A Memorable Ride in a Police Car (1965)

My first semester of teacher’s  college was coming to an end, when our English professor suggested a field trip to a a small island at the North Sea together with a group of American exchange students.  During our first semester there had been  very little time and opportunity for social interaction with our fellow students and staff.  The prospect of a trip offered a chance to get to know each other better at a beautiful coastal region of Germany. I immediately signed up.

Winter had been long and dull. The transition from high school to the  busy and overcrowded teacher’s college  had been stressful and demanding.  Every morning at six o’clock  I had to travel by transit bus from my hometown Velbert to the  nearby city of Wuppertal to attend my morning classes at 8:00 a.m.   By the way, Wuppertal  (among other things) is famous for its historic monorail sky train.

Wuppertal Schwebebahn


The one and a half  hour long ride on the often crowded and badly ventilated public transit bus to the main station in the city center of Wuppertal was unpleasant and nauseating.   The college was situated on top of a lovely hill in a spectacular park landscape about half an hour’s walk from the station.  After the often sickening bus ride the walk through the fresh air in the lovely park was pleasant and  revived my body and spirits.


That  year,  spring was slow in coming and I longed for sunshine and the invigorating ocean air.  Our trip was scheduled for the beginning of June.  Finally  all the arrangements were made and the departure day was approaching.

However, I had a problem.  Our train to the coast was supposed to leave at 4:00 a.m. from Wuppertal.  I had no means of transportation so early in the morning from my home. We did not own a a car and the earliest bus from Velbert was too late to catch the train in time. I had no close friends or acquaintances in Wuppertal to help me out.   My professor suggested that I could sleep on a cot in his office the night before and walk down to the station in the early morning.

Needless to say,  I was too excited and also a bit scared to sleep much in the deserted college building.  After tossing and turning for half the night, I decided to get up at the break of dawn and walk down to the station bright and early.

Wupertal Park - Photo Credit: Atamari (Wuppertal)

Wupertal Park – Photo Credit: Atamari (Wuppertal)

A few days ago spring had finally  arrived and flowers and trees were blossoming in profusion.  When I stepped out of the  college building, the first sun rays greeted me and made the dew drops on the grass and leaves sparkle in the early morning light.   The air was fragrant and fresh. Having lots of time,  I decided to walk down through the park paths  instead of the road directly leading down to the city.

My suitcase was not too heavy and I walked briskly enchanted by the beautiful light filtering through the blooming trees and bushes.  I stopped briefly to look at an unusually pretty flower when I noticed some movement behind me.

Daffodils at greenhouse sm

 Nervously I looked around me wondering who or what could have disturbed the peace.  Probably a bird or small animal just waking up.  I walked a bit faster.  All of a sudden someone in a strong male voice  called out, “Stop!”

My first impulse was to run.  But my suitcase would not let me get away fast.  I froze on the spot unable to make a decision.  When I dared to look around to confront my pursuer I was amazed to see a uniformed man.  A police man!  “What are you doing so early in the morning in this park?” he asked sternly.  “Loitering in this park at night is against the law!”, he added fixing his glance firmly on my suitcase.    When I finally regained my composure I managed to explain my situation in a shaky voice.   The policeman’s face relaxed and he assumed a kinder look.  “These isolated parks are not safe for young ladies like you, especially not at this time of day.  Come with me and I’ll drive you down to the station.”  He grabbed my suitcase and together we walked through the park paths to the road where he had parked his vehicle.  I sat beside him and we chatted like friends.  He seemed pleased to hear that I was the daughter of a retired police officer.  When we arrived at the  train station, some of the students and the professor were already gathered at the main entrance.stock-photo-57620416-german-police-van-patroling-berlin-at-sunsetThey curiously looked at the police car stopping at the curb right in front of them. I never forget their surprised and puzzled  looks, when I emerged out of it.   My friendly police escort carried  my suitcase like a valet and delivered me (and my suitcase) safely to the perplexed group.  After exchanging a few friendly words with my professor and the students he left.

During my youth,  the police in Germany had  a good reputation.  I cannot remember any derogatory words for policemen.  They were respected.    A police man was often referred to as your “friend and protector”.    This caring  policeman truly lived up to that motto.  In a friendly manner he had protected me from potential harm.





The Problem of the Outsider in Society

The Problem of the Outsider as Represented in some  Works of Modern Literature

Dear friends,

A little while ago I came across this paper I wrote several years ago.  Rereading it I was amazed how much sense it continues to  makes in our present day world.  No wonder the books I read are considered classics.  I urge you to read my paper and maybe some of the literature I quote from.

We live in a world of instant communication on social media.  Like most of us I spend a big chunk of my day interacting with the world wide net.  But I find less time to read  books than in the past.  My longing for good literature is getting stronger.  I made a pledge to myself  to start reading more books again.  I challenge and urge you to read some of the prophetic and insightful works of the great modern writers I refer to in my paper.  They will enrich you and give you insights into the human spirit  of  this miraculous life.

Van Meer

Van Meer

Modern man is increasingly faced with the problem of the outsider. An outsider is that kind of individual who for a complex combination of psychological and environmental factors deviates from the con­ventional or prescribed norm of behavior, ethical values and metaphysical and ideological beliefs of his society and time. The reasons contributing to the crisis of the outsider are multifaceted and may result from his conscience, his consciousness, his physical attributes, his personality, his beliefs or convictions. The out­sider stands apart or dissociates himself from ready – made forms of beliefs, behavior, morals and conventions. He experiences alienation, isolation and despair, and in most cases is unable to love and be loved.

The crisis of the outsider is ultimately the crisis of an individual in search for his own answers to the most fundamental questions of  humanity. What is the nature and extent of man’s freedom? What constitutes the essence of man, and what is the meaning of life?
Modern literature has dealt with the problem of the outsider. There are the existentialist outsiders of the 20th century who live in a relativistic world of no absolute values and beliefs, who have no guiding stars, no orientation, no expectations and no enthusiasm for life. They are unable to cope with the demands and responsibilities of reality because life holds no meaning for them. They are the nihilists, the escapists and the suicides unable to love and be loved, doomed to a spiritual death in a seemingly absurd world.

Man’s search for his identity is ultimately a search for the limits of his individual freedom. Bazarov, the young iconoclastic nihilist in Turgenev’s novel Fathers and Sons tries to Fathers and Sonsdefine man by reason alone. The essence of man is his reason and that is what he should live by. Bazarov, however, is not free to live by reason alone and succumbs to the irrational forces of life he so willfully tried to deny.


