Sunday, 18 April 2010

Bravo, 1977: Alfred Haase, Anni-Frid’s father has something to tell you

Here’s a letter by Alfred Haase about his experience of meeting his daughter Frida for the first time, as published in German magazine Bravo.
After all the commotion that my sudden fatherhood of Anni-Frid Lyngstad and the reports in Bravo magazine have caused, I would like to address all of you personally once again, on the following grounds: firstly, I would like to thank Bravo with all my heart that it set the ball rolling and made the contact with the group ABBA and especially Anni-Frid possible, by publishing an item about Anni-Frid’s ‘unknown German father’. Secondly, I would like to thank you, Bravo readers, for the enormous interest and sometimes moving participation in the whole story.
Ever since I returned from Stockholm, where I had my first meeting with Anni-Frid, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing. Almost incessantly, I get calls from Bravo readers, primarily girls. They congratulate me and fire questions at me, about how my three day visit with Anni-Frid and Benny went. They want to know all the details. You will surely understand, that I can’t share every single detail. After all, I’m at my job the entire day and in the evening, especially at night, I need some peace and quiet.
That’s why I’m willing to tell you the most important things this way, things that you haven’t been able to read in Bravo yet. First, you should imagine that the house that Anni-Frid and Benny are living in is like a castle. When I was standing there for the first time, on Friday September 9, at the bottom of the wonderful stairway, with a bunch of red roses in my hand, and saw my ‘new’ famous daughter standing right at the top of that stairway, I thought I was dreaming. We approached each other and embraced each other. Those first moments, we both didn’t say a word. We just knew and felt that there weren’t any doubts about our consanguinity. I will never forget that moment when we looked in each other’s eyes for the first time. After that, it struck me that she had the same high forehead as her mother, there’s also a lot of resemblance in the eyes.
At last Frida slowly said, in clumsy German: “Good evening... welcome.” Then we went into the house, together with Benny and Anni-Frid’s aunt, who had picked me up from the airport. The friendliness and the hospitality that was bestowed on me in the next three days, was a once in a lifetime experience. Anni-Frid and Benny both told me that I should feel at home with them. And that wasn’t just an expression. I was allowed to pick my own room, where I wanted to stay in. But of course, everything was fine with me.
Anni-Frid made our meals herself and she spoiled me. At first, her aunt translated everything that we said to each other. Benny also speaks German quite well. With every day that passed, Anni-Frid understood German a little better. She asked me to speak very slowly. She asked me if it bothered me that she kept staring at me, because the whole thing was still like a fairytale for her. I said: “Of course not, it’s the same for me.”
That first night, we sat together until four o’clock in the morning. Obviously, Anni-Frid wanted to know exactly what I remembered from her mother, and I wanted to know all the details about her mother’s fate as well. When I imagined that she had to go through an entire pregnancy, the birth and all of those daily worries as a nineteen-year-old girl on her own, you can surely imagine how sad that made me feel. And I didn’t know anything about that for 32 years. How cruel life can be at times! When Anni-Frid was only two years old, her mother died at the age of 21 due to a kidney failure.
When Anni-Frid made it clear to me on the second day that she wanted to learn how to speak German as quickly as possible, because there were things that she only wanted to share with me, without anyone translating them, then I broke down. I disappeared to my room. All of a sudden, everything had become too much and too overwhelming. After a couple of minutes, Benny came to me and he asked delicately: “Did we do something wrong?” I replied: “No, on the contrary. I will get come back to you in a minute.”
To distract me a little bit, both of them then showed me the old town of Stockholm, they bought my wife two beautiful porcelain candles as a souvenir. We also went to a top restaurant to have dinner.
Actually I wanted to get back to Germany on Sunday, but due to all the excitement and all the stories we had to tell, none of us thought about booking a flight back. When this struck me on Sunday morning, all flights were fully booked. That’s why I flew back on Monday. Anni-Frid accompanied me on my way to the airport and she promised me that she would call as soon as possible. In the meantime, she has. Now she also wants to start writing letters in German, so that she will learn my language faster.
Bravo readers, now you may be able to imagine what it means to suddenly be the father of Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Obviously, this fantastic thunderbolt in my life has its downside as well. For instance, you may be able to imagine how bad I felt when a reporter from a Hamburg newspaper called me after the story had appeared in Bravo and asked: “Will you stop working now? What are you going to do with all those millions from your daughter?” A reporter from Cologne called me and asked: “Are you the famous mister Haase?” I said: “No, I’m not the famous mister Haase. My name is simply Haase, and it should stay that way.” Even when the thought of having a daughter like Anni-Frid now is making me very happy.

8 comments:

Bonnie Rietveld said...

Thanks Michel for posting (and translating!) this letter. I read it a long time ago, can't remember where. Beautiful picture of Frida and her dad.

Ronaldo said...

Thanks Michel!!!

Ellie said...

This is a really interesting article! And what a nice picture of Frida with her father. Thanks for translating it Michel! :-))

Rhonda said...

Great article a touch of sadness as well.
The photo of them together they look a little bit alike, I think Frida said they did.

Monica said...

Great job on translating Michel. Nice letter from Frida's father.

Alisha said...

Goodness, this made me cry...

thelioness06492 said...

How did this end? Did they stay in touch?

Anonymous said...

@thelioness06492:
They didn't stay in touch, it last till 1983. Mr Haase died in 2009.