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The Barley Hole Chronicles: From Hell to Hamburg

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Ersteintrag: 08.11.2011 14:20:37 GMT+01:00
The Barley Hole Chronicles 1,15

Barley Hole was for my great grandfather Canaan, the land of milk and honey. For my father, it was paradise lost and for my mother, Barley Hole was a curse. It was a place that haunted her spirit and her soul throughout her life. To me, Barley Hole is a name forever etched on the map of my family's heart; it is where betrayal and injustice nearly thrust us into oblivion.
The Barley Hole Chronicles are an odyssey of the human spirit that stretch across time and geography to incorporate, diverse personalities, personal hardships, World Wars and the struggle for peace and love, in a society fallen from grace. These Chronicles document one Yorkshire family's decent into the wilderness of poverty and hunger. It is a personal record of one young man's struggle to survive the great depression, the Second World War and the hazards and wonders of life in post war Germany. The Barley Hole Chronicles are a summation of two memoirs by Harry Leslie Smith 1923 and Hamburg 1947. The Barley Hole Chronicles are a true account of a time and place when life, full of raw emotion, was never so real. It is also a social history of the 20th century at its bloodiest and deadliest time.

Veröffentlicht am 17.11.2011 21:30:59 GMT+01:00
The Barley Hole Chronicles 1,15 euro

Perhaps the term woman was too advanced because she was only a teenager. However, at seventeen, Friede had more style, sophistication, and charm than anyone I’d ever met, dated, or simply lusted after. She possessed a sense of mystery because there was something unknowable and impenetrable about her personality. It was as if there was a sunspot against her soul. Perhaps Friede created this emotional no man’s land around herself because she had encountered evil in Hitler’s Germany, or perhaps because she harboured some unhappy family secret. Whatever the reason, she was an enigma who was hard to fathom, but easy to love.

Veröffentlicht am 01.12.2011 15:26:24 GMT+01:00
The Barley Hole Chronicles 0,99

At eighty-eight, completing my memoir trilogy A Place for the Heart to Kip is probably my last really big adventure. One is allotted just so much time on earth to experience and savour the wonders, the mysteries of life and the illusiveness of happiness. I am not disappointed that my odyssey is almost complete because over the years I have circumnavigated the globe both physically and emotionally. I also have the optimism to believe I still have time to finish the last few steps it will take to unravel the story of my life. In many ways this journey, this discovery of me and my history began years ago, when friends and family, from my generation began to die off or fade into senility. It was the loneliness of knowing that all of those emotions and memories stored in my imagination would perish if I did not commit them to paper. I treated my task as a confession not of sins, not of transgressions but as an expiation of joy and sorrow, of humour and of pain. I want my books to contain the elemental chart of my emotional passage to manhood. I desire that the reader becomes my companion on this voyage to unfurl my complicated past life spent in the shadow of poverty, family dysfunction and a British Society calcifying by its great class divisions. My books I hope explore a life lived in a hungry uncertain peace, during a world at war and also when the guns fell silent.

Veröffentlicht am 02.12.2011 13:37:57 GMT+01:00
The Barley Hole Chronicles 0,99

Now I am twenty-three. The sky is clear. I am in the back of a truck, in a long convoy of vehicles. We are moving like an enormous centipede up a two-lane road. There are fifteen men in each lorry. Woodbine cigarettes and Capstans dangle from our mouths. The straps to our tin helmets hang loosely around our chins. We are cocksure and unafraid. We are survivors and conquerors pushing our way through Northern Germany. Opposite our convoy, there is an endless procession of refugees. They are pushing their scant possessions in handcarts, or dragging along worn luggage with ropes wrapped around it. The procession contains men and women, the young and the old. Thin, cadaverous horses follow the throng dragging their hoofs in the thin soil beside the road. The jetsam is a mixture of forced labourers, ex-prisoners, ex-concentration camp inmates and the Diaspora, from Germany’s eastern provinces. They are all moving southward, as if believing that their homes still existed or that they still had relatives alive to give them shelter. If the Netherlands and Belgium are any example to me, there is little left of Europe. What has not been bombed has been looted and what has not been looted has been burned to the ground.

Veröffentlicht am 12.12.2011 14:49:23 GMT+01:00
The Barley Hole Chronicles 0,99

New Year, 1945
Confined to camp on New Year’s Eve, we sang Auld Lang Syne at the chime of midnight and toasted the year to come. During the first days and then weeks of January, we waited in disjointed apprehension to deploy to Europe. After a while, we thought our captain had played a cruel prank on us. He promised us in December a mission in Europe and a greater role in this war, and it now seemed as fanciful as Meade’s desert premonitions. We waited and asked our sergeants, “You’ll know when you know,” was the answer.

We waited and Warsaw fell to the Russians. We waited impatiently and the death marches began for the near-lifeless prisoners of the concentration camps. We waited while the Germanic retreat of volks deutch began, from the Eastern, Hanseatic fortresses of Lithuania, Latvia, and Pomerania. Over two million Aryan refugees limped across the snow or sailed in over-laden ships across the icy Baltic. While underneath the slushy sea, Russian submarines hungrily trawled the waters in vengeful wait. The Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz and we waited. For parts of Holland still under German occupation, “The Hunger Winter” was now in its fifth month and the citizens were reduced to consuming tulip bulbs and boiling shoe leather for nutrients. We waited anxious, ignorant, and callow for Europe.

Veröffentlicht am 03.02.2012 15:39:06 GMT+01:00
The Barley Hole Chronicles: From Hell to Hamburg 0,96

A True Story about life lived on the Razor's edge of history

I didn’t know where Friede was taking me and I grew concerned about this descent into the dead flesh of Hamburg. We were approaching the epicenter of the catastrophic 1943 Allied bombing mission code-named Operation Gomorrah.

“Are you sure it’s safe to be here?” I asked.

“Yes, come on; let’s get through this street quickly. Besides you have a gun in case we get into trouble.”

I had almost forgotten about my weapon; it was a required accoutrement while outside of camp. It was a Bren gun, which I believed put me in more danger from involuntary discharge than any threat from disgruntled former Nazis.

On either side of the road, windowless, lifeless, disintegrating buildings stood ready to crumble into unrecognizable cement. It was like walking through an excavated Pompeii long after Vesuvius had destroyed its citizens. The neighbourhood was bombed into non-existence because of its proximity to the harbour. Only a handful survived the firebombing; most were condemned to death by flames, suffocation, or drowning. A conflagration was created by the incendiary bombs. It produced hurricane-strength fire winds that melted people, animals, and inanimate objects, as it bellowed across the city consuming anything and everything that was combustible.

The road abruptly opened up onto a boulevard. Against the destroyed cityscape, a resolute statue of Charlemagne stood. The effigy looked bemused. Its sculptured arm pointed rigidly towards the destruction. Behind him, something else had survived, more or less unharmed through those nights of relentless bombing. It had dodged the uncountable bomb tonnage dumped onto this city from flying fortresses during the day and Lancasters bombing the city at night. It alone remained poised, and looked perhaps even nonchalant at its survival.
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Erster Beitrag:  08.11.2011
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