A Science Career Against all Odds: A Life of Survival, Study, Teaching and Travel in the 20th Century
Today is Sunday, June 17, 2007. Father's Day. Naturally, the obligatory, carefully selected cards, phone calls, and small gifts arrived from the children and grandchildren. Best wishes for Father's Day were also the first words in the morning from Heidel, my wife of 54 years, although for many years I had made the comment: I am not your father. But, in the frame of my life's experiences th th in the 20 century, as I intend to summarize them over the next few years, the 17 of June has much deeper significance. This was the day in 1953 when we finally fled from our life of oppression which had lasted 20 years. Two successive dictatorships, one of Hitler and the other of Stalin, caused the most horrific slaughter of civilians and soldiers, eclipsing all prior history. During these first years of my life, I was plainly lucky to survive. After this day, I had a much better chance to experience the freedom needed to lead a life of creativity, satisfaction, and ultimately prosperity, all directed largely by our own decisions. th The 17 of June 1953 was a Wednesday. I stayed in the apartment of my parents in my hometown of Brandenburg, in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the former Russian occupied zone of Germany. The summer vacation of the Humboldt University in East Berlin, some 40 mi further east, had just started. But, I was alone with my father, Vati.