I am still on the subject of cleaning and home help. This morning I mentioned in my diary how Peter’s mother and my mother managed in old age. This is what I wrote:
Both Peter’s father as well as my father did not live to a very old age. So age care was not an issue. Both our mothers though did live into their eighties. How were they cared for? Well, my mother paid her granddaughter to come in on a regular basis and do some work for her, and Peter’s mother paid one of her daughters to do some work for her. Both mothers lived in a very small apartment when they were at an advanced age.
Peter’s mother was actually towards the end of her life in a care home. She had one room in that place. She did not like to eat anything except for cake. I think she was 87 when she died. My mum ended up in a hospital after a severe stroke when she was ‘only’ 83 and she very soon passed away then.
Peter’s mother trained to work as a child carer after leaving school early. Probably when she was only 14. But soon after her training she joined the postal service, where she retired from with an adequate pension after 40 years service. Since she had three children, she was lucky that her aunt, Tante Mietze, offered to stay with the family. So there was always somebody there for the children when Peter’s parents were out working. Peter says, his father would have preferred his wife staying home and not going out to work. But since Peter’s parents separated and divorced after the war, the mother was only too glad that she had never given up her job and that she still had Tante Mietze to look after the family.
My mum had in the 1930s and until the end of the war in 1945 always some live-in home help. The home help was called ‘Dienstmädchen’. These girls were rather young when they were employed. During the war we had Maria, who was Polish from the city of Lodz. Before the war we had every year another girl, all of them German girls from the country. I think I wrote a lot about Maria in my ‘Childhood Memories’. It seems to me she was extremely intelligent and efficient. Even my very demanding mum could not find any fault with her.
By the way as far as I know, Tante Mietze was from the country. At age 14 she moved to Berlin to be employed by a prosperous Jewish family as one of their home helps. This was before World War One!
Now I want to mention my father’s parents. They were German citizens who lived in Lodz. The Germans in Polen at the time were going back several generations! The grandparents had six children, and all of them married and had children. Grandfather was a ‘Tischlermeister’ (joinery master) and all his life self employed. At some stage he had a lot of people working under him. I am not sure what sort of home help grandmother may have had when she had all these children. I am sure the older children would have helped with some of the younger ones. Anyhow when I knew the grandparents. grandmother always used to have two very young Polish girls to help her in the house. However, in January of 1945 the grandparents as well as all the family, that was still residing in Lodz, had to flee the city, for the Russian army was getting very close. Nearly all of them made it to Germany. They were on the road in freezing temperatures. My uncle Ludwig, who was the grandparents’ younger son, had married late. I think he was in his forties and therefore not required to be in the army. As far as I know he was right to the last still doing his best filling army orders in grandfather’s furniture factory. Anyhow, Ludwig was married to Hilde and they had a young daughter and a new born son, who did not survive the escape from Lodz. I think it was so cold on the way that babies’ nappies did get frozen to their bodies! I think this casualty of the little guy was the only casualty the family had to suffer during the whole war!
So the family had to settle somewhere in Germany as very poor refugees. Grandfather did not survive this life of a refugee for very long. He died in Leipzig in March 1947 being aged 77. Everybody thought he did reach a very good old age. Here I wrote about his gravesite and about our visit to Leipzig: