Tag Archives: Berlin

Reflections on Travel

29 Apr

Recently I reflected a lot on our past two overseas travels. One trip to Berlin we did five years ago and another one two and a half years ago. When we travel we always try to economise, meaning we are not out to stay in expensive hotels or visit restaurants that are well above our budget. The greatest extra expense we consider to be the air-travel ticket plus insurance. Since both Peter and I are going to be past eighty when we travel next time the insurance is going to be sky high! We usually book a flight well in advance and look for special offers. The last two times we did fly with Malaysian Airline from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur and from there we had connecting flights with KLM. We thought these flights via Kuala Lumpur were pretty good. Soon we want to find out what’s on offer for next year.

2016 is going to be a huge family reunion in Berlin. Our Australian family is already planning for all this.  Some members in our family have never been to Berlin yet and are very keen to get to know a bit about the city and the German family members who live there. Especially Peter’s sister Ilse is very hopeful that a large family meeting can take place next year in Berlin. She and Finn are already thinking about all the arrangements that can be made. One of our grandsons is busy making plans about all the destinations where he and his family intend to travel to. He worked out that a nine day stay in Berlin could be included. They also want to stay for a few days in London and maybe some days in Switzerland, and I think there was also talk about Paris.

When Peter heard that they plan on staying for nine days in Berlin,  he  soon thought about a number of places he could show them in Berlin. Peter knows Berlin very well, partly from personal experience but a lot he knows because he keeps himself always up to date on the internet about what is going on in Berlin. When it come to history, he can tell you a thing or two about Berlin’s history as well. The past few days he published memories about the last days in Berlin before the end of World War Two. You can look it up under:

https://berlioz1935.wordpress.com/2015/04/24/tuesday-24-april-1945/

The memories start already here:

https://berlioz1935.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/berlin-the-last-battle-in-europe-during-world-war-2/

There are diary entries of Peter’s mother which he translated.  Also, Peter’s own comments about these eventful days continue for several days.

It is amazing how much Peter remembers about this time seventy years ago. This was just a few days before he turned ten! He also likes to read up on official records about the last days in Berlin before the end of the war, and he is also always looking for relevant pictures from that time.

Our Five Weeks Holiday in 2010

27 Apr

From Sydney we did fly with Malaysian Airline to Kuala Lumpur. Our connecting flight was with KLM to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. From there we had another connecting flight with KLM to Tegel Airport in Berlin.

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Gaby, Caroline and Matthew had come to Sydney Airport to farewell us.

Caroline took this photo.

Caroline took this photo.

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Peter took a few photos in Kuala Lumpur at the airport.

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We enjoyed the Tropical Garden in the midst of Kuala Lumpur Airport.

We enjoyed the Tropical Garden in the midst of Kuala Lumpur Airport.

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When we arrived at Tegel Airport there were Daniel, Ilse and Ingrid waiting for us.

When we arrived at Tegel Airport there were Daniel, Ilse and Ingrid waiting for us.

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They took us first of all to Scharnweber Strasse, where Ilse lives. It was Spargel (Asparagus) time in Berlin. Ilse served us a sumptuous Spargel lunch. Soon after lunch, Ilse’s son Daniel drove us to our holiday unit in Bastian Strasse. We stayed in this unit for fifteen nights. On the morning of Tuesday, the 15th of June we were picked up by Peter Uwe, my brother, and his partner Astrid. They took us to their home in Neu Canow in Mecklenburg Vorpommern where we stayed for nine nights. On Thursday, 24th of June, they drove us back to Berlin. Peter’s sister Ilse accommodated us for the rest of our stay in Berlin

On Friday, 2nd of July, Klaudia, my brother’s ex-wife, drove us to Tegel Airport for our departure back to Australia. Several family members farewelled us at Tegel Airport.

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For Saturday, the 26th of June, our last Saturday before our departure, Ilse had organised a family meeting. One cousin came from England, another one with his daughter came from Frankfurt and Peter’s sister Eva came with husband Harald from Windischgarsten in Austria. And of course Ilse’s sons and family, who live in Berlin came also as well as Eva’s daughter and granddaughter. Ilse’s partner Finn made a great video of the occasion. A copy of it he sent to us to Australia. There were also some photos taken of this family gathering. I show some of them here:

We met at this restaurant in Scharnweber Strasse.

