For Diana Belliard, life in Berlin, Germany was wonderful. It was an easy life for a child. She was home schooled and when she was not studying she would play at the Tiergarten which was the largest park in Berlin. There was everything a kid could want in a park. Belliard also played marbles as a child. The playground was where kids came together. Things started changing about a year and a half before Hitler came to power. There were big fights between the parties in the cities while Hitler was trying to take power. After Hitler came to power the Hitler Youth was started. Other drastic changes were also evident. Prior to Hitler's rise there had been some discrimination where some children refused to play with others because one may be Jewish or one may be a social democrat. It went from a joyful playground to a difficult playground. It was sad to see. Belliard would go home and ask her mother what a Jewish person was or what a social democrat was and she would do her best to explain it to her. At the same time her father was working hard on the issue of Hitler coming to power. Her father perceived early on that Hitler was a danger not only to Germany, but to the world. People would call Belliard's father at all hours of the day and night asking for help. Belliard's father was Edgar Ansel Mowrer who was a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Daily News in Berlin. He had been in Berlin since early 1924 and was able to see the changes first hand. Belliard' mother was also a writer who wrote theater criticisms. At the time, the theater in Germany was extraordinary. Her mother was having a field day. Belliard had an interesting home life. She did not get to speak most of the time but was able to listen to the conversations. Belliard did not sense any fear personally but there was a sense of fear for Germany and for the world. She knew that her father was vulnerable and would most likely be targeted for expulsion if not worse because he had been writing about Hitler ever since Hitler had started fighting for power. Belliard's father had won a Pulitzer Prize for the book he had written titled Germany Puts the Clock Back. The book predicted what Hitler would do and was written before Hitler came to power. Belliard's father did not fear any personal danger to himself. For Belliard, leaving Germany was easy. She just packed up. It was her mother's job to pack up the family since her father had to go out every day. The family was moving to Japan. All of the furniture and trunks were sent to Japan. Belliard's father may have realized that the Germans were serious about threatening him. He may have been followed. Her father was warned on multiple occasions. He was called in to see Goebbels [Annotator's Note: Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels] who requested that he resign as president of the foreign press club. Belliard's father agreed to if the German government agreed to release a German journalist who had been arrested. Belliard's father realized that he had to make a decision as to what he was going to do. The publisher of his newspaper, Frank Knox, was also part of that decision. Knox reassigned Belliard's father to Japan. Belliard does not recall how she personally felt about what was going on. She does not recall being terrified. She is sure that her mother was terrified but she was an actress and was able to put on a good front. Belliard found several times on the playground where she would approach a child she regularly played with and found that child crying in a corner. When she asked what was wrong the child replied that no one would play with her because they were Jewish. When the Hitler Youth came along they would talk about how they had singled out one person or another and how they were going to get that person. It was all indoctrination. The children were taught to be militaristic in their relationships. They were taught to pursue other children and to tell on their parents if their parents said anything that was not pro Hitler. It was appalling. It was a total transformation of normalcy.
When Diana Belliard and her family left [Annotator's Note: when they left Berlin, Germany] they first went back to the United States to Chicago. After a short stay there her father was sent to Paris so that is where the family went. Belliard spent six years in Paris. She was ten years old when she arrived in Paris. When she first arrived in Paris she forgot all about Hitler. She had other concerns like learning to speak French. During those years there was also a lot of concern about the communists. There were riots in Paris. In 1936 and 1937 Hitler started taking over other countries. All of the conversations at Belliard's dinner table revolved around what was happening. There were many journalists who visited Belliard's home [Annotator's Note: Diana Belliard is the daughter of Chicago Daily News correspondent Edgar Ansil Mowrer] including Hemmingway [Annotator's Note: Ernest Hemmingway]. Belliard left Paris in the summer of 1939 to go on a family vacation. Her father was supposed to go with them but he knew something was brewing. On 1 September the Germans marched into Poland. After that, Belliard was left in the United States. She and her mother lived in a small apartment in Chicago. In the spring [Annotator's Note: the spring of 1940] her mother returned to Paris. Her father experienced the fall of Paris and the terrible story of the fall of France. Belliard's father left France just two days before the Germans arrived in Paris and showed up at their apartment looking for him. There were a lot of letters written about what was going on but letters could not describe it. Belliard's father devised a way of getting out of Paris using only farm roads. When he got to the Spanish frontier he did not have a visa. He forged his passport to give it a current date. The border guards did not catch it and he was able to cross into Spain.
During the war years, Diana Belliard was in the United States. She lived in Chicago until 1940 then left to go to Radcliffe [Annotator's Note: Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts]. During her first year in college, Belliard was the only student who seemed to care about events overseas. She started a little paper called the Toxin in an effort to alert people. After Pearl Harbor was bombed people began to do more. Belliard took classes in auto mechanics and navigation. She hoped to be a navigator on ferry flights. Everybody was trying to help. Belliard was at Radcliffe through the entire war. At the time, the WAVES [Annotator's Note: US Navy's Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service] had a group set up at Radcliffe. Belliard would watch them marching around. Harvard was nearly devoid of students except for quite a few foreign students and 4Fs [Annotator's Note: the Selective Service classification 4F indicated that the individual was unfit for military service] who were not able to go to war. Three years after the war ended, Belliard ended up in Paris working for the Marshall Plan for a year. Her job was to convince the French that the Marshall Plan was a good thing and was not trying to rip them off. Little by little, the French realized that the Plan was a good thing and very much to their advantage. Belliard was hoping to work in Europe and knew a journalist who was working there and was hired on. She worked on the public relations side of the plan.
Diana Belliard has never forgiven the Germans for what took place during the war. She did not lose anyone personally during the holocaust but has friends who did. The holocaust was unimaginable. Belliard went to Germany briefly during a tour to Europe but other than that she has not been back. There were some good Germans and she had many good German friends. It was a tragedy that the entire country's mentally was able to accept and go along with what happened. The whole country was to blame and not just Hitler. Belliard has not spoken to any Germans about how they have moved ahead or how they look at their past since the war. She does know that the current Germans are not those who were there during the war. Any kind of profound prejudice can turn dark very easily. Prejudice is there and it is dangerous and needs to be guarded against. Hitler and Goebbels were able to manipulate that fine line between having a prejudice and violently acting on it. The human psyche is fragile. People have to be careful about what truths are told. In America today there are two truths and people from each political party refuse to believe the other party's truth. That is what happened in Germany. Belliard believes that as her father got older and continued to write about international affairs he believed that the lessons that should have been learned as a result of the war had not been learned. Later in life he became a hawk when it came to the United States being prepared for any conflict and protecting ourselves. He was very concerned about the communists and any type of fascism is very dangerous. At the time of his death in the mid 1970s he had mixed feelings about the future of the world. He did write a book titled It's a good Time to be Alive which was one of his positive writings. Belliard does not have any of her father's papers or writings. There was a break in at their home and someone stole all of them. She does have his books. He wrote 12 books during his life.
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