This is a true story of one womans curiosity about the contents of a notebook placed in her hands by her father on her sixteenth birthday, that her mother kept hidden and refused to pass to her, because no one was ever supposed to look deeper into its pages.
When Eve’s mother died the first thing she sought to find from the dressing table was the notebook. Within its pages was the snips and hints of a royal marriage that has been almost removed from every historical record [even wikipedia doesn’t mention it!], across some thirty years Eve and her husband slowly and with bravado and determination sought out more. But this would not be easy, it was the 1970’s, they were Jews, born in Eastern Germany but by luck and skill had left before all avenues were closed, but not all did. Eve’s own beloved grandmother “I’m really a duchess you know shhhh” was taken by the SS in Prague sadly dying of age, neglect and exhaustion enroute to Auschwitz, never knowing that the contents of the notebook would have saved her life. Returning during the height of the cold war and communist paranoia, where at any moment they could be imprisoned without recourse to diplomatic assistance – quickly discovering their every move and word was being followed.
The inscription delicately written on the first page read “The beautiful owner of this book is dearer to me than my life – August your protector”. August was Prince August of Prussia [1779-1843], she was thought to be Emilie Grottschalk. It was not until their incredible luck in gaining access to the archive papers housed in the imposing Castle at Mersburg, East Germany that an incredible tale of love, persecution, social disobedience and morganatic marriage that truth is revealed.
It was a lovely read of tenacity and strength, how yet again convention and power dictated the behaviour of many, to the point that for the safety of an innocent child, incomprehensible steps were taken to hide her, that three generations later, so well hidden ancestors would be murdered.