We met at this restaurant in Scharnweber Strasse.

Peter with his sister Eva who came from Austria.

Peter with his sister Eva who came from Austria.

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Another photo in front <a href=

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Ilse und Finn

Ilse und Finn

Ilse and Finn invited us for another farewell meal at the same restaurant a few days later.

Here Ilse talks to Daniel, the manager of the restaurant.

Here Ilse talks to Daniel, the manager of the restaurant.

Finn took this photo.

Finn took this photo.

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Berlin in 2010

22 Apr
A street in Berlin-Friedrichshain

A street in Berlin-Friedrichshain

This is where my niece lives in Friedrichshain.

This is where my niece lives in Friedrichshain.

DSCN0450 There’s no lift in the building, but a beautiful staircase.

Here I see Carlos, the son of my niece, for the first time.

Here I see Carlos, the son of my niece, for the first time.

This picture was taken some other day with Klaudia and Corinna.

This picture was taken some other day with Klaudia and Corinna.

I took this picture of Peter with my brother Peter Uwe and partner Astrid.

I took this picture of Peter with my brother Peter Uwe and partner Astrid.

This is a street in Berlin-Friedenau where my brother Bodo used to live.

This is a street in Berlin-Friedenau where my brother Bodo used to live.

Peter took this picture on my brother Bodo's 72nd birthday.

Peter took this picture on my brother Bodo’s 72nd birthday.

Some time later. . .

Some time later. . .

 ' ' '  we met Ilse and her friend Erica in Berlin-Friedenau.

‘ ‘ ‘ we met Ilse and her friend Erica in Berlin-Friedenau.

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That same day we went with Ilse to this 'Friedhof'.

That same day we went with Ilse to this ‘Friedhof’.

The ashes of Peter's and Ilse parents and of Ilse's husband are buried here.

The ashes of Peter’s and Ilse parents and of Ilse’s husband are buried here.

This site is in one of the next rows.

This site is in one of the next rows.

Am Schlachtensee 1986

17 Mar

auntyuta:

Even though this is another blog by pethan35 written in German, I still want to reblog it. I assume, that some of my followers can understand a bit of German, and besides some people might like to see the pictures and listen to the duet on the video.

I found in Google this Obituary about Karl-Josef Hering:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/obituary-karljosef-hering-1165680.html

ELIZABETH FORBES

Thursday 18 June 1998

After gaining experience in Hanover and Krefeld, Hering was engaged in 1966 by the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, and remained with the company until 1979, when ill-health forced him to retire. He then became landlord of the Fisher Cabin, an old and well-known hostelry in the Zehlendorf district of Berlin. There he frequently entertained his guests with a song.

Hering was born in Westonnen, Westphalia, and had already begun commercial training when he started to study with Franz Volker, a German tenor famous for his Wagnerian roles. Hering also studied with Max Lorenz, another heroic tenor. He made his debut in 1958 in Hanover, where he progressed from the First Prisoner in Fidelio to Florestan, the hero of Beethoven’s opera. In 1964 he moved to Krefeld and in 1966 to Berlin, where one of his earlier roles was Max in Der Freischutz.

In October the same year he made his Covent Garden debut as Siegfried in Gotterdammerung: everyone admired his voice, the kind of heroic tenor not heard in London for many years – older opera lovers even invoked the name of Lauritz Melchior in comparison – but his lack of stage experience and stiff acting were also commented upon.

In Berlin the following April, Hering first sang the young Siegfried, and it became immediately obvious that he had found his perfect role. Nearly two metres tall (around 6ft 5in) and broad to match, the tenor effortlessly conveyed the thoughtless, badly behaved child that lies at the heart of Siegfried, while his “big, never- failing voice unites melody and words with complete naturalness”, as the late Arthur Jacobs wrote, continuing, “I really enjoy his Siegfried.” So did I, quite enormously, when Hering sang both Siegfrieds at Covent Garden in September 1968.

