My friend Ilse (not Elsa) Dorsch Horacek and I met in my courtroom on March 14, 1990. As I rarely remember even the names of people I have met the previous week it speaks a great deal to the power of Ilse’s personality that I remember our first meeting twenty-seven years ago.
What speaks to her sterling character was her introduction to me of the horrific murders and pogrom of African Americans that occurred in Posey County, Indiana in the autumn of 1878. Ilse had known of and personally experienced the kinds of horrors and hardships we humans are capable of inflicting upon one another.
When Ilse told me of her childhood in World War II Germany I often encouraged her to use her excellent literary talents to record and share her unique viewpoint of that time. Our meeting came about because she, as President of the Posey County Coterie Literary Society, asked if the Society could tour the courthouse and speak with me about its history.
While Else has composed her interesting compilations of Posey County history in her It Was Written books, her own life is portrayed in her sobering and insightful new book Flowers for Hitler which she and Evansville, Indiana author Mike Whicker published in 2016. To me the book’s greatest value is its exposition of the lessons we humans just cannot seem to fully learn, i.e., we humans often inflict great evil on other less powerful humans and there are no winners in war.
An example of Ilse’s prescient understanding of this hard lesson appears at page 42 of her book. According to her first hand account, Ilse’s friend and high school classmate, Sigi, was literally blown to pieces by American bombers. As Ilse said, “My hatred for the Americans was complete”.
Of course, because of Ilse’s deep-rooted sense of justice she also condemned the evils of Nazism and she makes no apology for Hitler. The Ilse I met and have had the pleasure of knowing feels deeply the evils we are all somehow connected to, such as was inflicted on those Black people in 1878, and may even encourage, at least by our silence.
I bought my valued copy of Ilse’s heartfelt book at The Cozy Cottage on Walnut Street in Mt. Vernon, Indiana. You can also order it; ISBN 978-0-9844160-7-3. There are probably few better uses for your $15.00.