An Adventurous & Unique Group to HJ Stationed in Wartime China
An Adventurous & Unique Group to HJ Stationed in Wartime China - Margarete Marianne Staretschek Group: This is a unique grouping to Margarete Marianne Staretschek; a HJ member who, after living an fantastical prewar and wartime lifestyle in China, became a US marine post war. In terms of contents, this group includes the following; One Brown Leather Bound Photo Album, 964 Photos, as a child with Chinese caretakers, Hitler Youth, school in Tianjin, with U.S Marines, wedding photos, USMC Photos in the States, holiday snaps; One Black Photo Album, 84 Photos; German School in Tianjin Report Card, good student; 1946 diary of her time in Tianjin, in German; HJ issued journal entitled “My Admirers since 1941” in English; USMC Documents regarding training, protocol, and vacation leave; 21 loose Photos; 2 pieces of Hitler Youth cloth insignia; a bundle of USMC documents on proper formatting for official letters; one pencil sketch; one envelope from the Commandant of the Marine Corps; one small scrapbook, green with “Autograph” on the cover, containing hand written maxims from classmates in German; one small 1938 handwritten Song Book in German; one small NSDAP pennant; one newspaper clipping; 3 USMC promotion documents; small bundle of 6 photos; HJ Winner Document; USMC correspondence; 2 professional family photos; one official wedding photo; various other personal letters and items; USMC Uniform for the rank of Sergeant. Footnote: Daughter of an Austrian Leutnant, German born in China, HJ Cadet, American Sympathizer, Army Wife, and USMC Enlistee. Grete Staretschek was born January 14th, 1926 in Tianjin to a German family living and working abroad. She was enrolled in the German School in Tientsin (Tianjin) on September 12th, 1932. Tianjin had made concessions to European powers in the previous few decades, and had something of a tradition of Europeans living and working there. The cosmopolitan character of the city means she would have had contact with Brits and Americans, and she apparently had a fondness for them, as seen in her diaries which she began writing in English since an early age. English and French were part of the curriculum at her school. After the NSDAP came to power in Germany, a Hitler Youth abroad opened in their town, and she joined, though it is difficult to discern just how ideologically motivated they were. In 1942 she passed the HJ test to be a Health Service Helper and in 1942 she won a sports competition. She has many photos from this time, including school plays and athletic events. The smaller Hitler Youth journal is titled “My Admirers since 1941.” Entries are about the thoughts and activities of an apparently amorous young woman, and it is written completely in English. One entry from July 8th 1946 reads: Lee came to my place and we worked on a refrigerator. He did quite alright. Then my Aunt came and we couldn’t make love. But in the garden then we made love as usual. You know I am getting used to it. And I don’t care anymore. If this Rich would do I would go crazy. So I decided not to belong to Lee… Basta, I have to gather lots of willpower, but with help of Rich I shall remain a virgin. On July 12th, 1945 she wrote a letter entitled “My Character” in which she tried to describe herself. She wrote the following: I’m reserved, jealous, indecisive, and insular to a noticeable degree. My eyes have a certain effect on people, and I’m able to bring them to my side. I’m capricious, generally good-natured as long as I’m left in peace, otherwise I can be dangerously mean, but I could easily break down if the situation allows. For example, if something isn’t going the way I like, I’ll do all I can to turn it around. I can get upset in a second, but one sudden thought can bring me back. That way I can overcome many of life’s difficulties. Because of an internal vanity I have a lot of confidence, sometimes more than enough. Because of my insularity and nagging pain, I can be a bit nervous, but that also has to do with my upbringing. I am a non-smoker, and I plan on staying one. – Now a few examples: food is a very important matter for me, but its preparation is of less important in my opinion. I have spending money and go shopping. I might want to buy something specific, but I’ll see things I just want to have, then I leave the shop undecided because I don’t have enough money for everything. I have to marry an older man, because stubbornness and lack of empathy in a younger man would only lead to conflict. That would be a terrible strain on my nerves. My own mother has contributed to that. She’ll never try to understand me. My father is much more calm. I have an aunt that sometimes works with me and my dad against my mom. I’m not dumb, but I don’t always use my head, instead going with my heart. […]Presently, there is a man who loves me, and I love him, and he wants to spend the rest of our lives together. It grinds my mother’s gears, but that doesn’t stop me and it will go ahead exactly as I want. I was a good girl, I’ve always told my parents the truth. Love has spoiled me. The man she is talking about is none other than Lee Watts, boy #54 in her youth journal. She was married to Lieutenant Elton L. Watts of the USMC in July 1946 at the St. Louis Church, Tianjin China. The invitations were from her Aunt and Uncle Mr. and Mrs. Kurt Meyer. There are numerous photos of the wedding and reception. The second diary begins on September 30th, 1946 and is written almost entirely in German. The entries are more about her difficulty in adjusting to married life and remaining faithful to her husband. In that time they move to the US, leaving the country of her birth. One entry from June 10th, 1947 reads: he was waiting by the theatre and we went onto the balcony. Really quickly he grabbed my hand and then his hands were around me. Then * he kissed by hand, my elbow, my neck and my cheek; then I turned around and he said “you devil,” “doll,” “brilliant.” After I while I left *. He’s very gentle, but unfortunately he’s not very good looking. Then he got mad and I didn’t like that. No sir, he messed up there. I’m not that kind of girl. Then we walked across and called a taxi, then I left him. I was so worried that Watts would catch me as I came home. I had the feeling that he knew and for a long time I was terribly anxious, like at Sachau. In any case I need to come up with an excuse soon. June 11th: I’ve made a huge mistake. Thank god no one knows. Everything is ok. Tomorrow I’ll go pick up the photos, though I don’t want to. I don’t even like him that much. The days and nights are getting nearer and I’ll have to go to Chicago, and then… don’t ask. I don’t know, but I’m actually excited. I hope everything will be ok…? July 23rd: today I got a letter from my husband. He wrote that he’s not doing well. Funny, I had no sense of sympathy, not even any sorrow that I married a sick man. And I still find myself thinking about “R.” I don’t know what it is that draws me to him, that he’s tied up like I am. I have to see him just one more time, just to clear my conscience. I can’t go on like this. March 1950 she was made a Private 1st Class in the USMC Reserve. She was promoted to Corporal of the USMC Reserve in May 1951, Sergeant in November, all while stationed in California.