In Franz Kafka’s work The Metamorphosis, the irrational forces of life are intensified to cruel absurdity. Here a human being, who has been a useful and productive member of society, becomes an outsider by a sudden stroke of fate, which physically transforms him into a creature losing all human attributes, incapable of fulfilling human functions and actions. Although he initially still feels human in his inner being, he increasingly doubts his human identity when he is treated by his family and society as that repulsive bug he has been physically transformed to. The crucial question arises: Is a human being only defined by his physical attributes and his place and function in society? The same question is also asked in Solzhenitsyn’s courageous novel Cancer Ward: Where does the human being end when his body is ravaged by a terrible disease? Can such a useless being demand any human rights, such as the right to be treated with dignity by his fellow men?

Cancer Ward

Dostoevsky’s Underground Man portrays an outsider who suffers from a disease of the mind. He is a confused man unable to de­fine himself and reality. He suffers from an intense feeling of boredom and meaninglessness. He compares his existence to that of a fly, which goes unnoticed until it becomes bothersome. He retreats out of spite for a cruel and impersonal world into his imaginary inner world, the underground. He resorts to daydreams and self-deceptions, and preoccupies his mind with trivial events and happenings from his actual life blowing them out of proportion, reliving them ad absurdum. He projects his distorted feelings, emotions, thoughts and anxieties onto reality and tries to con­vert his daydreams into unrealistic actions. He cannot cope with reality. However, he is also a man of deep thoughts and under­standing and truth. Yet he cannot act on that knowledge because he has no sense of reality and is dominated by irrational impulses. He recognizes his sickness but is unwilling to seek and accept help, because he has elevated his suffering to a perverted sense of joy. He cannot love and receive love. In this work man is portrayed as a capricious being solely motivated to have his own spiteful way.


In Ibsen’s drama, Hedda Gabler, Hedda’s “heroic” act of will is also a desperate attempt to have her own way and to spite a society in which she is unable to find self-realization. Her peculiar personality stands in opposition to the values and conventions of her time. She is a woman who cannot submit and find fulfillment in the traditional role as wife and mother. However, she does not dare to openly express and exert her true personality but outwardly adheres to the conventions and morals of middleclass society. She has no courage to change or continue her life. She seeks freedom without responsibility and escapes into death by suicide.

Hedda Gabler

These are some examples of outsiders who are confused as to their human identity and the nature and limit of their freedom. They are unable to function in a meaningful arid acceptable way because life has no meaning or purpose. They are physically or mentally in­sane individuals who live in a world without love.

However, there are also those outsiders , as Hesse describes in Steppenwolf, who are able to overcome their Weltschmerz and do not succumb to the sickness and imperfections of their time and society. They are those romantic outsiders who through the power of their extraordinary perceptual, spiritual and creative abilities become the visionaries, the prophets, the utopian dreamers and the spiritual and moral leaders of the “common herd” of men. They are those men who are willing to forsake the quest for materialistic happiness for the search of truth. They are the Nietzschean men, as Hesse describes Nietzschean thought, who are the link between Nature and Spirit.


In some societies man is denied the right and the freedom to search for his own identity and his own meaning of existence and to live according to his conscience. These are the societies as described in Zamiatin’s We, Huxley’s Brave New World, Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, and also to a lesser degree in Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward. In these societies man has been reduced to a simple formula. Out­siders do not only have to face alienation and isolation but are physically exiled and persecuted to death for deviating in word, thought or deed from the prescribed norms.

Outsiders of such societies are motivated by a higher goal than the quest for personal or materialistic happiness. These men are willing to sacrifice their bare existence on earth in order to follow the dictates of their conscience. These men rather die a physical than a spiritual death. They are motivated to stand up against the world out of love for God, for Truth and for Mankind. For these men the meaning of existence is, as the old doctor in Cancer Ward expresses so beautifully, to preserve unspoiled, undisturbed and undistorted the image of eternity with which each person is born.

Without a belief in that eternal truth man is surely doomed. Love is a manifestation of that truth. Tolstoy in his powerful fable What Men Live By offers a solution to the crisis of the outsider:

“I know that God does not desire men to live apart from each
other, and therefore has not revealed to them what is needful
for each of them to live by himself. He wishes them to
live together, united, and therefore has revealed to them that
they are needful to each other’s happiness …. People only
seem to live when they care for themselves, and that it is
by love for other that they really live, He who has Love
has God m him, and is in God – because God is Love.”

Stories Tolstoy



A Fifty Year Old Love Poem

Dear friends,

Spring is slowly approaching because Peter is starting his spring cleaning.  He is going through drawers, files, memento boxes and other storage places  and weeds out the “good” from the “bad”.   Sometimes he calls out to me excitedly,  “Look, what I found!!!!”  This little poem, I wrote when I first met Peter  is one of the forgotten relics of a long time ago.

Looking at it now with critical eyes I can see all the stylistic shortcomings.  It definitely is not a poetic master piece.  But it expresses my deep feelings of longing for love to overcome the dark despair of loneliness I felt as a young woman.

Peter and I were just starting to fall in love when i  wrote it. He was in the army and i was finishing high school.  We seldom saw eaxh other but corresponded by “snail” mail almost daily. ( No phone, email or face book to bridge the distances.)   Peter eventually has become my lifelong  “sunshine”  who always dispels feelings of loneliness and despair.

He loves this little poem I send to him and even translated it into English so I can share it with you now.  His poem is far more polished.  I guess he is a poet and doesn’t even know it.


Poem Biene

 Starry night

 Why did the dark and somber night               
 Bring to my heart so little delight?        Lonesome I lay for hours awake
Thinking what plan was I to take?
Pondering why was I so much alone?
Would I forever such fate bemoan?

When the sun at last rose in the morning,
My heart no longer in painful mourning
Radiant light entered my fearful soul
And presented to me a romantic goal
Announcing with its golden shine:
You are not alone, for you are mine.

Then I saw the world in a cheerful light.
Gone was the long and dreadful night.
Looking longingly at the rising sun
I saw the promise fulfilled and done,
My heart rejoiced with sheer delight.
The world for me was sparkling bright.

sunrise Van Gogh



How I Lost my “Lust for Life”


Our family including my uncle and aunt spent the summer of 1963 at Lake Ammer in Bavaria, southern Germany.  Lake Ammer is the sixth largest lake in Germany.  Since sailing is a popular sport there our father equipped our fold boat with sails.    Our boat resembled a light weight canoe which could be folded up.


