Sunday Lunch

This was our place for morning tea in the sun.
This was our place for morning tea in the sun.

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A bit later this  place would be filled with people having lunch.
A bit later this place would be filled with people having lunch.
I noticed this beautifully decorated reserved table.
I noticed this beautifully decorated reserved table.
I had dumplings for lunch.
I had dumplings for lunch.
Peter had noodles.
Peter had noodles.
Our friends had spring rolls and a rice dish.
Our friends had spring rolls and a rice dish.

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Peter doing a bit of meditating.
Peter doing a bit of meditating.
He found some companions.
He found some companions.
While I'm hugging a tree.
While I’m hugging a tree.

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Peter is rushing to take some pictures of the pond while our two friends walk ahead to the car. Sadly it's already time to drive bck home.
Peter is rushing to take some pictures of the pond while our two friends walk ahead to the car. Sadly it’s already time to drive back home.

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This weekend is called ‘Queen’s Birthday Weekend’ here in Australia. This means tomorrow, Monday, is a public holiday.
We were lucky with the weather today. There was plenty of sunshine in the morning. So it was a good day to go out for lunch with our friends who picked us up from home at 10 o’clock. By 2 pm we were back at our place for afternoon coffee and some more talking. It’s always good to see some friends whom we have known for a long time.

In Love with Leipzig

This is a copy of one of my earlier blogs!

“I found an interesting contribution about the German city of Leipzig.

http://blog.goethe.de/meet-the-germans/archives/179-In-Love-with-Leipzig.html

As a ten and eleven year old in 1945/46 I did get to know a bit about this city. Sure, when we first moved there to stay at grandmother’s place, the war hadn’t finished yet and we experienced quite a few bomb raids.

As I told in another blog, one bomb raid in April 1945 turned out to be disastrous for us. This was probably the very last bomb raid that Leipzig had to endure, because soon after the American troops together with some Canadians occupied the city. When the Canadians moved through neighbouring streets to lay out some cables, we kids were watching them. We were impressed by their appearance. They were all very young looking, tall and lean in immaculate uniforms. We welcomed the foreign troops.Them being with us meant, we wouldn’t be bombed any more. From now on we could sleep in peace!

We were a family of six. Having lost our home in the bomb raid, we applied for accommodation for our family. We were given a flat in an area where the buildings weren’t damaged at all. We were assigned an apartment that had  three rooms plus kitchen and bathroom. Had grandmother been just with Renate she would not have been able to get an apartment  of this size. Only families of five or more were assigned accommodation with that many rooms! So we were lucky again. Grandmother stayed in this apartment in Friedrich-Ebert-Strasse for many more years. She died in 1957.

About Leipzig I remember the ‘Ratskeller’, where we had a few times a lovely meal. I always thought it was something special to eat out somewhere. But I loved Grandma’s cooking too. Like magic she always produced excellent meals even when there was not much food available. She was a great one for improvising. And never ever was any bit of food thrown out. She always pointed out to us, to throw away good food, was a sin. This kind of thinking still sticks with me today!

I also  remember the Thomaner Church in Leipzig and the Thomaner Choir. I believe the journalist who wrote the blog about present day Leipzig is from England and lives in Berlin now. He went for a visit to Leipzig and ended up loving this city. If ever I have a chance to visit Germany again, I plan on paying Leipzig a visit together with Peter, my husband, and Peter, my brother. If you are interested in finding out more about Leipzig, please look up the above link.”

Last year during our visit to Germany we did not forget that we had wanted to visit the city of Leipzig. We  actually went there for a day visit. We had in our minds to search for  the grave of my paternal grandfather who had died in 1947. After a lot of searching we were able to locate his grave site. We made some pictures which I published in a blog. Leipzig seems to be a thriving city these days. We would have liked to stay there a bit longer. But we had to go back to Berlin the same day.  The Main Leipzig Railway Station (Hauptbahnhof) has been very modernised. A huge modern shopping center is located within its premises.

Leipziger Schauspielhaus

Leipziger Schauspielhaus Sophienbstrasse 17 - 19

Sophienstrasse 20

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leipziger_Schauspielhaus

 

The “Leipziger Schauspielhaus”  was a private theater in the southern part of Leipzig, Germany. This theater was situated in Sophienstrasse 17 – 19.  Sophienstrasse is now named Shakespearestrasse. During a bomb raid on 4th December 1943 the theater building was totally destroyed and has never been rebuilt.

