Tag Archives: Berlin

In Memory of Charlotte, my Mother

17 Feb
This is a passport photo of my mother Charlotte before she got sick.

This is a passport photo of my mother Charlotte before she got sick. We do not know for sure, but she may have suffered a certain kind of memory loss later on.

A few Years later another Passport-Photo was taken of her.

A few Years later another Passport-Photo was taken of her.

We did fly BRITISH AIRWAYS in 1994. We departed London/Heathrow Airport on Saturday, 19th of November at 12.45 and arrived at Tegel Airport/Berlin less than an hour later.

We moved in with my brother Peter Uwe who lived at the time with our mother in a spacious apartment in Berlin-Charlottenburg. For about ten days we stayed there and of course saw Charlotte every day. Once every day a woman would arrive to see after Charlotte’s personal needs. Peter Uwe was still a teacher and had to leave his mother on her own during the day.

Towards the end of November we left Berlin in a rental car. We had planned on going again to Windischgarsten, Austria, where Peter’s sister Eva lives with her husband Harald.

Our tour down south led us first of all to Wittenberg for a break at lunchtime. There was a Christmas Fair (Weihnachtsmarkt).I remember we were able to buy there delicious freshly baked potato pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer). A bit further on we noticed to our delight at some building our Australian flag! There happened to be an exhibition in that building about Australian  aborigines.

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From Wittenberg we went on to Radebeul near Dresden. This is were famous author Karl May had lived. We knew that they had a Karl May Museum in this town. So we went there for a visit. It brought back to me old memories about the noble Winnetou and his friend Old Shatterhand. Soon it was nighttime and we booked into a small hotel at Radebeul.

The following day we spent visiting Dresden. The Frauenkirche was still in ruins. Money was raised for its restoration. This is where I got my Swiss watch. The proceeds of this purchase helped towards the restoration of the church! There was a lovely Weihnachtsmarkt in Dresden too where we bought some food at lunchtime.

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Our next overnight stay was in a hotel in Bad Schandau, a pleasant little spa town at the Elbe River near the Czech border. We took a walk through a wooded area and actually reached the Czech border!

I took this picture of Peter and Caroline where it said that this is the Czech border!

I took this picture of Peter and Caroline where it said that this is the Czech border!

Well, we had not planned to take a direct tour to Austria. We first wanted to see on the way a bit of Germany . During the 1990s we did not have mobile phones. I guess we could have stayed in touch with Berlin or sister Eva via a hotel telephone. But we only rang Eva when we reached Trockau in Bavaria. It was 2 pm on the 2nd of December (I made a note of it!)  Peter talked to his sister Eva, wanting to give her an indication when we might arrive at her place. “Did you ring Berlin yet?” she asked. “No, why?” And then Eva said to ring straight away. “Yesterday Uta’s mother has had a stroke and is in hospital!”
(My brother Peter Uwe had been ringing Peter’s sister Ilse who had been ringing her sister Eva.)

We did ring Berlin then of course and said to my brother we would straight away come to Berlin. We reached Berlin late at night. Peter Uwe was waiting for us and went with us to the hospital. My mother did not recover and died during the night from the 21st to the 22nd of December.

On the 13th of January 1995 we were back in Australia. My mother was to be cremated. Only there was a severe backlog at the time. The cremation could only be done well into February. And the funeral service could only be held after the cremation. Well, this was the German way of doing it. It upset me terribly. Yes, this was very difficult for me.

Peter Uwe, my brother, had been living separated from Klaudia, his wife, for some time.  Peter Uwe had a new partner already. Her name is Astrid. At the time Klaudia and Astrid did not like each other, not at all. But over the years this has changed. I think they are at ease with each other now whenever they happen to meet. Peter Uwe and Klaudia have a daughter, Corinna, who was at my mum’s funeral, also Klaudia and of course Peter Uwe. Astrid was not there. Just two more people were there: Our cousin Wolfgang and his wife Gisela.

These are the five people who were at my mum's funeral.

These are the five people who were at my mum’s funeral.

This building is at the entrance to the cemetary (Städtischer Friedhof Schöneberg)

This building is at the entrance to the cemetary (Städtischer Friedhof Schöneberg)

I guess the funeral service would have been held in there. We took the above picture in 2010 when Klaudia had the idea to show us the spot where Mum’s urn is buried anonymously amongst other urns on a beautiful lawn. The following pictures are the ones Peter Uwe sent us from the day of the funeral.

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This stone we recognised in 2010 when Klaudia showed us the cemetery. Where these flowers are from the day of the funeral is presumably where Mum's urn was buried.

This stone we recognised in 2010 when Klaudia showed us the cemetery. Where these flowers are from the day of the funeral is presumably where Mum’s urn was buried.

And here is the stone we saw in 2010.

And here is the stone we saw in 2010.

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Our Trip around the World in 1990 (continued)

16 Feb In Singapore we went to the Zoological Gardens. Peter and Caroline had breakfast with an Orangutan.

auntyuta:

Our 2CV one morning in April 1990 near Ober-Ammergau

Our 2CV one morning in April 1990 near Ober-Ammergau

Today I discovered some more pictures with our 2CV that I had not published yet. This is why I include them in this reblog. We went with the 2CV from Austria to Berlin as I mentioned before. In Berlin we went in it to an outer suburb where cousin Ingrid and her husband Erhard own a little garden plot with a small cottage which they like to stay in during summer. They always love to invite us for a visit when we are in Berlin.

