Peter and I eat a banana every day. When they are as large as the ones in the picture, we share one banana. We also have a few cherries every morning. At the moment Australian grapes and peaches are in season and taste very good. I think we spend more money on fruit and vegetables than on meaty things.
Today’s news is that next year one per cent of the global population are going to own as much as the rest of us together. I wonder how this shall go on!!
ST FRANCIS OF ASSISI said:
“Where there is charity and wisdom,
there is neither fear nor ignorance.”
I think it is fair to say that our civilisation is in crisis or very close to an immense crisis. I do not want to be ignorant about this, but I also do not want to give in to fear. Isn’t there always some light at the end of the tunnel?
Today I reblogged quite a few blogs that were written by very knowledgeable people, mainly by Joseph E. Stiglitz, who comes across to me as an economist who knows what he is talking about in a global sense. The warning signs are clearly there for everyone to see. Maybe it is mostly people and organisations with too much power and also people who think they have too much to lose who want everything to just to continue on and on and on. Common sense would tell them it just cannot go on like this indefinitely. But who wants to let common sense rule their lives?!
Enough of this for today. I am going to enjoy my life with what I have today. I plan on looking up one of my old posts. Actually I decided already on one that I want to re-post. Here it is:
Thoughts on the End of World War Two
Here in the blogger world there are always a few people who respond to what I write. I am very grateful for this. It keeps me going. I mean I would like to continue writing anyway but getting some kind of response helps a lot in actually proceeding with it.
When I write about my experiences during war time and after the war, people instinctively respond in proclaiming their thoughts upon the horrors of war. Undoubtedly the horrors of war are immense. I know it, just about everyone has some inkling about it. It may sound strange, but I always had the feeling that I personally escaped real horror.
Did I experience hunger? Real hunger and starvation that resulted in problems with health? I don’t think so. When I hear stories from people who were absolutely starved, it makes me feel terrible. Why did my Dutch-Australian friend, who was about the same age as I was during the war, why did she at times have to go absolutely without food in Holland whereas I had in Germany always a little bit to eat? It is just not fair. War is not fair!
During the war the Nazi propaganda machine constantly bombarded us with slogans how we as Germans had to believe that we were going to win this war. We all had to work towards the ‘Endsieg’ (the winning at the end). By 1944 hardly anyone I knew still believed that Germany could win the war. My grandmother was the exception. She expressed an unshakable belief in the ‘Führer’ (Hitler). For this she was ridiculed by the family. She believed stories about the ‘Wunderwaffe’ (wonder weapon) which would save us.
More and more everyone talked about it how they wished an end to the war. All our lives were put on hold so to speak. And this went on for quite some time after the war too. Schools were closed a few months before the end of the war. Where I was I couldn’t go back to school until four months after the war had finished.
My eighteen year old cousin couldn’t go to uni as she had planned. She had to work in a munitions factory instead, getting up at five o’clock every morning to travel by train to her place of work. I heard everyone saying to continue with the war was madness. But still everyone seemed to go on doing what they were supposed to do. Even the bomb raids generally didn’t effect people’s behaviour very much. I mean most people went on doing what they had to do bomb raids or not.
Amazingly a lot of foreign workers seem to have helped Germany by doing a proper job. For which after the war the Russians I believe handed out punishment. It is said that they treated their own people badly if they found out they had ‘co-operated’ with the Germans. However during the war years the Germans would send anyone who hindered the war effort away to concentration camps. Probably executions on the spot were not unknown either. During the first days after the war the Russians took everyone who looked like he could have been a soldier away. A lot of these men were never seen again. They may have ended up in a work camp in Siberia where starvation was rampant.
No doubt about it, Germans had a hard time during the first post war years. But still it was an end to fighting. There was a future without any war. Everyone could live in peace. Peace, peace, peace, this is what we wanted. We were very relieved that the war had ended. Tough times, yes, but at least there was no more war. We could concentrate on peaceful things. What a relief. What hope for the future!
Submitted on 2013/06/10 at 12:12 pm | In reply to auntyuta.
Still, I can’t imagine what that must have felt like to those former believers. A bit like having your priest turn into a mass murderer. Was it you who suggested to me the book , The Shame of Survival? It’s interesting to read how a young girl came to recognize that she’d been duped.
