Grandson here with proof! Ask away in English or German (although English will probably result in faster replies). Thanks!

She grew up during WWII, went to college in Germany, opened a German deli in California and live in CA still, where her grandchildren are visiting her.

*EDIT: she is going to bed now, but she really enjoyed doing this and we will likely answer some more questions tomorrow. Thanks!

Comments: 1167 • Responses: 33  • Date: 

DarksoraXIII350 karma

So you were there when the Nazis took power? What was that like?

grandyhannelore894 karma

"Before the war there was terrible unemployment (~14%) and within a year under Hitler almost everyone found work. It was great when he took power, and we did not know about the concentration camps until the war was over. I had a really hard time convincing people in the US that we did not know anything."


after ninety one years of living does life ever get boring or tedious? what are the things in your life that continue to provide you with happiness?

grandyhannelore731 karma

"I like to swim. I ride a tricycle. I have a lot of freedom to say what I want and do what I want. I don't feel like I have to conform like when I was growing up." (Grandson here: she can swim 24 laps in a pool at age 91, which is 23 more damn laps than I can at age 22).

moonshyne27223 karma

What surprised you the most about life in the United States?

grandyhannelore571 karma

"There are national parks! In Switzerland I remember a small national park, but it is really outstanding that the US has so many beautiful national parks. Yosemite was always our favorite!"

Aquaboy40209 karma

If you're ok with this, during Hitler's reign, what was your attitude towards the Jews? Did you truly believe that they were cause of Germany's problems? Thanks for doing the AMA

grandyhannelore521 karma

"They said the Jews are bad luck and that Jews would cheat them out of money, and there was lots of propaganda. They was a Jewish girl in my school class named Ruth, and one day Ruth stopped going to school and when I asked why she wasn't on the street car anymore, I was told that her family (who had money) escaped through Switzerland. Before that, I didn't know she was Jewish because she didn't look anything like the Jews in the propaganda films. I liked her."

grandyhannelore444 karma

"My daughter married a Jewish man whose father fought for the US in the Pacific theater, and when I met my future son-in-law's parents, I was anxious about what they would think about me and my husband. They were very friendly and we let them know that we did not know anything about the camps, but they also never asked."

TryNstopME024207 karma

Any words of advice for a guy in his mid twenties?

grandyhannelore659 karma

"Be tolerant."

usarmy973166 karma

If you had a time machine, what time would you go to? The future, the past? What would you do once you got there?

grandyhannelore564 karma

"I would like to go to Norway" (I'm not sure she totally understood the question).

grandyhannelore405 karma

(After explaining the question) "I would like to go back to the time in Germany after WWI when things were being rebuilt. We would go on vacation to the Baltic Sea during the summer break and we were so happy and relaxed."

Astyanax01164 karma

Do you think in English or German (let's say now answering this question)?

Have you ever smoked marijuana (serious question) and if so did you enjoy it?

Thanks for the answers to two very random questions!

grandyhannelore407 karma

"I have never smoked marijuana, but I have nothing against it." (Grandson here: she has, but she doesn't remember because she was undergoing chemotherapy at the time)

Hatewrecked18 karma

Could you re-ask her the question about whether she thinks in English or German? I wonder that about a lot of bilingual people.

grandyhannelore4 karma

(Grandson here trying to answer some more questions before she gets up: she seems to think in English, but then once someone starts talking to her in German, she immediately replies/thinks in German. It seems to depend most on what language she is responding to/surrounded by.)

tell_me_im_funny162 karma

Did you watch the world cup? Congratulations on the win!

grandyhannelore293 karma

"Haha, I did, thank you!"

shakeygoat158 karma

How did Germans treat Jewish people after the World found out about the Holocaust?

grandyhannelore321 karma

"We felt very bad about the Holocaust, and we hated to talk about it, because we felt so bad."

Grogtron142 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA! What an interesting perspective. What was the reaction among German civilians when news of Allied Forces landing in Normandy was spread?

grandyhannelore255 karma

"It was almost relief. We weren't really afraid of the Allied because from the East the Russians were coming, and we hoped that the war would be over soon."

loopzooping138 karma

What was life like with the physicist? What kind of work did he do?

grandyhannelore249 karma

"He worked under a contract with the US Air Force in Indiana. He had to report constantly what he did and he worked with two other German physicists. During WWII, he was pulled out of combat and worked in a lab in Germany where they talked about a new weapon that would win the war for Germany. After the war General Dynamics paid for us to move to the US, but he could not talk about his work, although I think it was something about missiles for the Air Force."

lemmywinks_126 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA.

I was wondering if you found people to be welcoming when you first arrived in the States or if it took some time to settle in and feel welcome?

grandyhannelore268 karma

"We knew a mechanic who was in the same German outfit as my husband during WWII and they took us under their wings when we moved to the US and we bought a used car from them, and they were very helpful and nice. Most Americans were very friendly, which was very surprising for me. Whatever happened during the wartime, they did not hold any grudges against us."

VeraCitavi102 karma

Wow, what a cool grandma! So what was the name of your deli and what was its specialty?

grandyhannelore161 karma

"The deli was named ... I can't remember. Every day we made a different soup. We also made big plates for people to take with them to the Hollywood Bowl. We always had season tickets."

upvotersfortruth78 karma

Did you ever deny serving patrons soup for seemingly arbitrary reasons?

grandyhannelore65 karma

(Grandson: haha, when she started talking about soup it never even occurred to me that she could have been a legitimate soup nazi, but the recipes I remember best handed down after they sold the deli were rouladen and curried chicken salad.)

srijankiller99 karma

Hello grandma! What is the big difference you feel now in present America and the time you moved over?

grandyhannelore241 karma

"It's hard to say because we changed too. Women have more freedom now, and they have professions. I think it's very hard now to live a family life on one salary."

