All these pictures were taken on Hiddensee at the Baltic Sea during the summer of 1936 when I was a bit less than two. I was there with Mum and Aunty Elsa. Mum wrote into the journal that I was loved bei every one. (‘Uta war der Liebling aller.)
These are pictures from Lodz in June 1935. I’m in the pictures with my cousin Horst who was born in February 1935.
These are pictures of me from July 1935 in Münster/Westphalia
These are two more pictures from September 1935
Mum wrote I loved to play with sand. Here I’m sitting at one of the sand-boxes (Buddelkasten) with my ‘boy-friend’. I think I was fond of boys at a young age!
The last two pictures are taken in my ‘Kinderzimmer’. I have great fun sitting in the little bed which is for dolls and teddies. There’s one of the chairs which was a gift all the way from Lodz for my first birthday.
Judi Dench in the above movie is superb!
Peter and I saw the movie yesterday. We thoroughly enjoyed it. There were an enormous amount of laughs in it. They showed how elderly people can still have great entertainment value.
The story depicts British pensioners who want to move to the above hotel in India for their retirement. Hilarious to watch what happens to them in India. Makes me think that there are really endless possibilities where one could go to for retirement. Apart from Judi Dench there were a great number of other brilliant actors in it, British and Indian. I liked the Indian actors very much too. And to see how people live in Jaipur, that’s quite amazing!
Judi Dench talked to one of our reporters on Thursday. Does she feel she’s old? No, she says, ‘I’m not old!’ I just love her.
Today we had a lovely sunny day again, rather autumnly already with a bit of wind and not getting very warm. I finally got around to taking some more pictures around the house to show the immense growth which is taking place in every corner of our property. When we moved here in 1994 hardly anything grew here yet. Now look at it!
This is how much lemon balm grows within an instant
This sort of vegetation can be seen from the bedroom at the back.
The last two pictures I took from the outside looking into the living-room. (Peter looks at some photo-books.)
I’m surprised that Franziska isn’t in that birthday photo from 1947, when I turned thirteen. Dr Petzel used to give Franziska ‘preferential’ treatment because her father had a doctor title. I remember I used to climb with her and her younger brother on chestnut trees to pick nice ripe chestnuts. This must have been in autumn of 1946.
So Franziska is not in the picture. Gisela (16), Jutta (14), Lilo (14) and Irene (still 13) are in the picture from right to left.
Cordula had turned 12 on the 20th May of that year, whereas Eva would turn 12 in December of 1947.
There are four school-friends in the birthday photo. Gisela was already sixteen and seemed very mature to us. She had to do all the housework at home because her mother had died. Her father worked as a truck-driver. Gisela was an excellent reader. When a teacher had to leave the class for a while, Gisela was usually given the task to read something to us. Everybody listened to her reading. She was a very good a reader!
Second there is Jutta. I always loved her beautiful naturally wavy long hair. I think you can’t see it much in the picture. Where she lived, there was a perfumery in the basement. The scent of perfume was always quite overwhelming! After school I would often walk with my friends in the direction where Lilo and Jutta lived. We always talked a lot on the way. I think very often it was a lot of philosophical talk. When we arrived at the house where Jutta lived, we would not part straight away but keep on talking for a bit longer.
I think instead of taking fifteen or twenty minutes to walk home, I often took nearly an hour! The family’s daily program was such, that we couldn’t have lunch together anyway. The way I remember it, my classes in high-school usually lasted till close to 2 pm. But then we never had any afternoon schooling except when we wanted to learn something extra curriculum as for instance typing on a typewriter or stenography.
The third girl, Lilo (Liselotte), you may know already from some other blog. Cordula, Lilo and myself we had formed this circle. For a while we saw each other often and did lots of things together. We had studied in English a story about an English governess and her two charges. I made the story into a play. Lilo played the governess and Cordula and I we were the two teenage girls. We performed the play at home in English in front of an audience. This was great fun!
Lilo’s mum was a war widow. She had to go to work to sustain the family. There were three very much younger siblings. Lilo was often responsible for them when her mother was at work. They lived in what I would call abject poverty. I’m not sure whether I remember this right or whether I’ve been dreaming it, but I think some one from the church did at some stage give a helping hand to the family.