Cousin Ingrid holds onto her bike. The 2CV is already parked behind the gate, Erhard is to the left of the car, I can be seen on the right side.

Cousin Ingrid holds onto her bike. The 2CV is already parked behind the gate, Erhard is to the left of the car, I can be seen on the right side.

Here Caroline is trying out Ingrid's bike/

Here Caroline is trying out Ingrid’s bike/

Doesn't our 2CV look great  surrounded by Ingrid's garden? I think you can see where the side-flap on the side window in the front opens up!

Doesn’t our 2CV look great surrounded by Ingrid’s garden? I think you can see where the side-flap on the side window in the front opens up!

A Reblog from the 5th of February 2014

Originally posted on auntyuta:

In Singapore we went to the Zoological Gardens. Peter and Caroline had breakfast with an Orangutan.

In Singapore we went to the Zoological Gardens.
Peter and Caroline had breakfast with an Orangutan.

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This is a picture that Caroline took at Sydney Airport before our Departure.

This is a picture that Caroline took at Sydney Airport before our Departure.

Gaby had come with David. Also Monika was there to farewell us. This was 24 years ago, meaning that none of Monika’s girls had been born yet, but Monika had  of course already Troy and Ryan. They were ten at the time.

Here, Caroline is in the picture  too, meaning we are to be seen here with all three daughters!

Here, Caroline is in the picture too, meaning we are to be seen here with all three daughters!

In  In Singapore we went to this Chapel.

In
In Singapore we went to this Chapel.

We also went on a temple tour

We also went on a temple tour

Our Hotel had a Swimming Pool at the Top of the building.

Our Hotel had a Swimming Pool at the Top of the building.

This was the View from the Top of the Building.

This was the View from the Top of the Building.

I enjoyed our Stay in Singapore.

I enjoyed our Stay in Singapore.

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After Singapore our next destination was Paris. I already mentioned in Part One that we picked up a…

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At Sydney Airport November 1994

13 Feb

We moved into our new home in September 1994. A few weeks later we had a burglary. I was so upset I wanted to cancel our planned trip to Berlin. A very understanding doctor managed to calm me down with some hypnosis treatment. So in November we went as planned to Sydney Airport for our departure which led us first of all to another stop over at Singapore.

The following pictures show that our family came to the airport to farewell us. I find these pictures very interesting for our family. They show our grandchildren what they looked like nearly twenty years ago!

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I noticed that all four of our children and all six of our grandchildren that we had at the time, are to be seen in the photos! Also Gaby’s carer David and our daughter-in-law.

Berlin after the End of WW II

8 Feb

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After the fall of Berlin in May 1945 the occupying forces divided the city into four sectors: One American, one British, one French and one Russian. Correspondingly Germany was divided into four different zones. In the 1950s more and more people fled from the Russian Zone of Germany to one of the Western  Zones. A lot of refugees chose to flee to West-Berlin. From there they were flown out to Western Germany.

The Eastern Zone was the German Democratic Republic, West-Germany was called Bundesrepublik. That people wanted to flee the GDR showed, what a bad regime they had in the GDR. Refugees were received with open arms in the West. The GDR made it very difficult for people to flee once the “Wall” was built around West-Berlin and right along the border of East- and West-Germany.

Here are some refugees near the Brandenburg Gate in 1953:
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In the picture underneath are some West-Berliners gathered waiting for the arrival of relatives from the East who presumably want to flee the GDR.

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This is at the airport of Tempelhof. People are waiting to be flown out to West-Germany.

This is at the airport of Tempelhof. People are waiting to be flown out to West-Germany.

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All pictures are taken from “Aus dem Berliner Tagebuch” by Thilo Koch published by Bertelsmann Club GmbH

Our Trip around the World in 1990 (continued)

5 Feb
In Singapore we went to the Zoological Gardens. Peter and Caroline had breakfast with an Orangutan.

In Singapore we went to the Zoological Gardens.
Peter and Caroline had breakfast with an Orangutan.

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This is a picture that Caroline took at Sydney Airport before our Departure.

This is a picture that Caroline took at Sydney Airport before our Departure.

Gaby had come with David. Also Monika was there to farewell us. This was 24 years ago, meaning that none of Monika’s girls had been born yet, but Monika had  of course already Troy and Ryan. They were ten at the time.

Here, Caroline is in the picture  too, meaning we are to be seen here with all three daughters!

Here, Caroline is in the picture too, meaning we are to be seen here with all three daughters!

In  In Singapore we went to this Chapel.

In
In Singapore we went to this Chapel.

We also went on a temple tour

We also went on a temple tour

Our Hotel had a Swimming Pool at the Top of the building.

Our Hotel had a Swimming Pool at the Top of the building.

This was the View from the Top of the Building.

This was the View from the Top of the Building.

I enjoyed our Stay in Singapore.

I enjoyed our Stay in Singapore.

