This Polish girl was “zwangsverpflichtet” in the year 1941 when she was in her early twenties. During the summer of 1941 we spent our holidays in Zokolniki quite some distance outside of Litzmannstadt (Lodz). Mum wanted to have a maid. I think this is when Maria was sent to us. Mum liked her straight away because she was very efficient and able to do all the housework to Mum’s satisfaction.
In August of 1941 we moved back to Berlin. Mum wanted Maria to come with us. Later on she once told me she didn’t really want to leave Poland but she had to go with us to Germany: She wasn’t given a choice, meaning she was “zwangsverpflichtet”!
Maria was very intelligent. Very quickly she picked up quite a bit of German. And she was always keen to learn more! In 1944 when I received my Poesy Album, I asked Maria to write something in it. This is the verse she chose:
‘Sei deiner Eltern Freude,
Beglücke sie durch Fleiss,
Dann erntest du im Alter
Dafür den schönsten Preis.’
The meaning of this is something like this:
‘Be the joy of your parents,
Make them happy by being diligent,
Then you’ll be greatly rewarded in your old age.’
And she stuck one of her pass-port photos into my album. After nearly seventy years I still happen to have it!
I have now two pages about my childhood. One is just “Uta’s Early Childhood”, the other one is “Uta’s Early Childhood, Part II”. In the Part II I inserted today some pictures about my sixth birthday in 1940 plus one picture from summer of 1942. All these pictures were taken during the war, World War II that is, when we lived in Berlin, Germany.
Did we suffer during the first years of war? I don’t think so. Except that my father had moved away from Berlin. He became the manager in grandfather’s furniture factory in Lodz, Poland, which since the German occupation in 1939 was called Litzmannstadt. My father had grown up in Lodz. His family had lived in Lodz since the early 1800s, when this part of Poland belonged to Russia.
My father had studied in Leipzig, Germany. In 1930 he had married my mother in Leipzig. During the early years of their marriage they had for the most part lived in Berlin. Sometime during the early war years my father had some disagreements with some Nazi people he worked with in Berlin. I think he didn’t voice his disagreements publicly. Had he done so, he may have ended up in a concentration camp!
In the end he was allowed to remove himself from Berlin. As I said he became then the manager in grandfather’s factory. My mother typically chose to stay with us children in Berlin. We only went for some visits to “Litzmannstadt”.
This is a picture from my “Kinderzimmer” in Berlin in 1936. I am going to include this with other pictures in my EARLY CHILDHOOD page which is right next to my ABOUT page.
What it said about these two women from the Middle Ages I found very remarkable. This is just one of the many interesting things we could read about in the Jewish Museum. It made me reflect on people’s attitudes towards religion many centuries ago! Here now I do not want to hesitate to add this picture from the Jewish Museum . I’m glad I looked through the pictures in our files once more and found it. I remember I was very moved by it when I saw it for the first time. I still think it is an outstanding document about a time past.
A few weeks after Yom Kippur Peter and I went again to the Jewish Museum together with Corinna, my niece. This time it was open, of course, being visited by a large number of people including school classes. Lots of young people, who worked there, (I think some on a working holiday from Israel), were extremely friendly and assisting whenever one needed help with something. We spent hours and hours looking at the various displays.
I was amazed about the extend of information at hand. It was an enormous eye opener of Jewish life in Europe over hundreds of years. I am glad the pictures that Peter took are still in our files and that I can publish them now.
In a reply to one of Munira’s comments I mentioned that we had no washing machine in our unit in Berlin and that there was no laundromat near-by either. So I had to wash all my things by hand whereas Peter could give his shirts and trousers away, leaving them in a shop around the corner and picking them up again five days later. We assume the items were probably sent to Poland for washing and ironing because labour there is cheaper!
I forgot to mention to Munira that during the sixty days, that we were in the flat, a woman came in, but only twice to change our bed-linen and supply us with fresh towels. We did our own cleaning of the place. Not exactly a five star service but then we didn’t have to pay for five star service either! We were quite happy with the arrangement. We were supposed to regard our place as a furnished rented flat and not a hotel. So we were really grateful that all the bedding and towels (including kitchen towels) were provided.
