Friday, May 1, 2009

Onkel Fritzi

I wrote something about this a few years back on MySpace, but it's a funny / cute story and relevant to today.

In the early 1940's, Brazil declared war on Germany. My family's rubber plant was taken away from them and given to Brazilians to run. And although the Germans were not herded together, like the Japanese were in the States, there were myriad restrictions placed upon them. The most noteworthy being: It became illegal for German nationals to speak German. If you were caught by the authorities, you were placed in jail and became an "enemy of the state".

Walking down the street in a German section of Sao Paulo, my blond-haired-blue-eyed uncles, Peter and Fritz, thought they were by themselves and started speaking German in low voices. Apparently, they were not alone as they were soon apprehended by Brazilian police.

"You know it is illegal to speak German as Germans?" they asked. "Show us your passports."

Uncle Fritz pulls out his passport and shows it to the police.

Stammering, he says, "But I'm an Austrian."

Peter, born of missionary parents, smiling, shows his. "And I'm Chinese!"

Uncle Fritz died yesterday. Friede sein mit Dir, Onkel Fritzi.