In the Beginning by Alfred Langer reviewed by Fran Lewis

In the Beginning

Author: Alfred Langer

ISBN: 9781934938850

Publisher: Langton Street Press

The time period is the World War II. This is the true journey of one family’s desperate pursuit for safety, happiness, hope and survival. Through the eyes and words author Alfred Langer we hear the cries, screams, feel the tears and visualize the horrors inflicted on them in the novel In the Beginning written by Alfred Langer.

Rudolph and Elsa Langer lived in the small town of Hermannstadt where they felt safe and secure. Working their land and teaching their children respect and honesty they lived what one might called a sheltered life as all of the residents of this small town did. Hidden away from the rest of the world and receiving limited information or propaganda about the war and Germany’s fate, the people never realized until it was too late, that life as they knew it was about to end. This brings me to my review of In the Beginning by Alfred Langer who relates to the reader and the world the true story of the horrific atrocities, terrible conditions inflicted on his family and the people of his town when invaded by the Russians and the Czech. One knock on his door and one piece of paper would forever change the life of the Langer family, his friends and leave them with nothing.

A frightening train ride, indignations and humiliations that were inflicted on all of the passengers, families separated and made to live apart and more. Children forced into work camps, others sent away to work in the mines and families hoping for their return. With the bare minimum that they were allowed to take they wound up in Naila and under the care of the Red Cross and their strict rules. The children were forced to grow up really fast. Living in the barracks the Langer children were grateful to be able to take part in various organized activities. When all of their valuables were stolen and they were forced to live in a cramped space above a shoe factory, the Langer family learned not only the meaning of keeping the faith but prejudice too.

With the help of the Red Cross and the American Government, the Langer family was able to survive.

With enterprising children and a father who would stop at nothing to provide for his family, Rudolph Langer learns the meaning of prejudice, injustice because of his ethnic background and the nearsightedness of people. But, that was about the change.

Reading this true and heartbreaking story of this family I could picture what they went through and feel part of the journey that the author is relating. Closing your eyes you can visualize the atrocities graphically described by the author and inflicted on his family and himself. No matter what was thrown at him or his family they endured, survived and held together as a unit.

Could you live above a shoe factory? Could you survive on food rations in cans? Could you share a bathroom with people that you never met? Could you learn to live without toys, expensive shoes and even Christmas presents? The family of Alfred Langer learned to live without many material things but they not without the love of his parents and family. The stories that he shares about his childhood and the lessons that he imparted on not only his family but his schoolmates will help you to understand that material things cannot replace a family’s love.

At 21 years of age Alfred Langer left Germany to embark on a new beginning and a new life. Imagine coming to a new country and not able to understand or speak the language. Working with his friend Hans at the Manhattan Die Company, as a machinist, he not only became invaluable to the running of the company but also managed to take night classes, learn the language and graduate. Many more hard lessons would be learned as he embarks on a career as a machinist in the Manhattan Die Company working with his friend Hans and eventually marrying a wonderful girl named Irene and a daughter, Christine.  Sharing his roots with his wife and daughter, taking them home to Germany, he intertwines his past with his present to make them one.

A man who never gave up and a man who worked in the tool and die industry for over 46 years. He valued friendships, loyalty and honesty in his workers, family and friends. New beginnings are not always bad they are often the start of something even better. A man that some day would realize that wealth and social status are secondary to character, honesty and integrity.

Alfred Langer we are truly blessed that shared your story and your life with us. I am honored to have reviewed this heartfelt, heartbreaking and yet encouraging story of one family who would never take defeat. As your mother said: God did not mean for us to be ruined. You more than proved him right.