Memories from September 1943 to Beginning of 1945

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

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 groundfloor 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 Todtenhausen Family, who lived on the groundfloor, 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 groundfloor, 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 Todtenhausen 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. The Todtenhausen 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 amongst 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 Eva Todtenhausen. There was another room next to the playroom where Frau Todtenhausen’s parents had stored some bedroom furniture. The parents were Herr und Frau Braun. They 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 kerosine-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 Mann, the owner of all those fields that went on for miles and miles, was an acquaintance of Tante Ilse. He was apparently quite rich and 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 Mann immediately did whatever he could to fulfill her wish. He spoilt 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 Mann 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 those to go anywhere.

   When we were invited to his place (which people called ‘Schloss’), he would send the coach with a coachman to pick us up. Once in winter when there was plenty of snow, Werner Mann 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 Mann 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 Adolf Schlinke. It was obvious that Werner M. would have liked to marry Ilse. However, it never came to that. Ilse married Helmut Lorenz on July 20th, 1944.

                     CHILDHOOD MEMORIES CONTINUED

It was a big thrill for me to go exploring amongst the furniture in that big storage-room: and especially in the weeks before Christmas!

Mum used to store lot of goodies for 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 Frau Todtenhausen 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.

Herr and Frau Todtenhausen, as well as Tante Ilse and Mum, all of them were good friends. Every Saturday night they came together for some card games. Eight year old daughter Eva and I were allowed to stay up late on those nights. For hours we were watching the adults playing cards, and at the same time we were entertaining ourselves with doodling on bits of paper. At around ten o’clock some cake and hot chocolate as well as coffee would be 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!

Herr Todtenhausen would stay in Berlin during the week, where he was employed by his parents-in-law. Being over forty, he was not required to join the German army. Herr Todtenhauyseb always brought some sweet goodies along when he came home from Berlin for the weekend.

During the summer of 1944 Herr Todtenhausen 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 Herr Todtenhausen and Mum were a couple and we girls were sisters. Laughing joyfully, Mum and Herr Todtenhausen explained, that this was not so.

Only once as far as I remember were we shown into the lady’s home. Herr Todtenhausen  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 accomodation in the Ausbau. To us children it was always pointed out, to be happy that we did not have to live amongst 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 those 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, Frau Todtenhausen delivered a healthy daughter in a regional hospital. The day after the baby was born, it may perhaps have been a Saturday or Sunday, Herr Todtenhausen 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 on the tiny side and soon called Krümel (tiny crumb). Edith had a pet-name too. She was often called Honkepong.

As soon as Frau Todtenhausen came home from hospital, there was a nurse waiting for her to take charge of the baby. Herr Todtenhausen 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 Peter 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 Peter had just turned three. Yet he must have missed his Dah-Dah 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 did all the housework. Any dirty dishes were washed immediately. She was indeed capable of doing all the housework, and 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 those 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. Frau Todtenhausen 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 Kartja 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.

Childhood Memories continued

Since Tante Ilse was a single person, she was supposed to have a regular job. Everyone who was capable to work, had to work for the war effort! That meant Ilse had to prove that she had a proper job. Naturally Werner M came to the rescue again. ‘You can work for me in the office,’ he said. And office work she did, however not in the office, but at home. She did not even have to collect the work!

One of the workers, who lived in our complex, was given the task of handing over the sheets of paper to Frau Ilse Schlinke on his way home from work. When the paper-work was finished by Tante Ilse, he took the sheets of paper back to the office on the way to his work-place. How did he transport the papers? He simply fastened the bundles unto the back of his bike. This worker was Herr Fritz. He was a smith and worked for Werner Mann. A smith was always needed in a huge estate with lots of horses and farm equipment. Even though Herr Fritz was a qualified trades-man, he and his family lived extremely simple lives; indeed, he did not seem to live any better than an unqualified worker.

Herr und Frau Fritz had two sons; one was ten, the other one fourteen. The older one was quite talented. He built complicated mechanical things out of odd bits and pieces. I admired him very much. The younger son told Eva and me stories about the ‘Lamp Angel’ (Lampen-Engel) who was supposed to have kerosine-lamps in a straight line out in the country away from any built-up areas to distract bombers, who might accidentally have come to our countryside.

A few times I went with Eva and Bodo in search of those lamps. Yet we never could find any of them. Unfortunately the neighbour’s son, who had told us the story, was not willing to come along with us to show us where the lamps were. To this day, I really do not know, whether there ever had been any lamps!

Both sons of the neighbours went to Lichtenow village primary school, the same school that Eva and I went to. There was only one teacher for the whole school. The school had eight school-years. After year eight you had to leave and start work or learn a trade. Students who wanted to go to high-school, were supposed to enroll at high-school after finishing year four of primary school. By September 1944 I should have started high-school. However I had no chance to travel to high-school from where we lived. Mum said: ‘Since you skipped year three, it does not matter, if you repeat year four. Next year the war will be over anyway, and then we do not have to live here anymore and you can be enrolled in high-school. But I want you to go to a different village-school now and start again with year four. I made enquiries in Herzfelde. The primary school in Herzfelde is much larger then the one in Lichtenow. So this is why I’ve enrolled you in Herzfelde.’

I went to Herzfelde Primary for three months only. By the end of January 1945 we had moved to Leipzig to stay with Grandma. All schooling had stopped by then. We felt more and more, that it was very close to the end of the war.

During the warmer months of 1944 we did a lot of athletics at the Lichtenow school. There was running, high-jump and long-jump. There was also an athletics’ carnival in which only students who were ten years or older were allowed to participate. I was not quite ten yet, but they let me join anyway. I was good at running for my age. In all the jumps I was just average.

I had plenty of opportunity to practise high-jump at home. Herr Todtenhausen and his brother, who was at the Ausbau for a visit, set up two poles with a line to jump over. The line could be set higher or lower. It was set very low for Eva Todtenhausen and for my brother Bodo. The Todtenhausen brothers were both quite good sportsmen and could still jump astonishingly high, even though they were both well over forty.