For me it was interesting to find in the Wikipedia the above pictures and information about this particular theater. The house adjoining the theater is of special interest to me. This was  Sophienstrasse  20. It was the house my mother grew up in. This house was completely destroyed in a bomb raid in April 1945 while we, that is Mum, my two brothers and I, were there staying with my grandmother and cousin Renate.

Mum told us again and again that at the age of fourteen she did get a part as an extra. She played a page boy in a production of the famous Leipziger Schauspielhaus.. Being part of a theater production she found immensely exciting.

The above pictures are from 1906.  Mum’s sister Ilse was born in 1907 and Mum was born in 1911. Mum had another older sister and an older brother.

“Am 11. Oktober 1874 fand die Eröffnung unter dem Namen Carl-Theater statt. Hartmann nannte die Spielstätte Leipziger Schauspielhaus und eröffnete es am 10. September 1902.”

The theater was opened on 11th October 1874 under the name ‘Carl Theater’.  A bit later it was called ‘Carola Theater’. Around the turn of the century it was closed for a while. It was named ‘Leipziger Schauspielhaus’ by Anton Hartmann when he opened it on 10th September 1902.

Thoughts on the End of War

Here in the blogger world there are always a few people who respond to what I write. I am very grateful for this. It keeps me going. I mean I would like to continue writing anyway but getting some kind of response helps a lot in actually proceeding with it.

When I write about my experiences during war time and after the war,  people instinctively respond in proclaiming their thoughts upon the horrors of war. Undoubtedly the horrors of war are immense. I know it,  just about everyone has some inkling about it. It may sound strange, but I always had the feeling that I personally escaped real horror.

Did I experience hunger? Real hunger and starvation that resulted in problems with health? I don’t think so. When I hear stories from people who were absolutely starved,  it makes me feel terrible. Why did my Dutch-Australian friend, who was about the same age as I was during the war, why did she at times have to go absolutely without food in Holland whereas I had in Germany always a little bit to eat? It is just not fair. War is not fair!

During the war the Nazi propaganda machine constantly bombarded us with slogans how we as Germans had to believe that we were going to win this war. We all had to work towards the ‘Endsieg’ (the winning at the end). By 1944 hardly anyone I knew still believed that Germany could win the war. My grandmother was the exception. She expressed an unshakable belief in the ‘Führer’ (Hitler). For this she was ridiculed by the family.  She believed stories about the ‘Wunderwaffe’ (wonder weapon) which would safe us.

More and more everyone talked about it how they wished an end to the war. All our lives were put on hold so to speak. And this went on for quite some time after the war too. Schools were closed a few months before the end of the war. Where I was I couldn’t go back to school until four months after the war had finished.

My eighteen year old cousin couldn’t go to uni as she had planned. She had to work in a munitions factory instead, getting up at five o’clock every morning to travel by train to her place of work. I heard everyone saying to continue with the war was madness. But still everyone seemed to go on doing what they were supposed to do. Even the bomb raids generally didn’t effect people’s behaviour very much. I mean most people went on doing what they had to do bomb raids or not.

Amazingly a lot of foreign workers seem to have helped Germany by doing a proper job. For which after the war the Russians I believe handed out punishment. It is said that they treated their own people badly if they found out they had ‘co-operated’ with the Germans. However during the war years the Germans would send anyone who hindered the war effort away to concentration camps. Probably executions on the spot were not unknown either. During the first days after the war the Russians took everyone who looked like he could have been a soldier away. A lot of these men were never seen again. They may have ended up in a work camp in Siberia where starvation was rampant.

No doubt about it, Germans had a hard time during the first post war years. But still it was an end to fighting. There was a future without any war. Everyone could live in peace. Peace, peace, peace, this is what we wanted. We were very relieved that the war had ended. Tough times, yes, but at least there was no more war. We could concentrate on peaceful things. What a relief. What hope for the future!

The End of War

As I said before Mum enjoyed going to Berlin once a week. She was able to stay in our city apartment, which we were still renting. Of course, most of our furniture was in that country place where we were all staying. Mum had to take in several ‘Untermieter’ (sub-tenants). That is some rooms had to be sublet to people who had lost their homes during bomb raids. Towards the end of 1944 Mum was only left with one room to herself. None the less, she liked the excitement of being in Berlin.

