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.