With assistance from my German teacher, I had chosen from an Anglo-German Club list a family to stay with in Starnberg-am-See near Munich. I was met at Munich station by Marianne de Barde and her brother Hanns Hammelman, both of whom spoke English - and they sorted out the fact that my name was not pronounced S-h-ir-l-e-y as they had thought possible! This broke the ice, and we were friends by the time the local train reached Starnberg, and I met their parents. I thoroughly enjoyed my few months in Germany, and was so much happier there than I had been in France the year before.
I had planned to do a course at the University in Munich, but it was all too complicated, so I improved my ski-ing in the Hammelmans� garden and improved my German by talking nothing else with that kind family and Hanns� friends. Starnberg was a lovely small town on a beautiful lake, surrounded by hills clad in story-book "Christmas trees" and covered in snow when I was there.
I was not very much aware of the course of history, but knew that �Vater� and �Mutti� were gravely concerned when Hitler became Reichs Chancellor while I was there. Marianne�s husband (of whom I saw very little - and they were later divorced) was a dedicated Nazi, but the rest of the family were certainly not.
Hitler came to Starnberg on the Dornier X flying boat and was eagerly welcomed by crowds, but I simply didn�t bother to go and see him although Hanns had suggested that we might. I wanted some proper ski-ing, so Hanns, Vera Walter and I went to Austria for a few days. Our route was by train through Garmisch-Partenkizchen and on to Innsbruck. From there we went on to the Kemater Alm in the Dolomite Alps. It was a very small inn, duvets on the beds, spotlessly clean - and we skied every day, with Nivea cream being lavishly applied. On our return there was a traditional celebration, Faschingsfest, in Munich, for which Marianne lent me a sort of pierrot costume, and I went with Hanns and some of his friends and we danced all night in a bierhalle, drank beer, and ate weisswurst, and came home on a workman�s train in the early hours of the morning.
I heard a lot about the delights of the lake in summer, and did wish I could stay longer and sail there, but my three months had sped by while it was still wintry weather. I guess my letters home had been rather too full of Hanns, as Aunt Emily (prompted by Mother?) wrote to tell me that she was coming to Munich and wanted me to join her in order to see a bit more of Germany before I returned to England. I said a sad farewell to �my� family, and Hanns promised to write.
Aunt Emily and I stayed a day or two at a pension in Munich and visited all the museums, then travelled to Nuremberg and Rothenburg, but I couldn�t appreciate these fascinating little towns properly because there never came the letter I watched for every day. I did, however, keep in touch with the family for many years - Marianne worked in the German Embassy in Washington during the early part of the Second World War, and Hanns moved to live in England.