Reply by Uta: We had the feeling we had all been duped, Linda. Over time most of former ‘believers’ had already changed their mind long before the war had actually ended. When you hear of all the atrocities later on of course you feel guilty then, guilty by association even if you were only a kid. I can’t help but feeling weary of all kinds of propaganda and indoctrination throughout my life. This kind of feeling of being duped never leaves me!
Linda, I think towards the end even my grandmother didn’t believe in the ‘Führer’ any more. Germany was well and truly defeated. I think Germany learned its lesson from this.
Submitted on 2013/06/10 at 10:49 am | In reply to gerard oosterman.
The big lesson for me in Australia was, that people from other countries CAN live together. Australians are not totally free from racism and prejudice but it has a much milder form as they don’t feel so much under pressure as people who live much closer like in Europe. Luckily the bad times in Europe are over.
People that go to another country are not necessarily the terrorist but they are the ones that want to avoid conflict. A decent job and income is foremost on their mind once they have arrived.
Give them a chance and the will become valuable citizens.
Submitted on 2013/06/07 at 11:11 pm
Acceptance of differences and inclusiveness might also be helpful in avoiding conflict. Break down barriers and learn to respect each other. Are fences between neighbours really necessary?
Reply by Uta: Gerard, you ask are fences between neighbours really necessary?
A very interesting question, indeed. I feel it’s possible to write a whole essay about it. My short answer would be communicate with each other while at the same time showing some respect for what is different in the other person. It’s good to feel included if this kind of respect is shown. Communication is good. But so is privacy. You need a balance, don’t you think?
Submitted on 2013/06/07 at 12:30 pm
You mentioned Holland in your post. Food that was grown there, was taken out of the country by the Germans to feed their own people.
I share your sentiments on war generally. Germany fares much better now trading with every other country and not making war and trying to conquer those countries.
Personally, we were lucky being spared the experience of trauma. But hearing, after the war, of all the atrocities done in our name, gave a big shock. And now? We learn every day from the news that other people do atrocities too. It seems to me one can declare someone an enemy and, Bingo, everything is allowed that you can do to them.
I think, of all the commandments “Love thy neighbour !” is the most important one.
Reply by Uta: Hi, Berlioz. it seems to me too “Love thy neighbour” is a very important commandment. It could help to avoid wars if people were willing to live up to this commandment
Memories of 1943/1944
Having read once more a few of my blogs on childhood memories, I came to the conclusion, it might be best if I tried to put all these blogs about my childhood as ‘pages’ together in the one place, so I could find them more easily when I wanted to look something up. It would make it easier for my children too to read up on my childhood. For now I plan to first copy the relevant blogs. I’ll probably need a few days or weeks for this. As far as possible I might refrain from putting anything else in my posts. Just as well, for ‘news’ items, as far as politics are concerned, usually do not give me much pleasure. And personal news, well, I could probably catch up with them at a later stage.
At the moment I collect the childhood memories rather randomly. Here is one about remembering 1943/1944:
Towards the end of September 1943 we left Berlin to live in the country. We moved to a place called the ‘Ausbau’, which meant that eventually ‘more’ was to be added to the building.. It was a simple rectangular red brick complex with several entrances around the building. There was no plumbing or electricity. The entrance for us ‘Berliners’ was on the left side at the front of the building. We had a cellar, a ground floor and two upper floors.
Mum, my two younger brothers and I, shared a bedroom on the first upper floor. We also had a small kitchen and a living-room. I would sleep in the living-room when my dad came home on leave. Two maids, one Polish, the other Russian, shared two rooms on the top floor. All the rooms on the top floor had sloping ceilings. Our Polish maid was in her early twenties. Her name was Maria. She was very efficient and always rather serious.. The T. Family, who lived on the ground floor, employed Katja, the Russian maid, who was only eighteen and extremely fun loving.
My mum’s sister, Tante Ilse, also had her rooms on the first upper floor. She had a bedroom and a living-room. On the ground floor, right underneath her upper rooms, she had a kitchen and a dining-room. She hardly ever used those downstairs rooms. Our friends from Berlin, the T. Family, occupied three rooms downstairs, namely a kitchen, a living-room and a bedroom, the same arrangement of rooms that we had on the upper floor.