I often thought that the afternoons at the Ausbau were boring. What was there to do for me? Not much. When the weather was fine, I liked to go for walks, always wishing, that the landscape were not as dreary. I longed for a variety of trees and the view of a lake or a river.

During the colder season we had sometimes real terrible winds. On the way to the outside toilets we had to turn around the corner of the house to walk to the shedlike building at the back. You had to be quite brave to turn the corner, when that gusty wind was blowing, blowing, blowing. Winds like that were unknown to us in the city. Well, the Ausbau was in open country area after all.

We had a warm lunch when I came home from school at about one. And after that in the afternoon there was nothing to do! Maybe a bit of home-work here and there. But this certainly did not take all afternoon. When we had to stay in the playroom because of bad weather, I usually read a book. I loved reading. I was glad I could borrow books from Frau Todtenhausen. She had dozens of books for girls, which she had kept from her own childhood and which eight year old Eva was not able to read yet.

Naturally my two younger brothers and Eva and I sometimes played together as well as talking to each other. Still I missed all my friends from Berlin. In Berlin I was always surrounded by many different children. We all lived in the same street; it was easy to see each other on a daily basis.

One Thursday during the summer school-holidays Mum came home from Berlin with excellent news. ‘Guess what?’ she said ‘I saw Rosemarie today! She is going to stay in Berlin for a few weeks, and I asked her, would she like to come and stay with you at the Ausbau for one week. I could pick her up next Thursday and take her back to Berlin the following Thursday.’

I cried with delight: ‘Oh, Mum, that’s excellent! I love to have Rosemarie here for a visit!’

The visit took place as Mum had planned. Rosemarie and I went for lots of walks . We had so much to talk about that we hardly noticed, how dreary the landscape looked. Once we went into the direction where the lamps of the ‘Lampen-Engel’ were supposed to be. However we never saw any lamps.

I felt a bit jealous, that Rosemarie was allowed to stay in Berlin for a little while during school-holidays. I could never talk Mum into letting me stay in Berlin, not even for a day. Mum always said, that it was too dangerous since there could be bomb raids day-time or night-time. I was not to be put into danger. And that was it.

During that summer of 1944 I learned to swim. We had summer holidays. On a hot day Bodo and I went on our bikes some distance past the Lichtenow school to an artificial lake, which people called ‘Bruch’. It was possible to swim in it. Dozens of people were stretched out on some grass near the lake or frolicked in the water. I went in up to where the water reached my chest. Then I tried to lie on my tummy reaching out my hands to touch the ground. After a while, I noticed my hands had left the ground and I was swimming in the water! What a thrill that was! Being nearly ten I was finally able to swim. What an achievement! Bodo had stayed obediently in shallow water. I could not wait to go to him to share the great news with him.

I remember I had to wear an old two-piece swimsuit of my mother’s which she had sewn together for me. Later on in the year Mum found in a shop in Berlin a proper swimming costume for me which she was able to buy with some coupons. I was given that swimsuit for Christmas. It looked lovely. There were some little orange pictures of girls with bath-caps all over the costume.

The swimming costume was a perfect fit and I was fantasising how I would wear it the following summer. Unfortunately I was never able to wear it since it got lost during the upheaval of moving to Leipzig. —

Towards the end of January 1945, when we were about to leave the Ausbau, Mum, Tante Ilse, Frau Todtenhausen, as well as Katja and Maria were busy all night killing all our rabbits and chooks and preserving the whole lot in glasses. We ended up taking quite a few of those glasses to Leipzig, where miraculously they survived the total distruction of our house during a bomb raid in the pantry next to a very strong wall. Not one glass was shattered! I myself though was not able to eat any of the rabbit- or chicken-meat, since from early childhood on I’ve never been able to eat this kind of meat. …

Before we left the Ausbau, all the furniture in the house was pushed together as much as possible. Some beds had been dismantled already. But we children were meant to get some sleep in spite of all the commotion. I was put with Eva in one room. The two of us were much too excited to sleep. We kept ourselves awake for hours singing all the songs we knew. Eva taught me a few new songs which I had not known until then. Yet I still know them now. One song was a song from Tirol about some young men who go looking over the fence to see a girl, the one who looks after the cows.

Ja wenn wir schaun, schaun, schaun

übern Zaun, Zaun, Zaun,

in das schöne Land Tirol –

Ja dann freuet sich die Sennerin,

ja wenn wir schaun, schaun, schaun übern Zaun.

Ja wenn wir gucken, gucken, gucken

durch die Lucken, Lucken, Lucken,

in das schöne Land Tirol –

Ja dann freuet sich die Sennerin,

ja wenn wir gucken, gucken, durch die Lucken, Lucken, Lucken …

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. . . .”

Aunty Uta’s Memories 1943/44

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

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 groundfloor 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 Todtenhausen Family, who lived on the groundfloor, employed Katja, the Russian maid, who was only eighteen and extremely fun loving.

   My mum’s sister, Aunty Ilse, also had her rooms on the first upper floor. She had a bedroom and a living-room. On the groundfloor, 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 amongst 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. Braun. They 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 kerosine-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 Mann, the owner of all those fields that went on for miles and miles, was an acquaintance of Tante Ilse. He was apparently quite rich. He 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 spoilt 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 those to go anywhere.

   When we were invited to his place (which people called ‘Schloss’), he would send the 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 Adolf Schlinke. It was obvious that Werner M. would have liked to marry Ilse. However, it never came to that. Ilse married Helmut Lorenz on July 20th, 1944.

                     CHILDHOOD MEMORIES CONTINUED

It was a big thrill for me to go exploring amongst the furniture in that big storage-room: and especially in the weeks before Christmas!