Meanwhile Hering was rapidly acquiring new roles. He sang Pedro in Tiefland at the Vienna Volksoper, Parsifal in Marseilles and, in 1969, Erik in Der fliegende Hollander in Berlin. He visited Buenos Aires the same year, to sing Andres in Wozzeck and Max. He added Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos, Aegisthus in Elektra and Hermann in The Queen of Spades to his Deutsche Oper repertory, and in 1970 returned to Covent Garden for both Siegfrieds in what turned out to be his final visit.

Siegmund in Die Walkure took him across the Berlin Wall to the Staatsoper, while he made guest appearances all over Germany, usually as Siegfried, which he also sang in Toronto. Hering was made a Berlin Kammersanger in 1974: his final new role at the Deutsche Oper was the Drum Major in Wozzeck, a character for which his gigantic stature well suited him. His retirement at the age of 50 because of ill-health was a great loss to opera. At any time there are very few tenors who can sing Siegfried; hardly any of them can sing the role the way Hering did.

Karl-Josef Hering, opera singer and innkeeper: born Westonnen, Westphalia 14 February 1929; died Berlin 20 May 1998.”

Originally posted on Pethan35's Blog:

Im europäischen Frühling 1986 waren wir wieder einmal  zu Besuch in Berlin.

Am Sonntag, den 27. April nahm ich am 25 km Lauf teil. Berlin erlebte einen späten Frühling. Aber endlich meldete sich der Frühling an. Die ersten Knospen waren mutig und wagten sich ans Sonnenlicht und gaben den Sträuchern einen grünen Schimmer.

Nach dem erfolgreichen Lauf beschlossen wir, meine Frau Ute, Tochter Caroline und ich,  uns am Schlachtensee zu erholen.  Hier hatte ich auch für den Lauf trainiert. Der Rundlauf (etwa 5.5 km) ist wunderbar zum Joggen geeignet. Aber das lag hinter mir.

Wir erreichten den See mit der S-Bahn und liefen am Ufer entlang zur Bootsvermietung. Es war mitten in der Woche und nicht viele Menschen kamen mit der gleichen Idee.  Die Frau, die uns das Boot verlieh, war überrascht und plauderte munter mit uns. Für Caroline war es auch ein neues Erlebnis und sie wollte natürlich selber…

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Bayerisches Viertel

27 Jan
This is a view of Bozener Strasse towards the Chestnut Tree. This picture is to be found in

This is a view of Bozener Strasse towards the Chestnut Tree. This picture is to be found in this article by the Tagesspiegel  about Bayerisches Viertel.

Here is another picture of that Chestnut Tree.

Here is another picture of that Chestnut Tree.

This is a picture of Bozener Strasse seen from the

This is a picture of Bozener Strasse seen from the “Robbengatter” Restaurant.

The top three pictures were all taken from this Tagesspiegel article:

http://www.tagesspiegel.de/berlin/bezirke/bayerisches-viertel/kiezkneipe-robbengatter-im-bayerischen-viertel-dichtung-und-trunkenheit/9860760.html

 

 

On September 20th, 2012 I wrote the following:

“Yesterday, Tuesday, our destination was Bayerischer Platz. Just round the corner is Bozener Strasse, where I grew up. I felt quite nostalgic to see my old stomping ground again. We picked up a few large, shiny, rather big chestnuts from under the huge tree at the end of Bozener Strasse. I remember this tree very well from my childhood!”

I mentioned this chestnut tree in this blog: http://auntyuta.com/2013/06/02/early-memories/

This picture under the chestnut tree was taken on the 9th June 1940, my brother Bodo's second birthday.

This picture under the chestnut tree was taken on the 9th June 1940, my brother Bodo’s second birthday.

 

 

9th June 1940: All the party guests are under the chestnut tree for picture taking.

9th June 1940: All the party guests are under the chestnut tree for picture taking.

Here I am under that tree in September 2012,

Here I am under that tree in September 2012,

Peter in Bozener Strasse, the street where I grew up!

