I was born in Kaunas, Lithuania just as WW2 was ending. My family moved to Kaunas from Berlin because Berlin was being bombed and decimated as the allies were determined to wipe Hitler and his gang off the face of the earth. It was not a safe place to live. My father was the director of a ballet company in Berlin before the war and we lived a comfortable life until the Nazis seized power. My father was not a supporter of the Nazis so it was to our benefit to find a better place to live and for me to be born. My fathers sister lived in Kaunas, Lithuania. There was food at my aunts home and it was not being bombed, it was a much better place for my mother to give birth. Lithuania was occupied by the Nazis at the time and my aunts neighbor found out we had German citizenship papers and reported us to the Nazis. We were deported back to Germany as the Nazis prepared for the last stand and called all German citizens back to fight for Hitlers last insanity. When we returned to Germany we moved to a safe place as the war was ending and eventually settled in Augsburg, Germany. The war was over.
My first memories are of Augsburg Germany and the ancient building where we lived which had been the rectory of a monastery. Augsburg began as a Roman garrison in 14 BC and would become the center of the gilding trade and a banking center headed by the Fugger family in the 15th and 16th century. It was a wealthy city and was involved in international financial dealings by its merchants, weavers and goldsmiths. It is a beautiful city of fountains, churches, frescoes and the Roman ruins that are found throughout the city. This is what I remember as a boy, also that my first playground was a bombed out building across the street from where we lived, Augsburg was heavily bombed during the war. As a boy all I knew was that the bombed ruins were a wonderful place to play whether the ruins were Roman or German.
The yard behind our building had a small fountain with a beautiful bowl shaped basin that was empty in the winter and spring and I could run around the basin and almost fly as I ran faster and faster until I was sideways and just about flying. Also in our back yard or Hoff, there was a brick wall and on the other side of the wall there were rabbit hutches and of course beautiful little rabbits that were fun to play with, at least till one of them took a good bite on the tip of my finger which didn't stop me from playing with them. The other fascination of the other side of the wall was that the ground was strewn with beautiful intensely colored glass fragments that had been blown out from the stained glass windows of the chapel of the monastery. The most intense blues and reds that I would hold in front of my eyes to see the world in magnificent technicolor. Life was full of wonder and mystery long before I knew what wonder and mystery were. When I work with magnificent sapphires and rubies in my jewelry work now, I will see an intense red ruby and can smell those rabbit hutches and that cool damp ground covered in gems.