Chapter 1: Birth
Yvonne was born to a loving family in a desperate time. A time of sadness, famine, and hopelessness. A little angel with hair the colour of light sand and eyes of the lightest blue. Born in Kiel, Germany, on a cold Spring morning of 1920. She was both a ray of sunshine and one more mouth to feed.
Her parents, Simone and Peter Köhler already had a five year old son, Kristian, and most nights went to bed hungry so that little Kristian could have some bread and milk. A humble fisherman-turned-soldier, of dark brown hair, tanned skin and light blue eyes, and a seamstress, of fair skin and hair, and eyes the color of rich espresso, they had a little house near the beach which they purchased when they married.
Little Ivy lay fast asleep in her mother’s arms, while she sang a lullaby to her two darlings:
“Oh young sailor come home,
At frosty sea he’s alone,
Oh young soldier come home,
At last to my heart he’ll roam
Oh young love come home.”
Once the children were sound asleep in in their tiny room, Simone went downstairs to sit by Peter on the kitchen table. He was clutching a rather strong drink and had the sad look of a defeated man on his face.
“Peter, don’t fret so much my love, it won’t do any good,” she patted his back.
“I don’t know what else I can do... how am I going to earn enough to buy a new boat? And feed our family?” he sighed.
She turned on the radio and hushed by its side hoping to hear good news.
Peter had been a sailor during The Great War. He had to sell his fishing boat, to leave his family some money, and go on a large warship that carried him farther into the sea than he had ever been. It carried him into a nightmare. A fleet being pushed around by rough waves, men frantically trying their best to shoot down the aircraft above them, which threatened to kill them all. Blood and seawater everywhere. He remembered those days, not too long ago. He remembered thinking about never being in his wife’s arms again, or never seeing little dark-haired Kristian grow up. And yet he survived, and had lived long enough to make it back to Kiel where for some time he was at home and content.
Two years ago, in 1918, the war had been almost over, almost lost. But Peter didn’t consider it losing, he had been glad it was ending. He was born in a time of local war, yet it had been insignificant compared to this great war among nations.
Yet the war had not been over, and he’d been among the sailors ordered to go back into the sea, back for one last battle against Britain’s Royal Navy. This was simply a suicide mission, and they all knew it. Therefore all the sailors, including Peter, agreed they wouldn’t do it. They had nothing to lose by declining this mission. The war had been nearly over and Germany wanted to surrender. It had hurt everyone’s pride, but so much bloodshed and loss truly makes pride a stupid concept. Everyone in the country, and possibly the rest of the fighting nations, had wanted the war to end.
There had been serious unrest in all of Germany, and the rebellion that started out in little Kiel broke out and spread to the rest of the nation. They called it “the sailors’ mutiny”. It provoked a nationwide revolution which blamed the German monarchy for the war and the disarray of the nation.
The government changed, the Weimar Republic was born. Now people had a choice over their government heads, not that it mattered much, since Peter and his family had lost their small wealth and only form of income. For Peter, at least, this change of government seemed worse than the previous monarchical government.
Unhappy with the way his nation had been humiliated by the Treaty of Versailles, and all the reparations money it was paying to the war’s victors, Peter had contemplated moving to another country. But funds were insufficient and things really took a turn for the worse when more civil unrest caused strikes and violence to break out in most parts of the nation. The government, not having enough money to stay afloat and pay its debts, was printing false money and therefore creating a hyper-inflated economy. And now their baby girl was born, and it grounded them even more.
Rain was pouring outside, beating at their windows frantically. And as Peter silently held his drink in both hands, with his wife next to him turning up the radio’s volume, they carefully listened to how it all seemed to be changing in the capital.
“A new era is approaching us my friends! A new era for us all, no more unrest, no more strikes and no more hunger, our factories are getting back on their feet and get this, avid listeners: American banks will be lending our banks money to help us pay reparations! It’s a changing time indeed!”