Gudrun Moore's A Duty of Remembrance, according to her website, "is a book about my German family during the first half of the last century. Three generations were sucked up in the maelstrom of history: first they lived through WWI, the war to end all wars with sixteen million lives lost, then they slid into a terrible world wide depression for which in Germany Hitler promised a way out with hope and honour which sadly resulted in WWII, a scourge that cost another sixty million lives.

"In September of 1965 I had been living in Canada for one year when I read in Time Magazine that my father was accused of killing 33 771 Jews in the Babi Yar Gorge outside Kiev. Some time before my mother had written in a letter that 'they' had come and arrested my father; I knew who 'they' were. I also knew that my father had been waiting for years for something like this to occur. I knew about Babi Yar because I had read Jevgeny Jevtushenkov's poem. I did not understand how my father who I knew to be intelligent, honest and kind could be involved in this. The process against August Haefner lasted more than one year. He was sentenced to nine years imprisonment.

"Thirty years later in 1996 I asked him to tell me the story of his life. That was the start of getting members of my family to record their lives and experiences. I dug up diaries, journals, letters and nagged them endlessly for more stories. I wanted to find out why they all had so enthusiastically joined the Nazi Party and been part of everything that happened thereafter. I learned that men and women who became Nazis were ordinary people who wanted a future for themselves and their fatherland out of the miseries of the depression. I also learned that men who joined the SS were often idealistic young men or just regular men who needed a job. Today I thank my family for their honesty.

"I titled the book "A Duty of Remembrance"; because today as in the 1920s and 1930s the liberal democratic parties, the press, the universities, the unions, the arts and churches are reluctant to come together to assert their moderating positions in a corporate state. Therefore the disenfranchised, educated or not, the poor and the unemployed turn towards charismatic demagogues or authoritarian fascist like movements. I wanted to show that war brings nothing but destruction, suffering and death. There is no glory. War is a waste of material and human resources and it marks everything that is touched by it forever.

"We still have wars. We still have the disenfranchised, the unemployed and the poor, the very groups a Hitler roped in so easily. Have we not learned the lessons of history? Could it not all happen again?"

ABOUT GUDRUN MOORE [from her website]

"I was born at the beginning of the Second World War, evacuated from Berlin during the Allied bombing and chased out from our house at Lac Constance by French troops in 1945. My mother, pushing a pram with my sister in it and me tagging along, spent months as a refugee on the road before finding sanctuary at my grandparents in southern Germany. I cherished my education in the Helene Lange Boarding School in Markgroeningen, which opened my mind to the treasures of music and literature, the power of feminism and the possibility of civil disobedience, a new concept after the mental stultification of the Third Reich. I set out to study literature and then medicine in Heidelberg and Munich. Halfway through my program I met and married Jim and in 1964 I immigrated to Canada.

"Son Jamie was born in 1965. In 1968 I began teaching in Victoria Composite High School in Edmonton, Alberta. When Jim earned his B.Ed. we moved to northern Alberta where we both taught in a small Metis colony. Next to our teaching we began farming. We purchased and broke land in the Peace River country and built up a 4000 acre mixed farm mainly raising Maine Anjou cattle. After selling the farm in 1990 we moved to Hines Creek and now in our mid fifties adopted two children. Two years later we took a year long Leave of Absence from teaching and backpacked with our two pre-teens through Asia and Europe, an adventure which resulted in my book "Borobudur By Chance";.

"Jim and I retired from teaching in 1996. We sold everything and moved with two teenagers and two dogs first to Malta and then to France, but we missed Canada and a year later all six of us came back home again. We bought five acres in the South Okanagan Valley, built a house, planted a U-Pick orchard and started a B&B, (, which we very much enjoy because it brings the world to us.

"I love classical and Kletzmer music, the Goldberg Variations, the missa criolla and watching couples dance the tango in Buenos Aires; some of my favourite books are Middlemarch, The Stone Angel, A Fine Balance, The Adventures of Augie March, The Master Butchers Singing Club and the latest Thirteen Moons; I enjoy the powers of observation of Georg Lichtenberg and Heinrich Heine, I treasure the poems of Eduard Moerike and Rilke and would make Marcus Aurelius and Thomas Paine mandatory reading for all elected and appointed public servants; I am drawn to museums, art galleries and Romanesque churches; I admire people of peace such as Scott Nearing, Tommy Douglas, Nelson Mandela and Grandin Temple; I enjoy beach walking, gardening, cooking and eating Bismarck Herrings."

Gudrun Moore, RR1, S22 C16, Oliver, BC, Canada ph/fax: 250 498 4603


A Duty of Remembrance (Trafford, 2010)

568 pages

[BCBW 2011]