This past Monday, Friedo Sachser died after being in the hospital for several months. He was at home and at peace. Friedo was the father of the German host family who took me in as an American Field Service exchange student in the summer of 1971. Then, I lived with Gertrud and Friedo Sachser (parents) and Ralf and Gert (two sons). The last time I visited Friedo in 1984, he and Gertrud were divorced and Friedo and Boike Jacobs were together. This picture is from that visit.Last October, Gertrud passed away, and I’ve written about her on this blog on 16 Oct. 2006 and 14 Oct. 2006. Perhaps the best memorial for Friedo I can offer is to reproduce a bit of the journal I kept that summer. Here’s an image of that battered book: On June 30, 1971, I recorded a typical Friedo statement: “1945 was the most exciting year of my life. I had my first encounter with the Americans — they almost killed me.” Here’s a selection from 5 July:
I always feel like writing after a discussion — which brings us to the topic of discussions. Thurs. nite, Fri., Sat., & tonite Papa and I have had at least one-hour discussions at the dinner table after dinner. We have many ideas in common. I keep on thinking that what we talk about & theorize about is just middle-class liberal morality — but what is that? I think that what I think about men is universal, but I don’t know, because I have never known anything but middle-class all my life.Among other things, Papa & I talked about Viet Nam tonight and he said one thing that made a particularly strong impression. It is that the Viet Nam War has shown the Europeans what America has become — it has unmasked her imperialism or whatever derogatory name you wish to use as a lable. Papa said that America’s democracy was always thought as an exemplary gov., but now, thru such things as the Calley affair and the Pentagon Papers, people are seeing that the Am. gov. can commit as many atrocities & inhumane injustices as any other “normal” government.
It’s difficult to measure the effect that Friedo’s discussions had on me, except to say that I was irrevocably changed. The sixteen-year-old American student who went to Germany for the summer returned to the United States a seventeen-year-old young woman who had learned from firsthand accounts how war cripples land, nations, individuals.I celebrate Friedo’s fierce pacifism, his wide-ranging mind and gifts for other languages, his photographic mania and artistry, his love for writing and challenging talk, his dedication to long bike rides and a good sauerkraut, and his honesty of vision. May he rest in peace. My love to his family and friends.