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Another attack on The Fuehrer Bunker


Failure of my third marriage
WD Snodgrass Poet
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At the time that this was being put together I was with my third wife — whom you knew — a Polish-American girl. And for a dozen years, we had got along beautifully, just marvelously. And all of a sudden, in a period of six weeks or a couple months, she came to hate me, to hate everything about our life, to just totally reject the whole thing. I… I must say that… that, you know, the great traumas in my life were, A, to… to go… the war, losing my daughter, and then losing Camille. That was the Polish girl. Her… her father was a cop in Detroit who played the violin and had this very romantic side. So he had named his daughter Camille. And for… for 12 years, we had got along better than I ever got along with any… you know, anybody up till then. And just overnight, it went to hell. It may be that this… you know, there are… I… I never did know why. In a way, I had taken her in some ways as the model for Eva Braun because I wanted the most faithful person I could think of, you know… that Eva Braun insisted on coming there to the bunker in spite of Hitler's order, where she knew she would be killed. But if she would be… if she was killed with him, that was all right. And, you know, I had… I thought Camille was the most faithful person I had ever known. That didn't prove to be entirely the case. And… but I wondered, maybe she was insulted by that. There were… you know, there were probably other things.

Do you want to say any more about that?

I… I don't think I probably should. Well, it may be that she needed a baby. And having lost two babies myself, I… I just felt I can't have another child. I can't have another child ripped away from me. I had had to fight so hard to get to even see either my daughter or my son… you know, go back to court and… the terrible fights, and… meantime, you're not seeing your kid. I thought, I… I just can't do that again. Well, that's maybe a cowardly approach to it. May…maybe you've just gotta… gotta be willing to… to go ahead and love something, even though you'll lose it. That's true of everything, of course, everything in the world. So you don't quite dare cut yourself off from everything. But I guess I had, in this case. I mean, when we got married, I wanted to have a child. But then… then the fight started over my son, and I thought: I just can't do that again. There may have been other things, I… you know. I could suggest half a dozen.

American poet WD Snodgrass, entered the world of poetry with a bang winning several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, for his first collection of poetry, Heart's Needle. A backlash followed his controversial fifth anthology “The Fuehrer Bunker”, but in recent years these poems have been reassessed and their importance recognised.

Listeners: William B. Patrick

William B. Patrick is a writer and poet who lives in Troy, New York. Among his work are the poetry volumes "We Didn't Come Here for This" and "These Upraised Hands", the novel "Roxa: Voices of the Culver Family" and the plays "Rescue" and "Rachel's Dinner". His most recent work is the non-fiction book "Saving Troy", based on the year he spent following the Troy Fire Department.

Mr. Patrick has been Writer-in-Residence at the New York State Writers Institute and has taught at Old Dominion University, Onondaga Community College, and Salem State College, and workshops in Screenwriting and Playwriting at the Blue Ridge Writers Conference in Roanoke, Virginia. He has received grants from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

Tags: Detroit, Eva Braun, Adolf Hitler

Duration: 3 minutes, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008