HELLO AMERICA!—Without a doubt, the year 2021 will be one for change and one to remember, that’s for sure! With the second attempt at impeaching former President Donald Trump and all the drama that will, no doubt come with it, it will make better TV viewing no matter how many shows or specials the networks attempt to deliver for the public viewing. B
Because I grew up during the 1930s, it is impossible not to remember how Hitler and his boys took over Germany in every political and social way, which resulted in controlling the thinking and ideas of most of the citizens of that nation and those such as Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and let’s not forget about England and France. Oh, the six million Jews who were placed in gas chambers and treated like animals. I was only 10 years old, but I understood the horror of it all, and it made quite an impression on my life and everything I did as an artist afterward.
I will never forget the marching sound of the Hitler ring of young children marching singing to Nazi coming down the streets of Berlin. Seigh Heil, the actual sound of it punctured through many nightmare nights. Of course, the many newsreels and films produced adding to the horror of it all from the American Film Industry added to the daily input from the war front. Since our family lost two relatives in France and one in South Pacific, World War II, in every way left its mark on our family. I am reminded each time a rally is held in the preset of current men such as Benito Mussolini or Adolph Hitler, it was not a moment of pleasure.
Everything we had learned from viewing newsreels or film dramas was verified when after the war, a history high school teacher at Swarthmore High made it possible for a German student to be admitted for a year in 1948 to experience what America was much about. Klaus Lang was the accepted student and he arrived to matriculate in the ninth grade. Since I was studying German at the time, we quickly became rather good friends; he painted pictures of how it was to live under the horror of Hitler, how thousands had to share practically everything as far as survival. Klaus was fascinated with American music, especially jazz and even Negro spirituals and insisted that I take him where I lived in the nearby community Morton.
It was amazing how the people of color took to Klaus; he attended a church service and when one of the female singers from the choir and performed a solo, he shed tears; it was quite an emotional time for the entire congregation. Klaus, of course, had never had an experience such as this and admitted caused him to have emotional feelings he had never known before. It was quite a lesson for me, as well. Of course because my German improved enormously, as well as my knowledge of German music and composers. That year was very special and intellectually valuable.
Our friendship did not end when he returned to German; we continued to communicate with each other about the theater, music and even political headlines, after all, the WALL separating from West and East Berlin was always there for debate. When visiting Germany in many years later, Klaus and I arranged to meet and it was one emotional experience. He ended up as a music teacher, and I had become the first person of all signed as a TV Director at NBC. It was quite a time, that’s for sure.