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After Singapore our next destination was Paris. I already mentioned in Part One that we picked up a 2CV in Paris.
We did a bit of sightseeing in Paris, where we had booked a hotel for two nights. Then we did drive through country area. Close to where the Mt Blanc Tunnel leads towards Italy we had some overnight stops at a hotel which had very basic accommodation. The good thing was, that from there it was not far to Switzerland. We had a few excursions to Geneva. I am sure we made some pictures there but unfortunately cannot find them at present. I have no idea, why they are not in the books with all the other pictures from this trip.

We arrived at this hotel in the evening and were happy to stay there for it was reasonably priced and the owners were very friendly.

We arrived at this hotel in the evening and were happy to stay there for it was reasonably priced and the owners were very friendly.

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I think I already mentioned what a horror the Mont Blanc Tunnel turned out to be. Well, I guess when this tunnel was built, they had no idea by how much traffic would increase, and that especially these big trucks would pollute the air and that they had to make sure that ventilation remained okay. These days they would never attempt to build a tunnel with only one lane in each direction. The tunnel goes for 11 kilometres without any interruptions.

This is a picture of the Mont Blanc Tunnel.

This is a picture of the Mont Blanc Tunnel.

I am sure we took a lot of pictures in Italy. I just cannot find them at present and have to try and publish some at another time. We stayed in several different hotel during our trip through Italy. In Rome we found a very reasonably priced hotel close to the Vatican.

It was a Wednesday when we turned up at the Vatican. Lots of tourists had arrived in buses from Germany on that day. They thought we had come with them from Germany. The Pope greeted the tourists in German. We could hardly see him for he was a great distance away from us.

It was a Wednesday when we turned up at the Vatican. Lots of tourists had arrived in buses from Germany on that day. They thought we had come with them from Germany. The Pope greeted the tourists in German. We could hardly see him for he was a great distance away from us.

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We spent a lovely day in Venice, we also had a look at the leaning tower of Pisa. But I have no picture of it. Here is another picture with Caroline and me in Venice.

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From Italy we went to Austria and from there for a trip to Bayrischzell along the Alpenstrasse. On the way we had a look at Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart. On the Alpenstrasse we were caught in a blizzard. After a stay over at Bayrischzell we tried to reach the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. But it was bad weather. This is why the cable cars to the top of the Zugspitze were not in operation.

Here is what I Wikipedia says about the cable cars:

“Three cable cars run to the top of the Zugspitze. The first, the Tyrolean Zugspitze Cable Car, was built in 1926 and terminated on an arête below the summit before the terminus was moved to the actual summit in 1991. A rack railway, the Bavarian Zugspitze Railway, runs inside the northern flank of the mountain and ends on the Zugspitzplatt, from where a second cable car takes passengers to the top. The rack railway and the Eibsee Cable Car, the third cableway, transport an average of 500,000 people to the summit each year. In winter, nine ski lifts cover the ski area on the Zugspitzplatt. The weather station, opened in 1900, and the research station in the Schneefernerhaus are mainly used to conduct climate research.”

We made it to Neuschwanstein Castle just a few minutes before they were about to close. O our way back to Austria we stayed near Ober-Ammergau. We had accommodation in a pleasant hotel. When we woke up in the morning, our car was covered in snow.

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Then back to Windischgarsten where Peter’s sister Eva lives with Harald, her husband. Harald built this house all on his own:

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Eva and Harald with their dog Blinki in early 1983.

Eva and Harald with their dog Blinki in early 1983.

We stayed with Eva and Harald over Easter. Peter’s other sister, Ilse, had come also with husband Klaus and sons Daniel and Stefan. Ilse and her family live in Berlin. They all still live there. After Easter we travelled to Berlin. My Mum lived in a seniors’ home unit at the time. We took her in our 2CV to the Brandenburg Gate which was being restored after the Fall of the Wall a few months earlier.

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24 years ago Mum was 79, the same age that I am now!

Here is Peter with my brother Peter Uwe in Berlin, Adenauer Platz.

Here is Peter with my brother Peter Uwe in Berlin, Adenauer Platz.

After returning our car in Paris we spent a few great days exploring the city, staying in a lovely old hotel.

Caroline is only eleven. I think she looks pretty grown up already!

Caroline is only eleven. I think she looks pretty grown up already!

Caroline and Peter did get into the shot I took!

Caroline and Peter did get into the shot I took!

Waiting for our flight at the airport. Caroline took this picture. This hat I wear was still pretty new then. I still have it and wear it sometimes!

Waiting for our flight at the airport. Caroline took this picture. This hat I wear was still pretty new then. I still have it and wear it sometimes!

As I mentioned in the first Part, we spent three days in Anaheim to visit Disneyland. Here is just a sample of some Disneyland photos.

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You can see Caroline in the cup to the right.

You can see Caroline in the cup to the right.

Before and after the War, a Reblog.

14 Oct

In 1942/1943 my friends in Berlin and I had often contemplated what life might be like, once we had peace again. Our dreams for the future were very basic. We all wanted to get married and have children. We all wanted our husbands to have occupations that would enable us to live in comfortable houses. My friend Siglinde and I were for ever drawing house-plans. There would be at least three bed-rooms: one for the parents, one for two boys and another one for two girls. Yes, to have two boys as well as two girls, that was our ideal.

