This Valentine’s day, we’re blogging about an amazing true love story our customer has shared with us.
‘Stanley and Anneliese’ was commissioned by Jenn Clark for her husband Dominic. It charts the lifelong romance of Dominic’s grandparents, who met in the aftermath of World War II.
Our story begins in 1945 when Stanley, an English corporal, and Anneliese, a young German woman, met by chance on the banks of the River Bode. Annoyed at the presence of British soldiers, who had occupied her home and seized her possessions after Germanys defeat in WW2, Anneliese marched up and told him to leave. That moment then changed their lives completely:
‘Then something odd happened. I found I was gazing not at his face but into it. And with the tousled fair hair, high forehead and wide-set smiley eyes, I thought it was a wonderful face. And I didn’t want to stop looking. Nor did he’.
Their love blossomed from that point onwards.
Post war struggles
The couple encountered many struggles in the early years of their relationship. Anneliese’s mother was not pleased she was dating an English corporal. Not only that, fraternising with the Germans was a custodial offence in the British army. But neither Stanley nor Anneliese were deterred.
A blow struck in July 1945, when soviet forces took over the occupation of Eastern Germany, and the lovers were forced to separate. This proved intolerable – with Stanley’s help, Anneliese fled East Germany to be with him. She lived a vagabond existence for a time, following him to different villages, until Stanley took up a more permanent position as the public safety officer for Bonn. Here they had many contented months, despite Anneliese missing her family.
In 1946 Stanley made the decision to leave the military and return to England with Anneliese. In June, they made a plan to marry – but marriages between German and English citizens were banned. So Stanley went back to England alone. For three months they were separated, while Stanley doggedly fought his way through bureaucratic obstacles, until Anneliese could join him. Finally, in December 1946, she boarded a boat and set sail for Stanley.
A New life in England
Anneliese was nervous about her new life in England, but she was warmly welcomed by Stanley’s parents. Excited to start their new lives together, they married the very same month, and purchased a flat in Lewisham.
Now life could finally begin. Stanley became a manufacturers’ agent, while Anneliese worked as a shipping clerk and translator. For years, they commuted to London together, he to Regent Street and she to Mayfair. In 1947 and 1949, Stanley and Anneliese became parents to two daughters. The family moved to Kent, to a beautiful house surrounded by Birch trees which they affectionately named Birkenhaus. Here they lived a happy life, surrounded by children and grandchildren and celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in 2006.
Anneliese said of their love story:
‘I would say that for Stanley and me, becoming grandparents and now great-grandparents has crowned a long, happy and adventurous partnership. It’s been an exciting life, frightening at times, but a very happy one’.