Peter in Bozener Strasse, the street where I grew up!

Childhood Memories

22 Jan

http://auntyuta.com/2013/06/02/early-memories/

I was born on the 21st of September 1934. This was when we lived in Taunus Strasse, Berlin- Friedenau. Some time during 1937 we moved to Bozener Strasse in Berlin-Schöneberg. This is where Tante Ilse and Onkel Addi lived as well and also my friend Cordula Lepsius and her parents. Later on we did get to know Family Todtenhausen who lived in the house opposite our apartment building.

We lived on the second floor, Tante Ilse lived two floors further up. Mum quite often went up with me to visit Tante Ilse. One of my early memories is that Tante Ilse and Mum were lying  under the bright lights of some tanning lamps (Höhensonne).  They used some oil on their skin which smelled beautiful and made their skin look shiny. Their skin had usually a bit of a tan. They wore some protective dark glasses. Sometimes they made me lie under the lamp for a little while.  I  liked it when some of this nice smelling oil was rubbed all over my body. I too had to wear these dark glasses. I liked to wear them for a little while. But I was required to lie totally still. Very soon  I did get sick of it, not wanting to lie still any more under the hot tanning lamp. I was then always glad when I was allowed to get up again.

I remember thinking that Auntie was a very beautiful looking woman with her very long curly hair. I remember watching In the three way mirrors of her dressing table how Auntie brushed her hair. It was very strong and long chestnut-coloured hair.  Auntie usually brushed it slightly back so it stayed behind her ears. She often wore very long blue earrings. Oh, I loved the look of these blue earrings!  They looked so beautiful hanging down from Auntie’s ears. I think Mum did not wear any earrings, because her ears were covered by her hair. Mum’s brown hair was very fine and much shorter than Auntie’s. My hair was rather fine too. Mum always cut it quite short. I often wished  that I could wear my  hair longer but Mum would not let me grow it longer.

Later on both Auntie Ilse as well as Mum wore identical three big rolls of hair horizontally on top of their heads. The front rolls covered the top of their foreheads, the other two rolls were rolled behind the front roll. They also often wore identical clothes, for instance light pink angora wool tops with identical grey suits.

Mum often called me  ‘MAUSEL’ or ‘Mauselchen’, whereas Auntie liked to call me ‘HERZCHEN’ or ‘LIEBLING’. Dad sometimes said ‘HERZEL’ to me, but he usually called me by my name. Mausel is derived from Maus (mouse), Herzchen means ‘little heart’, Liebling means ‘darling’.

Cordula’s  mum once told  me, that her name meant ‘heart’ in the Latin language, but not to tell anyone otherwise some children would make fun of the name. I did not want anyone to make fun of Cordula. So I promised myself to keep the meaning of the name to myself.

My brother Bodo was born in 1938. I think Cordula’s  brother Tilwin was born one year later. Mum said that Tilwin was an extremely odd name. And on top of it he grew up with very bright red hair. The children in the street teased him about his hair. As much as possible Cordula always stood up for her  brother. I think for the most part Tilwin avoided playing with other children.

We lived on the third floor. The Lepsius apartment was on the same side as our apartment, just two floors further up. (Auntie Ilse’s apartment was on the other side of the fifth floor). I often went up to the Lepsius apartment by myself to play with Cordula. They had a ‘roof-garden’ (Dachgarten) above their apartment. It was the size of a big room and had no roof above it. I remember the sun shining right into it. The floor was concrete, and along the walls were garden-beds . Cordula was allowed to look after her own little garden-bed.. Once Cordula’s Mum let me have a portion of a little garden-bed too! Cordula’s Mum and Dad were always kind to me. They made me feel welcome and included.

Cordula’s family had food that I had never seen before. For snacks we children were often given some kind of brown flakes and raisins. Sometimes we were given dates or figs. I loved this food! My Mum thought it was strange to eat something like that. In Mum’s opinion this family was rather odd because they had lived in the Middle East for a while. Cordula’s father was an architect. My Mum called him ‘the Hunger-Architect’ (Hungerleider) since he seemed to get hardly any work in his profession.

