As you know I am a military brat from a military family whose service can be traced back to the Civil War. Since then there has been at least one if not many more of my family involved in every conflict/war the US has been involved in. Many of my ancestors reached high ranks in the Navy, but we have also had family in every branch of the military. We are a family who truly understands that freedom is not free, but born on the backs of the men and women who live and die to protect it.
We have a special connection to WWII. Partly because the name Welling still holds records in the navy, but also those very same men were German themselves. Their grandfather came here to build a better life, fought in the civil war and saw the rest of his family return to Germany as they missed the farming lands of home. His only sister became a professor at Heidelberg University. She and the family remained there through the dark times of Germany. No one knows what happened to those family members during the war, although we are trying to trace them.
My family felt the stigma of our german heritage in those days and I grew up watching all or most of the villains in movies being German. I was born nearly 30 years after the war ended but I was born in Germany and endured being called a Nazi by many grade school children who thought it was funny. I was asked if my family (Americans) were nazis or holocaust survivors. I even had one teacher ask if my mother was a Germany war bride. I grew up in an Italian neighborhood that celebrated their heritage despite the fact that Italy aligned itself with Germany. My German heritage took a back seat to my Irish side for in Boston you could always find the Irish.
As I grew older and more interested in my German ancestry, I wonder where all the German Americans were. There are approximately 75,000 scattered throughout Massachusetts, yet it’s hub and capital, Boston has only on german restaurant.
When I returned to Germany in the ’90’s and several times over the last 5 years, I found nothing of the caricatures we see in the media. Just warm, funny people who have been humbled by history yet have rebuilt a country and a life out of the ashes.
When I looked around I didn’t see holocaust survivor or nazis that escaped punishment, but people. People who had the same worries and
Concerns that we do. I have seen their remarkable resilience of a people who rebuilt a shattered world. This gave me the idea for an art project to show the world the people I see.
I will be traveling to Germany this summer for work and study. While there I will photograph the remarkable people, events and emotions that fuel this new Germany.
I hope to produce a photo book of these pictures and could use your support in getting it produced I have just 2 days left to meet my goal, please make a pledge today!