I can’t recall Aunty Ilse going to Berlin on a regular basis during our stay in the country. Come to think of it she did not have an apartment to go to any more, since the top floor where her apartment had been, had been totally destroyed by fire-bombs. I cannot recall the exact date when this happened but I think it was probably soon after we had moved away from Berlin.

Mum had to walk for about half an hour to the next village to catch the bus which took her to the next train station. Going to the center of Berlin she then had to change trains a few times. All in all it was quite a long trip. But even in the fifth and sixth year of war buses and trains were still going pretty much on time.

As I mentioned before, Tante Ilse married Helmut L aka Onkel Peter on the 20th of July 1944. The wedding took place in Merane at the place of Onkel Peter’s parents. This is also the place where Tante Ilse went to towards the end of the war. Had she married Werner M. and possibly stayed at his place, she would have been in the midst of the Russian advances to Berlin in early 1945.

At the end of January 1945 Mum caught a train from Berlin to Leipzig with us three children to stay with Grandma and cousin Renate in Leipzig. Maria, who had been with us for more than three years, stayed with her fiancee in Berlin. I think the T. family, who had stayed with us in the ‘Ausbau’, moved to a town a bit further south of Berlin.

In Leipzig we were occupied by American and Canadian troops a few days before the end of the war. In what must have been the last bomb raid over Leipzig the house where we stayed was bombed. But we all survived in the very solidly built cellar under the apartment building. Grandma, having lived on the ground floor, was lucky that she could even save most of her furniture whereas the four stories above the ground floor were completely destroyed by bombs!

The area surrounding Berlin became the Russian zone at the finishing of the war. Property owners in the Russian zone had to give up their property. They were ‘enteignet’, meaning Werner M., the very wealthy man, lost everything in this ‘workers’ and ‘peasants’ state. Grandma had always wished for her daughter Ilse to marry this rich man. Just as well she didn’t! Anyhow Ilse had been very much in love with her Peter. She never seriously contemplated marrying Werner M. This is the way I see it.

What happened to Werner M. after the Russians occupied the country? Well, we do not know this. The Russian occupied zone became of course the GDR (German Democratic Republic) until the wall between East and West came down in 1989.

Early Memories

Before I was three we lived in Taunus Strasse, Berlin- Friedenau. Some time during 1937 we moved to Bozener Strasse in Berlin-Schöneberg. This is where Tante Ilse and Onkel Addi lived as well and also my friend Cordula and her parents. Later on we did get to know Family T. who lived in the house opposite our apartment building.

During my early childhood Bozener Strasse was a very quiet street. There were no cars parked in the street.

Tante Ilse had this narrow but very long balcony with a lot of plants to water. As a two year old I loved to help with watering some of the plants!

Uta loves to water the plants. Mum is looking on.
Uta loves to water the plants. Mum is looking on.

Here Mum still has this “Bubikopf” which I believe became fashionable already in the 1920s.

In the next picture, which was taken in Bozener Strasse on 21st September 1947, my brother Peter is nearly six. I stand behind Peter. I turned thirteen on this day. My brother Bodo is on the left. He is nine. Beside him Eva Todtenhausen, who is going on twelve and beside Eva is Cordula who is twelve. Today I found out that Cordula died in July 2011, aged 76. This was very sad news for me. 😦
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The above picture is from my birthday in 1940. We stand under the huge chestnut tree. Cordula spent part of the war outside of Berlin. She is not in the 1940 picture.

We took the following picture of Bozener Strasse during our Berlin visit in September 2012. It is still the same chestnut tree. But look at all the cars now!

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Our apartment was on the third floor, Tante Ilse lived two floors further up. Mum quite often went up with me to visit Tante Ilse. One of my early memories is that Tante Ilse and Mum were lying  under the bright lights of some tanning lamps (Höhensonne).  They used some oil on their skin which smelled beautiful and made their skin look shiny. Their skin usually had quite a bit of a tan. They wore some protective dark glasses. Sometimes they made me lie under the lamp for a little while.  I  liked it when some of this nice smelling oil was rubbed all over my body. I too had to wear these dark glasses. I liked to wear them for a little while. But I was required to lie totally still. Very soon  I did get sick of it, not wanting to lie still any more under the hot tanning lamp. I was then always glad when I was allowed to get up again.