Mum must have seen their apartment once for I remember her remarking how sparsely furnished it was. Mum found their choice of furniture quite odd. There were a great number of shelves stacked full with books. These shelves went from floor to ceiling. Herr Lepsius sometimes showed us children books with colourful illustrations. He also told us stories. We loved one story in particular which had a funny ending. We demanded to be told that story again and again. Each time we laughed our heads off, and Herr Lepsius laughed with us. The story was about a beggar who knocked at the door of an apartment. A beautiful maid opened the door. Some time later the beggar knocked at another door of an apartment in the neighbouring building. And the same beautiful maid opened the door! We found the astonishment of the beggar very funny! Herr Lepsius explained to us, that the family had two connecting apartments across two buildings; that is, the wall between the buildings had been broken through to connect the apartments on that floor. This was actually where the family of Herr Lepsius had lived, when he was a boy.

Herr Lepsius was old and bald. I believe he was about twenty years older than his wife. Quite a few years later Cordula and I went to the same high-school. We walked there together every morning. One morning I climbed up the stairs to  Cordula’s apartment to find out why she   had not come down yet to go to school with me. I rang the bell. Frau Lepsius opened the door. She was in tears. She did not let me come in but went with me to the top of the stairs. She said: “Our father just died; I haven’t even told Cordula yet.”  She looked at me with despair in her face.  I did not know what to say. She hugged me and then she disappeared in her apartment.

I found out that Cordula died on the 25th of July 2011, aged 76. This was very sad news for me. :-(

 

    • Thanks for commenting, Mary-Ann.
      I feel sorry that I had lost contact with Cordula over the years. The last time I had seen her was in 1986. I probably could have done more to keep in touch with her. All I know is that at the time her priorities were to give her two children the best possible start in life and to establish a business with her older and already retired husband.
      The death notice Peter found by googling Cordula’s name. It was in a church bulletin from October 2011. It was definitely a death notice for Cordula. It showed the correct spelling of her first name and double surname.

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyesJune 5, 2013 at 10:16 pm Edit #

     I can’t imagine handling that many kids!

    Re the oil over your body – I agree. I would have loved that :)

    • auntyutaJune 5, 2013 at 10:31 pm Edit #

      Funny you should think three kids is too many. Actually Tante Ilse thought so too. She thought two children would have been plenty, especially during times of war.
      The oil, yes Noeleen, I really loved the smell. I can still imagine all the beautiful smells in Auntie’s bedroom. I am still very sensitive to smell. Some smells I love, others I detest.

  2. The EmuJune 5, 2013 at 11:07 pm Edit #

    Beautiful yet sad memories Auntyuta, I see by one of the other comments that your friend Cordula passed away in 2011, a beautiful friendship spanning many years.
    Emu

    • auntyutaJune 6, 2013 at 12:18 am Edit #

      Emu, thanks very much for your comment. I have so many memories about Cordula, going as far back as 1937,  I believe. It’s kind of strange that there are big gaps when she wasn’t around because of the war. There were some beautiful years of friendship after the war. However she was in a different school year and had not the same friends that I had. Maybe Lieselotte, who was in my class, was the only mutual friend we had. Her Dad had died and then her Mum died too. This was when she moved away from Berlin to stay with her aunts in Stuttgart.  Later on she lived in the Middle East. She wrote me beautiful letters. She had a good job. She married late in life. Had two children, sent me lovely photos of her family. She moved with her husband back to Germany. I only saw her once again for an afternoon visit. This was in 1986, such a long time ago! There’s so much I don’t know. Maybe there’s a chance to find out where Tilwin, her brother, is. The last we heard from him, he lived with his wife and two children in Düsseldorf. But this goes back maybe fifty years. Such gaps in time.
      I can only say that I always thought that Cordula was a very special person. Maybe I’m imagining things, but I believe she was filled with inner beauty. No, I’m not imagining this. This is how she was. I am sure she led a good life. You’re right, Emu, beautiful yet sad memories.

 

Once more remembering 1943/1944

21 Jan

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.

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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.
Auntyuta.

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