My twin brother was excited by the prospect of  easy sailing instead of strenuous paddling. Boats of any kind were his passion.  And he was already a very skilled model boat builder. He loved sail boats in particular.  The previous summer he had learned to sail with a friend on the island of Corsica.



The weather was beautiful that summer at Lake Ammer.   For the first few days of our stay the lake was still and calm like a mirror under a cloudless sky.  I enjoyed the wonderful sandy beach. When I was not swimming or sun bathing, I would sit under a shade tree and  read the interesting biographical novel  “Lust for Life” by Irving Stone.  A great read which is based on Vincent Van Gogh’s turbulent life. Vincent Van Gogh was and still is  my favorite painter.

Van Gogh

My brother was a bit disappointed that he had not been able to go sailing yet. However, that was to change on the first weekend.   On a beautiful Sunday morning , Walter and I went very early to the beach. Our parents had gone on a short excursion by themselves.  I was absorbed by my novel, when my brother suddenly called me.  Looking up from my book I noticed lots of  boats sailing gracefully close to shore on the white-capped lake. Sitting in a secluded and sheltered spot I had been protected from the wind.   “Biene, do you see all those sail boats?”  my brother shouted excitedly. “Let’s go and try ours.” Suddenly a cool breeze was blowing through my hair.  It wasn’t very often that my brother invited me to participate in his fun activities.  I quickly grabbed my towel wrapped it around my book and followed him to the water where our boat was anchored.


Walter expertly got everything  ready for our first sailing adventure. To try it out,  we first sailed fairly close to shore like the real sail boats in the distance.  It was exhilarating to speed effortlessly through the waves.  My brother felt like a captain in command.  He would tell me to shift my weight occasionally from side to side. I obediently followed his commands.  Normally we would argue about everything.  But I had never sailed before.   Imperceptibly, the wind was getting stronger and the waves higher.  We were ecstatic!  This was fun!   Lots of other boats were sailing ahead of us along the coast line.  Suddenly my brother suggested, “Why don’t we try to cross the lake?  We have never been to the other side.  At this speed we’ll be there in no time.”   I had no objections. I loved adventures and was curious to explore the other shore.


In no time we reached the middle of the lake.  “Strange”,  I suddenly thought,  “there are no other boats here. Why do they  keep on sailing parallel to shore?”  I tried to  gently shift my weight to look back to our now distant beach. Suddenly there was a strong gust of wind billowing our sails.  My brother frantically tried to maneuver the sails.  “Sit on the edge of the boat, quick! ” he commanded sternly looking worried.  Although I had reservations, I did not dare to voice an objection. I quickly lifted myself up to sit on the narrow rim of the boat,  when the wind shifted again without warning. Then  everything  happened like in slow motion.

I see the look of horror in my brother’s face while I am gently tilted backwards into the water with the  white fluttering sails tipping in my direction. I am sinking deep down into the cold water.  When I finally surface I see my brother beside the capsized boat looking shocked and angry.  My first reaction is a fit of hysterical laughter.  “What happened?” I stupidly ask while trying to catch my breath.  It all seems so unreal.  “Stop laughing!” my brother yells holding on to the overturned boat. When he tells me to cry for help I am racked by another fit of laughter.  “Why don’t you?” I manage to  reply.  “We’ll swim to shore”,  I suggest.  I am a strong swimmer with lots of stamina. Almost beside himself my brother shouts back, “Never!!! We have to stay with the boat”  Slowly I am regaining my sanity.  I am looking around trying to assess the situation.  We are  in the middle of the lake far from either shore.  The waves are high. The water is churned up and cold.  We don’t have life vests. There are no boats in sight except the sailing boats looking like miniature toys  in the far distance.  Suddenly panic seizes me.


Our desperate attempts to right the boat fail.  The weight of the water-logged sails is beyond our strength.  One of our paddles float away on the waves.  My brother does not allow me to retrieve it.  We  continue to cling on to the boat bobbing in the waves.   occasionally crying out for help which we realize is useless.  Nobody can hear us.  Time seems to stand still like in a bad dream.  Increasing panic is gripping my heart when I look at my brother’s white horrified face.  In my heart I keep on stammering,  “Please, God help us, please, dear God help us….”.   Almost paralyzed by augmenting fear we suddenly see a big motor boat approaching. Almost instantly our fear turns into joy.  Help is on the way!!!!   But our relief and joy are short lived.  The big motorized yacht moves by us at great speed without stopping.  Didn’t they see us?  The waves are high and our overturned boat is blue.  They must have missed us. This time our desperation is almost overwhelming.   What shall we do?  What can we do?


Numbed by cold and fear I am unable to make a decision. I am worried about my brother who  looks ghastly white and is very quiet.  After what seems like an eternity, we see another (or is it the same?} boat approaching from the direction it had vanished.  A small flicker of hope revives us enough to start screaming on the top of our lungs for help. The big boat slowly approaches and then starts circling us. It stops!  Two men climb down a ladder and grab our hands to pull us out of the water onto the deck. Two ladies wrap us in blankets and help us move into a cozy cabin to warm up and rest  while the two men manage to retrieve our boat from the lake.

Our rescuers were American tourists who had initially not seen us in the water.  One of the men, however, had spotted our paddle floating on the water.  This miraculously  prompted their search for us.  Apparently we were hardly visible in the high waves and they had almost missed us again.

Luckily our parents only found out about our near drowning after we were rescued and safely returned to them. Contrary to our expectations our father did not scold us or get upset over the loss of equipment and damage to the boat.  He loved adventures and was happy and proud that we survived. He commended us for staying with the boat and not try to swim ashore.

And I did not lose my “lust for life”  at the bottom of the lake. I only lost the book which is easily replaceable. Thanks to God  who miraculously saved us for our next adventure in the mountains,43

Remembering Acts of Kindness by Strangers

Dear friends, this week’s Blue Monday seems to last all week. Or maybe this week should be called Blue Week in January. It is absolutely horrible. Of course it does not help that I am aching all over with a flue virus and are just recovering from some other stress. The weather seems to mirror my feelings.

