Switzerland 1931
Denmark & Sweden 1932
Germany 1934
Istanbul 1935
Berlin 1936
Norway 1940
Berlin 1943
The Flight - Oslo
Sweden 1944
End of War

India 1953
Nepal 1954
Kathmandu, Swayanbhunath
and becoming a monk
Kali Gankaki 1950
Sugata accomapnied Sherchan
to take photograhs of the
Devil Dances up in Tukuche
2001 Bodhgaya, Sarnath, and Goa
Sugata at 90
in Tatopani and returning to
Tukuche and Chhairo

Sugata's homeland

2005 Sugata's footsteps
1940 Norway


1 The flower of my youth was spent in Germany's darkest coming of age, a country that felt itself robbed of determination, racked with defeat and depression. It was 1931 and I was at the bottom of the pile - one of the seven million unemployed. We were all dependent on the labour exchange, the Arbeitsamt, which was like a besieged fortress. We passed our days inside its grey walls, queuing from five to seven hours just to receive a stamp. By the end of the week we had seven Reichsmark, enough to buy two loaves of bread: too much to die with but too little to live on. We were a queue of depressed, unwashed and rancid-smelling people without hope, just waiting for that one Reichsmark a day - or a change from somewhere, anywhere.  

I felt like an animal that wanted to hibernate or to die. By the dusk of Christmas day
I crashed into the ruins of a hut. It was locked, so I removed the pins holding the window glass and broke in. Inside was a small room simply furnished with the traditional ceramic stove, beside which some wood had been thoughtfully left. I immediately got a fire going. After an hour, cold and tired, I climbed onto the 'shelf' above the stove, curled into my sleeping bag and fell asleep, exhausted.

It snowed incessantly for days. Avalanches rumbled around me. To save energy, I rested like a hibernating animal on the top shelf of the stove. I felt as if I were entering a realm of nothingness; all movement, all activity ceased. An ecstatic spiritual strength arose in me, which increased from day to day and gave me a feeling of deep happiness. I understood that my body and spirit were undergoing a kind of remarkable cleansing. Outside avalanches roared closer, inside I felt the border between life and death and the fear of crossing it diminish. Lying on the warm shelf, I drifted in and out of consciousness.

I see a woman standing alone on the deck of a boat, entering the dock at Hamburg. She is 26 years old and her belly is swollen. She has been travelling for several weeks across the Atlantic from Rio de Janeiro. It is 1911, one year before the Titanic, and journey is long, arduous and uncertain. Perhaps her thoughts go back to Rio and the lover she has left there.

I see the boat dock in Hamburg. Her family are gathered. As she walks down the gangplank, they see her swollen belly. What a disgrace! The uncle is ashamed in front of his colleague, the mother ashamed for her lost innocence, the father ashamed for his family name. And what of the woman? And the child inside her? One day later that child would be born. The grandmother would agree to take care of it until 'something could be sorted out'. The grandfather, however, would refuse to look at 'the half-Indian bastard' and later still refuse to let him cross the threshold of his house. And the mother, where has she gone?


It is war, and we do not have enough to eat. What we have is mostly rotten potatoes. The Black Forest farmers are rich though, and to them we go on Sunday by train. We call it the Hamster Train, for we are all like hoarding hamsters. I am four years old, proud and happy to follow my parents. I must be strong, for I have an important role to play. I wear short Bavarian trousers and a green Tyrolean felt hat with a long feather. When I run through the fields, the feather sticks out above the corn so my parents can never lose sight of me. I go alone to the farmer's door, knock, and ask for butter and eggs. I triumphantly hold the food high into the air, and my parents appear from behind the fence and pay for them. I know my asking is important, and only a few turn me down.





My first school year is the last year of the war, 1918. Then the defeated and demoralised soldiers begin returning, many crippled without arms and legs, many blind and with gas-burnt lungs, many diminished by their experiences, uncertain of life, nervous of expectations. Others, however, return strong, strong in body and conviction. Gradually our pensioner teachers are replaced by these confident, returning soldiers and officers.

They treat our civilian life and our monotonous timetables with disdain.They recall the times and places where killing was heroic. Our rewards for diligence are fairytale stories of how they felled the fleeing French, of Christmas in a 'host' country, of campfires and star-lit nights in the trenches. The soldier's life is an honourable life of attack, revenge, and - in their dreams - victory. As for the German defeat, why, it is not defeat at all. Our history teacher, Krieger (the name itself means 'warrior') explains that we have been 'stabbed in our backs by cowardly Communists and Bolsheviks headed, of course, by the international Jews'. And at this point in his diatribe he invariably glances at Ignatz, the only Jewish boy in our class, as if Ignatz himself were responsible for the defeat of the Great German Army.




