Dr. Bruce retiring, pursuing publication of memoir
February 1, 2013
Photo Courtesy of Doug Rankin - Dr. Mary Bruce at the start of her career at Monmouth College. Bruce will retire from Monmouth after she assists with SOAR in the fall and will pursue the publication of her new memoir of post-war Germany.
While readers have Hiroshima, a novel written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Hersey, to get an idea of post-World War II Japan conditions from Japanese citizens, not many first-hand accounts of the post-World War II Germany exist.
According to Monmouth College English professor Mary Bruce, it was “covered in rubble,” “absolutely shattered,” and filled with a broken people, many of whom were pressured into supporting a tyrant they did not privately support for fear of potentially deadly consequences.
“It’s history, and it’s told through the eyes of a child,” Bruce said.
With a memoir that describes these conditions in full detail, Bruce is bridging the gap of understanding. While other children played and ran in their houses, from the ages of nine to 12 in post-war Germany, Bruce lived and played in Villa Hügel, a sprawling estate in Essen, Germany that housed the Krupp foundation.
“I was amazed at how much I remembered,” Bruce said. “It was exciting to get it on paper because I had forgotten very little. As I remembered one thing, I’d remember another.”
Post World-War II, Villa Hügel housed Bruce’s family after previously being host to Alfred Krupp, on trial because of the Krupp foundation’s status as a known financier of Adolph Hitler during World War II. Bruce credits her solitude and the building itself, which acted as a playground for her, for her creative imagination that spawned the desire to write, but her greatest inspiration for her latest book is the people who took care of her.
“Because of my dad’s work as a diplomat, I was mainly taken care of the servants, who were ‘the enemy,’” Bruce said.
“They were Germans, and they could have treated me terrible, but they were very kind to me. I wanted to write the book to show my deep fondness I had for them and for the circumstances they were in after the war.”
Since the war, the Krupp foundation has donated over 5,000 euros (the equivalent of $6,700) to various charities for recovery from World War II. The foundation is now paying for a translator for Bruce’s book.
While the book does not yet have a publication date, the foundation’s offer leads Bruce to believe that it will be published in Germany and “maybe the United States” afterwards, as her American publisher is interested in acquiring the publication rights. She is flying to meet her publisher and translator in Germany on Feb. 12.
“I would like to write a book after interviewing German and American World War II vets, but it is all up in the air right now,” Bruce said. “The main point for writing the book I just finished is because of the fondness I had for the people.”
The trip to Germany is only the beginning of her travel scheduling. From Feb. 19-25 Bruce will travel to the Netherlands on a ministry team for a retreat, return to Germany on Feb. 26, visit the head of the Krupp foundation on Feb. 27, give a reading from her book in Duisberg, Germany the next day, and interview German World War II veterans on March 1 for a future book.
Bruce will also go to Greece for the Monmouth College spring break trip and return in the fall to teach SOAR, after which she will retire from the college.