The Writing Process — “The Face of the Enemy”

Posted on Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Sgt. William J. Venner, Jr. and Helga Falch in Munich, Germany - 1945

Now that Tennessee Valor is out to the publishers there is nothing to be done about the manuscript. It is just a matter of waiting, and waiting; something a writer must endure.

I traveled to California and visited my Mom and helped her move into her new apartment, now that Dad has been gone for a year. We went through his boxes and I collected all of his World War II items. Dad was a meticulous record keeper, and a written-materials pack-rat. I now have all of Dad’s letters, V-Mails, Journals, and notes which he kept from that time. There are over 100 letters, etc. Dad also had hundreds of photos he took while in Germany.

I have been typing the letters in order to preserve his thoughts from 1939 through 1948. After reading these letters a fascinating story has emerged — Dad had a German girlfriend — Helga Falch. The letters between him and Helga create a picture of two young people very much in love.

I was aware of this relationship because Dad had showed me some of these letters in the late 1990’s when I wrote the book about his World War II experiences — Combat Engineer. But I had no understanding of the seriousness of their relationship. Ultimately, Dad’s parents forbid him from bringing Helga back to the United States, and he followed their wishes. If he had, my world would have been incredibly different!

I am in the process of assembling these letters into an article — “The Face of the Enemy” — which I will try to publish with one of the World War II magazines.


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