Pipe laying for Waterboard in 1960

Peter and Eberhard were laying sewerage pipes in Wollongong for Waterboard in 1960. Some time ago Peter wrote a story about ‘Billy Boy’. In the story he says: Billy had befriended us at work, where he was our ‘Billy Boy’ providing us with hot water for tea and for washing ourselves. He also helped us with our English. Bill told us to call in at his place when we were in Picton. The story goes under the title:

The ‘Billy Boy’ and His Girls

https://berlioz1935.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/the-billy-boy-and-his-girls/

“Come on in, boys,” said Bill with a big smile as he opened the door. We, my friend from work and me, did not consider ourselves boys, but he was close to fifty years older than we were. From his point of view we were just some youngsters blown in by the trade winds from another continent.

“Did you have any trouble finding the place?” he asked. His face had a reddish, weather beaten complexion. Large furrows and wrinkles criss crossed his face like the legendary canals on Mars, bearing witness to a long outdoor life. He had seen much of Australia as a train driver during the war years. Supplies were taken up to Darwin by train and from there by ship to the troops fighting in the Pacific.

He had befriended us at work, where he was our ‘Billy Boy’ providing us with hot water for tea and for washing ourselves. He also helped us with our English. Bill told us to call in at his place when we were in Picton.

“Saturday would be fine,” said Bill .

“And you will get to meet the girls,” he added with a friendly smile.

We heard ‘girls’ and thought it was about time we got acquainted with some females in Australia. We had not been in Australia for long and all was pretty new to us. I had bought an old Austin A 40. My  friend and I took the car for the half an hour’s drive to see Bill and the girls; probably his granddaughters as he was already past seventy.

We accepted his invitation and went inside his house, a large double story stone building at the edge of town. It was dark inside. He lead us into the dining room.

“The girls will be coming down soon to say ‘Hello’ “, Bill said.

The dining room was dark too. Thick, heavy curtains blocked out any daylight. We could just make out some furniture. As Bill started to draw back the curtains, revealing a beautiful table and eight chairs all made from red cedar, we saw a large cabinet with glass doors and behind them some Royal Dalton and Wedgwood tableware. On the wall was a painting of a stern looking couple. We felt transported into the nineteenth century.

“You know, we haven’t used the dining room since 1935,” Bill said.

“That’s over twenty five years ago, Bill,” I said to him.

“There you are, it shows you how time flies,” he answered.

He went to the door from time to time to look up the stairs where he expected the girls to come down from.

“Have a seat while I’ll put the kettle on. The girls should be down very shortly. You know how it is? They want to look their best,” Bill said with a wink. ‘They have never met Germans in their lives.”

Bill wasn’t gone long when he came back and announced, “Here they come!” and motioned us to the door.

“Aren’t they beautiful?’ Bill whispered, so the girls would not be embarrassed.

There was an electric light on now in the hallway and what we saw, were three women, of advanced years ― of very advanced years, I thought. They were dressed in dark frocks, which nearly touched the floor, white blouses and short black jackets. On their heads they wore small, round hats. They were holding on to the beautiful carved bannister as they carefully stepped from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. They gave me the impression they had been found in a tomb. Their faces looked old and wrinkly too, as the heat and the harsh wind in Australia had not been kind to them.

After we exchanged a few “Pleased to meet you” and “How are you?” we all took seats at the table. I noticed now that they wore long sleeved gloves. Bill, his face beaming, arrived with a pot of tea from the kitchen and took out the tea cups from the cabinet. He did all the work, if one could call it work, and served us and the ‘girls’. He explained that they were his sisters and much older than him. They reminded me of Daisy Bates, of whom I had seen some pictures.

“I was the baby of the family,” Bill said with a wink, “and now I have to look after them.”

Bill had such a great personality and he was full of life and always had a sparkle in his eyes. He seemed so proud that he was able to introduce his new friends and his sisters to each other. At the time we did not know that Australians called women of any age ‘girls’. We still had to learn a lot as newcomers to this great country

Peter wrote in 2014: My Granddad and World War I

One hundred years ago the most terrible of wars began. Up to that time there had been no war like this. I blame the industrial societies for it. In their search for growth potential they did not allow any restrictions; “markets, customers and resources,” was the cry for the “promised land”.

