More than me, Dieter, who came from the town of Bad Dürkheim along the German Weinstrasse, some 87 miles (140 kilometers) north west of Offenburg, was like a fish out of water. The job was good. Burda was an excellent company to work for, but what would a young single man away from home do there after work? He hated Offenburg and called the town Apfenburg – the monkey town and often made fun of their dialect and accent. He hated the simple mindedness of the people whose lifelong ambitions he would sum up in three short sentences – auto kaufen, haus bauen und lotto gewinnen – buy a car, build a house and win lottery. I wouldn’t have known the difference and didn’t have any pre-conceived ideas about the place or the people. I was happy just to be out of London living and working on the continent. For practical purposes, both of us were outsiders and that’s what must have attracted him to me.

In the department full of camaraderie, lots of laughs and beer drinking, Dieter remained aloof and removed from such activities. Tall, his curly blonde hair cut short, easy going, soft spoken, Dieter believed in working hard, but not too hard. There was something very child like the way he spoke with his perpetually pouted lips. He could talk without really opening his mouth. Until you got used to his manner of speaking, you would think he was talking to you like one would to a toddler. In my case, it must have also been something to do with my lack of fluency in German and he wanted to make sure I understood what he said and punctuated his speech with the local gel? more often than did others.

Though he never learned to speak English, my German was getting better every day and we would somehow manage to communicate. He must have also taken liking for me, in that we would meet outside of work and he would regularly give me ride home in his flashy metallic gold Opel Record Sports Coupe to the village of Schutterwald, a six kilometer stretch. He maintained a small room in Offenburg, but come Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, depending on the shift we worked, he would be gone and spend the weekend with his girlfriend Uschi and allow his mother to pamper her only child. This left me to my own devices over the weekends – in other words an extended loneliness which I spent solo walking the streets of Offenburg or the forest, even the local cemetery – which was quite peaceful.

One of my fondest memories of our early friendship is his taking me along to Bad Dürkheim’s traditional Weinfest, known as Wurstmarkt – literally the sausage market. I got to meet with his widowed mother Annemarie and his girlfriend Uschi. His father apparently never returned from the war and was listed as missing up until they closed the books on December 31,1945, informing the family that he had died.

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