Mum used to store lot of goodies for 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.Todtenhausen 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 daughter Edith and I were allowed to stay up late on those nights. For hours we were watching the adults playing cards and at the same time entertaining ourselves with doodling on bits of paper. At around ten o’clock some cake and hot chocolate as well as coffee would be 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. would stay in Berlin during the week, where he was employed by 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. Edith 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 accomodation in the Ausbau. To us children it was always pointed out, to be happy that we did not have to live amongst 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 those 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’ 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 Edith 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 on the tiny side and soon called Krümel (tiny crumb). Edith 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-Uwe 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 did all the house-work. Any dirty dishes were washed immediately. She was indeed capable of doing all the housework and 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-Uwe 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 those 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.Todtenhausen 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 Kartja 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.

Once more remembering 1943/1944In “Childhood Memories”

Childhood Memories 1943/44In “Childhood Memories”

UTA’S DIARY, 20th January 2015 and Thoughts on the End of World War TwoIn “Childhood Memories”Edit”Aunty Uta’s Memories 1943/44″

Published by auntyuta

Auntie, Sister. Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, Mother and Wife of German Descent I’ve lived in Australia since 1959 together with my husband Peter. We have four children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. I started blogging because I wanted to publish some of my childhood memories. I am blogging now also some of my other memories. I like to publish some photos too as well as a little bit of a diary from the present time. Occasionally I publish a story with a bit of fiction in it. Peter, my husband, is publishing some of his stories under berlioz1935.wordpress.com View all posts by auntyutaPublishedJuly 10, 2011

Post navigation

Previous Post Diary of Aunty UtaNext PostEncouragement

9 thoughts on “Aunty Uta’s Memories 1943/44”

  1. auntyutaEditWith hubby’s help I managed last night to add some of the continuation of my memories 1943/1944. Over the past five years or so I saved quite a few pages of memory writing in Open Office. So far my writing is not very well organised and needs more editing. When I started with memory writing I did it hoping that maybe some of my grand-children and great-grand-children might be interested in reading it later on.Hubby and I joined a writers’ group for a number of years. When this stopped, I stopped writing since nobody seemed to be interested to read any new writing of mine on a regular basis. In the writers’ class we were given lots of encouragement by a qualified tutor! Recently I always found excuses why it wasn’t important to keep writing. Somehow there were constantly other things that took priority.I’m glad now that my niece encouraged me to try blogging.Reply
  2. muniraEditWhat an incredible story Aunty Uta. I loved reading every word. Somehow, listening to or reading someone’s stories of the past is so much better and that much more evocative compared to a history book. I felt transported to a different world as I read this post.
    I’m glad you started blogging. It’s very commendable and your memories are amazingly vivid.Reply
  3. auntyutaEditThank you very much, dear Munira. Your reply made my day. I started reading some of your blogs and enjoyed them very much. Blogging for sure opens different worlds for us, doesn’t it? I try to read as much as possible. I loved it that you included old family pictures. I hope that some day in the not so distant future I may manage to add some of my old family pictures. I’m going on 77 and there’s still so much to learn. Yet I have to try to take it easy. I have to accept that certain things take longer as you get older. When I change trains at Central Station in Sydney for instance it takes me much longer to proceed along the stairways than most other people. I JUST HAVE TO TAKE IT A BIT SLOWER THAN ALL THE YOUNGER PEOPLE: And that’s it. As long as I can manage a little bit, it’s better than nothing.I enjoy my life.I can honestly say I am grateful for every day that’s still given to me.Reply
  4. Pingback: Looking up Aunty Uta’s Childhood Memories « auntyuta Edit
  5. WordsFallFromMyEyesEditSending a coach to pick you up! Makes you sound so old, but you’re not that old…. the world’s progressing so FAST, really.Great memories, Aunty Uta. Precious, really. I feel without memory, well, I would feel I had not even existed, I imagine.Reply
    1. auntyutaEditHi Noeleen, I love it when you go to my earlier writings. It’s a great thrill for me that you like to look these things up.
      Well, in the 1940s, when I was a kid, there weren’t many cars around yet. In the country we had no public transport. Usually we went on our bikes or walked. Werner M was a very rich man in his sixties. He didn’t own a car and thought nothing of it to use his bike to get from A to B same as any other ordinary citizen.
      As I remember it, horses were still being used for different sorts of transport and for farmwork.
      I imagine in the 1940s you weren’t born yet, dear Noeleen. True, what I write about my childhood goes a long way back. I wonder whether any of my descendants are ever going to read some of my stuff that I’ve written!Reply
      1. WordsFallFromMyEyesEditI wish your descendants would read you, Aunty Uta, as I strongly believe knowing where people “came from” (circumstances, life, family, and physical) is really valuable in our understanding of now today. Also our appreciation of today, mind.I bet having a bike was special 🙂
  6. auntyutaEditI am amazed how self sufficient we were as kids. We were able to do maintenance to our bikes like fixing holes in the tubes! 🙂Reply
  7. auntyutaEditReblogged this on auntyuta and commented:This post goes back to my earliest blogging days. I tried to find whether I reblogged it before, but could not find it anywhere. It might be of interest to some of my followers. This is, why I reblog it now.

Some Copies of what I published in December 2011

Christmas

Following is something I wrote in November 2007. It sounds like I could have written this today, only now I am four years older!

Time is running out . . . .

At age seventy-three, how much time do I have left? With every year time seems to be getting more precious. Whatever I still want to do in life, I should be doing it soon, very soon. There is no need to panic. It is just this feeling in me that I ought not to waste time; in other words, I should make the best use of it I possibly can. Making time for reflections as I do right now, I do not regard this as a waste of time. It nourishes my soul, it makes me look forward to spend the day in a productive way. There are the Christmas preparations to consider. How can I keep them to a minimum with that special Christmas Spirit in mind? Some spiritual songs usually help me along to get into the mood. Even in shopping centres the odd Christmas song can bring about temporary elation, a feeling of peace and comfort in a buzzing shopping centre! And even if this sort of mood happens only for brief moments while doing the shopping , it is still appreciated and helps to cope with the mad commercialism that surrounds us everywhere.