My Granddad, Otto Hannemann, was a carpenter foreman in the growing city of Berlin. Born in the small town of Lukenwalde, south of Berlin, he looked for work in the big city to support his growing family. In the first picture we see him with one of his two daughters and my dad. It seems they are all dressed up for  a Sunday outing. In July 1907 my father was six years old.

July 1907

July 1907

These were the years of peace and  future  well being. I don’t know much about my Granddad. My father seemed to be proud of him and proclaimed that “he built all the bridges” over the railway lines out of Berlin to the South. In the next picture we see him with some workers on a building site. I have been assured that he is in the picture. I think it is him on the far left with his hat on. The occasion is most likely a “Richtfest”,  the celebration of the erection  of the roof supports.

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When the war started he was not called up straight away. Only later, in the beginning of 1916, he was called upon as he was a reservist (Landjäger). In the picture he looks rather serious, probably anticipating what lay ahead of him.

Early 1916, it is still Winter

Early 1916, it is still Winter

It is the same picture my Grandmother had in a large frame on the wall of her bedroom. It seems he had his training in Schwerin, the capital of Mecklenburg.

The next picture was taken on the 15th February 1916. He was sending the card as a birthday gift. For whom, I don’t know. You can see him on the left in the back row.with the arrow pointing at him.

15.2.1916

15.2.1916

In the next picture you can see him second from the left in the centre row. On the back he wrote that those are the men from room 13 and he added, which mystifies me,  “the ‘washer children’ are not in the picture”. Whatever this means?

14.4.1916

14.4.1916

The next picture could be from the same period. The soldiers in “drill uniforms” usually worn on work duties. It looks to me they are waiting to be issued with food. He is in the centre and is marked with a red cross.

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I have no idea when he was sent to the Western Front. Perhaps he was even opposite Australian forces.

The following photo was made on Sunday 14th May 1916. It tells on the sign  “Rat-Goulash on the menu for the day”.

14 th of May 1916

14 th of May 1916

On the 15th of July 1916 he wrote at the back of the photo that he sent to his loved ones, that really they don’t have to eat rat-goulash yet. The picture has been staged he assured the readers, but still there are lots of rats to be seen. And they say Germans have no sense of humour.

I don’t know what happened to him after his arrival at the front. We know from the war reports and history books that it was hell. On the 2. 12. 1916 he fell. Some reports tell of cold and frosty days. He is buried in a war cemetery just  outside Lille.#

Granddad's final resting place.

Granddad’s final resting place.

When the fighting stopped all soldiers hoped they saw the last of it. But the struggle was not over. World War Two, the next conflict, was even worse.

Diary

Pictures from Anzac Day 2021 among the trees in Lakelands Park, Dapto, NSW, Australia.

Remembering how the poppies grow row on row between the crosses in Flanders Fields.

Remembering Peter’s grandfather, Otto Hannemann, who died in 1916 in Flanders. His grave is near Lille in France.

https://berlioz1935.wordpress.com/tag/ww-1/

This is what Peter published about his grandfather Otto HANNEMANN:

One hundred years ago the most terrible of wars began. Up to that time there had been no war like this. I blame the industrial societies for it. In their search for growth potential they did not allow any restrictions; “markets, customers and resources,” was the cry for the “promised land”.

My Granddad, Otto Hannemann, was a carpenter foreman in the growing city of Berlin. Born in the small town of Lukenwalde, south of Berlin, he looked for work in the big city to support his growing family. In the first picture we see him with one of his two daughters and my dad. It seems they are all dressed up for  a Sunday outing. In July 1907 my father was six years old.

July 1907

These were the years of peace and  future  well being. I don’t know much about my Granddad. My father seemed to be proud of him and proclaimed that “he built all the bridges” over the railway lines out of Berlin to the South. In the next picture we see him with some workers on a building site. I have been assured that he is in the picture. I think it is him on the far left with his hat on. The occasion is most likely a “Richtfest”,  the celebration of the erection  of the roof supports.

IMG_20141103_0001

When the war started he was not called up straight away. Only later, in the beginning of 1916, he was called upon as he was a reservist (Landjäger). In the picture he looks rather serious, probably anticipating what lay ahead of him.

Early 1916, it is still Winter

It is the same picture my Grandmother had in a large frame on the wall of her bedroom. It seems he had his training in Schwerin, the capital of Mecklenburg.