Before we married, we would finish school and go to university and our husbands would of course be university educated. In peace-time we would be able to buy all the things we had been able to buy before the war started: Bananas, pineapples, oranges and lemons; all this would be available again! Somehow we knew, we were only dreaming about all this. We had no idea, what would really happen, once the war ended.

I turned eight in September of 1942. Most of my friends were around the same age. My friend Siglinde however was four years my senior, the same as my cousin Sigrid.

When I was about thirteen, Cousin Sigrid made a remark, that put a damper on my wishful thinking. Sigrid had noticed, that I got very good marks in high-school. So she said in a quite friendly way: ‘I see, you’ll probably end up becoming a Fräulein Doctor!’ This remark made me furious inside. It sounded to me, that once I embarked on becoming a ‘Fräulein Doctor’ I would have no hope in the world of acquiring a husband and children. ‘Who in their right mind would study to achieve a doctorate and miss out on having a husband and children?’ I thought to myself.

Mum, Tante Ilse and Uncle Peter loved to read romance and crime fiction. Most of the books they read were translations from English. Mum and Tante Ilse loved Courts-Mahler, Uncle Peter liked Scotland Yard stories best. They all had read ‘Gone with the Wind’. Even my father, who boasted, he never read any novels, read this one.

I read ‘Gone with the Wind’, when I was fourteen. My father’s sister Elisabeth, on hearing this, was shocked, that my mother let me read this novel. According to Tante Lisa, I was much too young to read something like this. However some of my girl-friends read this book too. They all loved Rhett Butler. About Scarlett the opinions were divided. Personally I did not care for the way she treated Melanie. I thought by constantly making passionate advances towards Ashley, she showed total disregard for Melanie’s feelings. Rhett adored Melanie. He showed her great respect as a person with a noble character. In contrast, he was well aware that Scarlet was anything but noble. Often he found Scarlett’s irrational behaviour highly amusing. Ashley treated Scarlett in a very gentleman like way. Not so Rhett. This impressed my friends. They all admired Rhett! I think, I admired Ashley more. -

Mum and Tante Ilse borrowed books from a lending library. A middle-sized novel cost one Deutsche Mark to borrow for one week, a real big novel cost two Marks. In secret I once read a translation of ‘Amber’. Fascinating stuff this was.

When I read ‘Amber’, I was probably thirteen. I read it only, when I was by myself in the apartment, which happened often enough. I was able to consume the whole big novel without anybody noticing it. I knew, Mum and Tante Ilse had read the book already, because they often talked about it, how good it was. But the book was still lying around at our place. There were a few more days before it had to be returned to the library. I found out, that Amber was a fifteen year old country-girl, who went to London. The time was the seventeen hundreds. Because of her beauty, Amber was able to make it in the world. She had lots of lovers. She always made sure, that her next lover was of a higher ranking than the previous one. That made it possible for her, to climb up the social ladder. – Well, this is about as much as I still remember from that novel.

During the first years after the war we lived like paupers. Still, I realized – maybe a bit to my regret – that there was a big difference between a desperately poor girl from the country and me, desperately poor city girl from a ‘good’ family. I knew then, whether I wanted it or not, I had to put up with an extremely low standard of living for some time yet. And I mean by ‘low standard’ not the low standard that everyone went through during the adjustments after the war, but a standard, where it was necessary for us to get social services payments!

Was I out to enhance my appearance in order to catch a prosperous male as an escort to take me out to fun-parties and adult entertainment? No way! Something like that was just not for me. I felt I was plain Uta who was never invited to go out anywhere with anyone.

Was I really that plain? I wonder. Up to age fourteen I may have had some chances with the opposite sex, given the opportunity. However by age fifteen I had put on so much weight, that I felt to be totally unattractive. I was right, because no attractive male ever made an attempt to woo for my attention, not until I was about seventeen and a half that is. But even then things didn’t change much for me. I honestly felt like some kind of a social freak during most of my teenage years.

Memories from 1950 to 1955

12 Oct

THIS IS A REWORKING OF ONE OF MY OLDER BLOGS. GOING BACK AGAIN TO MY GROWING UP YEARS IN BERLIN.

I left high-school at intermediate level in the summer of 1951. Thereafter I lost contact with all my girl-friends, who went on to high-school to the end of year thirteen to get the ‘Abitur’, which would qualify them for university entrance. My choice was to continue higher education at a commercial school, which hopefully would qualify me for a secretarial position.

The best thing at that school was, that we read Goethe’s Faust. I was therefore able to get good marks in German. English was a good subject for me too. However in all the commercial subjects I was extremely unsatisfactory.

One day our class-teacher, Herr Gluschke, had had enough and talked to me under four eyes. “How come “, he said, “that you are good in all subjects, the other teachers teach, and in all the subjects that I teach, you’re far from good?”

What did I answer? Did I say, that the other subjects interested me more? Did I tell him, I found it hard to work anything out on a counting machine because I felt I needed a lot more practice on it? Or that I had problems remembering the required wording in answer to a set question, when we were not allowed to take notes in his classes and when we had no books whatsoever on the subjects he was teaching? I don’t know, what I answered him.

