by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
When millions of people are suffering and dying we tend to focus on the stories of individuals who then come to represent them all. Anne Frank represents for a vast majority the ugliness visited on Jews during WWII. The stories are haunting. All stories of vast human suffering impact us.
Only those without conscience or empathy can view the suffering of others and not be moved. Anne Frank died before I was born, but sometimes, unexpectedly, you find yourself confronted with a story of human endurance which is overwhelming.
Another saga of suffering, endured by millions as World War II was playing out, is the massive geographical dislocation of millions of Eastern Europeans as the Soviet-German rolled into Germany from the east.
I learned about this story, unexpectedly, while reviewing a foreclosure case from New Mexico. For the Carl Mehner, who with his parents and siblings survived the nightmare of war, dislocation, starvation, the trauma has has been life long.
Carl's father, an accountant in Dresden, Germany, and his wife were Christians of the “Sabbatarian” persuasion. Their faith made them targets of persecution in Germany as possibly sympathetic to Jews.
Carl's farther, never a soldier, was forced into slave labor, separated from his family, and forced to dig anti-tank ditches.
In 1943, separately, they became refugees, attempting to reach the west as the Soviet Army swept in. Their children were 2, 3 and 6. Carl remembers sleeping in fields, ruins, deserted and destroyed buildings, hungry all the time. Walking seemed endless through a landscape of burning villages.
First separately, and then together, they struggled to find food for themselves and their children. Carl was always cold and starving. Traumas were continuous.
Reunited, Carl's parents were determined to reach America. It was a ten year long struggle. In America, the family worked on a farm for food, as their children attended school.
Eventually, Carl married Frances Phillips from Southgate, California.
The couple eventually settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico where Carl served as chairman for the modern language department for 22 years, retiring in 2005. Frances ran a court reporting business.
Then, the mortgage meltdown began, taking their home without reason.
Fighting back Pro Se, Carl and Frances endured arrest, harassment, and abuse, as have others. They continue to fight. We never know what is possible until we have given our fullest measure. Carl's parents taught him this, and he remembers.