Right beside me in the middle of the picture is Irene. I remember her from my piano lessons because she had the same teacher that I had. I think back to one birthday party at Irene’s. I think we were only about four girls at the party, Jutta was one of them. Irene’s mother was a medical doctor. I think her father did not live any more. Her mother had a partner who looked rather scary to us. He was very much the artistic type. Everything about him looked a bit wild, his hair, the way he moved and talked. He came out to entertain us with some piano playing. I think he played well.
On the way to the bathroom I had to pass the bedroom of Irene’s parents. And the door stood open. The bed had been left in a wild state. Today I think this is quite natural that people don’t always make their bed straight away. Anyway at the time this was really something new to me. I had never come across something like this before, in the middle of an afternoon in an apartment where they had a kid’s birthday party! Not that it upset me, on the contrary, I found it rather interesting to see how there were people with totally different values to what I was used to. And after all, the door had been left open totally accidentally. I just knew this instinctively.
I think Irene went on to become a doctor like her mother. Maybe not a medical doctor. But she went to university, that’s for sure. At the class reunion meeting in 1980 I was told about a lot of class-mates what they are doing now. The meeting was held in Franziska’s apartment, and she had invited me to it because she had found out that I was in Berlin at the time. Only about half a dozen women were present. I had my youngest daughter with me who wasn’t quite two yet. At the last minute it turned out that Peter couldn’t look after her and so I had to bring her along to the meeting! They were of course rather surprised that I had such a young daughter. There was one woman present, who had a five year old son at home. Every body thought she’d be the last woman in the group to have another child. And there I turn up from Australia with an even younger child!
This picture was taken on the 21st September 1947, my thirteenth birthday. From right to left are:
Gisela, Jutta, Lilo, Uta, Irene, Inge (a friend of Eva’s), Cordula, Eva, my brother Bodo (9).
And in front my brother Peter Uwe (nearly 6) and Ruth (Krümel, nearly 4).
The following picture shows my high-school class of 1947. At the bottom from right to left you see Irene, Lilo, Uta, Ingrid, Gisela, Jutta, Else, Marianne. Behind Else in the second row from the top is Franziska. You can see she wears her hair in a roll on top of her head! Our class teacher, Fräulein Theissen, is the second one to the right of Franziska! The teacher was really much older than what she looks like in the picture. She taught English, which I loved.
Marianne is the one who came to Franziska’s class reunion meeting in 1980 and who had then a son of five years, whereas I had a daughter of not quite two! I think Marianne was born in 1934 the same as I. And they told me everyone thought she had her last child pretty late in life. They were all very surprised when she had another child. I wonder what they thought of me having a daughter at age 44.
I turned thirteen in 1947 and was allowed to invite my friends for a party. Being a teenager was really something to celebrate!
Looking at the photo brings back memories. Actually I was especially looking for this photo because I wanted to publish one with Cordula in it.
My brother Bodo is right to the left, then there is Eva, (mentioned quite frequently in my writing), then there is Cordula; next is the daughter of a baker we knew, then a schoolfriend, then me; next is Lilo, who is also mentioned in my writing, then two more school-friends. In the front are Krümel and my brother Peter. (Krümel is the sister of Eva and I had mentioned her in one or my earlier blogs.)
About the four school-friends in the picture I could blog a bit. Cordula didn’t really know my school-friends and I didn’t know hers because we were in different school years.
The little girl watches her Mum and her Auntie, who both sit in front of the mirrors in Auntie’s bedroom. The room smells of lovely perfumes and lotions. The women are dressed in identical light grey suits. The younger woman is the girl’s mother, the slightly older looking one is the mother’s sister.
The girl thinks, that Auntie is the more beautiful looking woman with her very long curly hair. In the three way mirrors the girl can watch how Auntie brushes her hair. Her chestnut-coloured hair is very strong and long. Auntie is brushing it slightly back so it stays behind her ears, showing off her very long blue earrings.
Oh, I love these blue earrings, thinks the girl. How beautiful they look on Auntie’s ears! Mum does not wear any earrings, because her ears are covered by her hair. Mum’s brown hair is very fine and much shorter than Auntie’s. So is my hair: Very fine and short! thinks the girl. She wishes she could wear her hair longer!
Both women wear identical three big rolls of hair horizontally on top of their heads. The front rolls cover the top of their foreheads, the other two rolls are rolled along behind the front roll. With their suits the women wear identical light pink angora wool tops. The girl watches how the women check that the three rolls are set in the right position. Then they spray each other’s rolls with a lot of hairspray. They both look into the mirrors, smilingly. They are very pleased with the way they look and the little girl is pleased with them.