No wonder I was dead scared of the final exams. Rather than finish the second year of commercial schooling, I applied for a job which would enable me to get familiar with secretarial work. I looked up advertised jobs. In one of the ads they offered two beginners’ jobs for office work. Later I found out, that there were ninety-five applicants for these two very lowly paid jobs! And I was the extremely lucky person, who ended up with one of the two jobs!

Herr Gluschke, on hearing that I wanted to leave school and start working, happily wished me all the best for the future! I started work in the clearing house of FLEUROP/INTERFLORA on the second of January 1953 and stayed with that company for the best part of five years.

At commercial school my best and probably only friend was Eva Horn. Eva did not finish school either. Her father, who was an executive at TELEFUNKEN, had seen to it, that she could start work for TELEFUNKEN in Spain. Apparently Eva longed to experience a different country.

Apart from some commercial English, we had also learned a bit of commercial Spanish at school, which came in handy for Eva Of course in Spain it did not take her long to speak and write Spanish fluently. She became friends with a Spanish guy called Jesus. So Eva stayed on in Spain. I missed her very much. We kept writing each other for a while. I also saw her, when she came back to Berlin to visit her parents.

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I had started selling Sunday night newspapers during the summer of 1950. I needed a special permission from the police to do it for I was not sixteen yet and therefore not supposed to work late at night. But since I was nearly sixteen and looked much older anyway, I had no problem in getting the permission.

I had to sell ‘Die Nachtausgabe des Montags-Echos’ (the night-edition of the Monday-Echo). It earned me a bit of pocket-money. Occasionally people would think I was a university student who was badly in need of money. These people would give me a generous tip, sometimes a five Mark note! Once a class-mate saw me selling papers in front of a cinema. I felt extremely embarrassed that my class-mate had seen me doing this. It was not the done thing for school-students to sell papers. University-students did it all the time, but not school-students.

Soon after Easter of 1952 (I was seventeen and a half) I met Wolfgang Steinberg. He was already nineteen and in his final year of schooling. I had gone to an evening class to catch up on a bit of Spanish. Wolfgang happened to be in this class. When he realized that I had already done a bit of Spanish at Commercial School, he approached me in a very friendly way asking me whether I would be willing to study some Spanish together with him.

So we did get together. When he was invited to our place on a Sunday, he met my mother. My mother had no objections to my seeing him again. At the time we still had a piano on loan in our home. Wolfgang came to visit several times, even when my mother was not at home. He would play wonderful tunes on the piano. Once Mum came home unexpectedly when we had done a bit of necking. Mum stormed into the living-room and straight away screamed at the top of her voice that Wolfgang had behaved improperly because he had caused her daughter to have a red face! Well, it was obvious, wasn’t it, that I had fallen in love with this guy.

This was not good enough for my mother, of course. She had to find out a bit more about his background. He had claimed that his mother was dead and that he lived with his aunt. Well, it was true, his mother had died when he was still very young. His father had married again and owned a small flower-shop.

In my mother’s eyes this made Wolfgang some-one of very low standing; definitely not suited for me as a companion! My mother decided, she wanted to see the father in his flower-shop and made me go along with her.

The flower-shop turned out to be very small indeed. The whole family was gathered in the shop, when we arrived. There was the congenial looking father, who was of small stature. The mother was a tallish woman. I imagined her to be very resolute and practical in every way. Wolfgang had shown me a picture of his mother who had died when he was still so young. But he did remember her and missed her very much. The photo showed a young, extremely friendly and beautiful looking woman. I could understand, how a boy would be fascinated by those soft features. The step-mother turned out to have rather harsh features. There was also a step-sister, a spindly looking girl of about ten. When she heard, what was going on, she said full of ‘Schadenfreude’: “Ah. so Wolfgang has been telling fibs again!”

Then Wolfgang was called out. When he appeared from behind the shop, he looked small and embarrassed, letting his head hang from having a bad conscience. I felt sorry for him. Talking to the father, my mother made sure, that we two young people were never allowed to see each other again. The father said a few soothing words to me, trying to comfort me. He urged me, that it was for the best, if I listened to my mother.

I trotted back home with Mum, feeling very, very sad indeed. For the next few months my only friend remained my school-friend Eva. She lived around the corner. I was allowed to visit her at night-time, whenever I felt like it. I also went on a few outings with her.

A few months later, aged eighteen, I started work. Then in the spring of 1953 I met another guy, who I thought was very likable indeed. During the summer of 1953 I met Wolfgang one more time. He had done his ‘Abitur’ in the meantime and found employment in some office near Kurfürstendamm. He was telling me about Fax- machines, which he had to use.

When I told him about my new friend, he must have sensed, that I was not really interested anymore in a friendship with him; that most likely I was feeling somewhat attached to the other guy. We parted as good friends. However we agreed, it would be interesting to see each other again at the same place, which was the Bayrischer Platz, exactly ten years later, on the 30th June 1963. But by that time I was already married with three children and living in Australia. Needless to say, I never saw him again.

But here are some more thoughts on Wolfgang. He had been telling me such wonderful stories! He also played songs on the piano. I loved it when he played the song about the lonely soldier at the river Wolga. He also knew some naughty songs. But I told him, I wasn’t so keen on these. He accepted that gracefully.

