About The Author

Christel Behnke Gehlert was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1941 and lived there except for two years in the Sudetenland and one year in England where she studied English and worked as an au pair. Her formal schooling took place entirely in Germany. In 1962, she left Germany to live in the United States.

She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1976 (at the age of 35) with a B.A. in German and French, and from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan in 1983 with an M.A. in Linguistics. Her interest in languages began as a child and with it, later, a fascination with cross-cultural issues. She taught German and Latin in middle schools and for many years helped companies deal with intercultural communication issues.

Christel has been involved in women’s issues since 1972 when several women met at the Unitarian/Universalist church in Flint, Michigan for consciousness-raising sessions. Eventually, she was instrumental in starting a NOW chapter in Rochester, Michigan. She and her oldest daughter, Julie, participated in a number of women’s rights demonstrations in Washington, D.C.

Peace and justice issues are on top of her list too. Even as recently as September 2005, Christel and Julie demonstrated in Washington against America’s involvement in Iraq.

Christel firmly believes that knowing other languages and cultures promotes tolerance and helps prevent conflicts between nations.

She hopes that Recollections of a Hamburger will help people understand the plight of ordinary Germans in World War II, and especially the upheavals children experience during times of war.