The special food at Christmas I like very much. On the other hand I hate it, if food is being wasted. I rather have not too much food of everything. How awful, if food has to be thrown out because we cannot keep it fresh enough in the Australian heat once it leaves the fridge. There may be one and a half dozen people at our family gathering. People bring food along. I would like to keep the food that I am going to provide to a strict minimum. Unfortunately I know already that this is an impossibility at Christmas time! I suppose I’ll just have to grin and bear it. I am determined to make the most of the Christmas Spirit where-ever I may come across it and enjoy the closeness of family and friends. Indeed I am looking forward to a Joyful and Happy Christmas. I did not always feel joyful and happy at Christmas time: There are some happy memories about Christmas, but there are also some very unhappy ones . . . . May the truly happy hours at Christmas time be plentiful and greatly outnumber the sad and lonely hours! This is what I wish for everyone.

Memories

Daddy’s Anger

My husband and I lived with our two babies at my father’s place. Our application to migrate to Australia had been successful and we were looking forward to soon be leaving old Germany. Since our fare to Australia was being paid for partly by the German government and partly by the Australian government, we had to pay only a minimal amount for the voyage. Even that was hard to come up with since we had absolutely no savings. So my father volunteered to help us out a bit.

As a matter of preparing for our departure, we were trying to get rid of a few things which we could not take along to Australia. We put an ad in the paper, thinking, if we could sell the baby cots and pram, it would mean an extra bit of money for us.

I had not anticipated my father’s reaction to this. My usually so placid and relaxed father blew his head, when he saw the ad. ‘Why didn’t you tell me, you needed more money?’ he screamed. ‘I would have given you more!’

‘Do you have no consideration at all for what people might think, when they realise, that my own daughter needs to sell things in order to acquire a bit of money? Don’t you think people might wonder why on earth I do not provide for my daughter? Have you thought about my reputation at all?’

‘People in my position normally hand those things over to charity. How dare you ask for money for anything like that!’ He just went on and on about it and got more and more excited. I started to get anxious the poor man might get a heart attack. My timid apologies did stay totally unnoticed until he had calmed down a bit. But once he had calmed down, the matter was forgotten. He never mentioned it again. And we never did sell any of the items. We just left everything behind in my father’s storeroom in the basement of the building where he lived.

Out of last Year’s Files

The following is an edited version of what I wrote about a year ago. I was reflecting on what Mum was like during my early childhood years. I was also reflecting on the way women and men communicate with each other.

 

MY MOTHER

Mum doted on me. I was her first born child. I am sure I got a lot of attention during the first years of my life, and not just from Mum, but also from her sister Ilse, who had no children of her own. Later on I realised that my mother would very much have loved to have a daughter in her image. What a disappointment it must have been for her that I was in a lot of ways the exact opposite of her! Maybe I did not like to be a girl. I think I wished very much to have been a boy. Girlish things just did not interest me one bit!

On the ninth of June 1938, when I was not quite four yet, I was very excited about the arrival of a baby brother. In August 1939 Mum left us children in the care of our live-in home-help. Why did Mum leave? I remember a phone-call from Mum’s sister who was holidaying in Westerland on the Island of Sylt. I imagine Aunty would have said something like this:

‘Please join me, I am so lonely on that island here, I don’t like to have to spend all the time with that pretentious mother-in-law. She watches me like a hawk! Please, please, come, spend some time with me. It would be so good to have you around here! We can have such a lovely time together. And listen, I’m going to pay for your airfare. You can stay in my room with me. Mother-in-law is in the connecting room.’

Mum promised her sister, she’d fly to Westerland the same day. She was quite excited about this. In her excitement she forgot to ring Dad’s office to let him know about her plans. Or did she deliberately not ring him because she sensed that he would have objections to her leaving. I remember when Dad came home he was furious when he found out that Mum had taken off to join her sister and left us children in the care of an eighteen year old home-help! I believe Mum stayed in Westerland for a whole week. When she returned, she talked excitedly about how she had been spending time with her sister in Westerland.  Come night-time they waited till Auntie’s mother-in-law was fast asleep, pretending they were going to sleep too. However as soon as they thought the old lady was fast asleep, they escaped through their bedroom window and went dancing. I remember seeing pictures of them that were taken on the dance-floor. They had already acquired a nice brown tan from having spent time on the beach. I remember looking at the photos and seeing how very brown their faces looked in sharp contrast to their white dresses. Two young marine officers, smartly dressed in their uniforms, could be seen with them. Later I found out, that one of the officers was Helmut Lorenz who six years later became Aunty’s second husband after her divorce from the first one. And the other officer was no other than Max Tomscick, who after the war became Mum’s friend and whom she would call ‘Bambie’.

I cannot recall that having to stay without Mum for a week did cause us any hardship. So the young home-help must have coped quite adequately. When Baby Brother was about a year old he developed a skin condition called ‘Milch-Schorf’. He was not allowed to drink milk then. When he was a bit older, he could drink milk again.

Mum’s third child, also a boy, was born during the war in October 1941. We had a Polish maid at the time, who soon cared for the new baby as though he was her own. She became his ‘Dada’. She was the main contact person for the first three years of his life. This second brother became a very happy and contented child, whereas the first brother was always highly sensitive and suffering from Asthma through most of his childhood. In lots of ways Mum was a tremendously caring mother. I remember her being always very concerned when Bodo had his Asthma attacks. He outgrew his Asthma eventually, but maybe he never had a close relationship with any of the various live in home-helps we used to have. I think he had a close relationship with me, his older sister, for the first few years of his life and later on with Peter Uwe, his younger brother. My father, when he was around, would pay a lot of attention to us children. But I suspect, Bodo, being very sensitive, noticed that he did not get as much attention as I did or later on Peter Uwe, the new baby in the family. Bodo failed to establish a long lasting relationship with a woman later on in life.

 

 

TALKING TO WOMEN AND TALKING TO MEN

Women talking to women is easy, uncomplicated; there is no pretence. The women are just being themselves. Unless of course one woman in the group happens to be very dominant with an abundance of male hormones. When there are several such women in the group, there may be constant fighting for dominant positions. As soon as a male person enters a women’s group, the mood in the group tends to change . . . .