I remember thinking that Auntie was a very beautiful looking woman with her very long curly hair. In the three way mirrors of her dressing table I remember watching  how Auntie brushed her hair. It was very strong and long chestnut-coloured hair.  Auntie usually brushed it slightly back so it stayed behind her ears. She often wore very long blue earrings. Oh, I loved the look of these blue earrings.  They looked beautiful hanging down from Auntie’s ears! I think Mum did not wear any earrings, because her ears were covered by her hair. Mum’s brown hair was very fine and much shorter than Auntie’s. My hair was rather fine too. Mum always cut it quite short. I often wished  that I could wear my  hair longer but Mum would not let me grow it longer.

Both Auntie Ilse and Mum wore identical three big rolls of hair horizontally on top of their heads. The front rolls covered the top of their foreheads, the other two rolls were rolled behind the front roll. They often wore identical clothes, for instance light pink angora wool tops with identical grey suits.

1948: Mum 37, Uta 14, Bodo 10 and Peter 7.
1948: Mum 37, Uta 14, Bodo 10 and Peter 7.

Mum features her three big rolls of hair, I am already allowed to wear my hair long!

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Mum often called me  ‘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 means ‘little heart’, Liebling means ‘darling’.

Cordula’s mum once told  me, that her name meant ‘heart’ in the Latin language, but not to tell anyone otherwise some children would make fun of the name. I did not want anyone to make fun of Cordula. So I promised myself to keep the meaning of the name to myself.

My brother Bodo was born in June 1938. I think Cordula’s  brother Tilwin was born a few months after that. Mum said that Tilwin was an extremely odd name. It turned out he grew up with very bright red hair. The children in the street teased him about his hair. As much as possible Cordula always stood up for her  brother. I think for the most part Tilwin avoided playing with other children.

The Lepsius apartment was on the same side as our apartment, just two floors further up. (Auntie Ilse’s apartment was on the other side of the fifth floor). I often went up to the Lepsius apartment all by myself to play with Cordula. They had a ‘roof-garden’ (Dachgarten) above their apartment. It was the size of a big room and had no roof above it. I remember the sun shining 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.

Cordula’s family had food that I had never seen before.. 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! My Mum thought it was strange to eat something like that. In Mum’s opinion this family was rather odd because they had lived in the Middle East for a while. Cordula’s  father was an architect. My Mum called him ‘the Hunger-Architect’ (Hungerleider)  since he seemed to get hardly any work in his profession.

Mum must have seen their apartment once for I remember her remarking how sparsely furnished it was.  Mum found their choice of furniture quite odd. There were a great number of shelves stacked full with books. These shelves went from floor to ceiling. Herr Lepsius sometimes showed us children 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 that story again and again. Each time we laughed our heads off and Herr L laughed with us. The story was about a beggar who knocked at the door of an apartment. A ily had two connecting apartments across two buildings; that is, the wall between the buildings had beautiful maid opened the door. Some time later the beggar knocked at another door of an apartment in the neighbouring building. And the same beautiful maid opened the door! We found the astonishment of the beggar very funny! Herr L explained to us, that a wall had been broken through to connect the apartments on that floor. This was actually where the family of Herr L had lived, when he was a boy.

Herr L was old and bald. He was about twenty years older than his wife. Quite a few years later Cordula and I went to the same high-school. We walked there together every morning. One morning I climbed up the stairs to  Cordula’s  apartment to find out why she  had not come down yet to go to school with me. I rang the bell. Frau L 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.  I did not know what to say. She hugged me and then she disappeared in her apartment.

Childhood Memories 1943/44

Towards the end of September 1943 we left Berlin to live in the country. We moved to a place called the ‘Ausbau’, which meant that eventually ‘more’ was to be added to the building.. It was a simple rectangular red brick complex with several entrances around the building. There was no plumbing or electricity. The entrance for us ‘Berliners’ was on the left side at the front of the building. We had a cellar, a ground floor and two upper floors.