There was an additional larger room for storage under the sloping roof. T. Family and my Family stored in that room additional larger furniture which we wanted to save from the bombs in Berlin. — In that room Mum stored a lot of Boskop-apples during the cold season. They were neatly spread out on some straw. Come Christmas-time, other delicious food was also hidden somewhere among our stored furniture. It was very tempting for me to go exploring in that room! Mum noticed sometimes, that some food was missing. And I admitted, when questioned, that I had helped myself to some of the goodies. However I was never punished for doing such a thing. That shows, that Mum must have been quite tolerant. —
On the same upper floor right under the roof was a playroom, which my brothers and I shared with eight year old Edith T. There was another room next to the playroom where Mrs. T.’s parents had stored some bedroom furniture. The parents were Mr. and Mrs. B. and had a business in Berlin. They sometimes stayed at the ‘Ausbau’ in that bedroom in order to be with their family away from the bombs in Berlin.
Our toilets were “plumps-closets” some distance away from the house. Water for cooking and washing had to be fetched from a pump in the backyard. Fetching water from the pump kept both maids very busy indeed. For lights we had kerosene-lamps, for heating there were coal-fired stoves which could also be used for cooking. Everything was very basic.
Gradually some changes were being made. The first big change was that our landlord had electricity laid on. All the workers who lived with their families in the other part of the building, received the benefit of electricity at the same time. This certainly was a very welcome improvement for them.
The ‘Ausbau’ was built close to a dirt-track which meandered through wide open barley-, oat- and potato-fields. On the track it was a good half hour to walk to the next village. Bike-riding however made it a bit quicker.
Werner M., the owner of all those fields that went on for miles and miles, was an acquaintance of Tante Ilse. He was apparently quite rich and also owned extensive brick-works (Ziegeleien). It was said of him that he was a millionaire. He was our landlord and he liked to spoil us. With no strings attached! Tante Ilse only had to voice a wish and Werner M. immediately did whatever he could to fulfill her wish. He spoiled us by constantly getting produce delivered to us: Potatoes, cabbage for making sauerkraut, wonderful treacle made of sweet-beets, and coal for our stoves.
Even I, as a nine year old, could see that sixty year old Werner M. was hopelessly in love with Ilse. I also was quite aware, that she always kept him at a distance. He was happy to just be invited for ”Kaffee und Kuchen’ on weekends and to spend some time with all of us. He always came to visit on his bike. On his daily inspection tours of the workers in the fields he also went around on his bike. He owned coaches with horses, but hardly ever used these to go anywhere.
Occasionally we were invited to his place (which people called ‘Schloss’), Then he sent a coach with a coachman to pick us up. Once in winter when there was plenty of snow, Werner M. sent a ‘Pferde-Schlitten’ (horse-drawn sledge). On this sledge we were wrapped up in blankets under a clear night-sky with the moon and lots of stars shining on us. It was unforgettable and one of the rare highlights in our otherwise pretty dreary country-life existence.
The place where Werner M. lived, did not look like a castle at all, even though people called it ‘Schloss’. It was not even a mansion but a rather large, but fairly plain house. There was a huge, fenced in veggie garden next to the house. I have seen the veggie garden only once. However I was very impressed by it, because it seemed to be so very large.
When we moved to the ‘Ausbau’, Ilse had already been divorced from her first husband. It was obvious that Werner M. would have liked to marry Ilse. However, it never came to that. Tante Ilse married Onkel Peter aka Helmut L. on July 20th, 1944.
It was a big thrill for me to go exploring among the furniture in that big storage-room, especially in the weeks before Christmas! Mum used to store lot of goodies during the Christmas season. It was very exciting for me to find out what new things had been stored in that big room. I remember seeing huge chunks of nougat (a yummy hazelnut-paste) as well as heart-shaped marzipan-pieces. There was a pot with sweetened thick milk. Sometimes I dipped my finger into it to lick this wonderful sweet stuff! I also liked to eat a few of the stored raisins and prunes! Smells of ginger bread and apples: It made me feel that Christmas was something to be looking forward to.