Lone Tree small

But while it is snowing and raining and sleeting and being foggy and miserable and cold,  I am sitting here in my cozy studio cabin which our oldest son built for me a few years ago. The heater is humming softly.  Thanks to our youngest son Stefan’s expertise I am connected even in my remote sanctuary  to all of you in the world through the internet.

small cabin

My husband and best friend brought me some coffee and cake.  Suddenly my spirits start reviving.  I am thinking of all the wonderful things in my life   Yes, I have experienced great losses, sadness and pain but I have survived.  How can I let the weather and other  minor stresses or discomforts of every day life dampen my spirits?   I have my family, friends and above all LOVE.  God’s love and  all the love and kindness of people close to my heart,

Suddenly,  I remember that I even experienced love and kindness by complete strangers throughout my life.  This is the reason why I am writing  this post  I want to express thankfulness to you strangers I can no longer thank personally. But maybe, miraculously you will receive my message of gratitude in your heart.

Acts of kindness of strangers are especially felt when we are alone and in a precarious or vulnerable situation.

Throughout my childhood and adolescence I was overprotected by my parents, especially my mother.  I was seldom among strangers.

When I graduated from school, I lived for the first time away from home.  I was hired through our principal as an au pair girl  or nanny by a family with three small children in Manchester, England.

At that time, I was unofficially engaged to Peter and planned on following him to Canada in the near future.  My parents realized they could no longer stop me from making my own decisions.  In England I wanted to improve my English skills, earn some money and learn to stand on my own feet.

The prospect of living far away from home in a strange country with people I had never met did not intimidate me.  Confidence of youth, I guess!!!!  I was inexperienced in every thing, especially in handling money.  My parents never let me budget pocket money. Before leaving  my father gave me a quick crash course on the British currency.  It  was very complicated because it was not based on the decimal system. I only listened with  half an ear. I was not worried.  Somehow I would manage. coinsnew

Finally the day arrived when I left for my first adventure away from home.  The train ride from Düsseldorf to the port of Calais was very long.  The ferry ride across the English channel to Dover  happened at night.  I remember meeting other young people sitting on deck under the stars  with me. More experienced travel than I had they advised me to do some sightseeing in London before catching a late afternoon train to my destination in Manchester.

Biene smallIn the early morning hours we arrived in Dover and took a  short train ride to London.  My travel companions all dispersed in London and I was on my own.  Although dead tired I did manage to do some sightseeing before my train departure to Manchester.


I even managed to get a taxi to the right train station.  Relieved that I made it on time i wanted to be kind and  give the black taxi driver a generous tip.   I grabbed the biggest and most impressive looking coin from my change purse.  When I handed it to him,  he suddenly spat on it, threw it to the ground and stomped on it uttering swear words. I did not understand.  Before I could  remedy the situation he sped off in a fury.

Taxis Engl.

This perturbed me tremendously.  I had wanted to be kind but ignorance had prevented me from doing the right thing.  My intended kindness had turned into an insult.

A friendly elderly couple who shared my train compartment for part of the journey managed to cheer me up with their kind interest in me. They shared valuable information about my new host country and gave me some good advice. They made an effort to speak slowly and clearly so i could understand.  They were amused when I finally dared to confess my money mistake.  The coin I had offered was  of the lowest value, worth less than a penny.  That prompted them to explained to me the different values of the coins and the paper money.

train station

After many hours,  i finally arrived in Manchester.  The friendly couple had left before.  “I hope my host family will recognize me?”, I thought while maneuvering my heavy suitcase out of the train car.   Lots of passengers got off.  Eventually the crowds dispersed and less and less  people were left on the platform.  Where are my hosts?  I started to wonder.   Finally  I was the last person standing there.  A tall nice looking black porter standing a distance away kept on glancing at me.  I tried to avoid his gaze.  Eventually he approached me. “Need help,  Miss? ” he asked in a kind voice.  “Can I get you a cab?”   In my broken English I  told him about my predicament.  He advised me that it was probably best to take a taxi to my host family.  When I agreed, he took my heavy suitcase and led me through the busy  train station to the exit. He approached a taxi driver and gave him the address of my host family. I wanted to thank him with a big tip.  Since the friendly couple on the train had taught me the value of the different coins and paper money,  I took a generous amount from my purse and tried to hand it to him.  “No, no Miss”,  he protested. “I don’t want money. It was a pleasure helping  you.  Good luck to you!”  He left with a big warm smile.



I am still remembering him after half a century.

The next episode I am telling you is very dramatic. It happened on a wet, cold and dark  day in October. I had just arrived by plane from Canada  in Germany the day before.  My twin brother lay dying in the hospital of  Gummersbach, the place where he was last employed.   His boss had picked me up the day before at the airport and brought me to my brother’s apartment.   My brother’s close friend from Thailand had  special permission to stay with him in the same hospital room day and night.  He never left his bedside for long.  ( I am convinced he was an angel in human form.  I’ll tell this miraculous story sometime soon.)

Walter and Jazz small

The next morning i was supposed to visit my brother for the first time. His friend phoned me and gave me directions which bus to take. He also asked me to bring some roast chicken from a fast food outlet at the main bus station where i had to transfer to the hospital. Jazz, my brother’s friend, needed a change from hospital food.

It was an extremely wet and dark day and i was glad that I found an umbrella at the apartment before leaving. On the bus i sat near a window. Jet lagged and frightened, I felt dazed and confused like in a bad dream. Only one passenger sat at  the back behind me. I  held on to my umbrella like a life saver. Water was dripping  monotonously to the  floor.

gummersbach small

“Main station” the bus driver called.  I quickly grabbed my umbrella  which I had dropped  to the floor and followed the few people leaving the the bus.  The fast food outlet was easy to find. I ordered the roast chicken. Ready to pay,  I noticed  with panic that instead of holding my handbag  i was only holding my umbrella. Terror  shot through me like a bolt of lightning.  I dashed out of the door.  i had left my hand bag on the seat of the bus when I picked up the umbrella.bus

The bus I had been on was leaving.  I ran after it frantically waving. To no avail.  It  gingerly turned a corner and disappeared from sight. In shock and disbelief i stood in the pouring rain like paralyzed. Suddenly i noticed a tall man with a long rain coat which he clasped shut with  both hands  moving towards me.  When he stood closely in front of me he suddenly opened up his coat and asked in a low voice,  “Are you looking for this?”  MY HANDBAG!!!!!!  Instantly my paralyzing shock  turned into agitated euphoria.  Overjoyed I jumped up to hug the man .  “You don’t even know what’s  in my bag!”, I shouted close to tears of joy. “Everything!!!! My credit cards, my cash, my keys, my passport my flight tickets, my jewelry…and…”How can I thank you,  what can I give you?” I asked eagerly to reward him generously.   “Nothing!”, he muttered, turned on his heels and left me stunned.

rain coat

Although there are so many experiences of miraculous acts of  kindness by strangers I experienced through out my life I limit myself to one more in this post.

