Velvet Eyes: Before The War, Hamburg By Night Was The Headquarters Of Our Nightmares! 5th New Episode (1938). Publication: Sept 5, 2009. A Story By Mike Fuller, PhD.

August 29, 2009

“The 1930’s were a dark time for Europe as I could read in the newspapers the hostile declarations of the Italians and Germans and the Spanish civil war began in 1936 created a terrible system of hate and no hope that I had difficulties to accept. In Germany, the regime was a very bad one that meant nothing good for the neighbors and their population. We were scared but we had a secret feeling for sincere thoughts about being better in a frightening world by communicating every evening the 3 of us. Malcolm was 14 and he studied in a private school for the foreign community in Prague, sons and daughters of diplomats, business people located in the attractive city, beautiful capital of eastern Europe.
I was still doing my job at the Embassy, press studies, strategic information, communication with the other nations embassies but I received more and more letters of people I knew and helped to solve their problems through these years and I had the time to reply and send them my best from my desk. Valentine received a promotion for her smart job about culture and diplomacy. Some of the best art creations of the country were exhibited in the United States, first in New York then in a few other big U.S. towns, thanks to her great relations with the Museums that she met to develop this project.
 

 

The 26,000 ton, 1,460 passenger ship WILHELM GUSTLOFF was built by Blohm & Voss Shipyards in Hamburg in 1938.

The 26,000 ton, 1,460 passenger ship WILHELM GUSTLOFF was built by Blohm & Voss Shipyards in Hamburg in 1938. Its sinking occured in 1945.

There was something to do to be useful in this Month of Jnauary 1938: to go to Hamburg, the German port where we needed to know why a friend of ours, Peter Knowly, disappeared last year in December, the week after Thanksgiving. He was an American journalist and, according to the authorities, he did not come back at his hotel after an interview of an important entrepreneur of the German industry. He was writing for a Midwest newspaper a series of articles about the New Germany with Hitler as Chancellor. The nation was almost at war and Knowly arrived with 2 assistants who stayed in Berlin when he was invited in Hamburg for a coverage of the local industries. One told me that he was lost there and that he drove too far, close to a secret area where the army was building submarines. I did not heard more but Peter was well known by our ambassador and we met him two years ago in his family, in Philadelphia, when we came back to the United States for 4 months of vacation. We used to have a great time together because we knew each other since the 1920’s as he was already there, in Europe, to prepare interviews and articles about the consequences of the World War.

I spoke on the phone with Elaine, his wife, who was in Paris to organize the researches, 2 days before we left by the train for Hamburg. The American Embassy in Berlin succeeded to get the right laissez-passers for the two of us. They had no clue about Peter’s disappearance mystery. I think that it originated a challenge for us, for our couple when we had to choose to take risks, it modified our love for each other, amplifying our ties about being together and one forever as a team of two who felt in love for the first time 18 years ago. We were ready now, not too much surprised to be invited because Germany did not want a bad public feedback about the American journalist who was declared missing.

Hamburg was a huge urban location and the military trucks were in the streets as usual for the people who believed in the fight of the crazy Nazis. For the others, the fear of the Gestapo controls prevent them to see the light of days as it was better to stay in your apartment than to walk for pleasure. It was a port but we did not see sailors, only soldiers who never looked at us and never smiled. Valentine had one only dream: to put one bomb one day against one of their headquarters. She was hating this Germany more than anything. I had the same kind of attitude but I was obliged to stay silent in order to focus on our mission.

German soldiers on the march. Peter Knowly was probably arrested by the Nazi army but nobody wanted to tell us why and how to make him liberated. It was a bureaucracy of no news and chaos of information.

German soldiers on the march. Peter Knowly was probably arrested by the Nazi army but nobody wanted to tell us why and how to make him liberated. It was a bureaucracy of no news and chaos of information.

A German local newspaper was ordered to be our contact there. The journalists we met were speaking fluent English and were respectful of our worries regarding Peter. We were at the police two times and did the itinerary of Peter that last day he was seen in Hamburg with the journalists. Peter Knowly, where was he now? Had he been arrested by a secret police or Hitler organization, was he alive? We spoke with witnesses, store managers located on Peter’s way back to the hotel. Nobody had something to share about what happened, nobody saw something special about him but some of them told us about destiny for foreigners when they want to ask too many questions. I was optimistic and almost sure that he succeeded to find a secured road to leave the Country, maybe to Belgium, as he was uncomfortable during this trip. Why did he not call his teammates in Berlin? He probably heard important things that he did not have to hear and preferred to be careful and give no news.

Surprisingly, we had the privilege of being invited by the one who was interviewed by Peter before the sad event that he was missing. It was in a big popular restaurant of Hamburg and we were there with other guests, five unknown guys, two American couples and a British one, most of them were people leaving definitely for London the following week due to the difficulties of being not German in this Dictatorship. Valentine drank more than usual during the diner as she was unable to control her angriness because we could not find Peter and we had the pressure of a system that did not like us at all.

For the dessert, she decided to say some words and she said: “I hate you Germans!!! Maybe you killed my friend, maybe not! If he was arrested, you must tell us. Anyway, I hate your regime and I will not come back! You will loose if there is a war!!!” We were obliged to quit the restaurant almost immediately even if the entrepreneur was laughing looking like Goering, Hitler’s friend. There was obviously a terrible risk when you criticized them publicly, even if you were diplomat, so we chose the first train for Berlin then Prague, the next day in the morning after some phone calls to our Embassy. We had no problem at all but we were so lucky, Valentine slept all day long and I was in a hurry to be back in Prague. Germany looked like an Evil State and I meditated about what she said: they will loose the war!

(Peter Knowly was found alive in a small internment camp near Dusseldorf in 1945 by the American Troops).

Velvet Eyes: Before The War, Hamburg By Night Was The Headquarters Of Our Nightmares! 5th New Episode (1938). Publication: Sept 5, 2009. A Story By Mike Fuller, PhD. All rights reserved.

Pablo Picasso - Weeping Woman (1937). There Was A Terrible Weather During This Winter 1938 In Hamburg and Valentine Explained What Will Happen To Jonathan And Some German Folks.

Pablo Picasso - Weeping Woman (1937). There Was A Terrible Weather During This Winter 1938 In Hamburg and Valentine Explained What Will Happen To Jonathan And Some German Folks.

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2 Responses to “Velvet Eyes: Before The War, Hamburg By Night Was The Headquarters Of Our Nightmares! 5th New Episode (1938). Publication: Sept 5, 2009. A Story By Mike Fuller, PhD.”

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