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Love Among the Ruins: A Memoir of Life and Love in Hamburg, 1945

Love Among the Ruins: A Memoir of Life and Love in Hamburg, 1945

by Harry Leslie Smith


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At 22, the war is over for RAF serviceman Harry Leslie Smith — the now 92-year-old activist and author of the acclaimed Harry’s Last Stand — but the battle for love and hope rages on.

Stationed in occupied Hamburg, a city physically and emotionally ripped apart by Allied bombing, and determined to escape the grinding poverty of his Yorkshire youth, Harry unexpectedly finds a reason to stay: a young German woman by the name of Friede. As their love develops, they must face both German suspicion and British disapproval of relations with ‘the enemy’.

Harry’s ardent, straight-from-the-heart memoir brings to life a city reduced to rubble, populated with refugees, black marketeers, corrupt businessmen and cynical soldiers. It’s a unique snapshot of a terrible period in Europe’s history, and a passionate love letter to a city, to a woman, and to life itself.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781785780004
Publisher: Icon Books, Ltd. UK
Publication date: 04/12/2016
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Harry Leslie Smith was born into abject poverty in Barnsley in the north of England in 1923. During the second world war he served with the Royal Air Force and was stationed in Hamburg from 1945 — 47 as part of the British occupying forces. He met his wife, a German woman called Frieda, there, whom he later married. Harry and his wife eventually settled in Belleville, Ontario and Harry worked for many years in the carpet trade.

After his wife died ten years ago, Harry returned to a love of writing and found himself writing tightly-argued comment pieces for the Guardian website. He came to prominence in the UK after a piece entitled This Year I Shall Wear a Poppy for the Last Time was shared more than 80,000 times on Facebook. In total, his Guardian articles have been shared almost a quarter of a million times on Facebook and have attracted huge comment and debate. Of his first book Harry’s Last Stand (Icon, 2014) Annie Lennox said that Harry ‘is absolutely one of my heroes. Everyone should read this and be humbled.’

Table of Contents

About the author ix

Acknowledgements xi

To the reader xiii

1 1945: The conditions of surrender 1

2 Staying on 13

3 A summer in the ruins of Troy 24

4 A coffee house on the banks of ruin 34

5 The city in the shadow of the Michel 44

6 Behind the screen door 56

7 The bargain between a mother and an uncle 67

8 Altona gypsies hide their secrets 79

9 Life observed from binoculars 87

10 The birthday party 97

11 Advent for the desolate 109

12 Stille Nacht 118

13 Winter 1946 131

14 Spring 139

15 The sad-eyed girl at the Victory 149

16 The girl from the lampshade factory 157

17 The Rathaus, where dreams are painted the colour of money 168

18 Closing the ring 181

19 The RAF's prenuptial poke and prod 188

20 Bizonia as usual 196

21 Grand Place, Brussels 209

22 The Boothtown Road prodigal 217

23 A pawn takes a bishop 227

24 The witch before the wedding 238

25 16 August 1947 243

26 The end of the party 249

27 Manchester 1947 256

28 Life begins 268

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