My experience is, that I get on very well with women if the talk centres on womanly things. Of course women tend to discuss also certain male issues from a woman’s point of view. Which is fine with me, and I enjoy participating.

However I ask myself, why is it, that subjects, on which I have formed my own opinions, which are not necessarily mainstream, I rather discuss with a sympathetic man than with a woman? Somehow I get the feeling, it is easier to discuss such a subject with a man, if the man happens to be  interested in such a subject. I often get a better response to my ideas if I open up to a man.

Naturally the number of men who are interested in discussions about philosophical questions is limited. It would be a bliss for me, if I had opportunities to meet such men on a regular basis.

https://auntyuta.com/2011/12/05/2nd-sunday-of-advent-2011/

https://auntyuta.com/2011/12/05/afternoon-of-2nd-of-advent-2011/

https://auntyuta.com/2011/12/04/handels-messiah/

I wrote on the 4th of December 2011:

Yesterday,  Handel’s MESSIAH was performed in the Wollongong Town Hall.  We went there with Caroline and Matthew. The Soprano was Siobhan Patrick, Caroline’s friend, who has been performing professionally for 20 years.

Peter is not religious. But he loves music like this. The text to the music is taken from the bible. It starts with:

THE PEOPLE OF GOD AWAIT THE COMING OF THE MESSIAH, THE REDEEMER IS BORN, CHRIST BEGINS HIS MINISTRY

In Part 2 comes:

CHRIST SUFFERS FOR HIS PEOPLE

I felt weepy when they sang:

He was despised (Alto) . . . .

All that see him laugh him to scorn (Tenor)

Later on:

THE GOSPEL IS PREACHED,  DISCORD ENSUES,  BUT THE LORD GOD REIGNS OVER ALL

The Soprano sang in a very lovely voice: How beautiful are the feet of those . . . .

Then the Bass: Why do the nations so furiously rage together?

And after that the Hallelujah Chorus

Part 3  . . . . THE FAITHFUL SING PRAISE TO THE REDEEMER

I know that my redeemer liveth – Soprano

Since by man came death – Chorus

Behold, I tell you a mystery – Bass

The trumpet shall sound – Bass

Then shall be brought to pass – Alto

O death, where is thy sting? – Alto and Tenor

If God be for us – Soprano

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain. Amen – Chorus

 

It was a truely memorable performance!

 

 

Uta’s Diary continued

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:

https://auntyuta.com/2012/11/23/a-cemetery-in-leipzig/

https://auntyuta.com/2019/10/16/a-cemetery-in-leipzig-3/

https://auntyuta.com/2013/06/08/in-love-with-leipzig-2/

 

 

 

Some Thoughts on the Education of Children a few Generations ago and now

Growing up in the 1930s and 1940s in Germany something of utmost importance seemed to be ‘die Kinderstube’. I was made to believe that without a proper ‘Kinderstube’ a child had no proper chance to get on in life. So my mum and aunt would tell me, how fortunate I was to have this ‘Kinderstube’. How then did I experience this fantastic place called Kinderstube? Oddly enough, I had a ‘Kinderzimmer’. My Kinderzimmer was never called ‘Kinderstube’. It was just that all our rooms were called ‘Zimmer’. To call a room ‘Stube’ was socially not acceptable according to Mum. I was made to understand that only socially low standing people would call their rooms ‘Stuben’. Nonetheless, to have a kinderstuben upbringing seemed to be of the utmost importance!

So, as a toddler I would spend many hours every day in my Kinderzimmer. All my toys would be kept in that Kinderzimmer. I loved my Kinderzimmer and all my toys. I was very much used to be playing with my toys in my Kinderzimmer. So, mostly I would spend a lot of time all by myself in that Kinderzimmer. I remember it quite well, how I would spend time all by myself. I did not mind this, really, because I was used to it. But I always was most happy, when another person would spend some time with me!

I think when I was about four or five, I was allowed to invite a childhood friend to come to my place and play with me. We might be allowed to have a bit of a look into the livingrooms, but to spend time to play in one of the livingrooms was not the done thing. Playtime with my companions would always take place in the kinderzimmer. The same would happen when I went visiting one of my friends.

Did I go to Kindergarten? No way! When I asked Mum, why can’t I go to Kindergarten, she would say, that only kids who had a working mother, needed to go to Kindergarten. And these mothers only had to work because the kids’ fathers did not have a sufficient income.

I could not wait to start school. I knew the beginning of the schoolyear would be at Easter. I would have liked to start school at Easter in 1940. However my birthday is in September. That meant I could not start school at Easter in 1940 because I was then only five years old. It was said I needed to be six years old to start school. In 1941 there was a change: School begin was transferred to the beginning of September, and then I was already nearly seven!

For the first day of school children were accompanied by an adult and receive a ‘Zuckertüte’ that was filled with sweets and fruit. From the second day on children did walk to school and back home all by themselves!

Our school hours in first class were twice 50 minutes. This was our schooling for the whole day! Usually I walked to school with Rosemarie who lived across the road from where I lived. When I started school there were 200 kids enrolled in that school on that day. They made up four first classes, two classes for girls and two classes for boys. That means in every class were about 50 kids!

The war, World War Two that is, had started in September 1939 and ended in May 1945. It so happened that from the beginning of January 1945 all German schools had been closed because the end of the war was near. Later that year I started highschool, that is I had to wait till September for ther school to open. So, in September 1944 I had started fourth class. Only three months later this class was finished. And this was all the official schooling I had till September 1945!

How does the life of kids of my generation differ from the life of todays kids? Todays parents have so many problems with teaching their kids because of the Coronavirus. I do understand that it is very difficult for a lot of parents to have to adjust to all the recent changes because of the virus. I just ask myself, how did my generation manage to grow up in times of war and during the aftermath of the war?

I just copied this post about my early childhood with some pictures:

https://auntyuta.com/2020/05/07/i-published-this-some-time-ago-what-mum-wrote-in-the-book-unser-kind-our-child-and-some-of-my-toddler-and-early-childhood-photos-and-photos-of-my-parents-and-family/

This saying about ‘the Kinderstube’ I think was well known all over Germany. Whenever a child would not behave exactly ‘the right way’ that child would be asked: “What sort of Kinderstube did you have?”  or perhaps the question would be: “Did you not have a Kinderstube?” and the answer might have been: “Yes, but I was not in it!”

