SYNOPSIS

For all of us setting out to establish our own commercial business can be a tough and worrying enough task in itself. For a small, family-centred concern aiming for self-sufficiency in the world of commercial enter

prise, the path to success can be fraught with difficulty. THE INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE OF TWO LOVERS - A LETTER TO A DEAR FRIEND FROM SACHA VON HOFEN

provides a graphic account of such difficulty, narrating an autobiographical account of a young business-orientated couple who found themselves having to flee their home country to escape persecution after daring to try establishing themselves in the commercial property world. Their tale begins in 1991 in Germany - seventeen months after the reunification of East and West with the final removal of the Berlin wall. The author, a former Chairman of a political youth organisation The Youth Union, whose parent party was the CDU, moved from active involvement in youth politics to take on the task of becoming self-employed as a sales representative, in the tradition of his father who died of heart failure at the age of 52, in 1988. Two years later while attending a marketing training seminar, during the 1990 carnival season at Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, the author met Godivana the newly crowned Carnival Queen, an encounter that was to lead to marriage. By 1992, Godivana had established a fledgling estate agency business with her husband in the role of sales executive. Within days of opening their business they had successfully concluded their first transaction while learning the rocky territory of property law at first hand. Then the first problems began to be encountered when the couple found themselves gazzumped out of a joint enterprise agreement and having to take legal action to defend their activities in the deal. At the same time they were lucky enough to be part of a lucrative proposition to develop an abandoned ceramics factory site. With the help of a Hamburg law firm, a contract was drawn up and sent to the architect who instead of signing the deal broke off contact with the couple's business and went on to develop the property deal himself. Again, the young estate agents had to look to the courts to resolve the breach of contract but could have had little idea of the effect of the influence of a well established company such as that of the architect involved in the deal. To their surprise and horror, they found themselves being refused further funding from their bank, which called in all loans afforded to the business. From that point on, the couple found their attempts to establish their business on a complete downhill slope. It was a slippery slope that brought with it arrests, arraignment before the courts, arraignment before medical boards and finally the necessity to flee Germany to escape what the couple considered was unjust treatment. Dozens of letters were exchanged with the banks the couple had entered into business with and before long Godivana and her husband found themselves facing legal action for bankruptcy. Their hopes of success, bolstered as they had been by what they saw at first as a wonderful opportunity with the ceramics factory deal, became shattered and clouded with disillusion and despair. By 1993, the couple had attempted to initiate criminal proceedings against certain people involved in their troubles. Their story tells of corruption that led eventually to a case presentation to the European Courts of Justice - a case that failed as the couple had not attempted full recourse to the justice departments in their own country as required by European Court regulations. The couple tell of what they say is evidence of state tampering with their telephone system and the presence of an unidentified poison in a bottle of cognac in their home. Their plight was such that they found themselves forced to pack a few belongings and flee, eventually ending up in America, followed by Ireland and their present location in England. Now the couple hope to use their published story to help raise funds for a charity they have established to help make people aware of the difficulties they might face in setting up their own business.

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