The Mustang Library welcomed the author of “The Nicest Nazi: Childhood Memories of World War II” earlier this week for an insider look of growing up in Germany under the Nazi regime’s control and after.
Christiane Brandt Faris is Professor Emerita teaching German at the Oklahoma City University. She has also authored “Voices from a World at War” – her most recent book filled with stories of interviews of German immigrants to Oklahoma she conducted during a sabbatical leave from OCU.
She called their stories “heartbreaking.”
On Monday, Farris shared her own personal story and those in her new book with an audience of 35. She then took questions from the intrigued audience.
Although many older individuals attended, Farris said she was happy to see younger people, including several children, to learn more about one of the darkest times in history.
One audience member said she never learned about WWII during her school days, saying it wasn’t until she was an adult she learned of the horror.
Farris’ book “The Nicest Nazi” told of those trials and terrors of life amid the Nazis. Farris said after her family’s home was destroyed, she moved into her grandparent’s house along with more than 50 other people, also with no place to go.
Farris said she was very young during the time and her parents kept a lot of what was going on from her. This included the concentration camp – where the infamous Anne Frank perished – was in operation just northwest of her home.
“Germans see themselves as victims,” Farris said of World War II. She said while horrible crimes were committed against the Jewish people and others, Germans also saw themselves as victims.
“When you look at war, you look at it as a victim or not a victim.”
Life as her family knew it, Farris said, was completely turned upside down during and after the war.
She recalls going into bunkers during air raids, helping with the war effort by gathering various items and having her family having to scavenge for wood to cook food.
Then even after the war was over, Farris said, “war had never left us” talking about the devastation that followed while around the world, there was a “jubilation” celebration. She explained that Germany has had many changes to its flag, currency and borders – all things not experienced here in the U.S.
The country now, she noted, has recovered nicely.
Both of Farris’ books were finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award. They are available for reading at the Mustang library, said director Desiree Webber.
Farris’ visit to the library was sponsored by the Friends of the Mustang Public Library.