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.

A Copy of ‘Experiences in my Life’

On the 10th October 2018 I wrote this:

“Yesterday there was on Peter’s Facebook a link to this blog. A few people were interested in reading it. I reblogged it here so maybe some more people might want to read it.”

So today, one year later, I looked again at this blog and decided to copy it, hoping that some blogger friends who haven’t seen it yet, might want to have a look at it.

Originally I published it here:

https://auntyuta.com/2017/10/05/experiences-in-my-life/

Here now is the copy of ‘Experiences in my Life’ from the 5th October 2017:

“It has been a while  since I added anything to my childhood memories. If I had another look at it now to see what I have written  some time ago, maybe I would find a few things in there that I do not remember so well anymore now. With time the memories seem to fade somewhat. This is why it is important to write down the things that I do still remember now.

Today I thought about it how blessed I am that I have a number of great-grandchildren. Yes, there are five of them now. Grandson Tristan has two girls, grandson Ryan has two boys, and granddaughter Roxanne has one boy. The two girls are nine and ten years. The boys are five and three years, whereas Roxy’s little Carter is now 10 and 1/2 months. Since all of us do not live very close together,  I cannot see the family on a daily or weekly basis. Even a regular monthly meeting is usually not on the cards for Peter and me.  After all we are both in our eighties. Still, I am very happy that Peter can still drive enabling us to participate in special family celebrations. A few times a year our extended Family does come to visit us. I am always thrilled when a lot of visitors turn up at our place!

Everyone tells  us that it  is great that our family keeps in contact for birthdays, and at Christmas time and Easter. I do appreciate this very much and am very grateful for it. It is very rewarding to see the growing up of  great-grandchildren.  Watching them at their different stages kind of reminds me of my own childhood.

I often ask myself: What was I like at such and such an age? I still do have vivid memories about some events and some family members from the time when I was about three or four. So would my great-grandchildren perhaps remember people and events from the here and now when they are in their eighties?

When I go back to the time when I was about three or four, Cordula often comes to mind who was just eight months younger than I was. We could see each other quite often. Actually, I think she was a bit like a sister to me. When her Mum took Cordula for an outing. I was often allowed to go with them. I have such good memories about these walks! I cannot recall that my Mum ever asked Cordula to come along with us when my Mum took me for  an outing somewhere. I think occasionally Cordula would come to the apartment where I lived to play with me. But usually I would go for visits to  where Cordula lived just two floors further up on the fifth floor.

To me – even as a child – these  five story high Berlin apartment buildings  were just perfect as a  place to live  in. When we moved to a desolate country area because of ever increasing bomb raids on Berlin, I missed Berlin very much.

Last year when we went for  a visit to Berlin, we  stayed in an area where  all the buildings  were five stories high. All of them were beautifully restored and maintained. “Wie im tiefsten Frieden”  – like there was absolute peace. This is what we used to tell us during the war when something seemed to be like it was before the war started. These buildings I  am referring to were last year already well over 100 years  old!”

One month ago, on the 13th September 2019, granddaughter Roxanne had a Baby daughter: Evie Rose. That means little Carter ( nearly 3 now) has a baby sister. He loves her to bits!

Last weekend we stayed in Sydney: Grandson Troy did get married to Antonina. It was again a great family event!

In October 2017 two bloggers made comments to

 “Experiences in my Life”

I copy these comments here together with my answers:

  1. It is always rewarding to have family keep in contact. After marriage one of my brothers and one sister moved to Queensland. Another brother lives in Holland. The distance makes it more difficult but sometimes we phone or even visit.
    The grandsons are now in their teens and start making their own lives.

    1. That’s right, Gerard, distance makes it more difficult. We often talk with Peter’s sister in Berlin via skype, also we do talk via skype with my brother who lives not far from Berlin. To be able to skype for free for any length of time is a marvellous thing. However seeing our siblings in person and being able to give them real hugs is something else altogether. In our modern world because of overseas flights we do have the opportunity to keep some real person to person contact. But no matter how often we take to the air to go for visits in distant lands in the end we have to live most of the time without our far away siblings . On the other hand it may perhaps be possible to tell oneself that overall the spiritual is somewhat more important than the physical?
      How often do very elderly people lead a very lonely life because none of their loved ones lives near by?