A_Real_Douche97 karma

Thanks for doing the AMA! It's always interesting to hear stories from previous generations especially when you were surrounded by world changing events. What are some of the most memorable things you have seen, done or lived through? Why do they say "youth is wasted on the young"?

grandyhannelore305 karma

"I remember when I was 10 and in a school house and we didn't have school on Saturday. We talked about Hitler and how he was saving Germany, and because there was some money now in my family, my father carried a cane to be fancy and elegant, and a communist stole my father's hat and threw it in a river because he didn't think my father should be acting fancy."

FlyingPandaShark76 karma

How did you view America and other allied countries during the war?

grandyhannelore168 karma

"I have to think about that. We knew that the French didn't like us, and we didn't like them. Some German soldiers who were captured by the French had to stand for days in the swamp. My sister's husband got TB during the time he was a French prisoner. But the French and Americans were much, much better than the Russian soldiers. The Russian farmers were helpful to my husband when he was in Russia because the Germans didn't have enough food, etc. There was a big difference between the White Russians and the Red Russians."

LastSatyr80 karma

Would you please explain the differences between the White Russians and the Red Russians.

grandyhannelore159 karma

(Grandson: as she explains it, the difference was whether the Russians supported Stalin or not, which influenced how they felt about the Germans)

xiaopb75 karma

Hello, and thanks for doing this AMA!

Have you been back to your hometown in Germany, and if so, what are your thoughts on the changes?

grandyhannelore130 karma

"I have been back and I passed by the house we lived in, but then everyone got cars, and I didn't like it as much because it was different."

ZEF32265 karma

What did you do during the war?

grandyhannelore135 karma

Right when the war ended, my family had to give up our house to English officers. I was living in a town in the mountains, but my father stayed in the house. I had to bike 5 days away to see if my father was still alive. I was in a store buying apples and my bike was stolen while I was in the store."

grandyhannelore132 karma

"During November 1944, a bomb landed deep in the mud in the backyard of my house. We would hear the siren, and if we could hear the whistle of the bomb, it was a good sign, because it meant the bomb was far enough away that it wouldn't hit us. If we couldn't hear the whistle, we just prayed and after we heard the detonation we would say 'halleluja.'"

grandyhannelore124 karma

"I went to school, and on the weekends I worked on a farm because the men were fighting. After I was able to attend university, I was at a camp and on Saturdays we did folk dancing, and there was a boy who played the accordion for the dancing who was the baker's son. He asked the leader of the camp where I was staying and he left a big bag full of the cake remnants for me. At first I refused, but then everyone else at the camp wanted the cake, so then I accepted. It wasn't nice at the time, but I did it."

grandyhannelore120 karma

During the war, I secretly listened to radio from Luxembourg, but we didn't believe what they were saying, but we also didn't really believe what the German radio was saying. It was very confusing, especially because we couldn't let any of our neighbors hear that we were listening to radio Luxembourg."

SnakeEyedJane59 karma

I am part of the first generation of my family that was born in America. My grandparents and parents originate in Wiesbaden. I have a very German last name, and though it seems like my grandparents and parents were spared, my siblings, cousins, and I were constantly heckled about our name and called Nazis while growing up. I feel like we've constantly had to explain our family's role during WWII. Is this something that your children and grandchildren have had to deal with as well? Also, I am the only member of my family who has never been to Germany, where do you recommend that I start?!

grandyhannelore85 karma

"I never experienced any of that kind of thing. After the world found out about the concentration camps, I was surprised by how positive people reacted to me still. Sorry I cannot be of more help. 2) make a trip along the Rhein river!"

waterwilldo52 karma


When you left Germany, did you plan on leaving for as long as you did, did you desire any of your children/grandchildren to return to Germany?

grandyhannelore92 karma

"No, not at first. We really didn't know what would happen. In the first ten years we always went back to Europe, often to Salzburg. We never thought or wanted our children to move back to Germany, but we taught all our children to speak German."

seewolfmk51 karma

Hi and Moin. How did you experience the fall of the Berlin Wall in the USA and what did you feel about reunited Germany?

grandyhannelore87 karma

"I have talked to people who escaped from East Germany and I was very, very relieved when the Berlin Wall fell. The Eastern part of Germany was much more poor than where I was and I met a young man from East Germany who had a violin who was legally traveling outside East Germany and he was so happy to be out."

GamesinaBit48 karma

Have you ever thought about publishing a book of stories?

grandyhannelore97 karma

"Well I am so active that I have so many other things to do. I should probably." (Grandson: I think she should)

oppleTANK44 karma


Did you feel abandoned by the Western Allies when they didnt try to take Berlin?

grandyhannelore85 karma

"Because I grew up in Western Germany I really did not know much about Berlin after the war, but we were just so relieved that it was over."

Icanpickanyname38 karma

Was opening a deli something you had always wanted to do, or did you just fall into it? Thank you for doing this, it's a great way to keep history alive?

grandyhannelore66 karma

"My daughter was working as a teacher and some friends of hers talked about a deli they liked, but the owners were getting old and they would probably sell the deli. She wanted to do something other than teaching and I was working as a secretary so we decided to buy it."

KaheykyPants12 karma

In your whole life time, what technology did you find the most impressive? When you were younger, how did you imagine the future would be like?

grandyhannelore21 karma

(Grandson here: yesterday she told me "I don't know what I would do without my iPad" because despite learning English later in life, she kicks ass at Words With Friends.)