November 1998

I love the synchronicity of things. Last week at work, I was studying the history of the U.S. national soccer team, and my reading had brought me up to the Berlin Olympics. I found a National Archives spot on the Web that talked about them. The AAU, two governors and the U.S. rep on the International Olympic Committee did not want to send a U.S. team to Hitler’s increasingly repressive Germany. But a young Avery Brundage, who had a close friend among the Nazis, had the U.S. rep thrown off the IOC, replaced him with himself, cast the deciding vote and fielded a team made up largely of the German-Americans Football Club of Philadelphia. Brundage said it was the Jews and the Communists who wanted to prevent the U.S.A. from participating.

After dinner that evening, I walked down to the Skaneateles Public Library to sign up for my new library card, and in wandering through the stacks came upon the memoirs of Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect, who designed the stadiums for the Olympics and the Nazi party rallies. I brought the book home, began reading it, and the name of Obersalsberg, Hitler’s mountain retreat, came up.

Something sparked in the memory banks. Years ago, I had bought a shoe box of postcards at a garage sale, mementos of someone’s dead aunt’s trip to Europe in 1951. ($5 the lot). Among them were two packets of photos, little 2″ x 3″ views of Obersalsberg, that I had never opened. And now, with Speer’s descriptions of the rooms echoing through my imagination, I found the packets in a pile of that had come to light when we moved, opened them up, and there were 10 shots of Hitler’s haven, indoors and out, completing the circle, filling in the visual blanks.

Thank heaven for interesting jobs, garage sales and public libraries.


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