Mum, my two younger brothers and I, shared a bedroom on the first upper floor. We also had a small kitchen and a living-room. I would sleep in the living-room when my dad came home on leave. Two maids, one Polish, the other Russian, shared two rooms on the top floor. All the rooms on the top floor had sloping ceilings. Our Polish maid was in her early twenties. Her name was Maria. She was very efficient and always rather serious.. The T. Family, who lived on the ground floor, employed Katja, the Russian maid, who was only eighteen and extremely fun loving.

My mum’s sister, Tante Ilse, also had her rooms on the first upper floor. She had a bedroom and a living-room. On the ground floor, right underneath her upper rooms, she had a kitchen and a dining-room. She hardly ever used those downstairs rooms. Our friends from Berlin, the T. Family, occupied three rooms downstairs, namely a kitchen, a living-room and a bedroom, the same arrangement of rooms that we had on the upper floor.

There was an additional larger room for storage under the sloping roof. T. Family and my Family stored in that room additional larger furniture which we wanted to save from the bombs in Berlin. — In that room Mum stored a lot of Boskop-apples during the cold season. They were neatly spread out on some straw. Come Christmas-time, other delicious food was also hidden somewhere among our stored furniture. It was very tempting for me to go exploring in that room! Mum noticed sometimes, that some food was missing. And I admitted, when questioned, that I had helped myself to some of the goodies. However I was never punished for doing such a thing. That shows, that Mum must have been quite tolerant. —

On the same upper floor right under the roof was a playroom, which my brothers and I shared with eight year old Edith T. There was another room next to the playroom where Mrs. T.’s parents had stored some bedroom furniture. The parents were Mr. and Mrs. B. and had a business in Berlin. They sometimes stayed at the ‘Ausbau’ in that bedroom in order to be with their family away from the bombs in Berlin.

Our toilets were “plumps-closets” some distance away from the house. Water for cooking and washing had to be fetched from a pump in the backyard. Fetching water from the pump kept both maids very busy indeed. For lights we had kerosene-lamps, for heating there were coal-fired stoves which could also be used for cooking. Everything was very basic.

Gradually some changes were being made. The first big change was that our landlord had electricity laid on. All the workers who lived with their families in the other part of the building, received the benefit of electricity at the same time. This certainly was a very welcome improvement for them.

The ‘Ausbau’ was built close to a dirt-track which meandered through wide open barley-, oat- and potato-fields. On the track it was a good half hour to walk to the next village. Bike-riding however made it a bit quicker.

Werner M., the owner of all those fields that went on for miles and miles, was an acquaintance of Aunty Elsa. He was apparently quite rich an d also owned extensive brick-works (Ziegeleien). It was said of him that he was a millionaire. He was our landlord and he liked to spoil us. With no strings attached! Tante Ilse only had to voice a wish and Werner M. immediately did whatever he could to fulfill her wish. He spoiled us by constantly getting produce delivered to us: Potatoes, cabbage for making sauerkraut, wonderful treacle made of sweet-beets, and coal for our stoves.

Even I, as a nine year old, could see that sixty year old Werner M. was hopelessly in love with Ilse. I also was quite aware, that she always kept him at a distance. He was happy to just be invited for ”Kaffee und Kuchen’ on weekends and to spend some time with all of us. He always came to visit on his bike. On his daily inspection tours of the workers in the fields he also went around on his bike. He owned coaches with horses, but hardly ever used these to go anywhere.

Occasionally we were invited to his place (which people called ‘Schloss’), Then he sent a coach with a coachman to pick us up. Once in winter when there was plenty of snow, Werner M. sent a ‘Pferde-Schlitten’ (horse-drawn sledge). On this sledge we were wrapped up in blankets under a clear night-sky with the moon and lots of stars shining on us. It was unforgettable and one of the rare highlights in our otherwise pretty dreary country-life existence.

The place where Werner M. lived, did not look like a castle at all, even though people called it ‘Schloss’. It was not even a mansion but a rather large, but fairly plain house. There was a huge, fenced in veggie garden next to the house. I have seen the veggie garden only once. However I was very impressed by it, because it seemed to be so very large.

When we moved to the ‘Ausbau’, Ilse had already been divorced from her first husband. It was obvious that Werner M. would have liked to marry Ilse. However, it never came to that. Tante Ilse married Onkel Peter aka Helmut L. on July 20th, 1944.

