Kaunas, Lithuania to Augsburg, Germany

Born in Kaunas, Lithuania during the Nazi occupation towards the end of WW2. My mother was pregnant with me when we left Berlin to go to Kaunas Lithuania, Belin was not a safe place to be living. My father was the director of a ballet company in Berlin before the war and we lived a comfortable life until the Nazi's seized power. My father was not a supporter of the Nazis so it was not a good place for us to live or for me to be born. My family history was in Lithuania and fathers sister lived in Kaunas. 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. After I was born my aunts neighbor discovered we had German citizenship, and reported us to the Nazis. They deported us back to Germany as the Nazis prepared for the last stand and called German citizens back to Germany for Hitler's last insanity. We returned to Germany, to Berlin as it was being bombed by the allies. My mother and grandmother tell a story during the air raids. When the air raid sirens sounded my grandmother would wake us and take us to the bomb shelter. After weeks of bombings my grandmother fell asleep on the kitchen table, when the all clear sounded she woke up thinking it was the air raid siren and bundled us up and took us to the air raid shelter. When we arrived there it was a bomb crater, everyone in it was killed. The war ended, we survived.

My first memories are of Augsburg Germany and the ancient building where we lived which I think 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, frescoed buildings and 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 bombed during the war but now destroyed. As a boy all I knew was that the bombed ruins were a 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. In our back yard or Hoff, there was a brick wall, on the other side of the wall there were rabbit hutches and with beautiful little rabbits that we loved to play with, at least till one of them took a good bite on the tip of my finger, didn't stop me from playing with them. The other fascination on the other side of the wall was that the ground was strewn with beautiful intensely colored glass fragments that were from what must have been stained glass windows of the chapel of the monastery. The intense blue and red fragments 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 sapphires and rubies in my work now, I will see an intense red ruby it brings back the smell of those rabbit hutches and that cool damp ground covered in gems.