When I think of my Parents . . . . . . .(a Copy)

I wrote the following in my diary from the 2nd September 2015:

“When I think of my parents, the most remarkable memory about them is, how very different they were. Here is a bit of how my father may have influenced me, and then how my mother’s influence was so very different.

My father was the most open minded and tolerant person. He liked to talk to me about a lot of things. He always treated me as though I was trustworthy and mature for my age, able to understand different points of view. Very rarely did I see him being angry with me. He only tended to be somewhat angry when, all of a sudden, I behaved in a very unpredictable way. Despite his open mindedness he was basically a very conservative man. If I showed signs of departing from his view of the world, this would upset him personally. Still, he was loving and forgiving, and eventually he was always able to accept my departure from some of his conservative views.

Now, my mother was in every way the opposite of my father. On the whole she was maybe rather tolerant as far as I was concerned because she loved me. But she made it very clear, that she did not love my father anymore. She showed not the least bit of tolerance towards him, on the contrary, she showed a lot of hatred, for in her opinion he was a “Versager” who did not do anything for his children. She thought it was not up to her to look after him when he had serious health issues. Maybe she thought he was just pretending. Also, she hardly ever talked to me about things that were important to me. She tended to keep very important things from me, for she wanted ‘to protect’ me! At least, this is how I remember it. I knew she loved me very much. Still, I always felt I was not the daughter she imagined I should be. I remember she telling me, I was an “Oppositionsgeist”. So I must have been speaking up about some things that disturbed me a great deal. I felt very bad for opposing her, but I could not help it. Of course, on the outside I tried very hard to go along with what she expected of me, just to keep the peace. Alas, I think I came into inner conflict about it. In short, I often did not feel happy about myself.

I ask myself now, how come, when I felt very much loved by both parents, I still did not feel very happy in myself a lot of the time? I think I felt torn between my parents . . . . ”

https://auntyuta.com/2019/09/17/utas-diary-2nd-of-september-2015-2/

Further on I republish a few items and pictures from an earlier post:

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/

“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.

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 1916Leipzig ca. 1925Edmund ca 1925Alexander und Edmund am Voelkerschlachts Denkmal after 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 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

My parents’ weddig photo: 25th September 1930

My parents lived apart a lot of the time during and after World War II and then divorced after having lived apart for many years.

Mum and her sister Ilse in June 1940

Mum with me and my brothers Bodo and Peter Uwe in 1947

My Family’s Reaction

 

https://auntyuta.com/2011/12/06/575/

After reading my account regarding the lucky escape from the bombs in 1945, two of my grand-children had a few questions. One asked, whether there had been a lot of noise, when the bombs came down, the other one wanted to know, which song little Peter had been singing, when we were bombed. And had the lights gone off?
Well, we always had some candles handy, in case the lights would go out. On this occasion for sure the lights all went out instantly. The noise was horrifying as the bombs hit us. It was such a terrific noise  that nobody could be in any doubt, our house had been hit this time. In the quiet that followed and before people started to move around to look for an escape, they did light a few candles.
Five bombs  had hit our building in quick succession. Immediately afterwards it was absolutely quiet. That meant, there were no more planes in the air. What if the last plane, that was around, just had to get rid of the last five bombs before flying back to follow  the other planes who were on their way back already?
As far as little Peter’s song is concerned, I think it was probably the song about little Jack who wanders off into the world and his tearful mother stays behind. After seven years the boy thinks of his mother and very quickly runs back home.

 

OUR LUCKY ESCAPE

Today I remembered again how we escaped all these bomb raids during World War Two. and how we escaped the bombing of grandmother’s place in Leipzig in April 1945. Here I wrote about it:

https://auntyuta.com/2011/12/08/our-lucky-escape/

Some of my children know a bit about our lucky escape in 1945. In case they want to find out a bit more about it, I am now trying to write down whatever I do remember.

