By Almeda Girod
Inge Keenan, Walter Kraus, and Dee Power met at Riderwood discovering that they had all grown up in Nuernberg/Fuerth, Germany, during and after World War II. Walter refers to the women as his “big sisters.”
Walter and his mother and siblings escaped to the Bavarian Forest during the war. Dee was a teen and Inge age six when the war began. Both remained in the city and remember to this day the bombardment and air raids both day and night, often daily happening. All three comment on memories of “happy times” and that they were “satisfied with simple things.”
It is estimated that 75 percent of Nuernberg was destroyed by the time the war ended on May 8, 1945. Inge describes the city as being “in chaos” with no electricity, gas, or running water for months after the end of the war. There were extreme food shortages until 1948. Highlights were CARE packages from America and Quaker Foods for children.
Dee was hired in 1946 as a hotel secretary in Berchtesgaden (R & R resort for the US Armed Forces). She married the hotel manager, Harry Power, in 1948. After a 25 year career in the Army, the family that included four children settled in Silver Spring.
Inge met Bob in 1953 when he was working with the U.S. Government in Germany. He returned to the United States two years later, and the couple corresponded through letters until their marriage in 1958. They settled in the D.C. area, and Inge pursued a career in real estate and accounting. She has been a volunteer with the Kennedy Center for 28 years.
Walter married his sweetheart, and the newlyweds moved in 1959 to Arlington, Virginia. He apprenticed at age 13 in a bakery, becoming a pastry chef. His first job in the States was with Clements Pastry Shop in D.C. Walter was drafted into the U.S. Army and was assigned to an Infantry Unit in Munich. Later he pursued studies and entered the computer field working for the Bureau of Census while living in Fort Washington. Walter has delighted Riderwood audiences with his playing of the harmonica and string bass.
The three comment, “We worked hard to build a new life in the United States. We felt welcomed in America.” All agree, “What a wonderful feeling to sail into New York Harbor and see Lady Liberty for the first time.”