I called him ‘Wölfi’; he called me ‘Schäfchen’. Schäfchen means ‘little sheep’. Of course, he only called me that, when no-one else was around. ‘Schäfchen’, he said it lovingly and understandingly, and I didn’t object! I must say, as compared to him, I really felt like a ‘Schäfchen’. He told me, he earned some pocket money as a piano-player in night-bars. So he must have been well aware of what was going on at night-time in a big city.

Students in their final year of high-school, that is the thirteenth year of schooling (after having started at around six), those students in their final year were called ‘Abiturienten’. So Wolfgang was an ‘Abiturient’, when I met him at the Spanish evening class. I had joined that class of the Workers’ Education to catch up on Spanish, for I felt the few hours of schooling at my school were not sufficient to get a proper footing in the language. Come to think of it, there would not have been a reason for Wolfgang to join that class, for Spanish was not required at his school. He was interested in travel though. Maybe that is why he wanted to learn some Spanish.

Sunday nights I was supposed to sell news-papers. One Sunday night I skipped it, because I wanted to stay with Wolfgang. That was a mistake, because Mum found out about it. She was outraged about my behaviour. She started making inquiries about him. She had begun to smell a rat! And yes, she was right. Wolfgang had been telling me and Mum quite a lot of fibs. For one, he did not want to admit, that his father was only a small shopkeeper. He thought, if Frau Dr. Spickermann knew about that, she would never agree to her daughter going out with him! So he told us stories about a rich aunt, who was his patron and who took him on travels to Italy and America. It was of course all fantasy! Naturally Mum thought, he could not be trusted anymore. There was not a thing in the world I could have done to change her mind. I still had feelings for him, but I had to suppress them.

When I started office work I quit my paper job even though in the beginning I earned an extremely low salary at FLEUROP.
I guess a year later it would have been my choice to continue meeting Wolfgang in secret. We both had jobs by that time. Actually I forgot to mention that we kept up a secret correspondence for about a month (via Eva’s address). Wolfgang and I promised each other then to meet again one year later at Bayrischer Platz. This was the last I saw of him. I felt at the time that my friend, Karl-Heinz, was the better choice for me. I think this new guy never ever met my mother. Mum did not want to know of my friendship with him. She definitely did not approve of him. He was only 17 when I first met him (I was nine months his senior). In the end he preferred another girl. And she was a bit older than I was! In May 1955, when I was twenty and a half, I met my lovely husband. He’s still with me and keeps telling me every day that he loves me!

What I wrote two Years ago

8 Sep

Two years ago when I had not been blogging for very long yet, I wrote the following about my parents:

‘Your father has always been a selfish person. He doesn’t send any money for you but I bet he sits down for breakfast with a soft boiled egg in front of him. He knows how to look after himself and doesn’t care whether his children have anything to eat.’

The voice of my mother still rings in my ears. When years later I talked to my father about his so called selfishness, he justified himself with a lot of words and by producing the Post Office receipts which proved that he had constantly sent money for us children. True, he never could send much, however Mum’s claim that he didn’t send any money at all was totally wrong, according to Dad. He made sure that I looked at all the relevant slips. It seemed very important to him that I should believe him.

I felt sorry for Dad and I felt sorry for Mum. I used to feel that I could not take sides for either of them: I was totally torn between them. My loyalty belonged to both in equal proportions, that means, I could never decide on who’s side I should be. Mum of course accused me constantly of siding with my father and rejecting her. She probably did not feel supported by me. She just could not stand it when I tried to defend Dad.

Dad was the opposite. No matter how much he complained about Mum and let it be known how frustated he was about Mum’s behaviour, he was never angry with me when I tried to defend Mum. He always listened patiently to what I had to say. On the contrary, he liked it when I pointed out how much Mum meant to me and the boys.

‘You are right, Uta,’ he would say, ‘it is very important for you and the boys that you have a good relationship with your Mum. After all she is your Mum. I certainly would not like you rejecting her. In her own way she loves all three of you. You should never forget this.’ Then he would continue to complain about it that Mum was not willing to leave Berlin and live together with him and us children as one family. He also had some gripes about Aunty Ilse. According to him it was she who had wrecked their marriage.

I loved Aunty Ilse. For me it was very hard to listen to Dad’s accusations about her. Dad claimed in a very angry voice that Ilse had lived a ‘Lotter-Leben’ (bad life) when she was younger. He said that she had now a very good marriage. He was of the opinion that marrying HL was the best thing that could have happened to her. Dad regarded HL as being of very good character. I could only agree. In my experience, this Uncle spoke of Dad always in a respectful way too, that is, I never heard him say anything bad about him. Come to think of it, neither did Aunty Ilse. The way I saw it, only Mum would talk about Dad in a very nasty kind of way. It shows that to her mind he must have been a great disappointment to her. Even as a child I tried to see both sides. This was mind boggling for me. A lot of the issues were about what normally only grown-ups would be concerned about. On the other hand – even though I had no way of being able to tell what for instance the sexual difficulties may have been – I none the less felt those vibes which told me, my parents had these very strong love/hate feelings towards each other. I also sensed Mum’s absolute disgust about the way Dad’s life had turned out to be. Yes, I can imagine what immense disappointment this was for her!

