Gunter’s Story (Part I)

[slideshow_deploy id=’169′] “I often can’t remember what my daughter has told me to do just yesterday, but I can never forget what happened to me just over 70 years ago,” Gunter would tell me on our first meeting which seems so, so long ago.

It would prove my introduction to peek behind this stranger’s warm smile and calm demeanor. Very quickly I’d come to uncover a tenacious human spirit that had persevered in the face of incomprehensible adversity and heartache.

It was the sort of life that made it easy for Gunter to get a chuckle out of my uncertain misgivings about our home’s pending new arrival. He’d been forced to deal with so much adversity and yet he never seemed to fail to concentrate all his energy on the positive. Memories of his own son and daughter’s births were obviously the pinnacle of that emotional hierarchy.

The youngest of three children, Kaufmann was born in Berlin, Germany in 1918. With his father, a very successful traveling salesman, his own path to success seemed relatively assured with his enrollment at one of Berlin’s more prestigious high schools part of that equation.

But then, in 1933, everything would change. Denouncing Germany’s lot after World War I and instilling nationalistic pride, Adolf Hitler would come to power and, almost overnight, Gunter Kaufmann’s cosy and charmed life came to an abrupt halt.

Of course, he didn’t know it at the time, but his course was now set for a life that most of us could not begin to dream of enduring.


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