However, to have to wash my things by hand did take a bit of time to get used to. There was only a small basin in the bathroom. Most of the time I had to use the bathtub to do my washing in. I could use a plastic bucket to put in the bathtub. However, this meant I had to bend down quite a bit! I kept thinking about it how in the old days, when people didn’t have washing machines yet, a lot of the washing was done by hand. For larger items boilers were used. The nappies used to be washed in boilers too. With three babies under three we used to boil up a lot of nappies!
Gradually I got used to the task at hand. Remembering the old days I was glad that at least I didn’t have to use boilers any more! The bathroom was always pleasantly warm and there was always hot water out of the tap. I could dry my washing on some clothes lines above the bathtub. These clothes lines could be pushed against the wall out of the way when they weren’t needed.
Come to think of it, there was one other thing that was a bit difficult for me, being not a young chicken any more. I’m speaking of taking a shower. Imagine the shower was above the bathtub! That means when I wanted to take a shower I had to stand in the bathtub. Climbing in and out of the bathtub was sometimes a bit difficult for my old bones. I just had to do it carefully and slowly. Once I was sitting in the bathtub and had difficulty getting out of it. So I called Peter and he gracefully helped me out!
After exactly sixty days our time was up at the apartment in Berlin. My brother came to pick us up and take us to his place in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The dwelling place he provided for us was somewhat different from the small place we had had in Berlin. Peter has a few pictures of it which I am going to show in one of my next posts.
We soon found out that there was a great baker’s shop in the neighbourhood. Peter usually went down there early in the morning to get fresh bread rolls for breakfast plus a piece or maybe two pieces of cake! There was always a great selection of different cakes to choose from.
One Morning Peter bought this selection of different breads.
On Saturday (15th September 2012) Peter went down to get extra cakes for the guests we were expecting for afternoon coffee that day. When they pressed the bell Peter asked them to wait downstairs; he was to go down to guide them to the lift and show them the way to our apartment! I waited upstairs at the lift. Out came my nieces lovely family. There she was, my beautiful niece Corinna with Walter and son Carlos Emilio. Carlos had grown so much since I had seen him more than two years ago.
Even though I still suffered a bit from this nasty cold, we had a lovely afternoon together.
Isn’t this a cute little bike?
Berlin is now 775 Years old!
A View from Cafe Kranzler where we had lunch on Friday, 14th Sept.2012
A modern street-car and lots and lots of bikes!
We had arrived in Berlin on Sunday, the 9th of September. After we had a couple of rather dark unpleasant days a bit of a cold started to hang around me. Luckily towards the end of the week the weather had improved. The skies cleared and there was plenty of sunshine! So we went on quite a few outings to explore the city or take some rest in the close- by Tiergarten park area.
It amazed us how many bikes there were to be seen all over the place. Still there were many, many cars as well. The way some of the bike-riders went through the heavy traffic, often looked pretty scary to us. A lot of buses were often part of the street-scene as well. There seemed to be quite a bit of traffic too on the different water ways. And street repairs and new buildings going up where-ever we went in the midst of the city. Our first impression was, this is a buzzing city where always something was going on. But then there were the quiet areas in the parks in the midst of the city where the city seemed to be far away.
We later found out that Berlin has in just about every district a lot of park area. Only 60% of the available place is built upon, the rest is landscaped in some way. We believe this report because wherever we went to during our stay in Berlin there always seemed to be some beautiful looked after park for people to enjoy. We also noticed a lot of memorials and sculptures. Of course we took quite a few pictures of a lot of them. Since most of my pictures did get lost in cyberspace, I am now using for my posts mainly the pictures that Peter took.
Die Siegessäule (Victory Column)
This picture with Klaudia was taken during our first week in Berlin
The first few days in Berlin Peter and I were suffering terribly from jet-leg, that is we woke up in the middle of the night and just couldn’t go back to sleep. Sometimes we would start playing Rummy Cub in the middle of the night! On one of the first days it got windy and cold. We were out on this day. I soon did get very exhausted. Next day I started getting a bad cold. But when the weather improved and I did go out into the sunshine, I soon felt a lot better. But I think a bit of this cold was with me for nearly a week. Peter bought me some lovely flowers. We soon noticed all over Berlin there was a glut of flowers. You could buy flowers just about everywhere, beautiful fresh and low priced.
I loved these flowers.