It happened also during that fateful stay when I saw my brother for the last time.  One night i barely caught the last bus from the hospital.  At the main terminal I found out that the  closest bus connection to my brother’s place was not running at this time of night.  I was able to catch another bus to a street from where I could walk to the apartment.

It was a very dark and wet night   I soon noticed that I must  have turned the wrong way.  I felt lost.  The residential street was deserted and badly lit. Suddenly I heard loud and agitated male voices talking in a foreign language. I saw several dark male figures coming towards me.  Fear started to grip me.  Were they drunk?  They seemed to argue back and forth in a language i could not make out.  When they spotted me, they surrounded me quickly.  In broken German one of the men asked me if I could give them some money.  “How much?”, I asked in a  trembling voice ready to give them all I had. I could not believe my ears when he asked for the equivalent of one dollar in coins.  “We need coins for phone!”, he said, “can you please give us?”   I had loose coins from my bus fare in my coat pocket and I quickly handed them to him.    “Here”, he said.  “take this!”   He gave me the equivalent of five dollars in paper money in return.  I could not refuse.  They were so happy that they could finally make a phone call. They thanked me profusely and even  helped me to find my way to my brother’s apartment.   We parted joyfully  like friends.

men on street

These acts of  kindness by strangers always restore my faith in the miraculous human spirit.   I’ll leave you with a quote from George Eliot,

 “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?”


Postscript to my Previous Post about the Forbidden Word…Knö…

Dear friends,  before I start writing my new post I have to add a picture relating to my previous one.   My friend Peter, the master Kloss maker, has forgiven me for calling the famous Thüringer Klösse  ” Knö……..”  Oh, no I promised him to never  say that forbidden word again.  He also reminded me that  Klösse and roast goose belong together like sun and moon in a traditional Christmas dinner in Thuringia.    He sent me a picture of his beautiful daughter who cooked the enormous goose this year to accompany the famous raw potato dumplings.  They were made to perfection according to an old secret family recipe  by Peter.  Here are father and daughter who prepared the traditional Christmas  feast of my birth place in Thuringia, GermanyKlosse Petersmall

goose small

Hope you will experience this  special dinner at least once in your life.

April 1,  (April Fools Day) I may publish Peter’s address,  so you can maybe drop in next Christmas for dinner..



“Knödel” is a Forbidden Word for Thuringians

Dear friends,   after my last post talking about Stefan’s attempt at making the famous traditional Thüringer Klösse   (raw potato dumplings) for  Christmas eve, I received an email from a friend in Germany.   He voiced his extreme displeasure that I told him that our son tried to make Knödel.  Now I have to explain that in Germany there are many words for dumplings and I thought they were all interchangable.  Not so!  I found out.

I have talked about my friend Peter before in an earlier post.  He is from Thuringia and was born at the same time and place as my twin brother and I in my home town  Gotha.   There is a strong connection. He is the one who did the  “research” on the mysterious “Mrs. Goose”, my first teacher. Look in my archives for that post.

Peter is not only a proud citizen of Thuringia but also a master “Dumpling” chef.  He has a very old recipe which dates back many generations and is the treasured  secret of his family. I feel extremely honored that he shared this precious recipe with me.

Now I have to admit that in my childhood growing up in the “hotpot region” of Thüringer Klösse I was not very fond of these enormous potato dumplings. They were swimming in a rich gravy often paired with sweet and sour braised red cabbage and fatty goose meat.  I was an extremely picky eater and could not stand the smell and sight of such rich dishes.  I remember my mom and sister grating enormous amounts of potatoes and working feverishly and nervously  over the hot stove to make sure that  these dumplings would be a success. Christmas would be ruined if the dumplings , oh no I mean Klösse, did not turn out to perfection.

I have to  further admit that when my husband and I started our own household in Canada I left this “Dumpling” or “Kloss” tradition happily behind.  I never ate a Thuringer kloss for many years until exactly twenty-five years ago.  That’s when I met Peter,  the Klossmaster (not Peter, my husband who does not care for any dumplings or Knödel whatsoever.  He does not even know the differences between them.)  But I’ll get to that point soon.

Peter, the “Klossmaster”,  as I will call him now.  was visiting Richard E., his long time pen pal for the first time after the Berlin Wall came down. Since traveling from East Germany  to the western hemisphere was finally allowed  Peter and Edelgard decided to meet their friend across the ocean in person.

Peter and his wife Edelgard came to Canada to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary with Richard E.,  our friend from nearby Apple Grove.  We were invited to the party. Richard at that time lived on his beautiful property off the land  (hippie) without electricity and other modern commodities.  His idyllic setting and beautiful productive garden made up for many things. I still remember the beautiful hand woven baskets of freshly picked, sweet smelling strawberries  sitting on the rustic wooden table under the apple tree.


There  were a variety of delicious dishes the guest had brought. The spirits were high.  We did a lot of singing, laughing and teasing Peter and Edelgard who were trying to renew their wedding vows.

Peter was very excited and overjoyed when he learned that we were both born at almost the same time and same place. Such a miraculous coincidence!  He couldn’t get over it.

When Peter and Edelgard finally had renewed their wedding vows after long humorous negotiations and tense moments when Peter threatened to drown himself in the beautiful sauna pond, the guests started to leave.

sauna blog small

Ready to say our good-byes to the newly rewed pair, Peter held us back excitedly.  “You cannot leave until you have tasted my Thüringer Klösse.  They are the crowning conclusion of this wonderful day,”  We couldn’t decline.  Peter led us to Richard’s rustic log house which seemed to belong to another time in the long past.  In the dim candle light Peter dished out two enormous, perfectly round and fluffy white Klösse (dumplings).  He ladled a generous amount of glistening and shiny gravy over these balls and lots of tender meat. He waited eagerly for our approval. When we finally managed to express our appreciation of this delicious food in between big  mouthfuls of  dumplings he told us how he managed to make them that day in spite of major obstacles.

Richard at that time (before Margret) lived mostly from fresh produce from his garden and rarely wasted his time with cooking.  He had a small propane camp stove for these eventualities. The big and beautiful antique wood stoves were only used in the winter.

