Nickenich and the Rhineland city of Koblenz.  I have been invited by the Mayor of Nickenich, Gottfried Busch to give an illustrated talk on Friday 13th May in the Spiegelsaal (Sports Hall) of the Nickenich Community Centre known as the Pellenzhalle.  Two days earlier I will be presenting Escaping Hitler to the people of Koblenz, the twin city of Norwich, at the prestigious Federal Archive.  On both occasions I will be working with a translator, as sadly my German is rudimentary!  I am grateful to Herr Günter Hansen from the Norwich-Koblenz Friendship Association for his help in Koblenz, and to Jessica Hahn, a student at Trier University and resident of Nickenich for her help in Joe’s home village. This is an incredible opportunity to let the audiences know exactly what happened to that little Jewish boy after he left his homeland on a Kindertransport in July 1939.  I am excited and nervous in equal measure!!!

The photos show the village of Nickenich, the Pellenzhalle, the Federal Archive in Koblenz, an article from a Nickenich newspaper and the poster that is apparently on lampposts all over the village!

 

INVITATION TO NICKENICH

Wonderful news! We have been invited by Herr Gottfried Busch, Mayor of Nickenich, to visit during May 2016.  Joe Stirling was born in Nickenich and named Günter Stern in 1924.  His parents are still remembered by some older residents and their only son is held in high esteem.  The plan is to load the car up with copies of Escaping Hitler and give an evening presentation to village residents complete with a book signing. I will work with a translator. During the trip we hope to arrange a similar event in near-by Koblenz, now twinned with Norwich, and to where Gunter and his mother fled on the morning following Kristallnacht in 1938. I will shortly be contacting the Norwich-Koblenz Friendship Association to discuss the possibilities. 

I could not be more excited by the invitation and would like to thank Herr Busch and Jutta Hansen for setting up this opportunity to ‘take Gunter’s story home to Nickenich’.  Keep following this blog and ‘liking’ the Facebook page for updates on the publication journey and book signings during the New Year.

Mayor of Nickenich
Mayor of Nickenich
Joe's home village from the air
Joe’s home village from the air