Saturday, 10th November 2012

As I probably mentioned in one of my earlier posts the family of my father was a rather large family. My father had five siblings! His younger sister Elisabeth was about the same age as my mother. My mother and father had three children, Elisabeth and her husband Alfred had also three children. We children were similar in age. I was born in 1934, our cousin Horst six months later in 1935; my brother Bodo was born in 1938 and our cousin Karin one year later in 1939; my brother Peter Uwe was born in 1941 and our cousin Udo one year later in 1942.

This means Cousin Udo is the one who turned 70 in September 2012. Peter Uwe and his wife Astrid had told me they were going to drive to the Stuttgart area in time to be there for Udo’s birthday celebrations. And they invited me to come along with them. It would give me a chance to meet up with a lot of our grandfather’s descendants, who would all come to celebrate Udo’s birthday. This was the time when our cousin Renate (our mother’s niece) had just had a severe stroke and it looked bad. Renate’s daughter sent me emails and kept me up-to-date about Renate’s condition. I had the feeling, in case that Renate should die, I should aim at going to her funeral rather than travelling with Peter Uwe and Astrid all the way to Stuttgart. Then I did get the news that Renate had died in a hospital in Munich. She was to be cremated in Munich a few days later when there was to be an urn-burial near where she had lived.

I blogged about it how Peter and I travelled by train to Munich. This meant I could not travel with Peter Uwe and Astrid. They were not very happy about this, because they had already booked accommodation for the three of us. Anyhow, what has all this to do with Saturday, the 10th November 2012? Well, at the time we were still staying with Peter Uwe and Astrid att their house in Mecklenburg/Vorpommern. On this Saturday they suggested we could all travel to Stralsund to meet Uwe, our cousin’s son, as well as his family.

Of course Astrid and Peter Uwe had met the whole family at Udo’s birthday party. Uwe has a wife (I forgot her name now) and four lovely children. To have as many as four children is nowadays rather unusual for a German family in Germany. But anyhow we met them all at their family home in Stralsund. I was very impressed what a lovely well organised family they were. We arrived at lunchtime and they invited us for lunch. Astrid had baked an apple-cake and had mentioned on the phone that she would bring it along. On the way to Stralsund we stopped at a super-market to buy a few sweets for the children and flowers for the lady of the house. Some of the children helped to set the table. They had a huge table in a huge living-room area. Their apartment had very high ceilings and I think about five bedrooms. They lived in a building which was maybe one hundred years old but wonderfully restored and looked as good as new.

The apple-cake was served as a desert with coffee. Uwe had an appointment after lunch and had to rush off. But during lunch we had a really good conversation with the whole family. All the children participated in the conversation too, which impressed me very much. The way the conversation went reminded me a bit about my grandfather in Lodz. I found Uwe was as good a talker as Grandfather had been. And he would draw everyone into the conversation as well. I really enjoyed observing this family and how they related to each other. Alas, we could stay with them only for a very short time. We pointed out that we were about to explore Stralsund a little bit. They gave us good advice, where to go and what would be of interest to see.

Stralsund is situated at the Baltic Sea. Peter took some harbour pictures and some pictures of the beautifully restored buildings in the midst of town. I took some pictures too, but they got lost when my computer crashed. Nobody thought of taking any photos of this lovely family we had been visiting. This I regret very much. But my pictures got lost anyway. There are quite a few pictures that Peter took and I am going to publish them in my next blog.


Visiting David


David’s brother let Peter know that David is in hospital. We went to see him there two weeks ago on Sunday. We traveled by train to Westmead station. From there we walked to Westmead Hospital. We found David in good spirits. He looked much healthier than we had seen him before. We talked for about an hour. He called us ‘Papa’ and ‘Mama’. He showed us his leg where it had been amputated. He said he was going to get physio so he would be able to walk better. In a few weeks he was to go back home.

In the meantime the brother sent another message that David was to be sent to a nursing home. So the villa where Gaby and David had lived for the past twenty-three years had to be vacated. We were asked would we perhaps want anything out of the villa that had belonged to Gaby? We said, we would go up to the place on a day when David’s family was to be there too.





We were glad we left the car at home.
We were glad we left the car at home.


This was our way back to the station.
This was our way back to the station.

We didn’t take any photos inside the hospital. But David was in a pleasant ward, I think it was on the seventh floor. He had a room all to himself! He was listening to his radio which a neighbor had brought in for him. He had just had his lunch and someone came in to pick up his lunch-tray. He said he didn’t smoke any more and this was going to save him a lot of money. We were very happy David felt so much better after having had good medical care in hospital for several weeks.