In 1924 inflation arrives. In shop windows, the articles are marked with pre-war prices but with a quickly hand-written note: 'x 25,000' - a multiplicator. Too quick for printing, prices change from day to day, from hour to hour.

My father, always suspicious of banks, has for years hidden his savings in our curtain rods. One Sunday he stands on a chair and from the metal rods he shakes out the beautiful, blue, imperial 100-Reichsmark notes he has hoarded over the years. The whole pile cannot rise to the value of one dirty, quickly and cheaply-printed 50,000-mark note. From this day on he breaks the habit of a lifetime: he never saves again.


Everyone breaks the habit of saving. The quickly printed money is transported in huge lorries. The value lowers as the lorry moves from bank to office, from office to the hand of the employee. Everyone spends as soon as they get it so as not to lose. Books are bought by the metre. People who cannot ride buy horses, people who cannot play buy grand pianos. The past is forsaken, the future uncertain. In a desperate frenzy only today exists, and every day passes as a distraught carnival. Night-clubs flourish, cocaine is in fashion, men dress like women, women like men. A local post office clerk is one of the first in our town to have her hair bobbed, and I eagerly go each day to buy one stamp from her, so that I can bask in her forwardness.


  'I am not your father!' The words shoot out in the middle of another mundane argument. 'And your mother is not your mother!' Visitors are in the room. 'Tais toi!' my mother says in a sharp whisper, furiously throwing a book at him. Nothing more is said. But the words are out and echo round and round my head  
    Awakened back to life by a fellow outcast, Krishna, we meet up with with an old lover of Krishna's, Radha. After a period of innocence, the three of us establish a deep and honest relationship in an idyllic pasture hut. Here we explore each other both intellectually and sexually. These feelings of belonging and happiness form the cornerstone of my life. Driven away from this 'Garden of Eden' by righteous, bourgeois village locals led by the priest, we are all separated: Radha lost, Krishna captured, I ejected back into Germany.  

I arrived in Copenhagen June 1932, on a balmy Sunday evening, a hopeless time for finding an inconspicuous space, for it was light, the season of white nights, and everyone was promenading.

'Hey, hey, what have we here? A little German wandervogel! Wait, wait en lille smule - wait a little bit!'
This sympathetic, curious couple, Mr and Mrs Jochumsen, decided to offer the 'little German wandervogel' a better bed for the night than the bushes I was seeking. They led me through the streets and into their cane furniture workshop, where there lay an enormous heap of seagrass, used for stuffing furniture.It was late, but Mrs Jochumsen went to the back door of baker Jensen and bought an enormous bag of yesterday's wienerbrød, locally called gammelbrød ('old bread'), for 25 øre - virtually nothing - and Jensen, participating in their gleeful discovery of 'the-little-German-wandervogel-who-would-sleep-in-the-seagrass', gave an especially generous quantity.

There were at that time masses of unemployed people in Denmark, but it was still a land of plenty - plenty of pigs, chickens, food for all: wienerbrød for today's rich, gammelbrød for tomorrow's poor. Neither was very wholesome: if a Dane had black teeth, they were real but if they were white, you could be nearly sure they were false! With a wienerbrød in his left hand and cup of strong coffee in his right, the Dane sat, contented with his lot. Like the Bruegel painting, 'Dreaming of Cockaigne', life at that time was as if birds were flying ready-cooked into people's mouths. With so full a belly, with such contentment, it was impossible to be angry, to be a Communist or a Nazi. Had Hitler spent his early life here in a wienerbrød bakery, there would surely have been no war.

I met Judith at the garden restaurant, and she seduced me immediately. She sold cosmetics but like all the girls who worked there, Judith was in permanent debt, so she needed 'a little bit extra' and after working hours, from these customers she earned 'a little bit extra'. These fine men had a veneer of respectability, indeed they were generous, but they gave with no heart. And so, in her time off Judith would come to our humble restaurant and court the more earthy and hearty suitor, for 'a little bit extra' on the emotional - not the material - front.