Another saying comes to mind: “Children are meant to be seen but not heard.” I think this meant if a child was allowed to sit together with a group of adults, the child was expected to say not a word unless spoken to.

Here are two questions of mine: “Children who had a Kinderstube, were they fortunate?” And the other question: “What if children did lose a great amount of schooling because of the influences of war?

I guess children are always in some way affected by wars. Our present day children in first world countries may have very little knowledge about wars and how to live through a war. Now because of the restrictions that are imposed upon us because of the Coronavirus it is said it is like being in a war. I wonder, how our children and their parents and grandparents may be able to adjust to it to find themselves all of a sudden in a warlike world?

 

I published this some time ago: What Mum wrote in the Book “UNSER KIND – OUR CHILD” and some of my Toddler and early Childhood Photos and Photos of my Parents and Family

https://auntyuta.com/2017/10/12/what-mum-wrote-in-the-book-unser-kind-our-child-and-some-of-my-toddler-and-early-childhood-photos-and-photos-of-my-parents-and-family/

UNSER KIND’ – OUR CHILD , this is the title of a book Mum used for recording notes about my development. Here are some of the notes:

“Uta was born on Friday, 21st September 1934, at 19 hrs and 55 min. in Berlin-Schöneberg. Her birth weight was 3200 g, she was 51 cm in length.

Friday, 5th October 1934, Uta 14 days old. This is the day when she was outside for the first time. She had her first solid food on the 23rd December. She enjoyed eating biscuit with orange juice. On 2nd April 1935 she drank out of a small cup all by herself.

On 27th February 1935, Tante Ilse’s birthday, she wore a dress for the first time. She congratulated Aunty with some violets in her hand. When Uta was four months old she raised herself up into a sitting position for the first time. She could already stand quite well when she was six months. She was ten months and two days old when she took the first two steps all by herself. She could climb one step by herself at twelve months without holding onto anything.

Her first tooth appeared when she wasn’t quite seven months old yet. At twelve months she had six teeth at the top and two at the bottom. These teeth appeared one after another without any problems. On the 20th of March Uta wore ‘Schuhchen’ (little shoes) for the first time.

On the 24th of March 1935, a Sunday, she was baptised in the ‘Kirche zum Heilbronn’ by Pfarrer Wiligmann. Uta’s first words were “wau, wau”. Later she said “Mama” and then “Papa” and “Buh”. With “Buh” she meant ball.

She had three small pox vaccinations, because the first two weren’t successful. (Unsuccessful on 12.5.36 and 24.10.36. Successful vaccination on 13.4.37.)”

Here now is what Mum wrote on the 26th of September 1935: “Uta likes children a real lot. She wants to play with every one. She loves to play in the sand. – When I take her out she always likes to stand up in her pram and she smiles at every one. People always take notice of her. When Uta was ten months old I took her on a bike-tour. She was placed in a basket-seat which was fastened to my handle-bar. We went along the Promenade of Münster. It started raining a bit. Because of this she ended up with a bit of a cold.

She was eleven months when she was for the first time in an outside water, the Aasee of Münster. The temperature was 24 degrees (Celsius). Uta went across the German border into Poland when she was nine months. This was her first major trip. Destination Lodz.

For Uta’s first birthday we were still in Münster. Sissi and Teo were our guests. Uta loved all the presents. All day long she played with her toys.”

And there’s a list of all the presents I received, from Aunty in Berlin, from Grandma in Leipzig and also from the grandparents in Lodz.

These are pictures from Lodz in June 1935. I’m in the pictures with my cousin Horst who was born in February 1935.

These are pictures of me from July 1935 in Münster/Westphalia

These are two more pictures from September 1935

Mum wrote I loved to play with sand. Here I’m sitting at one of the sand-boxes (Buddelkasten) with my ‘boy-friend’. I think I was fond of boys at a young age!

The last two pictures are taken in my ‘Kinderzimmer’. I have great fun sitting in the little bed which is for dolls and teddies. There’s one of the chairs which was a gift all the way from Lodz for my first birthday.

I have here a few more pictures Mum took of me as a toddler. Apparently I wanted to try out whatever other children had, be it a toy car, a doll’s pram or a big tricycle. I didn’t own any of these things, but gee I was keen on trying them out!

How on earth did Mum convince the children to let me try out their things so she could take these photos?

.

On my fourth birthday Tante Ilse gave me a ‘Puppenwagen’, a pram for my
dolls.

Mum kept a big photo album with pictures of me. Growing up, I always liked to look at all these pictures. However, I remember distinctly that the following pictures annoyed me quite a bit. I felt awful that the pictures showed me being so very plump! When I was told I looked ‘cute’ I tended not to believe it. I was self conscious at an early age and mostly didn’t feel ‘cute’ at all. I still often don’t like my picture taken because I think I might look awful! The adults in the pictures are my Mum, Tante Ilse and Onkel Addi. I wonder who took the pictures with all three adults in it. Was it perhaps my father? Pussi was Tante Ilse’s dog. Apparently I loved carrying this dog.

For good measure I want to include here another blog with my father and mother in it and some of the extended family.

My father, Alexander Spickermann, was born in Lodz on the 13th of May 1904. The following picture of him was taken in about 1916. This is the earliest picture I have of him.

Alexander’s brother Edmund Spickermann, was born in 1902. Both brothers studied in Leipzig, Germany. The following pictures are from 1925 in the city of Leipzig. There is first Alexander and then Edmund. Both brothers are in their student outfits. And then there is a picture of both of them in front of the Völkerschlacht-Denkmal in Leipzig.

