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Brigitte Tornatora

in conversation with Leanne O’Brien
Always be strong and find a way to get things done!

It is World War II, in the year 1943. Germany is under attack from the Russian front and Brigitte recalls, “We would shelter in the cellar when we heard the warning sirens, then the droning of the warplanes before the explosions…. an eerie silence always followed. The birds would come out when safe and start singing again. It was always the same sequence. “Anything referencing these sounds still stirs my emotions to this day”. Brigitte’s Prussian father was born Gerhard Wenzel in Gorlize, Schlesinge, in 1904. Brigitte describes her father as being very generous and socially active. He loved to help people. He was a buyer by trade, mainly timber. “He could estimate the cubic metres of timber in a forest and try and convince the farmer to sell for various uses”. Her mother was born Ursel Ende in Berlin in 1911. She was employed as a secretary in a bank in Berlin where her role was to translate from German to French and English. “My mother rode a 750 BMW motorbike, she wore a leather jacket and quite often got arrested by the police mistaking her for a ‘crook’. Then they would promptly let her go”.

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