During the last war years we had stayed away from Berlin, living east of Berlin in a desolate country area. With the Russians fast approaching at the beginning of 1945, my mother decided, we would move to grandmother’s place in Leipzig, rather than go back to Berlin to our apartment which we still rented. We children were never allowed to visit Berlin during the years of the bomb raids.

From the beginning of February 1945 my mother, my two brothers and I stayed in Leipzig with grandmother and cousin Renata. As I remember it, there were frequent bomb raids. We were used to the sound of the sirens and having to stay in the cellar for hours at a time.

After Christmas, schools had not opened any more. We played a lot in the surrounding streets with other children. But we were never allowed to stroll very far. In case of an alarm , we had to be within the vicinity of our cellar. For us children this was just part of every day life. My brothers were three and six years, I was ten years old. The winter was very cold, but we still had enough to eat, were dressed warmly. In the kitchen there was always a fire going in the oven for cooking and for hot water. In the bedrooms we had enormous feather-beds to keep us warm.

There was talking about that this bloody war was soon to end. We sure were looking forward to this! I cannot remember ever having been scared or thinking that anything bad could happen to me. Or to my family. To us children it seemed rather entertaining to be sitting in the air-raid shelter. Many people congregating as soon as the sirens went off, was extremely exciting! We did get to know everyone, who lived in that tall five story building. The adults would talk to us children, asking us questions, just being friendly.

And we would listen to the adults talking to each other. I remember that I always found it interesting to listen to adult conversations. And sometimes all of us would sing a few songs. I loved the singing of songs! When we could hear bombs hitting somewhere in the neighbourhood, it never seemed very close to us. This meant we were all right. Often my three year old brother entertained everyone by singing solo. They were cute little children’s songs. People always encouraged him to sing more songs because they loved his singing.

In April there was another bomb-raid. We had a relaxing time with everybody in the cellar. It was a long lasting alarm, went on for hours. Since it was in the middle of the night, mum wanted us to go to sleep. We were able to stretch out a bit on our makeshift beds. But I don’t think we were able to go to sleep that night. My brother Peter was still singing his songs when several bombs hit us. This time there could be no doubt that the bombs had fallen right on top of us since the noise was absolutely deafening! My six year old brother Bodo started crying. I felt so sorry for him. It was terrible seeing him being so horribly scared. I said to him he needn’t be afraid. Soon everything would be over.

I was right. It did not take long at all. All of a sudden, it was very quiet. Then some people started moving, investigating, whether we could still get out. Our main exit was full of debris. Impossible to get out there. There was a bricked-in escape to the cellar of the next door building. To make use of this escape, quite a few bricks would have to be dislodged. Then someone shouted that the window, that led from the cellar to the footpath in one of the adjoining cellar-rooms, was not blocked. It was easy, to get out through there!

A sigh of relief went through the crowd. My brother Bodo was not scared any more either. My brother Peter had never been scared at all. People said, this was because he had still been too little to understand. Later on, we found, that the building had been hit by up to five bombs. Right to the ground-floor,  everything had been torn away. Miraculously, a lot of the ground-floor was still standing. This was my grandmother’s apartment! My grandmother was able to save some of her furniture together with all our belongings. A lucky escape indeed.

I published the above in December 2011 and here are some comments to this post:

  1. What a harrowing experience! I hope people are not so quick to forget. There are no real winners in war. There are only casualties. European countries are wise to tread carefully not to disentangle their alliances. No one wants to Europe ripped apart by some lunatic or some crazy ideology.

    1. There have been a lot of changes since the end of World War II. Has the world become more peaceful? Do we all work for peace? When we say we want peace on earth, do we really mean it?
      Let’s count our blessings and be thankful for what has been given to us. But let’s not forget that a lot of people still suffer enormous hardship.
      Thanks for visiting, dear Mary-Ann. Your comments show that you care a lot. Have a very beautiful Advent Season. Best wishes, Uta.