The next picture was taken on the 15th February 1916. He was sending the card as a birthday gift. For whom, I don’t know. You can see him on the left in the back row.with the arrow pointing at him.

15.2.1916

In the next picture you can see him second from the left in the centre row. On the back he wrote that those are the men from room 13 and he added, which mystifies me,  “the ‘washer children’ are not in the picture”. Whatever this means?

14.4.1916

The next picture could be from the same period. The soldiers in “drill uniforms” usually worn on work duties. It looks to me they are waiting to be issued with food. He is in the centre and is marked with a red cross.

IMG_20141103_0005

I have no idea when he was sent to the Western Front. Perhaps he was even opposite Australian forces.

The following photo was made on Sunday 14th May 1916. It tells on the sign  “Rat-Goulash on the menu for the day”.

On the 15th of July 1916 he wrote at the back of the photo that he sent to his loved ones, that really they don’t have to eat rat-goulash yet. The picture has been staged he assured the readers, but still there are lots of rats to be seen. And they say Germans have no sense of humour.

July 1907

On the 2. 12. 1916 he fell. Some reports tell of cold and frosty days. He is buried in a war cemetery just  outside Lille.

A pictures of his grave can be viewed here just towards the end of Peter’s post:

https://berlioz1935.wordpress.com/tag/ww-1/

Diary of an older Widow

On the 7th of May 2020 I wrote about it how as a kid in the 1930s I played with my toys all by myself in my ‘Kinderzimmer’ (Child Room):

” . . . as a toddler I would spend many hours every day in my Kinderzimmer. All my toys would be kept in that room. I loved my Kinderzimmer and all my toys. I was very much used to playing with my toys in my room. I remember it quite well, how I would spend time there 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 living rooms, but to spend time playing in one of the living rooms 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. . .”

I said that even as a toddler I was used to spending time all by myself, and that I did not mind it. Of course I often wished for company, and I was always very happy when someone could be with me. Still, I think I learned from an early age, to cope a lot of the time with being on my own. Of course, when being on my own may perhaps felt somewhat boring, I would invent people surrounding me, people that I could talk to!

Now, in my old age, I think back to those growing up days, and how lonely I really often was. Isn’t something similar happening now that I am a widow and living without a companion? Maybe it is kind of normal, that people, who live on their own, often resort to talking to someone who isn’t really there? So, this means, talking to just a pretend person! Or, is that why some lonely people’s dogs are their best friends, for they are someone to talk to?

Come to think of it, I really often enjoy very much spending time by myself, working out how to best do things all by myself. As soon as someone is with me, they straight away tend to be taking over, meaning they help me by doing things for me that I am unable to do by myself with some reasonable speed. Well, it may be just as well, that having to do things by myself most of the time, keeps me on my toes. If everything was being done for me all the time, wouldn’t I be bound to deteriorate even faster?

There are certainly a lot of things that I cannot do anymore, like driving a car, or cleaning windows or doing some fast walking. To avoid disastrous falls I have to do everything very slowly and carefully. When I am doing things while I am on my own, I find it usually easier to do everything slowly and carefully. Not so, when someone is with me! So, being on my own most of the time may really have a lot of benefits. It helps me to stay a little bit more independent and not having to rely on outside help for everything!

The Virus and our Daughter Gaby

Peter and I had a daughter who caught the poliomyelitis virus in 1961, that is she became sick on her 4th birthday. She was soon totally paralysed, was given artificial respiration and was unconscious for many months. The doctors did not expect her to stay alive. So, when she woke up with her brain still functioning intact, it was like a miracle!

She had no memory of her previous life. However, when we were visiting her, she was soon able to communicate in German again. Also being in hospital, she learned English quickly. It turned out, she was able as a paraplegic with breathing difficulties to lead a productive life. She died just a few months before she would have turned 55. Initially, she stayed in the hospital’s respiratory ward and slept in an iron lung. She was tutored at the nearby hospital school and made many friends.

When she was ten and a half she was sent to our place, and we took care of her until she was 17. Despite some respite care, that was given to her at the hospital from time to time, we just could not cope with her care anymore by the time she was 17.

So, from age 17 till age 30 she had to cope with institutionalised care. Then she made friends with a man who was willing to be her carer. They lived in a three bedroom low rent housing commission home. Apart from David, her carer, quite a few extra people became her carers for her personal needs. Her fulltime carer, who lived in the house with her, eventually became utterly sick and could not be her carer anymore. But Gaby, our daughter, did not want to make him leave for he had nowhere else to go, and she felt, she needed to look after him. But he stayed alive and died one year after Gaby had died.

