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Sunday, December 09, 2007

WHO IS THIS WOMAN CALLED MARIANNE BRINER?

Many people - even in some roundtable-discussions in the American TV - have asked the question 'who is this woman called Marianne Briner and what is her background?'


So I have decided to give some answers.....


I grew up in Germany in a very social and open environment - although being born in 1941 in the middle of World War II this was sometimes not easy. My father was not serving as a soldier but was belonging to a Medical Team in charge of wounded soldiers and also prisoners of war. He was a very courageous man and I admired him a lot.


Just to give you an example: As I said before, he was also in charge to control the health of some high-ranked prisoners, amongst whom were even some Russian Generals ...... my father made sure that they were not only getting medical attention, but also decent food and could send some letters to their families at home (actually this was strictly forbidden, so my father had to smuggle these messages out and then mail them under his own name) ..... as I said before, he was a very courageous man.


Some of these Russians became his friends and he even managed to get them out of their prison-cells to attend the Christmas celebrations at our house...... I was only 3 or 4 years old, but I remember very well how I was sitting on their labs and they were hugging me with tears in their eyes thinking about their own children...... and singing old Russian Christmas songs with beautiful voices ...... and my mother - who had a beautiful voice herself - joining them - and then we were all attending the church-service at 5 a.m. - making sure that they reached their prison camp before anybody could realize that they had spent this very special night outside.......


When it was clear that the war was finishing, many of these prisoners in other camps got killed (shot) by the German Authorities but my father managed to set 'his' prisoners free - i.e. letting them 'escape' .........


He later got a medal for this by the Russian Government and some of these Russian Officers came even personally a few years later to thank him personally.


So I had inspite of the fact that we were living during the World-War-II-aftermaths a very happy childhood with a lot of privileges as I have realized only later since at that time it was all 'natural' for me.


My parents always insisted that also as a girl (I had a brother who was one year younger) you have to have a good education enabling you to become independent in your future life.


This seems to be normal today. But at that time it was not ...... girls were 'allowed' to be intelligent ....... but - please - not too much - since their utmost 'goal' was to 'catch' a good man, settle down and become a good wife and mother ...... and that was it........


As a result I attended a very selective Gymnasium for Girls (similar to a Girl's High School). The biggest attraction there was our Music-Teacher - Otto Daube. He was a friend of the Wagner-Family and well-connected in the international music world.


So we had the privilege that the most famous international musicians and singers of that time came to our school to give free concerts for us.


And each year he invited some of us to accompany him to attend the Wagner-Festival in Bayreuth ..... and for two years I was one of this 'selective' group.


For those who do not know what this means: The Wagner-Festival is upto today the most exclusive and prestigeous international venue - with a waiting list to get tickets - not only for one season but for upto 10 years .....


Besides this classical event, we were also interested in Jazz - attending (again with the help of our famous music teacher) concerts of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Dizzie Gillespie, Chris Barber, Miles Davies etc. -


And this leads me to the best of all:


Since we (and I talk about a group of friends and myself) were not satisfied with 'only' attending these concerts, but wanted to do something ourselves, we got the permission to convert an old war-bunker in my hometown Hattingen into a 'jazz-bunker' ......... o.k. I admit, it helped that the father of one of us was the Mayor and another one was the Administration-Director and both of them liked our idea .......


But it was us who worked in it day and night - cleaning, painting etc. - and finally we got the permission to use it and then the best thing of all: people like Louis Armstrong etc. came and gave private concerts - and not only that, they loved it and told friends about it and it soon became a very famous venue ....... and best of all: it was free of charge since none of these famous people ever charged us for their appearances ......


Maybe it helped that amongst us was the son and heir of the famous Krupp (Steel) Dynasty - Arndt von Bohlen - I don't know .... but it was fun ...... and some of my old friends of that time (like von Stockhausen and Klaus Doldinger) even became very famous musicians and another friend is now one of the most famous German TV-Actresses ..... Marie-Luise Marjan .....


Besides my father, the biggest 'impact' on my life had the sister of my mother.


She was married in the Netherlands and her husband was the Director of the West-Indian-Banana-Company (WIBIC) with the brand-name 'Fyffes' which later became the famous 'Chiquita'.....


His brother was the Financial Adviser of the Dutch Queen (first Wilhelmina and then Juliana - grandmother and mother of the present Queen Beatrix).


