Little Willly Geheb in his toy car                                       

Life in Chicago

In 1936, the Chicago Gehebs were thriving and little Willy even had his own car to drive. This picture is taken in front of the three-story apartment building in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood where Willy and Irma owned and lived. During the depression Willy continued to work as a machinist and also invested in rental properties. He and Irma took care of all the maintenance of the buildings. Once his three sons were old enough, they helped too.

The Gehebs in Schmirma

Meanwhile in Schmirma, the Geheb family did not have running water or a car. They were still farming with a horse and wagon and got around by walking or by bicycle. The German Geheb family continued their lives working their small farm, running the forge and marrying and having children. They had a status in the community for generations since Father Karl Geheb was a master blacksmith who was active in the blacksmith guild and in his Lutheran church.

Adolf Hitler’s Stronghold

Hitler had complete power since 1933 and had a stranglehold on the country. The many guilds that had once been the fabric of the skilled workers in the country for centuries were abolished, as were any other organizations where people could gather and perhaps plan to threaten Hitler’s power. Any person or group that exhibited any complaint against the government was promptly subdued by Hiter’s paramilitary SS by whatever means necessary.

The German people lived under chaotic economic and political conditions since WWI. Karl Geheb wrote, “Economic worries continue, and the situation in the Fatherland is difficult. Our good Fuehrer only wants the best for Germany. We will trust him and willingly bear everything, even though it is hard sometimes.” Hitler controlled all the information that the Germans received, therefore the Geheb family believed that he could help the country.

1930s Germany vs America

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