(I was that little girl in the mirror story!)
In the little picture Auntie Ilse wears some long earrings which I admired so much as a little girl. In the other picture Mum’s three rolls on top of her head are seen to perfection! I’m fourteen in the picture and I’m happy my hair is nice long. My brothers in the picture are ten and seven.
Mum called me often ‘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 is derived from Herz (heart)
Liebling means Darling
Herzel of course also means heart
My best Friend
From an early age on Cordula was my best friend. Her mum told me one day that in Latin her name meant ‘heart’, but not to tell anyone: Some children might make fun of the name! I did not want anyone to make fun of my friend. So I promised myself to keep the meaning of the name to myself.
In 1939, the year after my brother Bodo was born, Cordula had a little brother, who was given a name which according to Mum was very odd . His name was Tilwin. It turned out he grew up with very bright red hair. The children in the street teased him about his hair. Of course, Cordula would stand up for her brother as much as possible. For the most part I think Tilwin avoided playing with other children. However the children in the street still made rude remarks about his odd hair colour.
The apartment of Cordula’s family was above our third floor apartment, just two floors further up. I often went there by myself to play with Cordula. The family had a ‘roof-garden’ (Dach-Garten) above their apartment. It was about the size of their living-room, enclosed by walls and open to the sky. I remember how the sun came 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.
The Lepsius family had food that no other family had. 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! Mum thought it was strange to eat such things. In Mum’s opinion the Lepsius family was quite odd because they had lived in the Middle East for a while. Cordula’s father was an architect. Mum called him ‘the Hunger Architect’ (Hungerleider) since he seemed to get hardly any work in his profession.
The Lepsius apartment was sparsely furnished . There were a great number of shelves stacked full with books. These shelves went from floor to ceiling. Mr. Lepsius sometimes showed us 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 this story again and again. Each time we laughed our heads off and Mr.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 in the neighbouring building. And the same beautiful maid opened the door! We found the astonishment of the beggar very funny. Mr. 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.
Mr. Lepsius was old and bald. He was about twenty years older then his wife. Quite a few years later Cordula and I went to the same high-school, and we would always walk to school together. One morning I went up the stairs to see why Cordula hadn’t come down yet to go to school with me. I rang the bell. Mrs. 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 and I did not know what to say. She hugged me and then she disappeared in her apartment.
At age thirteen my best friends were Cordula and Liselotte. We had formed a ‘circle’ and met each other several times a week. None of us had a boy-friend. That does not mean that we didn’t talk about what it would be like to experience romance. We felt talking about it was exciting.
One afternoon the three of us had our picture taken at a photographer’s. I still have this picture. Looking at this picture brings back memories how much at ease I felt then. Yet this Threesome lasted for a short time only. Cordula had already lost her Dad. All of a sudden her Mum died too. How upsetting for her! She moved away to live with her aunts in West-Germany. The departure happened so quickly that there wasn’t time to say good-buy. I felt shocked about it. Yet I sensed that there had been a need for the sudden departure.
The blockade of West- Berlin followed and I was air-lifted to West-Germany to live with Dad and Aunty Lies and her family. When I returned to Berlin I had no idea how Liselotte (Lilo) was doing because we had completely lost touch. She had left school in the meantime to take up a job. Quite by chance I once noticed her walking along the street arm in arm with a boy-friend. I cannot recall what she wore, but she looked very grown up to me. I never thought of approaching her.
I continued going to the same girls’ high-school. Many girls in my class were talking about their boy-friends. I did not have a boy-friend and did not have a clue, how on earth I could ever get to know some-one from the opposite sex. I stuck to day-dreaming. In my mind I fantasised about romantic meetings: I loved making up conversations with an interesting young man!
I had hardly any money to spend on clothes or make-up. I felt very inferior to other girls, who all seemed to be better off.
I liked to keep my hair long and just a little bit permed. I was astonished and gratified when a girl in my class said she liked my hair-style. </p
Some of today’s writing is reblogged and I did a bit of editing with it. I thought these different parts make sense if I put them together. Well, it’s writing by trial and error. I want to see whether it makes sense to any one. I’d love to get some input. Would this writing be of any interest to my descendants?