Green house Ri.jpgsmall

Early in the morning, when Peter was ready to start the arduous process of  his Thüringer Klösse preparations he experienced an unwelcome delay.  Although Richard prided himself with the freshest produce from his garden almost all year round his last year’s  potatoes in the late spring were no longer of top quality.  Peter was almost in tears when he looked at the shriveled and sprouting specimens.  In spite of Richard’s protests and risking to insult his host, he jumped into the car and raced to Nakusp,  a 45 minute drive  at normal speed, to buy the best quality potatoes he could find. The end result of all his efforts was a culinary delight and changed my taste. I finally enjoyed the iconic dish of my birth place.

I never tried to duplicate his efforts though and went for many years without tasting them again until my nephews from Thüringia came for a visit and successfully prepared them for us paired with a turkey dinner and gravy,  a delicious German Canadian combination.

Almost 25 years after Peter’s visit our youngest son Stefan tried to go back to his”roots” and to try his hand at making these Klösse on Christmas Eve with the help of our big brother Google.  With passion and enthusiasm and lots of youthful vigor he set out for this daunting task.Stefan smalling the Klosssmall

Stefan Klosssmall

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Table Klosssmall

I won’t go into detail but he was moderately successful.  A great accomplishment for the first attempt.  Although they were not perfect, we enjoyed our dinner. The absolutely well seasoned gravy covered the imperfections.  Stefan’s meal was delicious. A few days ago Peter sent me an email showing off his master pieces and reminding me that it is a grave insult to all the people and Klösse makers from Thuringia to call these  famous specialties Knödel, which is another German word for dumplings.  Luckily in English the word dumpling covers them all.

Klosse Petersmall

Peter sent me his secret family recipe again and I promised myself to try and make them on the next special occasion.  I’ll let you know if I succeed.

Have a successful and happy New Year.

  And remember NEVER  call Thüringer  KLÖSSE






Christmas 2015

Dear friends,

The year is coming to a rapid close and I want to publish one more post.   Christmas is a memory now and we are all looking forward to a new year.  Instead of going back into the past i’ll stay in the present and write about the most recent memories.  This year’s Christmas.


Stefan treesmall

For the first time, we only had the two youngest of our five sons over for the holidays.   While I like to have them all plus partners and kids  at home during that wonderful family time,  I am always a bit stressed about their travel in the winter.   So I don’t mind either way.

Robert, our oldest,  just completed his work assignment as a project manager for a big German company in the States.  He is in limbo now and may have to move back to Germany or another country where he is needed.   He could not take the time off to travel here.Rob ed.small



Richard, our second son, and the father of our three grand children lives in Montreal at the other side of the country,  He went with his partner Youki and the kids  (Mateo, Auzure and Emeline)  to her father’s house in the country side in Quebec.





Tony, our third son, and Lisa had her brother’s  and sister’s families over in their new home. “We’ll definitely come next year”,  they reassured us because they found it more relaxing to be guests than hosts.   They are such super hosts though  As guests they are entertaining and very helpful

Tony and Lisa

To our surprise and great joy, Tony and Lisa got engaged Christmas Eve.  Such wonderful news.   They are now relaxing  at the beaches on Hawaii.

Our holiday celebrations started with the now traditional Advent party at our friend’s, Klaus and Erika’s beautiful log home in the forest by the lake. For about the last ten years they have invited all their German friends from our village to celebrate the Advent season with caroling  and feasting at their welcoming home.

Erika and Klaus complement each other in the kitchen.  She is a master baker and her desserts are to die for..  Klaus on the other hand is a passionate chef and loves to cook.  The result is that guests to their house are in for unforgettable treats,

Erika table klein

This year, Erika had an operation on her foot and had to postpone the celebration to the fourth of Advent.  She vehemently rejected all help and promised to cut down on the number of different cakes and pastries.  But to our secret delight she did not keep that promise.  On the contrary,  she seemed to have added some more delicious creations.

Their house is always so festively decorated in a traditional way.  It radiates warmth, comfort and good taste. Most years we are more or less fourteen people around the  beautifully decorated table with all the delicious baking.  Everyone feels relaxed and high spirited.  After the feasting, we sing traditional German and English Christmas carols, read or recite poems or short passages from seasonal writing.    Mulled wine simmering on the stove keeps us “hydrated”.   And we reminisce about past Christmases, especially from our childhood. Our thoughts went back to the homeland of our birth.

Shortly before our return home from this delightful celebration, Stefan, our youngest son, had arrived safely from the coast.  That added more joy and excitement.

Stefan has a great sense of family and friends.  He is the bonding glue for his brothers. Stefan is always full of life and there is never a dull moment when he is home.  He loves to cook, bake, play games, hike,  take amazing photos, play hockey, travel all over the world, brew beer,and of course  work on his computer.  He connected my cabin in the backyard to the net and now I can write there in peace and quiet.

For Christmas eve he took over the meal preparation and cooked rouladen, braised red cabbage with the most delicious gravy ever.  And he slaved away trying to make Thüringer Klösse from scratch.  These dumplings made from raw grated potatoes are a challenge for the most seasoned cooks or experienced housewives in Germany.  His dumplings were great for a first attempt. For dessert  he had prepared a  tiramisu.   He tasted this special dessert for the first time as a little boy in Germany at friends of the family, who treated us royally.  Stefan was so impressed by their overwhelming hospitality and all the delicacies they offered him during that memorable visit.  In our household with five growing  boys meals were not quite so fancy and elegant except on rare occasions.   I also noticed that he loves to keep up old traditions.  So great!!!


Stefan cut the roundest and biggest Christas tree ever.  It filled almost all our fairly small front room.  Our house looked and smelled like a forest.   Christmas eve was a lot quieter than we are used to from the past.  But we had a relaxing time.  Rob  joined us via skype. The wonders of technology!  We sang carols and then played games.

Our old (forever young} neighbor Richard joined us Christmas day for church and for  feasting and playing cards. Richard, nearing ninety still splits his own wood and is very strong and active.  He is also loud and boisterous.  Beer is his power drink and keeps him in good health and spirits.  Our son Stefan brews his own beer with friends in Vancouver. Our Bavarian friend seems to have inspired his love for good beer.  Or maybe it’s in the genes.  Also my name Gertrud is the patron saint of beer brewers.  Playing cards is one of Richard’s passions and he takes games very seriously.  Sometimes the noise level rises precariously.  But we have fun.