Oh, the jealousy I used to feel! I killed many hours waiting for her to return, counting the number of street lights and lanterns, back and forth. At two or three in the morning I would hear her quick, irregular steps. Once inside her flat she would tell me of how the evening had gone, the games she had played: the rejection and then the relenting. She would wash her body, jump into bed and exclaim: 'The last is the best!' With such nightly exercise I became quite thin.






I disembarked reluctantly in Lübeck, northern Germany, with my overcoat, hat, tie and heavy suitcase, and made my way to the Labour Exchange

'Heil Hitler is now the greeting in Germany. Back to the door!' Shouted the man to interview me.
'No', I said with emphasis. 'No.'
'Your blatant refusal is unusual. Not many react like you. You a must have either a bold or foolish character. Let me tell you, such audacious boldness will lead you nowhere but up the path to a concentration camp - and sooner than you imagine' The official paused, looking intently at me before continuing. 'Nearly all returnees from Scandinavia seem especially reluctant. They call themselves "individualists"- is this not so? You have come from there yourself…' He seemed genuinely interested to know. 'Yes, you are right.' 'Mostly my waiting room is full and I don't usually have the time for details, but you are the only one here today. These so-called individualists - they are democrats, successful in periods of peace and prosperity. "Democracy in peace, dictatorship in war", said the Romans. We have had war and misery for 20 years in Germany. Now is not the time for democracy. No. Today we have a leader who is giving us back our national pride and countering our humiliation. He will restore the dignity of German labour; he will create a classless national community. And we are all ready to follow him. The mothers are our eternal source of life; the fathers are the fighters for the fatherland, and the children are the bearers of our national future. Only the power of a united people, without any dissent, can liberate Germany from distress. "You are nothing; your people are all" is our slogan!'

The next morning I began my flight to Hamburg by hitching lifts. On the roads leading out of Lübeck they were building one of the new Autobahns, 'The future military highways' or 'the Adolf Hitler Highways', some called them. A gang of men toiled in the heat, bare-chested. Their shirts and uniform coats lay in a neat row on the grass bank; it was the uniform of the Arbeitsdienst. Another group marched by, singing, their spades swung over their shoulders like rifles. 'Soldaten, Spaten' ('Soldiers, spades') they sang, in their unerring uniformity like an automaton out of Brave New World their personality stripped, their work joyfully done for the common good.




On my way to Teheran, where I'd heard about some possible work, I found myself waylaid in Istanbul. On the way there I met Omar who having trained in Germany as an urban architect, would become the First City Architect of Turkey, if not the whole of Asia. He was a latter-day Young Turks, contemptuous of primitivness and exhauting technology.

Istanbul had become once again what it had been in its chequered history: a crossing point for thousands of peoples and hundreds of cultures - where caravans from distant countries, Coptic monks, Persian silk traders, Armenian architects, singers, poets, politicians, thinkers, women on donkeys, had all come and stopped and gone; a magnet for people fleeing from when Europe was ablaze with burning heretics, till today when Europe was again racked with persecution.

There were still only a few motorcars in Stambul and nearly everything was transported by the Hamals - poor fellows who carried their burdens in makeshift triangular baskets strapped to their backs, their bodies bent at 45 degrees.

But as well as Hamals and the bustle of business, I began to notice there were others like me, in flight - we were all refugees The new refugees arriving were noticeably jumpy, with startled expressions on their faces. These were the European Jews. Istanbul was once again providing the escape route east, this time for persecuted Jews. Anti-semitism was spreading from Germany to the rest of Europe, and was being legitimised as 'acceptable' national policy. In Germany the second of three legislative waves of anti-semitism had been enacted, the Nuremberg Laws, whereby the Jews were deprived of all voting rights and became second-class citizens. The aim, to purge the Fatherland of Jews, was effective, and many had come east.

It was through Omar that I realised I must return to Germany and train in a profession. I had to come all the way to Istanbul to be shown the way by a Turk. It was the middle of October. With the last birds of passage gathering to go south, I now prepared to return north.






I arrived at the railway station in Berlin in the middle of a January snowstorm. Pedestrians struggled through the ankle-deep, slushy snow; only those with boots, typically uniformed soldiers, were protected.