Aunty Uta’s Diary

Frances arrives at our home.
Today Frances arrived for the last part of the interview.

All went well. Now we have to wait for just a few weeks before we’ll be sent the finished disks. Not that I’m looking forward to listening to my recorded voice! Thanks to all the encouragement I have been given by Frances, I survived the interviews. But I’m glad it’s over now. Talking to Frances was great. I very much liked our conversations.  It was just a bit difficult at times  knowing  what I said was being recorded. Still it was overall a good, enjoyable experience. Frances always tried to put me at ease before the recordings and helped me along by asking relevant questions. 

I was able to go to the pool yesterday. The water was wonderful. Did do me a lot of good. I hope I can soon go there again. I was told, tomorrow, Friday, another school carnival will be going on. However for next week no further carnivals are scheduled.

Swimming is good Exercise, but not today

These are just some of the signs at the entrance to the pool.

A balmy morning during an Australian summer. I hadn’t been to  Dapto pool for quite some time. I thought today was the day. I remembered the school swimming carnival must have been on last week. I could then definitely hear voices from the announcements on the loudspeakers, which would mean the school swimming carnival was on. I knew from experience when this was on at the beginning of each year there was no chance at all to do any swimming in one of the lanes. All the lanes would be preserved for school children. So far so good. The school carnival was over, or was it? I was to find out soon enough.

I had planned to walk the short distance to the pool. However I did get delayed. Couldn’t find my swimmers. Took me ages to find them. Had absolutely no idea where on earth they ended up after my last swim  a long, long time ago. Anyhow when I finally was dressed in my swimmers ready to walk to the pool, the sun had been out for a while already. The temperature was approaching 27 C (80 F). Peter suggested he was to drive me to the pool, pointing out it was already a bit too hot for me to be walking all the way.

Gee, I was very relieved Peter had offered to drive me. When we arrived at the swimming center the parking lot was packed full. So many cars  on a weekday morning! This could only mean there was another swimming competition on. I took my camera out of the car and went to check. The swimming competition seemed to be well on its way. I took a few pictures and then when straight away back home with Peter who had been waiting for me.

Not only the car-park but also the street was packed full.
Not only the car-park but also the street was packed full.
Peter placed himself here to wait for me in the car.
Peter placed himself here to wait for me in the car.

I passed the outside wall of the building on the way to the entrance and noticed some beautiful paintings on the wall which I had not seen before. (This showed to me for how long I had not been this way!) So I took the opportunity to shoot some pictures.









The kiosk near the entrance was in business already.



A quick glance at the large pool and I was gone.



Oral History


The past week Peter and I have been busy with the telling  of our lives’ story. We had a very lovely visitor recording everything for the Oral History section of the library at Canberra. It takes a few weeks before these recordings are accessible. I understand they are going to be preserved for future generations. This whole project is of course extremely exciting for us.

Frances, who’s interviewing us, tells us,  we as migrants from Germany, having been through WW II  and post war years as children in Germany have experiences to recall which people would be interested to hear about. Also of interest are our experiences in Australia as migrants. In this regard it is of special interest to find out how our lives were shaped by having had a daughter who had been severely disabled by polio.

Neither Peter or I are experienced speakers. Having our voices recorded is something completely new to us. However Frances is very good at encouraging us. She gently guides us into the relevant sections of our lives by asking some questions. Peter and I are always being interviewed separately. Usually we have one hour each in the morning, then a lunch-break, and maybe another hour each in the afternoon.

I found out having to talk for one hour at a time about my life can be rather tiring and sometimes a bit stressful too. But I love doing it especially with such a good interviewer as Frances. By the middle of next week she’s going to be back for the conclusion of the interviews.












Some Reflections about Meck/Pom

At a restaurant in a nearby village
At a restaurant in a nearby village

This photo brings back happy memories about spending time in Mecklenburg/Vorpommern with my brother and sister-in-law. This photo was taken on Monday, 12th November 2012.


Today is Ash-Wednesday, 13th February 2013.

I am thinking back to our stay in Meck/Pom. The eight days with my brother and sister-in-law were packed full. They showed us around nearly every day. A lot of historical sites were included as you can see from some of my recent posts. Since I did not post anything at all during our stay in beautiful Meck/Pom, I had planned on catching up with it at a later time. Well, now I finally did it.