Mike and Angie plus their dogs Kelsey and Piper arrived on Boxing day.   I cooked the turkey and we had another day of feasting and playing games.  For Angie’s sake we played  Ticket to Ride, a very clever and exciting board game.  She doesn’t care for our card games. Outside the snow was softly falling  It looked magical with the colorful Christmas lights Peter had decorated the house and yard with.


Mike and Angie couch small

The next morning, we all drove out over snowy roads to Taite Creek,  our favorite forestry campsite.   Mike had promised Peter a load of wood in his truck. This year we are short of firewood because of Peter’s accident in the summer when he broke his foot.

Taite Creek is forever magical at any time. The fresh snow had turned it into an enchanting Winter Wonderland.  Peaceful.  We had a big bonfire and enjoyed the fresh air and beautiful scenery.  Spending time at Taite Creek always renews and refreshes my body and soul.  When the boys were growing up, Taite Creek helped me cope and survive the unavoidable stresses of raising five lively sons.  The “boys” all have a special attachment and lots of wonderful memories of happy and relaxing times there.

Stef Pip2 small

Angie me small

Mike and Dad had a great bonding time getting the wood.  Mike is such a kind and friendly character and very successful in all his endeavors.  He is always cheerful, optimistic and enterprising.  People are drawn to him and he has lots of friends.Boys Taite small


At home Angie colored and trimmed my hair.  So relaxing!  Since I never had a daughter it is so wonderful to have daughters-in-law to do “girl” things with. Mike and Angie are a good match.

For the New Year I hope and pray for Health and Happiness.  May we have lots of joyful family times together.

The same good wishes go out to all of you living in  this Miraculous World.   May God bless us all and keep us safe and grant us PEACE.


An Unforgettable Christmas Gift (1948)

Christmas is so fast approaching and I am caught up in the hustle and bustle of preparing for that short wonderful time of bliss.

I missed writing my post on the weekend because we were attending  one of the most festive and beloved Advent Celebrations at our friends Klaus and Erika. For many years now they have been inviting all their German friends from our village for an afternoon and evening of feasting and celebrating Advent with stories, poems and songs.  It has become a cherished tradition.

Festive baking

The Gerhards are the most amazing hosts. Their warm and cozy log house is beautifully decorated with traditional ornaments and lit with softly glowing bees’ wax candles. Erika’s spectacular desserts would put any pastry maker to shame. They not only look like pieces of art, but also taste heavenly. Klaus is the chef. After the kaffeeklatsch we are joyously singing all the traditional Christmas songs. Suddenly an enticing aroma from his supper concoctions wafts over from the oven, where a big ham and Sauerkraut is heating up.   The spices of the mulled wine simmering on the stove also emanate an tantalizing scent.

There is a lot of joyous chatting and reminiscing going on. Memories of past Christmases and especially from our childhood are evoked and told. I will tell you mine.

My first vivid Christmas recollection dates back to 1948. My twin brother and I had just turned four in October. Our older half sister had recently married. Since there was still a housing shortage from the war they moved in with us. Our spacious and well designed home could comfortably accommodate all of us. My sister was expecting her first child and seemed to need the comforting nearness of my mom.

For the first time I was aware of all the preparations going on in our household. One snowy day our father took us into the forest to get evergreen branches, which my parents and sister wound into a beautiful fragrant wreath for the first Sunday of Advent. They decorated it with pine cones, ribbons and dried red berries. They placed four red candles on it. I was delighted when I was allowed to help. My sister taught us a little Advent poem, which we recited excitedly.four candlessmall

Advent, Advent

ein Lichtlein brennt

erst eins

dann zwei

dann drei

dann vier

dann steht das Christkind

vor der Tür.

Shortly after our first candle lighting with singing and sweet goodies, St. Nicholaus came for a visit with Knecht Ruprecht.  My sister’s husband and a young friend had dressed up as the pair. We were in awe and fear, when they loudly banged on the door to announce their arrival. Had we been good or bad? Would they leave little presents and goodies in our boots placed in front of the door or would they admonish us and leave a stick or clumps of coal instead?

With trembling voices we would recite little poems and sing songs.


In spite of our doubts and fears we always were rewarded by Nicholaus.

Throughout the Advent season our sister and mom would help us create little tree decorations. I loved to make stars out of paper or straw.

In spite of the shortage of many ingredients in East Germany after the war, there was always a delicious smell of baking and roasting apples in the house.

On the morning of Christmas Eve our father would go out to get a Christmas tree. Since our living room was very spacious and had a high ceiling our tree was enormous.

Throughout the day my brother and I would rehearse songs and poems we had learned or try to play quietly so the Christkind would not be upset with us and not bring us any presents.

After an early supper we were sent to our room to get dressed into our Sunday clothes and we had to wait quietly.

Suddenly a little bell would ring and our parents and my sister and brother-in-law would sing   “Ihr Kinderlein kommet….”,  which means  “Come little children…”

My mother and father would lead us by hand into the festive room lit only by real wax candles on the big Christmas tree. We would all stand around the marvelous tree inhaling the wonderful fragrance, hear my father read the Christmas story.and sing the  Christmas songs we had learned by now. Finally, after my brother and I had recited a prayer or poem, we were allowed to look at the gift table, where all the presents were lovingly arranged and an individual plate with goodies for every one was placed.

That particular year our new brother-in-law had worked hard, often at night to make a beautiful wooden crib for my dolls and carve some authentic traditional puppet heads for my brother. My sister had sewn the costumes and knitted outfits for my dolls.


For many years my brother loved to perform puppet shows. When we fled to West Germany, my sister send him the puppets to the West. My brother kept them, until he died. They were sent by his company across the ocean to us in Canada.

These puppets are a precious symbol of the short time we had been living as an extended family in Gotha. They are also a symbol of the love, which went into gift giving. Our brother-in-law created these gifts with his own hands many a night after work.

Love is the greatest gift we can give and receive. It will never be forgotten.

May you all give and receive that great gift of LOVE this Christmas and always.

Frohe Weihnacht.   Merry Christmas to all of you.

New Year’s Eve with Anna Karenina (1960)

Dear friends,

Christmas is approaching fast and as it often happens I am far behind with my preparations.  However, I do not want to disappoint you and take another break from writing. After all, I just recently got back into the routine.