    1. I cannot remember ever having been very scared as a child. But writing about it now makes me shake a bit. After more than 66 years I find it hard to believe that we could have been so lucky to escape unhurt!
      Thanks for your comment, dear Munira.

  2. Oh my goodness. What a vivid account. I know what you mean about being fascinated by adult conversation. I was the same way as a young child. Perhaps that is part of the reason that you had a bit of an adult-like perspective on the events at the time and yet saw it through the eyes of a child as an adventure of sorts. But my goodness–to have experienced so very much so very young. I am grateful that you and your family survived.

    1. You’re spot on with your comments, dear Kate! As you say as children we could see it as an adventure of sorts. Mum was always quick too to make the best of a given situation. We lived in one of the cellar-rooms for the first few days after our building had been destroyed. It was spring already. During the day we had lovely sunshine. Mum and Renata acually anjoyed sitting in the sunshine on mats on the big heap of rubble in front of what used to be our house. They were happily remarking that they had a lovely time sitting there! I am not sure what day the Americans arrived in Leipzig, but I am certain it was while we still lived in the cellar. I was close to Mum and Renata when we noticed some planes flying above us in the clear sky. It happened to be the 20th of April. Mum as well as Renata very happily joked that the planes might be on their way to Berlin to give Hitler a birthday present!.

    1. After the end of W W II we were under the delusion that wars could be prevented forever. We were so much longing for a peaceful world! We were dreaming that peace could last forever. My family was lucky that now for more than 65 years we could live in peace. I wished everyone had the chance to live in peace like this.

Leave a Reply

 

How do you cope with being lied to?

“Das verstehst du noch nicht, du bist ja noch so klein . . . ”

(This you cannot understand yet, you are still too young for this . . . )

This is one of my earliest memories about how Mum would have talked to me. However, Dad would never have talked to me like this. This is how I remember it anyhow. Dad always tried to explain everything to me.

When I was sixteen, I had the chance to meet my Dad for a few hours. He told me that Mum had divorced him . Didn’t she tell you this, he asked me. As a matter of fact, no, she had not bothered to let me know anything about the divorce! In the end I think I told myself that she probably meant well, that she just did not want me to get upset! Was I upset then? My word, I was. When I was  young and still living with my mother,  I could never adjust to the way Mum treated me. No matter how well she meant, she managed to upset me very, very often in lots of ways!

The same kind of being extremely upset I do experience when politicians in power deliberately keep things from the electorate or spread outright lies!!

 

Uta’s Diary

In my ‘Childhood Memories’ I published this:

https://auntyuta.com/2016/05/24/my-paternal-grandparents/

In this post I wrote about the birth of my little brother. This ‘little’ brother is about to turn 80. Yes, on the 9th of June this year he is going to be 80. He still lives in Berlin in a home for the aged  where he is well looked after. On a visit to Berlin I was able to see brother Bodo on his 78th birthday. My younger brother Peter Uwe also came to Berlin at the time. So two years ago, on the 9th of June, Peter Uwe and I  went together to see our brother Bodo!   Now, in 2018, he is going to turn 80 . . . . !

DSCN1061
Bodo and Peter Uwe on the 9th of June 2016

So some time ago I published among other things the following:

9.Juni 1938 Bodo ist nur ein paar Stunden alt

On the 9th of June 1938 my brother Bodo Alexander was born. He was born at home in our apartment in Berlin, Bozener Strasse. Here in this picture he is only a few hours old. I was thrilled to have a baby brother! I believed the ‘Klapperstorch’ had brought him. Mum’s sister Ilse was very excited about this addition to the family as well. Later on I always heard stories about how this home delivery took place. And I did sleep through all of it.When I woke up in the morning, Tante Ilse led me to the cot in the parent’s bedroom. And surprise, surprise, der Klapperstorch had brought a beautiful baby boy. I do remember how he was there in his cot. Later on was  taken the above picture where the baby is in Mum’s bed and I am beside Mum looking at my beautiful little brother.