In this grey run-down city, the Art and Work college appeared to me like an oasis. The director, Häring, had a lot to do with this ambience, as it was his personal selection of each student that determined the character of the college. Fifty percent of the students were Jews or had Jewish blood, and they all knew that they were sitting in an open trap. This danger appeared to inspire them to study all the more.They concentrated on the timing of the fall of the trap: it was as if they did not want to leave until the last minute. It was a game of life and death, and the tension, loaded both with fear and high political awareness, was extraordinary. A surprising optimism existed, a confidence in being able to escape from the trap in time.



As only a small minority of the German population had or could afford a radio, Goebbels, aware of the importance of vocal propaganda, had instituted the Volksempfänger, or 'people's receiver' - a simple device tuned only to the official channel. It featured government news broadcasts, including of course, Hitler's speeches, interspersed with Beethoven or with Wagnerian cycles. It was the first proletariat radio for the masses - the masses except for the Jews, of course. I was soon ordered by the police to return my Volksempfänger because I was living in a Jewish household. When I went to return it, however, I was sent home again with it, because I was Aryan.







All events in 1938 followed hot on each other's heels. This time became known as the time of 'unbloody victories', for little blood was shed for so much victory, and Hitler grew more invincible with each success.

In March 1938 Hitler absorbed his native Austria into a German province, calling it 'Greater Germany' (Grossdeutschland).

A Danish film student, Jensen, who was training in 16-mm. film technology at my college, decided to make a film documentary of these 'interesting times', as part of his course work. As his German was poor and I spoke some Danish he asked me to accompany him in his fashionable sports car to Austria, where events were unfolding fast. We drove to Innsbruck. From a high window we watched the entry of Goebbels into the city. In the distance, he appeared to be a small figure proudly saluting in an open army car, but the effect was enormous: around him the streets were black with people. Long red and black Nazi flags hung regimentally from windows on either side of the street, their bold colours softened by an endless rain of flowers fluttering down. People were crying Heil! Heil!, wildly intoxicated. The emotion was strange to us but at the same time overwhelming; it was impossible not to be affected.

On the night of Reichskristallnacht, Jensen and I were driving up from Sudetenland, resting up at a German border town, Carlsbad. At midnight, just as we were about to start the car, we heard a muffled thud, followed by the sound of shattering glass. Three SS men came around a corner, one carrying a piece of paper to which he continually referred like a map or list, directing the others as to which shop windows were to be smashed. Houses were on fire, but no fire brigade came. People threw themselves out of the burning windows, but no ambulances came. Within half an hour, this sleepy border town had turned into a place of fear and death. We had no idea what was happening, but left as soon as we felt we safely could, shocked and in silence. As we drove through the night, we passed other towns with buildings burning, where SS and civilians were smashing windows and cars, catching people and beating them. No one answered the cries for help. Jews in their night-shirts sat weeping in front of burning synagogues




(Voss 1940 photographs with thanks to sulvund@online.no www.vossnow.net)

'I was stationed in Voss, a medium-sized town that had recently been razed to the ground by German Stukas. When I arrived it was a skeleton of its former body, and still burning. The survivors huddled in the few houses that remained.

I was immediately put to work, not as an interpreter, but as a listener, to eavesdrop on all civilian telephone conversations for any sign of espionage, sabotage or black market activity. All day I would listen to these gentle Norwegians, chatting away in their mellifluous lilting voice.





Johan Grae's wife was a gorgeous earthy woman, who would nourish me and pray for me and I'm sure, without the war, would have married me off to one of her three amusing daughters. The two who I first met were innocent and sappy. As I arrived at the farm I would often see them sitting with their mother, in an eight cornered pavilion, sewing, cleaning vegetables or berries or just resting looking out over the valley. I often tickled and chased them and found that they were eager to be caught. Later we made ski adventures together to remote places and had a lot of ingenuous fun.'

At Christmastime 1940, Johan Grae invited me to celebrate with his family lille julaften - 'little Christmas Eve', 23 December. It was a cosy evening, all of us sitting around the fire, Mother Grae giving out pears, apples and hazel nuts, all of which were difficult to find,
as they grew only in the outer Hardanger
Fjord area further west.


The following night I had a very different celebration. It was compulsory for all soldiers to attend the barracks Christmas party. The air inside was sickly-thick with cigarette and candle smoke, and loud with forced festive cheer and men's voices. The beer flowed and some soldiers performed satirical sketches. Suddenly, without warning, someone publicly toasted my health. It jarred to be saluted as a hero by an army whose sentiments I detested. As a pacifist, it seemed I had become too useful in my peaceful work. I felt wretched. The salutation done, my fellow soldiers inevitably started to turn their thoughts homewards, becoming mawkishly sentimental.