Some time after Dad had managed to set himself up in a secure position again he talked to me about how it would be best for all of us if he remarried Mum. I told him that I could not imagine this happening. And sure enough, when he asked Mum to live with him again, she refused.

In 1959 Peter and I migrated to Australia with our two baby-girls. The following year Dad married G. Peter and I were under the impression that the new wife was right for Dad in every way, I am sure, Dad had a very good marriage with G. They had only a short time together: At age sixty-two Dad died of prostate cancer. After having stayed in hospital for a while Dad pleaded with G to take him home. She did this and nursed him for the last six months of his life. It so happened, that G received Dad’s pension after he died. This upset my Mum and my brothers immensely! They thought, G had no right to receive all the benefits. They told me that the first wife should get more consideration for having had a much longer marriage as well as children. I felt awful when my family talked badly about G. I know that she had always been very welcoming, kind and supportive towards my brothers.

G is ninety-two now. Over the distance I still have some occasional contact with her. I am never going to forget, how, during the last years of his life, she gave Dad so much of herself. When I received her letter six months before he died, telling me about the seriousness of Dad’s illness, I cried and cried.

This was the end of my post.  What follows are some replies I wrote to  comments from some bloggers.

I must have been a sensitive child. It is interesting to observe how marriage break-ups effect children in different ways. I always say I had four  mothers: My birth-mother, my aunt, who was my mother’s sister and throughout her life treated me very much as though I was her own daughter (maybe because she never had a child of her own), then the third very much loved mother was my mother-in-law and finally my father’s second wife, whom I knew only through correspondence and photos. Later on, many years after my father’s death, I did get to know her personally on a few visits to Germany. It was so good to be able to talk to her about my father!

Some children grow up not knowing anything about their father. I for one feel blessed that I knew my parents, who both loved me, each in their own way. And I was also very much loved by many people in the large extended family. It is of course very sad, that my parents could not live a happy life together.  - – -  Yes, it saddened me, but I think it also matured me in my early teenage years. I always had a feeling wanting to understand the different characters. Maybe this brought on a longing in me to write about my feelings and the way I saw different people.

The way I see it, it was really my father who was bitter about the separation. My mother did not want to move to where my father was. My father was quite bitter about this. He was fighting sickness and not being able to get a proper job in the postwar years.

I reckon my teenage years were not as good as they could have been, but I’m not bitter about this Everything turned out all right for me in the end. I was the first born one and used to be a good student. Everyone always thought I’d make it to university. However this did not eventuate. To be honest, I really was not unhappy about this, not at all. I was overjoyed when among dozens of applicants I landed a job in an office at the age of 18. I did office work for five years. In the meantime I had married and started a family. When I was approaching 25 we moved to Australia under a migration program. We had two children under two and soon there followed a third one! We did not have much money, but we thought we were doing all right.

Uta with her children at Fairy Meadow Beach, NSW, Australia, June 1960

Uta with her children at Fairy Meadow Beach, NSW, Australia, June 1960

President Obama in Berlin

20 Jun

This is an article in the German magazine DER SPIEGEL , Wednesday, 19th June 2013:

 

Fifty years after John F. Kennedy’s legendary Berlin visit, Barack Obama wowed the city with a rousing speech at the Brandenburg Gate, saying all oppressed people are “citizens of Berlin” — and urging the world to help free them.

Not even the unseasonably hot summer haze could damper the enthusiasm as crowd members clutching fluttering German and American flags filed into Berlin’s Pariser Platz on Wednesday. It’s here, on the east side of the Brandenburg Gate, where President Barack Obama was to make his first public speech in the German capital city as the leader of the United States.

 

“The flag-lined square was flanked with secret service and police, who perched on the roofs of buildings and weaved in and out of the some 4,000 invited audience members braving the glaring sunlight. In the crowd, there was an almost American vibe, with copious brimmed hats, women lithely fanning themselves and men in short-sleeved button-ups and suspenders. One bleacher, holding some 600 high school-age students of the local John F. Kennedy international school, showed particular ardor by chanting “Obama” in unison and doing the wave as the 3 p.m. start time neared.

A violinist warmed up the crowd, beginning with a vaguely celtic version of the American national anthem and then segueing into Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” over a backing track. He announced that his next song was at the president’s request. “It’s Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in America,’” he said before breaking into a rendition of “Born in the USA.”

Finally Obama took the stage, together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Berlin’s mayor, Klaus Wowereit.

After brief comments by the mayor and the chancellor, Obama approached the microphone. It’s been pointed out that Merkel and Obama have very different public personas, and this couldn’t have been clearer than in the contrast between the chancellor’s somewhat subdued introduction and the president’s booming “Hello, Berlin!,” which was met with thunderous applause.

Yet Obama was quick to point out a similarity between the two leaders: “Angela and I don’t exactly look like previous German and American leaders,” he said after thanking the first female chancellor for her friendship. He then removed his jacket, citing the weather. “We can be a little more informal among friends,” he quipped to cheers from the crowd.

‘Ich Bin ein Berliner’

As expected, President Obama, who gave his speech behind dramatic panes of bulletproof glass as sweat dripped down his forehead, made heavy reference to Kennedy’s iconic 1963 Berlin speech. He recalled the former US president’s historic sound bite before asking the audience to look past it.

