The Barley Hole Chronicles: From Hell to Hamburg by Harry Leslie Smith

Smith writes a true love story during wartime in Hamburg 1947. The time span is during the Great Depression and ends in Germany post war. The love story involves the author and his wife, Friede.

Smith was in Hamburg when Germany surrendered. He was a lonely teenager who had volunteered to join the RAF (Royal Air Force) in December of 1940 -1947. He extended his term(s) with the RAF without a second thought. There was nothing for Smith back in England, being he was uneducated and had no vocation. It made sense to stay put.

Smith fell in love with Friede, A German girl. This was taboo, a Brit was not supposed to have true feelings for a German. Smith describes the challenges of their courtship. Friede had deep rooted family problems; she was illegitimate and was ashamed and confused.

During their relationship, Smith kept Friede and her family alive stealing food from his base. Rations were never enough to survive. Being post war, there was nothing but poverty and hunger.

Smith writes in detail about post-war survival with Friede and her family. However, it does end with wedding bells; a precedent for post-war marriages between Brits and Germans.

The Barley Hole Chronicles summarizes both of Smith’s memoirs; 1923 and Hamburg 1947. (1923 is a separate review.)

I recommend The Barley Hole Chronicles to history buffs as well as readers learning about war. A first-hand account is priceless.

 

Book Review by Mary Crocco

Mrcrocco.wordpress.com

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