A Catholic Marriage?

This post I published already in March 2012 I copied it here because I think it shows a bit more what my parents were like.

Max Tomscik had changed his name to Max Burghoff, I think you call it by deeds. Herr Burghoff had been Mum’s friend for several years when the following conversation between Dad and myself took place. For some reason Dad insisted on using the original name. We children always called him “Herr Burghoff”. We thought it was right and proper to do this. We had absolutely no problem with it.

‘The boys told me that Tomscik never shared his supper with you children,’ said Dad. It was June 1953. I was on a one week leave from FLEUROP and had used this, my very first vacation, to visit Dad in Düsseldorf.
‘Don’t worry, Dad,’ was my response. ‘We never wanted Herr Burghoff to act as our Dad. I thought it was perfectly all right that he bought “Abendbrot” only for himself and Mum. At the time he was still studying and didn’t have much money. Maybe it would have been different had he already been employed in the Public Service.’
‘And what is this, that he wants to marry Mum?’ asked Dad. – ‘Well, it’s true, he wanted to marry her. You know, that as a Catholic he was not allowed to marry a divorced woman. That’s why they asked the Pope for special permission. It took a while, but they did get it in the end.’
‘Yea, by declaring the marriage invalid and my children bastards,’ screamed Dad.
‘I know, they established that she married under pressure of her mother and sister Ilse. They claim, she didn’t really know what she was getting into when she married you.’
Dad looked extremely upset. ‘That’s absolute nonsense!’ he shouted.
I felt very sorry for Dad. ‘Anyway, Dad, it seems Mum’s not going to marry him after all. Tante Ilse says so.’
‘And why would that be? What could possibly be a reason for not marrying him now?’
‘The reason? According to Tante Ilse there are several reasons. You know Herr Burghoff is now employed here in a town in the Rheinland. That is Mum would have to move away from Berlin, if she wanted to live with him. And you know what Mum’s like: She just does not want to leave Berlin!’ Dad nodded. He knew all about this: Mum had always refused to leave Berlin to live with him.
‘ And Tante Ilse told me something else. She said when Mum went to his new place for a visit, she noticed him praying a lot. At least twice a day he would fall on his knees praying in front of a statue. It was kind of acceptable for Mum to go with him to Sunday Mass in Berlin. But apparently she can’t stand all this praying at home. Tante Ilse thinks it was just too much for her to see him do this. Indeed, it must have been the straw that broke the camel’s back!’

Tags: Dad, divorce, family, Mum

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Childhood Memories

6 Responses to “Childhood Memories”

March 17, 2012 at 7:46 pm Edit #
I had a good laugh about: But apparently she can’t stand all this praying at home. Tante Ilse thinks it was just too much for her to see him do this…. Your mom must have been quite fascinating!


March 18, 2012 at 7:15 am Edit #

We think that Charlotte, my mother, was ‘the woman who jumped up for Jesse Owens’.

She was quite fascinating indeed. Unfortunately my father wasn’t the right man for either.


March 18, 2012 at 2:15 am Edit #
It’s quite apparent they had very different values and beliefs. It would have been a disastrous marriage if it did go through. At least it was avoided in time.


March 18, 2012 at 7:30 am Edit #
Mary-Ann, please see what I replied to the comment of Eliz.

You may be interested to read the story about ‘the woman who jumped up for Jesse Owens’. Peter, my husband, wrote this story. I think it’s very believable and shows what Charlotte was like. After she decided not to marry her ‘Bambi’ (Tomscik alias Burghoff), she established herself in a council job and through very hard work till she turned 65 made the best out of her life and her retirement.

I agree with you that people with very different values and beliefs should not marry.


March 20, 2012 at 7:47 am Edit #
Thank God your mum caught him praying at home in time!


March 20, 2012 at 9:41 am Edit #
Your comment, Munira, makes me think. Maybe there was some truth in their claim that they had only a ‘Tischgemeinschaft’, which means they had meals together but weren’t sleeping together!


2 thoughts on “A Catholic Marriage?

  1. Fascinating! Sounds like you mom knew what she wanted and wasn’t about to let much of anything or anyone bend her too far off her path. Smart cookie.

  2. Yes, Linda, she was smart, no doubt about it. She was indeed happiest when she could get totally her own way. Often she did fall out with people, especially in her own family.

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