Carpe Diem

The Ongoing Journey of an East Prussian Exile

by Anneli Jones

Book cover

"Kennedy received Vera like a long-lost child. He was weeping with joy and whisky. Poor kid, needing ‘political’ asylum in the West! She sure would get it, he, Kennedy would see to that. Capt. Laurie was taking several sacks of potatoes to friends in Belgium – he had documents entitling him to do so. Vera would be one of those sacks, in the back of his jeep. Morrison and I would follow as far as a place where we could overlook the bridge where the American control post stood. Before Bremen we stopped on the hard shoulder of the Autobahn and tied Vera into a sack among the other potatoes. Morrison and I watched in suspense as the Americans read Laurie’s papers, poked a stick about in the back of the jeep and then waved them on. By then poor Morrison felt so exhausted, he said he would give me brief driving instructions and then let me drive him home. He slept on the passenger seat. I was glad to be of service and on this straight road without traffic it was quite easy until we approached the Sittensen exit and I did not remember – or had never been told – how to brake. I shouted for Morrison to wake up…"

After fifteen years' work, this sequel to Reflections in an Oval Mirror is finally ready for publication. The original work described how Anneli Wiemer, a young girl leading a carefree existence on an East Prussian farm, gradually had to wake up to the realities of Nazism and then the Second World War, finally being forced to flee across the frozen wastes in a horrendous trek to escape the Red Army.

Her new book, Carpe Diem, describes her life after arrival in West Germany. At first, as a refugee she moves rapidly from one job to the next — interpreter for military government, secretary, hotel receptionist... Finally she finds work as a journalist, and ends up assisting The Observer's foreign correspondent in Berlin, just at the time when the Marshall Plan and Russian blockade are starting. Forced to flee again in the Berlin airlift, she is then asked to become a mother's help for the original Swallows and Amazons at Lake Coniston, before beginning her own family in Kent. But the adventures continue...

The author had drawn up an initial draft for Carpe Diem already before Reflections was published in 2008 — but died in 2011 before it could be completed. Her family have been working ever since then to tease out the details from her countless letters, diaries, and thousands of annotated photographs, and compile them into a coherent narrative.

The original book was published on Anneli's 85th birthday; this sequel is now being published on what would have been her 100th birthday. It can be ordered from all major retailers, but if you have any problems, let us know.

Format Royal Octavo hardback, colour
Published 8 May 2023
ISBN 978-0-9931587-3-5
Length 186 pages
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