“That’s not all that he said that day,” he said. “Less remembered is the challenge that he issued to the crowd before him: ‘Let me ask you,’ he said to those Berliners, ‘let me ask you to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today’ and ‘beyond the freedom of merely this city.’ Look, he said, ‘to the day of peace with justice, beyond yourselves and ourselves to all mankind.’”

Obama went on to apply Kennedy’s notion of “peace with justice” to the contemporary world. He referenced poverty and the mass unemployment that has followed the global debt crisis, and touched on race, religion and gender discrimination, specifically mentioning equality of sexual orientation less than two weeks after a German court ordered that same-sex partnerships be given the same tax benefits as married couples.

“And if we lift our eyes, as President Kennedy called us to do, then we’ll recognize that our work is not yet done,” Obama continued. “For we are not only citizens of America or Germany — we are also citizens of the world. And our fates and fortunes are linked like never before.”

Obama then discussed — albeit vaguely — on the NSA spying scandal, the closing of Guantanamo Bay and the American drone program. He was more concrete on the subject of nuclear disarmament, which he pledged to tackle in the coming years in cooperation with Russia. But the parallels between the issues of today and the history of Berlin, in particular, seemed to go over well with the crowd, which remained in good spirits despite the unrelenting heat.

‘It Felt Like They Were Standoffish’

I really liked how he tied in the history of Berlin with current issues,” said Esther Stern, a 16-year-old from Braunschweig who had come to Berlin with a group from her high school. “In spite of the heat, it was great! He’s a very good speaker — different than when you see him on TV,” she continued.

Some were slightly more critical, however, like Will Giles, a 20-year-old political science student in Berlin on a semester abroad from Duke University in the US. “It was interesting to observe the Merkel-Obama dynamic,” said Giles. “You can tell by body language what people really think of each other, and it felt like they were kind of standoffish.”

At the bleacher of local international students, however, the take-away was undoubtedly positive.

 

“It was definitely worth the six hours of waiting and boiling,” said 14-year-old Emma Defty, standing in a rare shady spot as her fellow students filed out behind her. “It was also great that he talked about Kennedy, because he and Kennedy are a lot alike I think. They’re on the younger side and they really speak to the public. They seem somehow… human.””I think he really earned sympathy points when he took off his jacket,” added her friend Elisabeth Evans, 13. “It’s like we’re all friends!”

“And I liked that he talked about global warming,” Defty said. “Yeah,” Evans rejoined, “because it never gets this hot!”

 

 

The End of War

4 Jun

As I said before Mum enjoyed going to Berlin once a week. She was able to stay in our city apartment, which we were still renting. Of course, most of our furniture was in that country place where we were all staying. Mum had to take in several ‘Untermieter’ (sub-tenants). That is some rooms had to be sublet to people who had lost their homes during bomb raids. Towards the end of 1944 Mum was only left with one room to herself. None the less, she liked the excitement of being in Berlin.

I can’t recall Aunty Ilse going to Berlin on a regular basis during our stay in the country. Come to think of it she did not have an apartment to go to any more, since the top floor where her apartment had been, had been totally destroyed by fire-bombs. I cannot recall the exact date when this happened but I think it was probably soon after we had moved away from Berlin.

Mum had to walk for about half an hour to the next village to catch the bus which took her to the next train station. Going to the center of Berlin she then had to change trains a few times. All in all it was quite a long trip. But even in the fifth and sixth year of war buses and trains were still going pretty much on time.

As I mentioned before, Tante Ilse married Helmut L aka Onkel Peter on the 20th of July 1944. The wedding took place in Merane at the place of Onkel Peter’s parents. This is also the place where Tante Ilse went to towards the end of the war. Had she married Werner M. and possibly stayed at his place, she would have been in the midst of the Russian advances to Berlin in early 1945.

At the end of January 1945 Mum caught a train from Berlin to Leipzig with us three children to stay with Grandma and cousin Renate in Leipzig. Maria, who had been with us for more than three years, stayed with her fiancee in Berlin. I think the T. family, who had stayed with us in the ‘Ausbau’, moved to a town a bit further south of Berlin.

In Leipzig we were occupied by American and Canadian troops a few days before the end of the war. In what must have been the last bomb raid over Leipzig the house where we stayed was bombed. But we all survived in the very solidly built cellar under the apartment building. Grandma, having lived on the ground floor, was lucky that she could even save most of her furniture whereas the four stories above the ground floor were completely destroyed by bombs!

The area surrounding Berlin became the Russian zone at the finishing of the war. Property owners in the Russian zone had to give up their property. They were ‘enteignet’, meaning Werner M., the very wealthy man, lost everything in this ‘workers’ and ‘peasants’ state. Grandma had always wished for her daughter Ilse to marry this rich man. Just as well she didn’t! Anyhow Ilse had been very much in love with her Peter. She never seriously contemplated marrying Werner M. This is the way I see it.

What happened to Werner M. after the Russians occupied the country? Well, we do not know this. The Russian occupied zone became of course the GDR (German Democratic Republic) until the wall between East and West came down in 1989.

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