Letters From Leton: Möchten Sie Tanzen?

It was one of those picture-perfect late August mountain days in 1994. The day was hot, the humidity was low, and the cool of the evening was approaching.

Mae and I were sitting on the deck as my wife, Tammie, and our kid’s godfather, Hans, were cleaning up from dinner.

My conversation with Mae shortly turned to the war in the former Yugoslavia. I could think of no better person to give me perspective than Mae, the lady who had danced with Adolph Hitler at a cotillion.

Mae was the daughter of a Prussian General, her family well intertwined with Prussian/German aristocracy and politics. 

She had fallen in love with an artist, Hans, who had fled to Italy to escape Hitler’s thugs. There, Mae and Hans sheltered at the Vatican. After the liberation of Italy, they were detained by the Americans simply because they were German (a hint of anger when Mae shared that fact).

In the late 1950s, they traveled to the US where Hans began working for the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. It was here in Virginia that our friendship with Mae and Hans developed.

As we chatted that August evening in 1994, Mae said the bloodshed in Yugoslavia was to be expected. Hundreds upon hundreds of years of fighting, atrocities and desire for revenge had temporarily been dammed by the communist state. That dam had been removed, and a rush of the waters of destruction had been unleashed.

As I share these thoughts today in 2022, a gang (Russia) led by a bully (Putin) is attacking a country (Ukraine). History is repeating itself after being dammed up for some period of time. That is so sad and troubling.

I see a person who seeks control and power and curses the idea of democracy.

Here in America, I see political foes on each side disparaging one another, even rousing folks to physical altercation. That too is troubling.

I hope we say, “no,” to those with hatred in their hearts when they ask us to dance (Möchten sie tanzen?) with their schemes.

Pass auf dich auf.

– Leton


“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.