I walked out into the Norwegian night, leaving behind me the haze of smoke and words of victory madness. Leaning against a tree so as not to be seen, I looked out into the landscape and the burnt-out town of Voss. They must have heard the riotous screams of laughter and drunken camaraderie echoing from our barracks. I felt sick for them. Yes, for an enemy of Nazism, Christmas 1940 was a dark time.



In July 1942 all the news was of German victory. For myself I kept silent and set out into the Norwegian landscape for my holiday.

At an old mountain guesthouse in Røysheim, the evening meal was in a spectacular room with open fire and long refectory table fabulously decorated with silver candelabras. The conversation around me was quiet and circumspect throughout the meal and I was glad to be left alone. Over coffee the man next door asked me where I came from. I was in the midst of replying, when he abruptly exclaimed: 'Are you German?' It sounded like a trumpet call. My 'yes' dropped into an icy silence. As if by command everybody rose, collected their chairs and sat around the fire, showing me a wall of backs.

Some days I painted in velvet-green meadows where goats would butt me. I sat beside quiet lakes from which wild rivulets cascaded down to the valley. I forded ice-cold rivers. I journeyed from hut to hut, each one a different experience, but one thing the same - I became the centre of interest. The rumour that a German Jøssing was in the mountains always seemed to precede me and by the time I arrived, people were waiting and eager to put their questions, questions that they had never had the opportunity or courage to ask directly of a German.


On 30 January 1943, from the wreck of Stalingrad, Germany's great Sixth Army surrendered. Some ninety thousand German soldiers and their Romanian confederates emerged blinking from their miserable makeshift shelters to face the whim of their captors.

When it came time for my next leave, February 1943, the mountains were closed to all skiing or hiking. Feeling that their grip was loosening, the Gestapo worked even more vigilantly, tightening their control over the occupied peoples.

Arnold's eyebrows furrowed. After a silence, he asked me,
'Can you make contact to England?'
'Not directly…'
'Not directly? You mean indirectly then?'

It turned out Arnold was one of Reichs chief scientists, working on the V1 and V2 bombs.
'For some time now I've been trying to find a way to make the English aware of Peenemünde'

I returned to Norway, absolutely focused and inspired by my mission. Through Trygve, my quiet red-headed technician, we got the information to Oslo and London.

On 18 August, Radio London reported: 'At a few minutes past midnight, Pathfinder Mosquitoes marked Peenemünde with red flares, before bombers hit the target of the German V weapon site. The raid was a success.'





Arriving in Oslo, I set out to find my 'disappearing suit'. The streets were dirty with old snow, and light was dim for which I was glad. After much searching, I found a heavy old compass - at least two kilos; thousands apparently had been sold recently to those fleeing to Sweden by night and fog. All maps had been confiscated by the Germans, but I found an antique map from 1897 which showed the area of my flight - but it stopped just short of the Norwegian border.

Every year shortly before Christmas the 'kakelinna' arrives in Norway. It takes the form of a warm wind often bringing violent gales over the mountains, melting the first snow-caps from the trees and drowning the landscape in flutes of muddy water. The farm-women hastily wipe and polish the newly-thawed windows, and bake rømmebrød, lefsekling and the whole range of cakes that are traditionally part of the Christmas festival. And so came the name kakelinna - literally, 'mild cake-weather'.

It was Sunday evening, 12 December 1943. The kakelinna had arrived two days before. The watchman on the island was friendly and took me over to the mainland, where I waited at the bus stop, shivering as much with anxiety as cold. The bus was coming from a nearby heavy-gun battery that was positioned, together with a sister battery in northern Denmark, to bombard the English if they dared to come through the Skaggerak channel. Waiting for three years in vain for an enemy who never arrived, these soldiers were going slowly mad, and had nothing else in their thoughts than time off, girls and cigarettes. By choosing a Sunday evening, I hoped that the soldiers would not be leaving for the city on this bus but rather be returning from a day out - for however dull they were, they were still soldiers, and I had no business being on that bus.



