Grandmother Hulda

Grandmother Hulda buys Eggs

                            Probably a Slightly 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 Golden Cross for eight children. My first two children, that were twins,died in infancy. All my other six children are alive and well..’ 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.

GRANDMOTHER’S QUERY

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”

  1. catterelEditThank 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.Reply
    1. auntyutaEditThank 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.Reply
  2. backonmyownEditA very poignant story indeed. Thank you for sharing it.Reply
    1. auntyutaEditThanks for reading it, Pat.Reply
  3. aussieian2011EditThanks for sharing that rather sad yet interesting story, I think there must have been many such incidents back in those dark days.
    IanReply
    1. auntyutaEditI 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!

The above I copied from here: https://auntyuta.com/2013/01/13/grandmother-hilda-buys-eggs-3/

I thought today about my grandmother’s life. She was German but lived for her whole life in Poland, up to January 1945 that is when she had to flee with her whole family to Germany In 1945 she would have turned 73. When she bought these eggs, that would probably have been in 1940 when I was not quite 6 yet and grandmother would have been close to 68. Oh, she seemed to be so very old to me!

At the time grandmother was still doing a lot of cooking for her whole extended family. As I remember it, she would spend a real lot of time in the kitchen where she was being helped by two young Polish girls. This brings me to the subject of home help. I want to write about this another time. Actually, I think about this constantly, why on earth the average elderly woman in our society is these days not in a position to have some home help, usually not until she is very feeble and can hardly do anything herself anyway.

In Grandmother’s family everybody spoke only German to each other. But everybody was also fluent in Polish, and some could also speak Russian. I remember Grandmother would speak to the Polish girls Polish, not German. This is why I could understand hardly anything!

When you go to this post that I republished today. you find that I wrote something about how Maria, our home help did learn German very well:

https://auntyuta.com/2020/09/10/memories-from-september-1943-to-beginning-of-1945/

It says in the second last paragraph: “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 those words in German. . . .”

3 thoughts on “Grandmother Hulda

  1. My Aunt (by marriage) Roma was a Holocaust Survivor. At age 10, her family was ordered to the town square. She and her mother walked hand in hand but before they got there, Roma’s mother turned to her and told her to run to the neighbor’s home. She should act like she is their daughter, be a Christian like them, and obey everything they say. She ran as she was told and never saw her family again. In 1952 she married my uncle and came to the US. She lived in Tiburon, CA until she passed away.

    When l was a young person and old enough to understand, she told me this story and warned me to Never Forget. I haven’t.

    In my early years it seemed redundant to hear it again and again but when i had children of my own and her message finally reached my soul, I wrote her a letter telling her how much it meant to me that she shared this with me. A few days later, my cousin called to thank me, telling me Roma would have called but she was crying too much. I asked if she was upset and she said, “No! They are tears of joy and love!” Aunt Roma passed away not long after that but she did so knowing someone outside her family would #NeverFotget.

    In her honor, I passed this along to my children so they could relate directly to the persecution of a people because of their religion, color, ethnicity, etc. I believe they understand and they too will never forget.

    Devon

    ________________________________

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s