Tag Archives: Berlin

Die Trümmerfrau

26 Jun

 http://www.laenvie.com/2007/05/helene_lohe_my_.html

This is a link to a story about a Trümmerfrau, a woman  in Berlin who during and after the war started working as a ‘rubble’ woman. She did this for ten years. This woman, who apparently had come from a well to do family,  lost everything during World War II: Her husband, her seven room apartment, everything.

A ‘rubble’ woman worked to clear the rubble away that was left after all the bomb raids. Peter’s mother became one at the end of the war until she could go back to her post-office position.

 

Bayerisches Viertel

10 May
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/utas-early-childhood-2/

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!

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.

img088

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.

img077

img078

img079

img080

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.

img110

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.

DSCN0554

DSCN0555

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.

img013

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.

img019

img026

img028

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

View original 856 more words

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!

img057

img058

img054

img060

img055

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

img047 - Copy (2)

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:
img049 - Copy (2)

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.

img049 - Copy

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.

img048

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.

img013

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.

img019

img026

img028

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.

img031

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.

img038

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.

img046

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.

img007

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

img018

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.

img045

img044

img033

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.

img042

img040

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.

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 263 other followers