In the carriage there was also a much younger and very clean soldier with 'SS Kriegsberichter' stitched onto the cuff of his sleeve, denoting that he was a war correspondent. Something about him made me feel uncomfortable, and as much as I observed him, I could not make out if he were a fish or a fowl. He caught me looking at him and offered me a cigarette, asking me in German: 'Willst du eine russische Zigarette haben?' From his difficulty in pronouncing the z's I realised he was not German but in fact a Dane. Speaking in Norwegian I asked him: 'Kan du si: Potz Blitz, der alte Fritz, von Pritzlewitz..?'
This run of 'z' words would be almost impossible for a Dane to pronounce!
'My God!' He answered astonished and amused. With this our conversation in 'Scandinavian' started.

I asked the Kriegsberichter where he was going. 'I have just returned from Leningrad', the Kriegsberichter continued in a low voice....

I was sent to Leningrad, Lagoda Lake. My commission was to make a film about a sentimental German Christmas - like a soap opera - in a snow-covered, "host" country. Murderers being mindful of their families in a sweet Christmas club - my God, what a charge! 'The behaviour of the lieutenant attracted my attention with his cry of joy at hitting a sledge; everyone shouted, but his was the loudest. In civilian life he must have been an artist for on his bunker wall he had painted an exceptionally detailed representation of a cross-section of Ladoga Lake. On the top was a little blue sky, then a thick line of ice, below which was deep water and finally the murky lake bed. On the ice surface he had pinned small cardboard cut-out sledges. Every evening he moved the number of sledges successfully sunk from the ice down to the lake bed. Every evening with large, childlike letters he corrected the number of sledges sunk and their approximate tonnage. With each success he became more and more haughty. As I said, nobody else jumped so high and cheered with as much jubilation when a sledge was brought down. Come Christmas Eve when I was preparing to make this surreal film, nobody but he cried so unrestrainedly before his family portrait. He wept. How can there be a correlation between ice-cold sadism towards others and bottomless sentimentality towards oneself?'  

We drove into a forest clearing. There stood half a dozen horse sleighs and just as many lumbermen. The boss jumped down from his sleigh and went directly to a man who could have been his brother. He declared for all to hear: 'Here is a German soldier who, in the future, will fight for peace. He must cross the border.'
His brother lumberman
looked me up and down admiring my white ski outfit. 'White ski-suit, white skis, white ski sticks, white gaiters, white gloves and hat: the perfect disappearing dress', he laughed. 'If the Gestapo catches sight of you, they will run away in fear and cry for help!'

I I unbuckled my skis and entered a tiny, low-ceilinged anteroom. I knocked on a half-open door, through which I could see into the living room where a small, middle-aged Lapp was sitting on a stool. He took off his old, worn-out cap and, with deliberate, formal movements, put on his Sunday cap.He beckoned me in, and pointed at a stool saying: 'Vær så god sitt.' ('Please sit down'.)
With that he continued with his work. Stiching together cut reindeer skins into komag boots. It felt as if, with all his senses, he was absorbing my atmosphere. It burned on the tip of my tongue to ask him if he was Axel Axelsson Kemi or not, but his solemnity precluded my saying anything. Eventually he droped his needle, looked up and I said. 'I am looking for Axel Axelsson Kemi. Is that you?' I asked, breathless for attention. 'Yes. I am Axel Axelsson Kemi. Who has sent you?'

The patrol crossed about eighty metres in front of me. The dog was coming directly towards me. I removed the safety catch and took aim. Then the soldiers stopped under a birch tree. Some crows were disturbed and with a cawing racket noisily took off. At that, the dog, now only fifty metres from me, changed direction and dashed off in hopeless pursuit of the crows.

In the clear, undisturbed landscape I could hear every word they said.
'Have you actually caught any deserters in this enormous snow desert?'
'Oh yes. We are most successful when we lie in wait. In the winter we're always on the move close to the border. Ski trails are useful. Just recently, in fact, we found a new ski trail leading to the other side.'
'That must be infuriating. To find a trail and know you have missed him.'
'When the other side looks clear, we go over the border ourselves. We learnt this from the Hird people.'





I drifted in and out like an ebb and flow between the gardens of my past and this room. And then one day all I was left with were the stark four walls. Above my bed the wall was peppered with graffiti, sexual obsessions, names and rough ditties. Breathing in, my nostrils burnt from a sharp toilet disinfectant. High up was a window crossed with iron bars through which a sunbeam shone down. With that I knew I was in a jail.

My six months in prison became a kind of liberation. The hours in the day were secure with definition and free from responsibility.