Towards the end of her life, Gaby became pretty desperate for she had no permanent carer anymore who would stay with her in the house to be there with her in an emergency. She could not depend on David that he would be of any help in an emergency. So, she was very afraid that she might end up in a hospital or some kind of institution.

We felt for her. When she died we thought that it probably had been lucky for her, that she had died in her own home surrounded by some lovely carers for she had liked to be as independent as possible. With 15 hours help per day she could manage her life adequately. She needed help three times daily! For lifting her in and out of her wheelchair and onto a commode or the bed there always had to be two people available. And someone had to do her cooking, cleaning and washing as well as reloading the battery for her electric wheelchair that enabled her to go around Sydney by using public transport such as trains and busses! But sometimes she also went out in taxis. Peter and I usually met her once a fortnight in a shopping centre to help her with her shopping of groceries.

And Gaby always enjoyed to meet our extended family on special occasions such as birthdays or Christmas or Easter. Some family members would also visit her from time to time at her home. Gaby also enjoyed very much to select little gifts for everyone. I have still a few gifts of her that remind me of her! Also, sometimes the family would meet Gaby in a beautiful park or a restaurant.

Gaby was a very good speaker despite her breathing difficulties. And she was very sociable. We were always amazed that Gaby had such a fantastic memory for names and faces of people. It is also memorable, that she collected quite a bit of money for a charity. Without doubt, she was able to make many, many friends. Even some Labor politicians and other people well known in public life were her good friends!

So, Gaby had died in 2012. Every day I am reminded of her how wonderfully she managed her life. During the day she was nearly always up and about. But during the last years of her life she had to spend most evenings on her own, that is until her carers would arrive to get her ready for bed. She often may have felt very lonely at this time of the day, for she liked to be with people. But she had her pets: A companion dog and a cat! Also, she was used to spend a lot of time at the computer when she was by herself in the evening.

More and more I contemplate, how much my life seems to resemble Gaby’s life now. Only, of course, Gaby’s life was much more difficult compared to mine. Strangely enough, there seem to be some similarities. Maybe, I should tell myself over and over again, that so far I am not so bad off really. Gaby’s carer, David, used to say to me: “Mama, you should not worry so much!” Dear David, he was at heart a very good bloke, but he had his weaknesses, like smoking and a lot of beer drinking and not looking after his health, not at all.

Here you can read something about David:

Visit to Benalla in August 2019

At the beginning of the month we travelled again to Benalla to visit our son. This time we took the train to Benalla. We arrived in Benalla on Sunday, the 4th of August. Our return journey was on Thursday, the 8th of August. We had a great time in Benalla. Twice Martin went with me to the Benalla Swimming Centre. Peter did not want to come with us even though we assured him that the water was well heated.

Every day Martin drove us to a different place. So we saw at Glenrowan a multi-million Dollar anamatronic show. It was Ned Kelly’s LAST STAND at the Glenrowan Tourist Centre. I took the following pictures:

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I copied below what I cold find about the show. Maybe you’d like to have a look at this:

https://www.glenrowantouristcentre.com.au/the-show/

The Show

“This mulitimillion dollar anamatronic show  IS NOT A PICTURE THEATRE it is an interactive theatre production

Through the brilliance of animation and computerised robots, you will be transferred back in time, over 100 years, to witness the events that led up to the capture of the Kelly Gang.

Starting as hostages in the Hotel, and then onto gunfights – burning buildings – a decent hanging, and finishing in our magnificent painting gallery.

The show is educational, historically correct and entertaining.

The show runs for 40 minutes every half hour (separate rooms) from   10:00am   to 4.30pm daily.

The Glenrowan Tourist Centre is fully air conditioned. The theatre can seat up to 50 people at any one time.”

https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Attraction_Review-g552175-d2569926-Reviews-The_Ned_Kelly_Story-Glenrowan_Victoria.html

https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/ned-kelly

1880: Ned Kelly’s last stand at Glenrowan, Victoria

“On 28 June 1880, Victorian Police captured bushranger Ned Kelly after a siege at the Glenrowan Inn. The other members of the Kelly Gang — Dan Kelly, Joseph Byrne and Steve Hart — were killed in the siege.The gang had been outlawed for the murders of three police officers at Stringybark Creek in 1878.

