01 Oct Thursday, September 4th, 2014
It was with some hesitation that I contacted Hajo Meyer in the summer of 2008. I had just started my research, and someone told me I should talk to Hajo because he had such a good memory. My hesitation was due to Hajo’s political views, but I decided to be professional about it. To my amazement I discovered that I had known Hajo’s wife Chris for decades. I interviewed Hajo twice, and he gave me a trunk, filled with gold: all the letters he sent to his parents between January 1939 and the summer of 1943. That, for me, was a real treasure! A friend of a friend, Alexia Gültlingen in Boston, MA, started translating the letters (not always easy to decipher) from German to English and did a fantastic job at that! But then Hajo’s publisher in Berlin decided to publish the letters. So last winter I worked intently with both Chris and Hajo on the letters.
The book was presented at a party for Hajo’s 90th birthday, now not even three weeks ago. I was invited as well and it was great to see Hajo play a duet on the viola with Chris. There were many people.
Less than a week later, Hajo passed away in his sleep, at home. About 70 years after being in Auschwitz. I couldn’t stop thinking about that while attending his funeral service last Friday. What a difference. Now we celebrated Hajo’s rich life. There were even more people than at his birthday gathering. All people that he touched. He touched me as well. I know the boy Hajo who wrote so faithfully to his parents, obsessed with getting an education. And I’ve known the older Hajo, fighting for what he believed in. And even though I did not agree with that, I do respect him for it.
For whoever is interested in reading the letters, they are available at amazon.de: Hajo’s letters. For now they are only available in German, I am hoping that an English translation will follow.
After a 6 week summer break I am back at work. The first draft of the first chapter of my book is finished! Only another 18 to go!