[Ex-] change. The Youth Minister, who had planned to
distribute the handbook to girls about to go to France, changed his mind at the
last minute. |
I was severely scolded: "Don't you realize that you have
listed an association connected with East Germany? You must be out of your
We couldn't understand each other, the OFA directors and I. To
them, Germany was simply the Federal Republic. To me, Germany was all the
In the spring of 1966 I would wheel Arno, my baby,
from the Porte de Saint-Cloud to the poets' garden at the Porte d'Auteuil. We
had decided that our son was to be a Jew and bear the name of Serge's father.
The OFA had granted me a year's leave of absence without pay. We had taken a
three room apartment on boulevard Murat, a few doors away from my
mother-in-law's. I changed Arno's diapers, played with him like a doll, and
found every smile a precious moment.
When I could, I would go to the
Town Hall of the Fifth Arrondissement, where there was Marguerite Dunand's
collection of books on feminism. I was doing research on a subject dear to my
heart The German Woman as the French See Her which I hoped to
turn into a book.
On weekends the three of us would stroll along the
quais of Paris, and in the bookstalls I would pick up colorful
observations by French writers travelers, prisoners of war, reporters
of the love life of German women. I learned a great deal about my fellow
citizens and about their observers. A periodical, Women in the Twentieth
Century, asked me for an article. I wrote:
I have come to wonder what made me and plenty
of other German women leave our homeland. There are many good reasons for doing
something specific in another country, such as studying the language or the
culture, but I think the efforts we made reveal a more powerful and often
unconscious motivation the desire to be free. Under Wilhelm II our
grandmothers' whole existence could be summed up by the three K's (Kinder,
Kirche, Küche children, church, kitchen). For a few years
during the Weimar Republic they could breathe more freely, and they took hope.
Then Hitler sent them back to the children again, and later to the factories
when the need for munitions became pressing. . .
Since the war, women
have made a real contribution to the creation of a new Germany, which has
turned out to be not so new after all