Ned Kelly was tried and executed in Melbourne in November 1880.

The Kelly Gang’s last stand has become an Australian folk legend, however views are divided about how it should be remembered. . . .”

After the show in Glenrowan Martin drove with us to Wangaretta where we had an excellent lunch in the Preview Cafe.

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We also had coffee and some desert!

The next pictures are from the following day:

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We did stop at the Tolmie Tavern, and true enough: Nothing did happen! And we had thought, we’d get some lunch there! Everything looked closed and deserted.

We ended up having lunch a bit further on. I think it may have taken us close to two hours before we actually did have some lunch and decent toilets! Before we arrived at that beautiful old Tatong Tavern we had a good look at the Stringybark Creek Historic Reserve:

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So, at the Tatong Tavern we ended up having a splendid lunch. I asked for vegetarian and did get this beautiful meal:

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We also had coffee and some desert!

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This was probably on Tuesday when we were here at the Tolmie Tavern, and true enough: Nothing did happen! And we had thought, we’d get some lunch there! Everything looked closed and deserted.

We ended up having lunch a bit further on. I think it may have taken us close to two hours before we actually did have some lunch and decent toilets! Before we arrived at that beautiful old Tatong Tavern we had a good look at the Stringybark Creek Historic Reserve:

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So, at the Tatong Tavern we ended up having a splendid lunch. I asked for vegetarian and did get this beautiful meal:

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Benalla

Benalla is the place where our son Martin moved to in 2017. In 2018 we took some pictures of Martin’s outside area. We loved to sit outside there, especially we loved to watch the fish in the fishpond.

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Now in March 2021 Martin still has this lovely fishpond and more and more fish in it. It is so relaxing to sit outside and watch the fish!

My Parents visiting Lodz on a joined Passport together with Baby Uta!

Haus von Josef und Hulda Spickermann during the 40ties
Above the house of Josef and Hulda Spickermann in Lodz during the years before the end of World War Two.

My Paternal Grandparents lived in Lodz, They were Josef Alexander and Hulda Spickermann and celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in November 1943. All their children with all their spouses and most of the grandchildren were present. Josef and Hulda had three daughters and three sons: Olga, Jenny, Elisabeth (Lies) and Edmund (E), Alexander (Oleg) and Ludwig (Luttek). I have a picture of the Golden Wedding with everyone in it. Here it is:

Golden Wedding (2)

My father was the second son of Josef and Hulda. He married my mother, Irma Charlotte Summerer, on the 30th of September 1930. My mother was only nineteen at the time. Four years later, on the 21st of September 1934, I was born. In June of 1935 my parents travelled with me to Lodz (Poland) to visit Dad’s family there. My mother and I, we did not have our own passports. We were included in Dad’s passport as can be seen in the following picture.

Passport 1935

1927 in Lodz: This is a picture of Dad’s sisters Olga, Jenny and Elisabeth:

This is a picture of Dad's sisters from 1927 in Lodz.
Juni 1935 in Haeuslers Pk Lodz

In the above picture I am in the pram with my cousin Horst. There are also cousins George and Gerd, the sons of Tante Olga as well as cousin Ursula, the daughter of Tante Jenny. (Olga and Jenny were of course the older sisters of my father.) The picture is taken in the park of the Häuslers, Horst’s parents.

As far as I know we stayed in Lodz with Tante Lies (Elisabeth) and Onkel Alfred. I have several pictures that show me with their son Horst who was born on the 7th of February 1935. Tante Lies was about the same age as my mother. Whereas Onkel Alred was twenty years older than his wife. He owned huge properties. We always thought they were rich.

When I was six weeks old the grandparents, Hulda and Josef, came to Berlin for a visit, where they saw me for the first time. They were proud to have a grandchild by one of their sons. (Their other two sons did not have any children yet at the time). I think my twenty-three year old mother looks very pretty in that picture.

Ute ist 6 Wochen alt
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. There he was lying in the cot!

