Journey Through A Woe--Filled Past is the story of a family, my family, that lived through the terror of Hitler's war-torn Germany. Most of my family survived the horrific bombardment of Dresden, capital of Germany's state of Saxony, in the night of February 13 - 14, 1945. Then almost five, I still have the occasional nightmare of stepping out into the raging firestorm when our home, too, was hit by bombs. By March 1945, the family had found shelter in Graupa, near Dresden, where the composer, Richard Wagner, wrote parts of his Lohengrin. The brutal war in the spring of 1945 had almost run its course. In the coming month another crucial event, the entrance of the conquering Russian Army into the quiet little town would have consequences for decades to come. Food and any consumer goods all but disappeared from the stores' shelves. An elderly couple died of starvation during the particularly severe winter of 1945 - 1946. Saxony became a part of the German Democratic Republic--Communist East Germany. Mother, as so many others, lost her teaching job and worked on a farm and nursery to put some food on our bare table. After four years, the District Superintendent of Schools summoned Mother to the county seat and offered a return to the classroom. All she had to do was join the communist party and take some courses--indoctrination into communism! Her resolve to flee to the West suddenly became rock solid when the superintendent ended the interview with, "we have been watching you and know you have a ten-year old daughter. Don't worry, we will take good care of her while you are away for your courses."