A Place in Germany – then Denmark.
Ruth Reimer was seven when her Mennonite family fled Germany and arrived in Denmark as refugees of war. For three and a half years, she, her mother, and siblings were moved from one refugee camp to another – a total of five in all. During some of those years, they did not know if Pappa was alive.
The possibility that he survived the war was slim, for Pappa was an officer in Hitler’s SS. By now, the war was over. Miraculously, Reimer was released after a year of imprisonment. The family was reunited and had to find a new place to call home.
Fifteen years later, Ruth crossed the ocean with her new husband and came to live in my home community in western Maryland. She and her American husband Kenneth raised their family of seven children on the farm with the large white house across the fields from my home.
A Place in America
I was seven when I listened to Ruth share her story on a warm summer evening. The windows of our church stood open as evening breezes wafted outside. Ruth spoke in thick, broken English. It was hard to follow her story and, sometimes, difficult to understand her words. Children grew restless and sleepy as adults hung onto her words.
I remember two things that Ruth shared on that warm summer evening when I was a child. There was the Rosentaler china, buried in the yard by the lilac bush before they fled Germany. Would it be there when they returned?! There was a blanket that Mamma cut into pieces so the newborn baby (born in the refugee camp) could be swaddled in something clean and soft.
Fifty-five years later, I listened to that tape again. Those instances emblazoned on my mind all those years were on that tape, just as I remembered them!
A Place for Ruth
For the past year, I have had the privilege of hearing Ruth’s story again and again – so it could be written down for future generations. This week, her story, A Place for Ruth, is complete. It is published with Masthof Press. Writing this story has been a blessing, as has working with Masthof Press.