Since I used to spend all my summer-holidays in the Netherlands, it was Beatrix and her younger sister Irene with whom I spent most of my time .... and we became very close friends.


I soon learned that my aunt (my mother's sister) had been a driving force behind rescuing Dutch Jews from the Holocaust during the War - first hiding them and finally arranging for their departure mainly to the United States - risking her own life in doing this.


She also set up a Charity Organization for mistreated girls and women at a time when nobody even believed that these horrible things existed. This earned her later the title 'Dame of the Court' - given to her by Queen Beatrix.


And here life and its amazing stories crops in:


the present Queen is Beatrix - the same with whom I once went bicycling during my childhood - and her husband was Claus von Amsberg ......... and he was directly related to my daughter's husband ......... actually Crown-Prince Willem Alexander is a first cousin of my daughter's husband ..... and he is also related to the Spanish Royal House (my daughter calls this 'the Spanish branch of the family tree...' - and this was one of the reasons why Jeff Koinange was so interested in her - calling her 'royal' ..............


As I said before, my childhood was not very 'normal' and this applies to the rest of my life - I think .....................


My first 'boyfriend' was Klaus Westphal - the son of one of the most famous German Atomic-Power-Physician - his 'Godfather' was Albert Einstein ..... and this should give you an idea ..............


Get me right - at that time things were very innocent and not like it is today - we met during a school trip - he was two years older than me..... we started writing to each other and then he invited me to come to visit him in Berlin. When my parents had some objections (don't forget, things were different at that time) ..... his mother wrote a very nice letter to my mother assuring her that everything was fine ..............


So I got the permission by my parents to visit him ..... and from then on we kept contacts ....... even after I met my future husband and then Klaus also met his present wife Margrit ...... it was an innocent friendship which started when we were both just teenagers ....... and it always stayed like that.


Klaus is living since many years in the US and has become very famous ..... he was one of the driving forces behind the Jurassic Park movies ...... for all those who are interested to know more about him: google 'Klaus Westphal' ...... and you will know what I am talking about .... his father's name was Wilhelm F. Westphal - for the ones who really want to know more .....


Other people who had a strong influence on my life:


Ivo Andric - Literature Nobel Price winner - I met him and his wife in Yugoslavia when I was only 20 years old ..... they invited me to their home and we kept contact for some years after. The way I met him is a story in itself: I was on holidays and while we had a beach party, one of our local friends pointed to a house on a hill informing us that it is the holiday residence of Ivo Andric who had been awarded the Nobel Price for Literature. To be honest, we had already a little bit (too much) red wine - and I challenged them 'Shall we bet that latest in two days from now I will be invited by Ivo Andric???? ...... My friends started laughing and told me to 'sober up' ..... and stop dreaming !!!!!!! But when I went back to my hotel, I started to write a letter in which I congratulated him and told him that I would like to meet him ...... I dropped the letter the following morning in the mail-box at the entrance gate of his house ...... and waited.


And already the same day, I found a message in my hotel inviting me for lunch the following day......... He was a very nice, very polite man. Also his wife was present (she worked as a Doctor at a Belgrade Hospital) ..... and both of them spoke fluently German........ I stayed until Dinner since he wanted to know so many things about Germany, the young Generation, politics etc. At that time, the communist regime did not allow him to travel freely and the only contacts he had were with people from the then German Democratic Republic .....


I saw him twice after this ..... and then he also wrote for some time ...... we lost contact when I started to work as Air Hostess and moved to Frankfurt.


Another 'famous' old friend of mine is Donald Kursch - I met him when he was American Vice-Counsel in Zurich - he later became Special Ambassador of the US in the Kosovo ...... he introduced me to some friends in New York who then invited me to some High Society Functions. One was the wedding of the Heir of Wrigley Chewinggum .... which took place at the Jade Room of the Waldorff-Astoria Hotel ....


At another occasion I also met Ted Kennedy and later also Robert and Ethel Kennedy .... and I was in Los Angeles when Bob Kennedy was shot and a few days later again in New York where I had the possibility to see the coffin and attend the church service at the St. Patrick Cathedral ....


There are many more who crossed 'my path's ..............


So you see, my life did not start in Kenya .............. it 'started' long before that ..............................maybe one day I will also write about this as my daughter is pleading with me since years .........

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

How can we reach Marianne Brinner? We are with the Raila campaign?

Anonymous said...

mariannebriner@hotmail.com. She's deperate to hear from and write to anybody.

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