This is how I remember our Christmas Eve in 1946. I was twelve years old, my brothers were five and eight years.
We were already in the big living-room. All the candles on the large Christmas Tree were lit. We children were about to look at all the Christmas gifts which were spread out on the festively decorated tables. This was when the doorbell rang. I think we thought this might be Uncle Peter.
Tante Ilse went to open the front door. It was not Uncle Peter, but my father! Yes, Oleg of all people stood there, probably with a big smile on his face. This would have given Tante Ilse some kind of a shock, for my father had not been expected at all.
Then Oleg probably asked: “Aren’t you going to invite me in?” My mother and my grandma went to have a look, wanting to know, what was going on. Soon they all shouted: “You are not coming in here! You are not coming in here.” Was this my mother who screamed at the top of her voice: “Who do you think you are to come here uninvited disturbing our peace? Get lost quickly before the children see you here!”
I think I heard my father say something like this:
“What, you want to deny me spending Christmas with my children? What kind of a plot is this?” It did not take the three women very long to start pushing the ‘intruder’ to make him leave. Did I not hear later on someone say that grandma went as far as hitting Oleg with her fists! However, Uncle Peter did come up the stairs eventually and found Alexander (Oleg)standing in front of the entrance door in shabby clothes, with two shabby suitcases beside him. Maybe the three women were still having a go at him to make him leave.
Uncle Peter probably would have told the women to stop it immediately. Uncle Peter for sure would have been the right person to get the women to calm down somewhat with just a few words, saying they should let Alexander explain the situation. It ended with Uncle Peter suggesting that Alexander should stay with Ilse and him for the night. And then maybe Charlotte would be willing to let him see the children the following morning.
My father would have reluctantly agreed to this. Tante Ilse and Uncle Peter only had to cross the road to take my father up to their apartment.
Back in the ‘Weihnachts-Zimmer’ Mum said: “Let’s forget the disruption. After all, it’s Christmas Eve tonight. We do not want our Christmas celebrations to be getting spoiled.”
I think I was a bit afraid then for everyone, but especially for my eight year old brother Bodo, who was such a sensitive little guy. And I am sure I was afraid for my father that not being allowed to see his children on Christmas Eve, might really bring him down. And I asked myself how on earth was I going to cope with celebrating under such circumstances? That Christmas Eve I felt very miserable. I thought,what enjoyment is there in Christmas gifts, when I am not even allowed to see my dad?
The following day Mum refuses to see Dad. However we children are allowed to see Dad the next morning at Tante Ilse’s place. To finally be allowed to see Dad was the best Christmas gift for me!