Where on earth did Mum get all those things from? It was war-time, wasn’t it? We were in the midst of war! I knew very well where all this came from. The parents of Mrs.T. had a distributing business. It was called ‘Backbedarf en Gros’. That meant they delivered goods to bakeries and cake-shops. Even in the midst of war deliveries of the above mentioned goods still took place! Of course there were shortages, but basically most things were still available.
Mr.T. and Mrs.T., as well as Tante Ilse and Mum were all good friends. Every Saturday night they came together for some card games. Eight year old daughterEva and I were allowed to stay up late on those nights. For hours we were watching the adults playing cards. At the same time we entertained ourselves with doodling on bits of paper. At around ten o’clock some cake and hot chocolate as well as coffee were served. But the maids did not have to do the serving, They were already in their rooms at this hour. The cake was usually freshly baked, very fluffy yeast cake topped with delicious butter-crumbs and filled with a thick custard. Hmm, yummy!
Mr.T. always stayed in Berlin during the week, where he worked in the business of his parents-in-law. Being over forty, he was not required to join the German army. Mr.T. always brought some sweet goodies along when he came home from Berlin for the weekend.
During the summer of 1944 Mr.T. and Mum liked to go on their bikes to a neighbouring Nursery where they were able to trade sweets for fresh produce. Eva and I were often allowed to go along with them on our bikes. The sweets were traded for strawberries or cherries or gooseberries as well as peaches and apricots, and later on in the year for pears and apples. I remember the Boskop apples were still in season in late autumn. The owner of the nursery was a well-off looking middle-aged woman who was very fond of sweets and loved to trade her produce. At one time we found out that she thought Mr.T. and Mum were a couple and we girls were sisters. Laughing joyfully, Mum and Mr.T. explained, that this was not so.
Only once as far as I remember were we shown into the lady’s home. Mr.T. made complimentary remarks about the interior of the house. He said it showed off the owner’s good taste. I liked the lady’s house a real lot too. Our families used to have well furnished apartments in Berlin. But this modern looking villa in the midst of the nursery really was something else. My feelings were I would very much like to live in a place like that. However we had to be happy with our accommodation in the Ausbau. To us children it was always pointed out, to be happy that we did not have to live among the bomb raids in Berlin. I’m pretty sure that by myself I felt that I’d rather live in Berlin, bomb-raids or not. I think to children bomb-raids usually didn’t seem as scary as to the adults. At the time we children had had no experience yet how absolutely horrible these bomb-raids could become.
In 1990, soon after the Fall of the Wall, I went with my family to have a look at the area where we used to be hidden away from the bomb-raids. We discovered that the nursery as well as the lady’s house had completely vanished. There was nothing left of the ‘Ausbau’ either!
In 1943, when we had lived at he ‘Ausbau’ only for a couple of months, Mrs. T. delivered a healthy daughter in a regional hospital. The day after the baby was born, it may perhaps have been a Saturday or Sunday, Mr. T. and Eva went for the forty-five minute bike-ride to the Hospital. I was thrilled that I was allowed to go with them! The baby was rather tiny. I think this is why she was soon called Krümel (tiny crumb). Her given name was Ruth. Eva had a pet-name too. She was often called Honkepong.
As soon as Mrs.T. came home from hospital, there was a nurse waiting for her to take charge of the baby. Mr.T. said something like: “Katja is a very nice girl, but I would not trust her with our new born baby. I am glad that Nurse is here to help my wife to look after our Krümel.”
Nurse used for herself the bedroom next to our playroom. Sometimes she sat with us children in the playroom. Since Christmas was approaching, she taught us how to make some Christmas decorations. I was very impressed, because I was nine years old and nobody had ever taught me anything like it! Nurse also made sure, we learned our Christmas poems. We had to be prepared to recite them to Santa on Christmas Eve!
Maria, our Polish maid, had been with us since before my little brother was born. He regarded Maria as his ‘Dah-dah’, that is he always called her ‘Dah-dah’. By the end of January 1945 we had to flee from the ‘Ausbau’ as the Russians were approaching fast. We went to Berlin first and then by train to Leipzig to stay at Grandmother’s place. Maria remained in Berlin with her Polish fiancee, who was a butcher.
