I’ve decided to incorporate Dad’s prolific written works into whatever Book I write. Dad wrote two books about his childhood, but throughout his life he also kept daily diaries, journals, and the ever-present to-do list notebook that he always kept in his left shirt pocket.
His life was so much bigger than his childhood in Germany, so part of me wants to write this book:
My Father’s Eight Lives: From Hitler’s Germany to Trump’s America
1928 – 1933: Thomas Heumann is born into a “privileged mixed marriage” (a Jewish father and a Christian mother) in Chemnitz, Germany.
1934 – 1938: As the Nazis rise from a prominent power to full dictatorship, Thomas begins to understand how being a Mischling (half-breed) will affect his life – and the lives of every member of his family.
1939 – 1944: Thomas’ mother comes to realize that she is all that stands between her husband’s freedom and his – and possibly her children’s -- all-but-certain death. When she dies suddenly in 1944, all hell breaks loose.
1945: Without the implicit protection of his non-Jewish wife, Carl prepares for the next transport to Theresianstadt. But why is he never called? Does he have a protectorate? Even Thomas is sent to a work camp. A month before the end of the war, Carl is killed by an allied bomb. At 16, Thomas is suddenly an orphan.
1946 – 1952: Thomas finds his way to Munich, where he attends – and helps rebuild - the university. He falls in love with Edith, marries her, and Michael is born.
1953 – 1980: Thomas emigrates to America with his new, young family. He and Edith become citizens and raise four American children in Berkeley, California. The war in Germany is long behind them, but its impact on him and his family is always present.
1981 – 2004: Thomas and Edith live the good life in Ashland, Oregon, but American politics are a constant source of concern. After a four-year battle with cancer, Edith dies – and Thomas is alone again.
2005 – 2017: Thomas finds love again, happy in his twilight years. But who is this Trump candidate? His daughter promises him that America would never vote such a person into office…
OR… do I write this book:
Born a Mischling – Growing Up as a Half-Jew in Nazi Germany
…ending the book in 1945 (or 1946), telling only the story of Dad’s youth in WWII Germany?