Alexander ca 1916

Leipzig ca. 1925

Edmund ca 1925

Alexander und Edmund am Voelkerschlachts Denkmal after 1925

Alexander, Charlotte, Ilse, Edmund 1925

Alexander and Charlotte are my parents. They were married on the 25th of September 1930. Earlier that year, that is in 1930, Alexander promoted to Dr. phil and Edmund, I think, to Dr. rer.pol. The above picture is from 1925 when Alexander and Edmund first met Charlotte and Ilse. Charlotte was only fourteen years old at the time. Her sister Ilse was eighteen. Below is my parents’ wedding photo from the 25th of September 1930. (Charlotte was born on the 23rd of March 1911 and Ilse on the 27th of February 1907).

25.9.1930

ca 1930

Ostern 1935 mit Oleg

Above is another photo of Dad from 1930. The next photo was taken around Easter of 1935.

Dad is holding me. I had been born on the 21st of September 1934. So I am about six months in that picture.

2-06-2009 5;02;29 PM

In the above picture Dad is probably not quite forty yet. And then there is the photo of the Grandparents’ Golden Wedding Anniversary in Litzmannstadt (Lodz) in November of 1943. On the left is my sixteen year old cousin Ursula; next are Dad and Mum and I am in front beside Grossmutter (Grandma). I am nine years old.

Golden Wedding (2)

Below now is the picture that was taken in June of 1938 soon after the home-birth of my brother Bodo. Since February of 1930 Ilse had been married to Adolf Schlinke (Onkel Addi). They owned this beautiful car, called ‘Wanderer’.
Grossvater Josef Spickermann (Granddad) was in Berlin for a visit. Presumably to see Bodo, his new grandson. The Schlinkes took Granddad, Dad and me for an outing in their car. The picture was taken in Berlin at the Reichssportfeld. Dad is in the picture on the left.

The next picture is taken at the Baltic seaside resort of Graal/Müritz in 1940. In the ‘Strandkorb’ are Mum and Tante Ilse, Dad is standing next to them.

Oleg,Joseph,Ilse,Ute an Schlinkes Wagen

Alexander mit Charlotte und Ilse Graal Mueritz 1940

I copied three more photos, probably all from the 1950s. The first one is Dad in his office, the two others are party photos with Dad and his family. In the last photo are Dad and his three sisters and two brothers. They were probably celebrating someone’s birthday. The Spickermanns liked to come together as a family.

In the Office MNid 1950

Lies, Alfred, Gertrud, Alexander,Ludwig, Horst 13.5.1964

Geschw. Spickermann, Alexander, Ludwig, Jenny, Olga, Lies, Edmund 13.5.1964

I did another copy of this post and published it on the 3rd of June 2020

Some Childhood Memories about my School Years in the 1940s

I just looked at this earlier post of mine, made a few changes and am going to republish it!

I also copy here the comments from the comment section:

likeitiz

Feb 2, 2012·

likeitiz.wordpress.com

There is something so precious about childhood memories. It makes us go back to a time when our lives were much simpler but fun and enjoyable, not fraught with stress and worry. Is your life back to a similar atmosphere? I wonder if we need to work hard to make sure our twilight years would be fun to live through.

My answer:

You’re right, Mary-Ann, cutting back on work and leading a much simpler life is possible in old age and can be enjoyable and less stressful. All the people I know in my age-group admit they tend to gradually do a bit less but enjoy doing the things they are still able to do. This applies to me too! Thinking back to what I was like before puberty set in I find that this was probably a relatively stressfree time.The atmosphere I grew up in was probably a healthy one even though there was a war going on. I was always healthy despite certain shortages due to the war.

As far as old age is concerned, yes, life is simpler. You learn to accept limitations like not being able to walk as fast as younger people, your eyesight and hearing isn’t as good as it used to be, your bones are shrinking and sometimes aching etc. Well, as a young child you also have some limitations. However, as a child you know that as you grow older you’ll get better in a lot of things. So you’re looking forward to the future. You want to grow up quickly to do this and do that!

As an older person you just hope that the young ones are going to have a good future! It’s bliss to see the young ones grow up and develop their skills.

Eliz asked:

Why the roll on top of your head? Just curious. Thankfully some of the teaching approaches have changed.

 

  • auntyuta

    auntyuta
    eof737

    I guess the roll on top of the head was fashionable and my mother liked it. Some girls seemed to cope rather well with it. Since I have extremely soft hair the roll just wouldn’t stay on top of my head but hover over my forehead which annoyed me no end.
    Teaching methods would probably have changed quite a bit over the years. After all, these were the 1940s!

     

Here now is a copy of my post I published Feb 2012:

Towards the End of Worldwar II and after the War

During my year at the village school in Lichtenow, I had become used to a very individual teaching style. This changed however, when after the summer holidays of 1944 I was enrolled in year four of the Herzfelde Primary School, and I found myself there in a class of about thirty girls.

In this class we spent most of the time doing reading, writing and arithmetic. We also learnt a few songs, especially ‘marching songs’. We had to know these songs because they came in handy, when we marched through town, which happened about once a week. We thought, it was great fun, when all the girls of our class marched along in rows of two, singing all the marching songs, which we knew so well. I believe this marching business came about, because we were supposed to have a bit of exercise to keep us healthy and fit. We did not have a sports’ teacher at the time, which meant, that sport as such was not on the curriculum. Of course we had our class-teacher accompanying us on our marching sessions through town and surroundings.

Once a week we were given dictation. Every spelling mistake was marked by the teacher, counting one bad point for every mistake and half a bad point for a punctuation mistake. The student with the least mistakes was seated at the top of the class. All students were seated according to the number of mistakes they made in dictation. The students who made the most mistakes were seated at the bottom of the class right in front of the teacher.

Thanks to the good schooling I had received in Lichtenow, I was able to spell quite well and usually ended up among the top three students in the class. I felt lucky in that regard. My handwriting however was terrible. Handwriting had always been my worst subject. Luckily for me, it was a separate subject and did not influence the marking of any other subject!