When we parted from Maria, little brother Peter had just turned three. Yet he must have missed her for quite a while since she had always looked after him and I am sure, he loved her very much and she loved him. Mum always trusted Maria, who was in every way caring and efficient at the same time. Mum was always impressed how quickly Maria worked. Any dirty dishes were washed immediately. She was indeed capable of doing all the housework. Mum was happy to let her do just about everything. An exception was the baking of a large cake on Saturdays, which Mum loved to do herself.
Maria always made some potato-salad for the weekend. I watched how she did it. To the peeled and sliced potatoes she added finely cut onion, some oil, pepper and salt. Then she poured hot vinegar-water over the potatoes as a finishing touch. The huge salad-bowl was placed outside on a shelf near the stairway so the salad could cool down. I often helped myself to some of the warm salad when nobody was looking, because I loved to eat the salad when it was still a little bit warm. It was the same every Saturday. I watched Maria preparing the salad and placing it on the shelf outside. Then it did not take long before I had a good taste of it!
Friday night was the night for our bath. Maria placed a small tin-tub on the kitchen-floor. She carried several buckets of water from the outside pump to the kitchen. Some of the water she heated on the kitchen-stove in an especially huge pot. I was always the first one to use the bath-water, then it was brother Bodo’s turn. Little brother Peter was always the last one. Some hot water was added for everyone, but still the water must have been quite dirty for little Peter after Bodo and I had had our baths!
When Maria first came to live with us, she knew very little German. However she was determined to learn German quickly. She liked to ask Bodo and me how to pronounce certain words. She also asked me how to write these words in German. Mum often praised Maria, that she was willing and able to learn quickly. This applied to everything she did. She was an amazingly efficient person. A ‘pearl of a maid’ people would say of her. Maria was a city girl. She came from Lodz, which was called ‘Litzmannstadt’ at the time. We had spent the summer-months of 1941 at Zokolniki (near Lodz) and that was when Maria was assigned to us as a help. Mum liked Maria and wanted her to come with us when we went back to Berlin. Maria told me later that she did not want to leave Poland. But she had not been given the choice to stay in her own country.
When Katja arrived, we could see that she was very different from Maria. She was a country-girl from Russia. She never learned German as well as Maria did. She could never be trusted to do all the house-work by herself. Mrs.T. always had to supervise her and do certain things herself because Katja took too long to learn to do it properly. But we all loved Katja. She was always cheerful and full of beans. As a country-girl she did not know certain things that a city-girl had been brought up with. Maria took to instructing Katja about certain things. I think they communicated in German. After they finished work in the evening, they had plenty of time to stay in their rooms together and keep each other company. Both girls always had to get up early. During summer, school-classes in the village started as early as seven o’clock. That meant, I had to get up at six o’clock to get ready for school. Mum never got up that early. But Maria always came down at six o’clock to start working for us. She often had to do Peter’s linen early in the morning, which I am sure was not one of her favourite tasks.
I mentioned in this post our landlord, Werner M. He is here in this picture which was taken by Mrs. T. on Christmas Eve 1943.
Werner M. is on the left, on the right is Mr. T.
Tante Ilse is next to Werner M. together with cousin Renate. I am in the back with my doll.
The children in front are Eva T. and my brother Bodo.
Next to Mr. T. is Mum and Grandma Olga (Mum’s mum) is on the left next to Werner M.
Christmas Eve 1943
I won’t copy the comments I received to this post, only my replies to them. If you want to see the comments, please go to: http://auntyuta.com/2013/06/02/childhood-memories-194344/
Here are my replies:
I experienced this country life nearly seventy years ago. It was very different from life in Berlin. Thanks for commenting, dear Catterel.
I hope some of my descendants are going to find it of interest, Robert.
Well, Emu, the memory can be quite shady. Some things we remember, some things we forget. We always seem to remember holiday times better than other times for instance. I think lots of things that have to do with how I felt at the time did get stuck in my memory. Maybe as a kid I didn’t often have a chance to really talk about my feelings. This is why I reflected a lot during the hours when I was by my lonely self. This reflecting came naturally to me. Nobody did give me instructions how to do it. When someone made a comment to me that stirred my feelings in some way, I would probably reflect on this comment for hours later on and never forget it. As a kid I seem to have analysed what sort of feelings certain persons gave me.