At least I sorted out all the pictures from that time. These pictures were bound to trigger a lot of memories. I am happy I was able to post a lot of the pictures as well as what they mean to me. As far as the history of Mecklenburg is concerned I must say I find a lot of it very intriguing. I became especially interested in the personal history of some of the historical figures and the social conditions over the past centuries. But of course I only scratched the surface. There is an immense amount of material at your fingertips to study.  A lot of caring people see to it that all this material is preserved for future generations. The castles and historical sites in the area attract every year many visitors. My brother and his wife knew all these places already from previous visits. Joyfully they took us to all these places. Apparently they love to go there again and again.

We saw as much as possible within the short time of our stay. During our other visit there in June 2010 we saw some  different and also very interesting places in the area. I am sure there a lot more still to explore. I’d love to be able to go there again. However the main thing for hubby and me was really to spend time with Peter Uwe and Astrid. We had hoped they would come and visit us in Australia. Sadly it looks now as though they’ve given up on this idea.

Hohenzieritz, Queen Louise Memorial Site

In 1771 Carl II of Mecklenburg-Strelitz visited his sister, Queen Charlotte. During his visit in England he became aware of beautifully landscaped gardens. He organised for Archibald Thomson, a brilliant English landscape gardener, to establish a landscaped garden at Hohenzieritz. This wonderful park-like garden still exists today. We had the pleasure to wander around in it.

We also had the good fortune to take a glance inside Hohenzieritz  castle where two rooms on the ground-floor can be seen as a memorial to Queen Louise. Since Louise died in Hohenzieritz this place is mentioned in all the history books and visitors can find out a lot about Luise’s life at this historical site.

Louise married Friedrich Wilhelm when she was 17 and he was 23. The first years of their marriage they lived in peace and loved each other very much whenever they could be together. The last peaceful year was 1805 for them. The following years they had to flee the French army under Napoleon. They lived in exile in East-Prussia till they finally could go back to Berlin at the beginning of 1810. The winters  in East-Prussia were bitter cold. Louise and her children were sick frequently. Towards the end of the war years Louise was totally run down and often depressed. She suffered a lot of fevers and breathing difficulties. Plus she had born her last two children in exile. She had had ten pregnancies in all during her marriage. However only seven children survived.

A lot of people surrounded Louise while she lay dying in her father’s study room where a bed had been brought in for her. There’s a picture of her deathbed in Schloss Hohohenzieritz. She died on the 19th July 1810. Friedrich Wilhelm sits at the bed beside her. Her two eldest sons kneel at her bedside. At the foot of the bed are Louise’s father (Carl II) as well as her brother George. At the bed’s top-end are Dr. Heim, Countess von Voss and Louise’s friend Caroline von Berg.

This is a memorial in the room where Queen Louise died. Her burial place is in Berlin.
This is a memorial in the room where Queen Louise died. Her burial place is in Berlin.


The Louise Temple, dating back to 1815 in the Park of Hohenzieritz
The Louise Temple, dating back to 1815 in the Park of Hohenzieritz
A Memorial dating back to 1798
A Memorial dating back to 1798
Many children apparently died in infancy.
Many children apparently died in infancy.



Palais of the three Queens

These are the three queens Peter took pictures of at the ‘Welcome Center’ of the ‘Palais of the three Queens’ at Mirow.

Queen Charlotte of Great Britain
Queen Charlotte of Great Britain
Queen Louise of Prussia
Queen Luise of Prussia
Queen Friederike of  Hannover
Queen Friederike of Hannover

Pincess Sophie Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was born in 1744 in Mirow. In 1761 she married King George III of Great Britain and  became Queen. When she died in London in 1818 a huge number of people followed her casket.

One of Charlotte’s brothers was Carl of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Carl was the father of Louise and Friederike. Carl’s first wife died when Louise was only six and Friederike four and their brother George three. Carl then married his first wife’s sister, who was a very good mother to his children. But after only one year  the second wife died too. Carl then gave the children to their grandmother.  The children had a very good upbringing at the grandmother’s place.

Ernst August Duke of Cumberland (1771-1851) married Princess Friederike of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1778-1841). When he became King of Hannover in 1837, she became Queen of Hannover.

When Princess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1776-1810) married the crown prince of Prussia, she was only 17. Two days after their marriage, Ludwig (L0uis),  a brother of the crown prince, married the fifteen year old Princess Friederike of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. After only a few years Friederike became a war widow, she married again and then was widowed again. When she married the Duke of Cumberland this was her third marriage. She was 36 at the time and the Duke was 43. She had a long and happy marriage with the Duke who became King of Hannover. Friederike died aged 63 whereas Louise  died when she was  34. She had  born ten children. Of these only seven did survive.

About Louise’s marriage to the crown prince of Prussia who became Friedrich Wilhelm III  and about her early death  I am going to write a bit more in my next post.