That the teacher praised students with the better marks, was nothing new to me. It was also generally accepted, that the teacher let the other students know, who was in the lower range in any subject. For instance, when we were writing a composition on a given theme, the teacher would collect the finished compositions and take them home to mark them. Once the marked compositions were handed back to us, the teacher discussed in front of the whole class, who had written a good composition; also whose composition was satisfactory, just satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

I went to the school in Herzfelde for about three months only. From that time on I had a preference for sitting in the back rather than the front of the class. When I went to high-school in Berlin later on, I always tried to get a seat in one of the back-rows. I was rather glad, that In high-school we were allowed to choose ourselves, where to sit. I used to pity the girls in the front-rows, who often had to suffer a lot of spitting out of the mouth of this very old German teacher, Dr. Petzel. The standard joke after an enormous spitting session was, that the girls in the front rows should put up umbrellas, when Dr. Petzel was talking!

Right through my childhood I was made to wear a roll of hair on top of my head, which hovered over the midst of my forehead. On my tenth birthday I was finally allowed to comb my hair to the side. Because of this, I felt, I was on the way to becoming a grown-up person.

Here’s a picture from my tenth birthday as well as a picture that was taken a bit after my 10th birthday. Then there is a picture that was taken at a zoo when I was only about 8 and my friend Eva was 7.

2-06-2009 5;02;05 PM

Guests I had on my 10th Birthday: Next to me three schoolfriends from my school in Herzfelde, then Christa Grosskreuz, Eva Todtenhausen, Gerlinde Grosskreuz, and  my brother Bodo.

2-06-2009 5;02;01 PM2-06-2009 4;31;52 PM

 

AuntyUta

Towards the End of Worldwar II and after the War

During my year at the village school in Lichtenow, I had become used to a very individual teaching style. This changed however, when after the summer holidays of 1944 I was enrolled in year four of the Herzfelde Primary School, and I found myself there in a class of about thirty girls.

In this class we spent most of the time doing reading, writing and arithmetic. We also learnt a few songs, especially ‘marching songs’. We had to know these songs because they came in handy, when we marched through town, which happened about once a week. We thought, it was great fun, when all the girls of our class marched along in rows of two, singing all the marching songs, which we knew so well. I believe this marching business came about, because we were supposed to have a…

View original post 503 more words

Memories and Musings about Coffee and the Voyage of a Lifetime in 1959

https://berlintypography.wordpress.com/2017/10/25/bakeries-in-berlin/

https://www.kochbar.de/rezept/531795/Blechkuchen-Bienenstich-mein-persoenliches-Grundrezept.html

‘Bienenstich’, a yeast-cake, filled with a lot of thick custard and topped with buttery crumbs. This is what my mum was very good at baking. She used to bake this cake every weekend while we lived in the country towards the end of WWII.

After long searching I have found what I wrote a few years ago about our Saturday nights during 1943/1944:

https://auntyuta.com/2015/01/21/once-more-remembering-19431944/

“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!”

So I did mention this yummy cake. A bit further on in this blog I mention that mum did bake this cake every Saturday. It was usually served late at night. Here I mention how mum would like to bake this cake. (Maria made some potato salad every Saturday!)

“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.”

Following I copy some childhood memories about our landlord, Werner Man:

https://auntyuta.com/childhood-memories/

OUR LANDLORD FROM SEP 1943 TO JAN 1945

“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, Maria and Katja, 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 Mann, the owner of all those fields that went on for miles and miles, was an acquaintance of Tante Ilse. People said he was a millionaire. Apart from these Ländereien he owned extensive brick-works (Ziegeleien). He was our landlord and he liked to spoil us. With no strings attached! Tante Ilse only had to voice a wish and Werner Mann immediately did whatever he could to fulfill her wish. He spoiled all of us by constantly getting produce delivered to us such as: 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 Mann 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 Mann 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 Mann 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 very large.

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

So I mentioned in my blog that Werner Mann ‘was happy to just be invited for ”Kaffee und Kuchen” on weekends and to spend some time with all of us.’ And I say he usually came on his bike. I think he did come just for afternoon coffee and cake. Well, as far as I remember mum baked a large enough cake that would have lasted for afternoon and evening. I am sure WM never joined in the evening card games. But he was there for our Christmas Eve celebrations and somewhere I published a picture to prove it.

The following I copied somewhere about the German ‘Kaffee und Kuchen Tradition’:

europe.stripes.com/lifestyle/germanys-kaffee-und-kuchen-tradition

Photo by Alisa Anton
Photo by Alisa Anton

Germany’s kaffee und kuchen tradition

by Gail L. Winfree
Stripes Europe
“You’ll find plenty of cafés scattered across almost every town in Germany. On any given afternoon, you’ll likely discover them bustling with people sharing a tradition that’s become a core of everyday German life.Kaffee und kuchen (coffee and cake) is an afternoon ritual where friends, family, or coworkers will meet for an hour or two to enjoy coffee, cake, and socializing. . . .”

My thoughts about this German Kaffee und Kuchen Tradition are not all that straight forward. Peter for one likes very much to stick to this tradition. The exception is when we go out for lunch. We often have then a cup of coffee straight after lunch. And later on at home we might decide to have some tea instead of coffee.
Usually we have lunch at home. I often feel like having a cup of coffee soon after lunch at home. But then Peter usually talks me out of it and makes me wait till about 3pm so that we can have coffee together. And since Peter is a great cake lover. a bit of cake is what has to come with the afternoon coffee as well!
Something else comes to mind. When we travelled to Australia in 1959 on that huge ocean liner ‘STRAITHAIRD’ we always had a cup of coffee after lunch in one of the ship’s elegant sitting rooms. I think afternoon tea was soon after four o’clock. The children had their own evening meal session probably already at five, since later on there were two different dinner session for the grown-ups. We were told at one stage that late at night there was also some yummy supper to be had. But we never stayed up that late. Unfortunately we misssed out on that! But maybe this is just as well. With yummy breakfast and mid-morning refreshments before lunch we were all too well fed anyway. I’d say, it was a luxury voyage for some poor English and German migrants! Hm, hm, how lucky can you be, I ask myself. It was the voyage of a lifetime, for sure.