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It was a big thrill for me to go exploring among the furniture in that big storage-room, especially in the weeks before Christmas! Mum used to store lot of goodies during the Christmas season. It was very exciting for me to find out what new things had been stored in that big room. I remember seeing huge chunks of nougat (a yummy hazelnut-paste) as well as heart-shaped marzipan-pieces. There was a pot with sweetened thick milk. Sometimes I dipped my finger into it to lick this wonderful sweet stuff! I also liked to eat a few of the stored raisins and prunes! Smells of ginger bread and apples: It made me feel that Christmas was something to be looking forward to.

Where on earth did Mum get all those things from? It was war-time, wasn’t it? We were in the midst of war! I knew very well where all this came from. The parents of Mrs.T. had a distributing business. It was called ‘Backbedarf en Gros’. That meant they delivered goods to bakeries and cake-shops. Even in the midst of war deliveries of the above mentioned goods still took place! Of course there were shortages, but basically most things were still available.

Mr.T. and Mrs.T., as well as Tante Ilse and Mum were all good friends. Every Saturday night they came together for some card games. Eight year old daughterEva and I were allowed to stay up late on those nights. For hours we were watching the adults playing cards. At the same time we entertained ourselves with doodling on bits of paper. At around ten o’clock some cake and hot chocolate as well as coffee were served. But the maids did not have to do the serving, They were already in their rooms at this hour. The cake was usually freshly baked, very fluffy yeast cake topped with delicious butter-crumbs and filled with a thick custard. Hmm, yummy!

Mr.T. always stayed in Berlin during the week, where he worked in the business of his parents-in-law. Being over forty, he was not required to join the German army. Mr.T. always brought some sweet goodies along when he came home from Berlin for the weekend.

During the summer of 1944 Mr.T. and Mum liked to go on their bikes to a neighbouring Nursery where they were able to trade sweets for fresh produce. Eva and I were often allowed to go along with them on our bikes. The sweets were traded for strawberries or cherries or gooseberries as well as peaches and apricots, and later on in the year for pears and apples. I remember the Boskop apples were still in season in late autumn. The owner of the nursery was a well-off looking middle-aged woman who was very fond of sweets and loved to trade her produce. At one time we found out that she thought Mr.T. and Mum were a couple and we girls were sisters. Laughing joyfully, Mum and Mr.T. explained, that this was not so.

Only once as far as I remember were we shown into the lady’s home. Mr.T. made complimentary remarks about the interior of the house. He said it showed off the owner’s good taste. I liked the lady’s house a real lot too. Our families used to have well furnished apartments in Berlin. But this modern looking villa in the midst of the nursery really was something else. My feelings were I would very much like to live in a place like that. However we had to be happy with our accommodation in the Ausbau. To us children it was always pointed out, to be happy that we did not have to live among the bomb raids in Berlin. I’m pretty sure that by myself I felt that I’d rather live in Berlin, bomb-raids or not. I think to children bomb-raids usually didn’t seem as scary as to the adults. At the time we children had had no experience yet how absolutely horrible these bomb-raids could become.

In 1990, soon after the Fall of the Wall, I went with my family to have a look at the area where we used to be hidden away from the bomb-raids. We discovered that the nursery as well as the lady’s house had completely vanished. There was nothing left of the ‘Ausbau’ either!

In 1943, when we had lived at he ‘Ausbau’ only for a couple of months, Mrs. T. delivered a healthy daughter in a regional hospital. The day after the baby was born, it may perhaps have been a Saturday or Sunday, Mr. T. and Eva went for the forty-five minute bike-ride to the Hospital. I was thrilled that I was allowed to go with them! The baby was rather tiny. I think this is why she was soon called Krümel (tiny crumb). Her given name was Ruth. Eva had a pet-name too. She was often called Honkepong.

As soon as Mrs.T. came home from hospital, there was a nurse waiting for her to take charge of the baby. Mr.T. said something like: “Katja is a very nice girl, but I would not trust her with our new born baby. I am glad that Nurse is here to help my wife to look after our Krümel.”

Nurse used for herself the bedroom next to our playroom. Sometimes she sat with us children in the playroom. Since Christmas was approaching, she taught us how to make some Christmas decorations. I was very impressed, because I was nine years old and nobody had ever taught me anything like it! Nurse also made sure, we learned our Christmas poems. We had to be prepared to recite them to Santa on Christmas Eve!