I brought some charcoal pencil and paper. The first portrait I drew was of Adolf, a tall Nazi type, the most splendid representative of the Aryan race I had ever seen. He had been one of Hitler's bodyguards and through this close contact with power, he had developed a similar idea to that of Hess: to make contact with the English and try single-handedly to end the war, naturally in Germany's favour. To this end, he had travelled with false papers through Germany to Norway and from there had ended up in Sweden. He was a pure National Socialist, not a sycophantic hero worshiper, and seeing his country in defeat he wanted idealistically to save it. After seeing Adolf's portrait, the Hamster approached me. He was a Saxonian called Strelitzky, who got his nickname through hoarding things - brooms, soap - that he cached under his bed.




After three months on the farm, with 'good behaviour' I was granted freedom in late July 1944. There were restrictions: travel was permitted only with passes and I had to stay where I worked. It would still be nearly a year to the end of the war, but by now the ambivalent Swedes could see which way the wind was blowing and became more lenient towards us German 'visitors'.

As refugees began arriving in the thousands, Mor Svea grew into her new, maternal role; it was certainly more comfortable than that of a friendship with Hitler. We were a family linked not by blood but by our destinies and determination. As idealists we were hungry to govern our vision and one common goal we rag bag of nationalities had, was to dissolve nationalism and national frontiers.

The white 'Bernadotte buses' carrying survivors from Auschwitz started arriving just before the war ended. On 1 May 1945 the first buses arrived in Denmark and soon afterwards came to Stockholm. These extraordinary transports were the result of tireless work by the Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte, Vice-President of the Swedish Red Cross and his negotiations with Himmler.

These bags of bones, damaged and broken, once outwardly healed in Swedish hospitals, started arriving into the bourgeois drawing rooms of Stockholm. They came at the invitation of Swedish and foreign philanthropists, who were in part interested in the prickling richness of their struggle and extreme life experiences, and in part out of human compassion, a desire to help create new scaffolds on which to build new lives. I met them for the first time one summer evening at one such afternoon gathering arranged by an Austrian countess. It was in a smart suburb of Stockholm and the room was full of people. It was a hot summer evening, a shame to be inside, I thought, so I took my glass and went out onto the balcony.

In the spring of 1946 I received a letter from the Department for Refugees informing me that it was no longer dangerous for me to return to Germany; I was ordered to return my Främlingspass and to apply for a new German passport. 'Never!' I said to an Estonian refugee. 'I am a World Citizen with no nationality! The Främlingspass is sufficient for me.' Adamant, I made a bet with her. Such was my determination. Like most refugees at that time, I'd heard about the American ex-soldier, Garry Davis, who, at the end of the war, had thrown all his identity papers into the Seine proclaiming: 'I am a World Citizen! The Old Order is destroyed.

I travelled by bus to Paris. It was a wonderful journey, although in parts it was painful. We had to skirt the northern corner of Germany, and through the window, I saw the smouldering ruins of towns, the people grey and ragged. As I sat in my bus, a new World Citizen, with dry feet and a full belly, I thought then, at that moment in time: 'You have got what you deserve'. All those cheers and salutes to Hitler, all those people who had chastised and ostracised me for my counter stand, where were they now? Now everyone had the opinion that Hitler was bad. Nobody, it seemed, had ever called him 'my hero' and asked for more. Germany had robbed me of my youth. Yes, I must admit, at that time I felt the satisfaction of feeling that my judgement had been right. And I was happy never to be forced to greet with 'Heil Hitler' any longer.




Even when the Främlingspass arrangement was phased out, I continued to refuse to apply for a German passport. I went back to Rosenzweig, and said never would I get be a German national again. She told me that I could apply for Swedish nationality, but it would take time. There were others like me who rejected repatriation to their old country, and the Swedes could neither understand nor do anything about us. So I just lived there. There were only two restrictions: I had to obey the rules of the country and I could not go outside its boarders. It took five years before I was granted Swedish citizenship, and with it came the freedom to travel again. They were five difficult years in which I struggled to stay afloat in the new world. This time was one of bourgeois life, uninteresting to recall. Sometimes a Swede would come up to me and ask:

'Were you not born in Sweden?' with a sickly smile on his face.

'No', I would bark.

'Where were you born?' he would ask, annoyingly undeterred by my bark.

'I am a fish!'



Part1 in PicturesIndia 1953Nepal 1954 | Kali Gandaki 1960 | Sugata at 90 | Sugata in India 2001 | Norway 1940-2001

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