Speaker Meeting with partners, 6.45 for 7pm

Mon, Oct 31st 2022 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Speaker: Nick Felsing: Twilight at Dawn (Tales of my father)

A particularly fascinating and interesting speaker at this meeting.  He was Nicolas Raoul Felsing and his subject was Conrad Hasso Raoul Felsing, his father.

Hasso, born in Germany in 1922, had an incredibly challenging life.  His autobiography has attracted the attention of a Hollywood script writer.  Hasso’s mother, Josephine, had no less than 5 husbands, 1 lover and a one-night stand of some significance.  

He had a privileged but very unhappy childhood.  His 21 years older cousin, a famous singer, actress and film star, was more of a mother to him than was Josephine. Before he reached the age of 12 Hasso had attempted to take his life, twice.  He was sent to the prestigious Schule Schloss Salem where one of his school friends was a boy who was destined to be a significant and much-loved figure in the British monarchy.

Starting the obligatory military career at the age of 19 Hasso was sent to the Russian front where he quickly made a name for himself and earned the nickname of “Tank Killer”.   For that, and many other brave deeds, he was awarded many medals, the chief of which was the prestigious Knights Cross. For that he went to Bertchesgarden (The Eagles Nest) to be decorated by Hitler himself.   

(In the pictures above Nick has his father’s Knights Cross in his hand. His other medals are displayed on the table).

Back in Russia, Hasso was captured by the enemy, pinned to a tree with a bayonet through his wrist, and left to die.  But he survived and was taken to a hospital in Austria where he met a nurse called Vikki.  They fell in love and married.

Continuing his war service he was posted to the Gross Deutschland regiment HQ where he worked under Klaus von Stauffenberg, the man who tried and failed to assassinate Hitler.  Because of his association with Stauffenberg, Hasso was imprisoned in Spandau and sentenced to death.  His mother, in a rare of act of motherly love, saved his life.

A free man once again, he was posted to Romania.  Here he was captured by US forces who thought that this highly decorated war hero must be part of ‘the machine’.   Enter once again his famous cousin.  She spoke up for him and saved his life.

After the war, this beaten up and penniless war hero tried to make a new life with his wife but the ravages of what he had been through proved too much and they divorced.

In 1949, whilst working as a window dresser in Lausanne, he met a young art student by the name of Shirley Sondern.  She was the daughter of a British banker and an American tobacco heiress.  Hasso and Shirley married in London in 1951 and bought a house in Wentworth.  He had been told that due to his war injuries it was likely he would not live beyond 50 years of age.

Shirley’s mother (the tobacco heiress) had a heart condition and decided she would have a better life if she lived on the Canary Isles.  She insisted that her daughter and Hasso come with her.  If they refused, they would be disinherited!  

So in 1962 Hasso and Shirley moved to Tenerife with mother and her lady companion and Nick’s brother James.  Nick himself was born there in August 1962 followed by his brother Rupert in 1966.  Hasso and Shirley lived for 48 years in this peaceful paradise. Hasso died in 2010 at the age of 88.

Click here to read a full transcript of Nick’s talk.

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