My grandfather’s story starts in his home town, Liedolsheim, moves to France for World War I, and then returns to Liedolsheim until he is forced to leave before members of the NSDAP (Nazis) try to kill him. Again.
So of course, writing about this involves a lot of research about Liedolsheim. Liedolsheim has always been present: pictures of the Village Church were always visible in my grandparent’s home, and I heard the name many times in my childhood. I visited there a few times in the 80’s when I was in Germany too.
But writing about it, and especially writing what I want to be more historical fiction than just fiction, is a different story. Especially when the story starts in 1914 and ends in 1928.
There’s a lot of information easily available about this period in Germany. The transition from the German Empire before the war, to what was effectively a military dictatorship by the end of the war, to the doomed Weimar Republic, has been studied quite thoroughly, and the information is readily available.
Liedolsheim has a Wikipedia page under it’s new name, Dettenheim. (The German version is better.) the Wikipedia even contains some information about the period I want to write about. And of course the village is still there. Visiting again will help me a lot.
But how do you learn what it was like to live in a small village 30 kilometers from “the city” before cars and trucks were common? Before even radio was readily available? This has been my challenge the last few weeks. I should have started this project 30 years ago…but too late for that now.
Fortunately I have family still there, and the process of reaching out has begun. But there’s still that but that’s hard to quantify: thinking like a man born and raised at the turn of the last century.