 Maria, our Polish maid, had been with us since before my little brother was born. He regarded Maria as his ‘Dah-dah’, that is he always called her ‘Dah-dah’. By the end of January 1945 we had to flee from the ‘Ausbau’ as the Russians were approaching fast. We went to Berlin first and then by train to Leipzig to stay at Grandmother’s place. Maria remained in Berlin with her Polish fiancee, who was a butcher.

 When we parted from Maria, little brother Peter had just turned three. Yet he must have missed her for quite a while since she had always looked after him and I am sure, he loved her very much and she loved him. Mum always trusted Maria, who was in every way caring and efficient at the same time. Mum was always impressed how quickly Maria worked. Any dirty dishes were washed immediately. She was indeed capable of doing all the housework. Mum was happy to let her do just about everything. An exception was the baking of a large cake on Saturdays, which Mum loved to do herself.

Maria always made some potato-salad for the weekend. I watched how she did it. To the peeled and sliced potatoes she added finely cut onion, some oil, pepper and salt. Then she poured hot vinegar-water over the potatoes as a finishing touch. The huge salad-bowl was placed outside on a shelf near the stairway so the salad could cool down. I often helped myself to some of the warm salad when nobody was looking, because I loved to eat the salad when it was still a little bit warm. It was the same every Saturday. I watched Maria preparing the salad and placing it on the shelf outside. Then it did not take long before I had a good taste of it!

Friday night was the night for our bath. Maria placed a small tin-tub on the kitchen-floor. She carried several buckets of water from the outside pump to the kitchen. Some of the water she heated on the kitchen-stove in an especially huge pot. I was always the first one to use the bath-water, then it was brother Bodo’s turn. Little brother Peter was always the last one. Some hot water was added for everyone, but still the water must have been quite dirty for little Peter after Bodo and I had had our baths!

When Maria first came to live with us, she knew very little German. However she was determined to learn German quickly. She liked to ask Bodo and me how to pronounce certain words. She also asked me how to write these words in German. Mum often praised Maria, that she was willing and able to learn quickly. This applied to everything she did. She was an amazingly efficient person. A ‘pearl of a maid’ people would say of her. Maria was a city girl. She came from Lodz, which was called ‘Litzmannstadt’ at the time. We had spent the summer-months of 1941 at Zokolniki (near Lodz) and that was when Maria was assigned to us as a help. Mum liked Maria and wanted her to come with us when we went back to Berlin. Maria told me later that she did not want to leave Poland. But she had not been given the choice to stay in her own country.

When Katja arrived, we could see that she was very different from Maria. She was a country-girl from Russia. She never learned German as well as Maria did. She could never be trusted to do all the house-work by herself. Mrs.T. always had to supervise her and do certain things herself because Katja took too long to learn to do it properly. But we all loved Katja. She was always cheerful and full of beans. As a country-girl she did not know certain things that a city-girl had been brought up with. Maria took to instructing Katja about certain things. I think they communicated in German. After they finished work in the evening, they had plenty of time to stay in their rooms together and keep each other company. Both girls always had to get up early. During summer, school-classes in the village started as early as seven o’clock. That meant, I had to get up at six o’clock to get ready for school. Mum never got up that early. But Maria always came down at six o’clock to start working for us. She often had to do Peter’s linen early in the morning, which I am sure was not one of her favourite tasks.

I mentioned in this post our landlord, Werner M.  He is here in this picture which was taken by Mrs. T. on Christmas Eve 1943.

Werner M. is on the left, on the right is Mr. T.

Tante Ilse is next to Werner M. together with cousin Renate. I am in the back with my doll.

The children in front are Eva T. and my brother Bodo.

Next to Mr. T. is Mum and Grandma Olga (Mum’s mum) is on the left next to Werner M.

Christmas Eve 1943

Pictures from Good Friday 2013

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Recently a great deal of care went into beautifying the surroundings of the church. There’s a little pond with goldfish and wooden benches invite people to sit down to take a rest and maybe do a bit of reflecting.

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On Good Friday at 10 o’clock the Stations of the Cross started. A great many children gathered in their costumes to take part in the Stations of the Cross. I only remembered today that I had not yet published the pictures I took on that day.

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Near the school I noticed the above poster. The Catholic Primary School is right next to the church. There was plenty of space for the Stations of the Cross in the school grounds.