As I indicated before, my teenage years were not always easy and happy for me and very trying for my parents as well.  In spite of my good friends, I often felt isolated, alone and confused.  I wanted to experience life more fully than i was allowed to by my restrictive parents.  Often I withdrew for long periods of time into the world of literature.   Thus I experienced life and love vicariously.

When I was about 15 years old, i discovered the Russian classical authors, especially Dostojevsky and Tolstoy.  Their voluminous novels were right for my taste.  The longer the better.  I would immerse myself into the fictional worlds and  hated to come back to my reality.

New Year’s eve 1960 was a dreary dark day.  My parents had invited some friends to celebrate with  us, but many had to decline because of the flue going around.  My mother had worked very hard to prepare for a cheery and festive night, but I was in  a gloomy mood.  There were no young people only friends of my parents and towards the end of the party my brother, who had celebrated with his buddies.

I felt depressed.  Life was passing me by I thought.   After spending some obligatory time with my parents and their company I withdrew into my room with the excuse that I was not feeling well.  My mother knew that my time of the month was coming up and let me go without major protest.

Wrapped in a warm and cozy blanket I sat in my easy chair trying to uplift  my spirits with some fancy chocolates, which one of the kind guests had brought for me. Then I started reading Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina and didn’t stop reading until way into the New Year when all the guests had left and my family was fast asleep. Needless to say, Anna Karenina’s life and tragic end affected me very much.  For a long time I felt caught in the restrictive webs of fate like Anna….but by the grace of God I did not succumb, but was able to get free and find the love and life I always longed for like Kitty and Levin in the novel.

Anna Karenina

Many years later I took a course on Russian literature at the University of Waterloo and wrote this book review.  My professor was impressed by my insights and rewarded my efforts with an A+.  Hope you give my a good grade as well.


Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Most readers will agree that Tolstoy*s Anna Karenina is a masterpiece of world literature. In this novel Tolstoy is able to express with amazing simplicity, what is seemingly inexpressable in human nature.

He not only brings to light but also to lucid understanding the most secret inner life of his characters. He conveys their subtlest, and most elusive intimate thoughts, feelings, emotions, spiritual longings and hidden motives. And he analyzes with utmost precision moral and psychological issues and conflicts. He also illuminates the elements of life’s mysterious relationships and links, which may lead to a character’s fate. Tolstoy creates a powerful illusion of reality in his novel mainly through the abundance of detail. From detailed de­scriptive narrative the author frequently shifts over to generalizations and thus leads the reader imperceptibly to metaphysical understanding. Tolstoy manipulates the reader’s consciousness from seeing to knowing by directing his attention from particulars to universals. He constantly juxtaposes characters, events and philosophies and thus provides a multifaceted view of his world. The numerous themes and plot lines are all interwoven and linked together in an intricate way. Each short chapter of the eight books develops its own theme, which may only be concluded later on in the novel. There are two major plot lines.

Anna k2
Anna is the main character of the first plot. Although the novel was written over 100 years ago, Anna is a modem woman in the sense that she seeks personal happiness at all cost. She refuses to live a life of self-denial with a husband she cannot love and who is unable to ful­fill her passionate longings. Anna places her quest for happiness over her social and moral duty. Through her extra-marital relationship with Vronsky whom she deeply loves she expects to find self-fulfillment and happiness. Anna, a beautiful and talented woman, is great in her honesty and courage to refuse a life of pretense and duplicity. She does not lead a secret affair, as so many do in her society. She separates from her husband and lives openly with her lover. Anna is not evil in a sense that she acts out of malice. She is very loving and attracts the love of many, yet the consequences of her unconventional behavior are disastrous. Anna who is de­nied a divorce from her husband is pushed into the role of an outsider from society through her open illicit affair. She also has no right and access to her son, whom she loves dearly. He becomes the innocent victim of the marriage break-up and so does her infant daughter by Vronsky.

Tolstoy does not deal harshly with Anna but shows with deep insight and sympathy how Anna suffers from the psychological consequences and the irreconcilable conflicts resulting from her broken marriage and her living together with Vronsky. He also illuminates the complex inter­relationships of Anna’s inner being with the circumstances of her life, which lead to her fateful death. Tormented by guilt and unable to cope with her compulsive jealousy towards Vronsky she commits suicide.
Although the enigma of death is a recurring theme in this novel; the book does not end on this note of despair. Tolstoy juxtaposes life to death. Life triumphs.
With Levin, the major character of the second plot, Tolstoy deeply probes into the purpose and meaning of life.
Levin, who is modeled after the author himself ,is a seeker and an eccentric thinker. He lives in the country and is deeply concerned with serious social, moral and religious questions. Levin marries Kitty who once was romantically attracted to Vronsky, Anna’s lover. Tolstoy describes with delicate tenderness how Levin and his young wife get to know each other and grow together in spite of struggles and conflicts in their young married relationship.
Out of his experiences with Kitty and the search for answers from the simple life of the peasants on his estate. Levin comes to understand the meaning of life. He realizes that it is man’s purpose to live for goodness and unselfish love as a reflection of divine love and goodness. Levin also regains faith in a God he rationally rejects but prays to in times of crisis and need.

With these two plots Tolstoy leaves the reader with the powerful message that uncompromising egoistical passion in the pursuit of happiness will lead to destruction and death. However, the pursuit of goodness out of love for others will lead to life and spiritual happiness. In this respect, both Karenin and Anna have failed in life. Anna loved without adhering to the principles of goodness while Karenin acted on principles of goodness without true love of the heart. Love without goodness and goodness without love can be destructive. This idea is expressed in many different ways throughout the novel. For example Tolstoy juxtaposes two wronged spouses. Dolly forgives her husband out of committed love and concern for her family. Karenin forgives and acts out of rational principles of goodness but without considerations of true love. While Dolly’s family prospers in spite of material worries, Karenin’s family is destroyed. Disintegration of the family unit was a great moral concern for Tolstoy. He valued the welfare and integrity of the family highly because of its utmost importance to society.
In our day many of the social conditions, which played a major role in Anna’s fate, such as obtaining a divorce and gaining custody of her son, have changed. However, the psychological consequences of a marriage break-up,, which Tolstoy so masterfully describes, remain largely the same.
All the characters of this novel are convincingly complex human beings with whom the reader can identify and who elicit his sympathy.
Tolstoy never openly moralizes or judges, yet he conveys a powerful message of faith in love and goodness, which will never lose its relevance to humanity.