Probably a Slighly Fictional Story
In my memory sticks a meeting with a woman on a small farm outside Lodz, which was called ‘Litzmannstadt’ at the time. One day Grandmother wanted to buy eggs from the farm where she had been buying eggs for years. She took me along for the ride in the Pferde-Droschke (horse drawn taxicab). I cannot remember any other time, when I was allowed to go out with her. So this was really something very special for me. I was thrilled, that Grandmother had chosen me to accompany her!
Grandmother greeted the farm-woman in a very friendly manner and proudly introduced me, saying: ‘This is my grand-daughter, She is here for a visit from Berlin.’ The woman seemed very happy to see my grandmother. With a big smile she greeted both of us. Grandmother did not enter the small farmhouse, but handed the woman her very large basket asking her to fill it up please. The woman left and soon returned with the basket full of lovely large hen-eggs, about thirty of them. Then the women talked a bit more.
The farm-woman enquired about Grandmother’s family. She seemed to know, that Grandmother had many children. ‘Did you receive the Silver Cross for having had six children?’ she wanted to know. And Grandmother replied:’I did indeed receive a Cross, but it is the G o l d e n Cross for having had e i g h t children! My first two children, who were twins, died in infancy. Over the following years I had six more children, who are all alive and well. It counts as having had eight children.’ At that the farm-woman looked admiringly at my Grandmother and uttered a few words of congratulations for having received the Golden Cross.
Come to think of it, this conversation must have happened in German, otherwise I could not have understood a word of it. To me this woman probably seemed just like any other German woman living in Poland.
The eggs were beautiful. One morning we had some of those large, fresh eggs as soft boiled eggs for breakfast. Grandfather was there and two of his sons, one of them being my father. Someone made a comment how good tasting those eggs were. This did it. Fresh good tasting eggs like this, they had to be from a farm, and probably from that farm, where Grandmother always used to buy her eggs.
My uncle put his napkin down. Then the inquisition started. ‘Mother, where did you get these eggs? Did you get them from those Jewish people on the farm, where you always used to buy your eggs?’
Grandmother answered defiantly: ‘Yes, this is where I bought them.’
Uncle looked around, first at Grandfather, then at my Father. ‘Help me out here,’ he said. ‘Am I hearing this right? Mother had no scruples whatsoever hiring a Pferde-Droschke to go out to that farm and buying produce from a Jewish woman? And the Polish coachman very likely bearing witness to all this! My goodness, Mother, don’t you realise, this could put you into jail? Your whole family could suffer because of this. Our factory might be taken away from us. Think about it, Mother! Just think about it for one moment. Do you want to jeopardise our whole future for a few eggs?’
Grandmother looked very upset. I had the feeling, she could not understand, how buying a few eggs from a farm was supposed to effect the future of the whole family in an adverse way. Then my Father started to speak up. ‘Look, Mother,’ he said, ‘You have to understand, we do not make the rules. The authorities do. Since there is this rule, that Germans are not allowed to buy anything from Jewish people, we better live up to this rule, because if we ignore it, it might cost us dearly. You do not want your own family to suffer hardship now, do you?’
Grandmother was shaking her head, being close to tears of frustration. Her eyes often looked a bit teary anyway. Then Father said: ‘All we want, is, that you promise us, that you will not under any circumstances go out to that farm again. Will you promise us that?’ Grandmother nodded. And that was that.
Grandfather, who normally was very talkative, had not said a word through all this.
Weeping softly, she says defiantly:
‘I bought the eggs from a Jewish woman.
So what? Are you going to kill me for it?
Aren’t I free to buy my eggs from whomever
I want to buy them from? What does it matter to you,
whether the eggs come from Jewish, Polish, Russian
or German hens? Tell me, what does it matter to you?’
( This is, what Grandmother actually never said, but what she may have felt like.)
6 thoughts on “Grandmother Hulda buys Eggs”
Thank you for this, Uta – so many people outside Germany could never understand how or why the ordinary folk often went along with the anti-semitic laws of the Third Reich. It’s easy to stand outside and criticise,,and say “they should have resisted”, but as your Uncle pointed out, when your livelihood is at stake, you think of yourself and your own family first. I’m not condoning this – just aware that “He who is without sin should throw the first stone.” It was one of the lessons I learnt from living in Germany.
Thank you so much for commenting, Cat. Peter and I just finished watching a TV Movie from Germany. It shows the life of one (fictional) person from 1904 to 1997. This woman, Sonja, who was born in 1904, had family connections with the famous Hotel Adlon in Berlin. Her life was very much shaped by what went on in this hotel because for a great part of her life she was employed there. Because of Nazi interference she lost her daughter and the Jewish father of her daughter. The way the Nazis are depicted is truly mind boggling. I reckon there’s no excuse for behaviour like this. It’s good when people are made to think about this.
A very poignant story indeed. Thank you for sharing it.
Thanks for reading it, Pat.
Thanks for sharing that rather sad yet interesting story, I think there must have been many such incidents back in those dark days.
I saw a Jewish friend of mine being taken away in a truck. He was about ten and I was a few years younger. I cannot recall any other incidents. But you are right, Ian, there must have been many incidents.
There was a synagogue not far from where we lived. I think it got burned in 1936 when I was only two. I cannot say for sure that I saw it burning. But I have this feeling I may have seen the flames from where I was sitting in my stroller!