Ute mit Opa Spickerman am Reichssportfeld Juni 1938

Here I am with Opa Spickermann at the ‘Reichssportfeld’ in June 1938 soon after the birth of brother Bodo. It  was a time when Mum still had to stay in bed. Tante Ilse and her husband Adolf Schlinke owned a ‘Wanderer’ car. In that they drove Dad, Opa and me to the Reichssportfeld for an outing. Probably so Opa could see a bit of Berlin. Presumably he had come all the way from Lodz to Berlin to see his first born grandson by the name of Spickermann.

Dad, Granddad, Tante Ilse and little Uta, (I guess, Onkel Addi took the picture.)

Dad, Granddad, Tante Ilse and little Uta,
(I guess, Onkel Addi took the picture.)

May 1935 in Berlin Baby Uta with her Dad
May 1935 in Berlin
Baby Uta with her Dad

The following is a reflection on my parents. Their marriage their frequent separations, their divorce, how they related to us children, their interests, their friends or partners, Dad’s second marriage.

When I was about fifteen, Mum introduced ‘Bambi’ into our lives. ‘Bambi’ was Herr Burghoff aka Tomscick. Of course only Mum called him ‘Bambi’. To us children he was ‘Herr Burghoff’. We did not have any problem with this. Later on I found out that Dad had a problem with calling him by his adopted new name. Dad insisted on calling him ‘Tomscick’.

Here is a conversation I had with Dad when I was about eighteen:

It was June 1953. I was on a one week leave from FLEUROP and had used this, my very first vacation, to visit Dad in Düsseldorf.

‘The boys told me that Tomscik never shared his supper with you children,’ said Dad.

‘Don’t worry, Dad,’ was my response. ‘We never wanted Herr Burghoff to act as our Dad. I thought it was perfectly all right that he bought “Abendbrot” only for himself and Mum. At the time he was still studying and didn’t have much money. Maybe it would have been different had he already been employed in the Public Service.’

‘And what is this, that he wants to marry Mum?’ asked Dad.

‘Well, it’s true, he wanted to marry her. You know, that as a Catholic he was not allowed to marry a divorced woman. That’s why they asked the Pope for special permission. It took a while, but they did get it in the end.’

‘Yea, by declaring the marriage invalid and my children bastards,’ screamed Dad.

‘I know, they established that she married under pressure of her mother and sister Ilse. They claim, she didn’t really know what she was getting into when she married you.’

Dad looked extremely upset. ‘That’s absolute nonsense!’ he shouted.

I felt very sorry for Dad. ‘Anyway, Dad, it seems Mum’s not going to marry him after all. Tante Ilse says so.’

‘And why would that be? What could possibly be a reason for not marrying him now?’

‘The reason? According to Tante Ilse there are several reasons. You know,  Herr Burghoff is now employed here in a town in the Rheinland. That is Mum would have to move away from Berlin, if she wanted to live with him. And you know what Mum’s like: She just does not want to leave Berlin!’

Dad nodded. He knew all about this: Mum had always refused to leave Berlin to live with him.

‘ And Tante Ilse told me something else. She said when Mum went to his new place for a visit, she noticed him praying a lot. At least twice a day he would fall on his knees praying in front of a statue. It was kind of acceptable for Mum to go with him to Sunday Mass in Berlin. But apparently she can’t stand all this praying at home. Tante Ilse thinks it was just too much for her to see him do this. Indeed, it must have been the straw that broke the camel’s back!’

Mum actually never re-married. An acquaintance of Mum’s helped her to acquire a permanent job in the Berlin Rathaus (Council Building). She worked there till she turned 65. She could have stopped working earlier, however she knew her pension would increase if she worked to age 65. She lived for her twice yearly vacations. She always saved up for these vacations to go on wonderful holiday trips. On one of these trips she met a widower who was keen on marrying her.  Years later she once told me, she chose not to marry him. He was elderly and she was too scared he might eventually need nursing care. The thought of having to nurse someone in old age just didn’t appeal to her. She thought she deserved to have the opportunity to still have a bit of fun in life. On each holiday she took lots of photos and meticulously preserved them in photo albums. She also wrote a few comments for every trip. There are some records in her recollections about two very elegant men who invited her for dinner. These men turned out to be homosexuals who greatly enjoyed the company of a well groomed presentable lady. And apparently she enjoyed being invited and appreciated. She told me she was glad that none of them  expected any sexual favours from her.

Dad was actually thinking of re-marrying Mum once he was back in secure employment. As far as I know he did ask her and she refused. Apparently she had no desire at all to get back together with him. I remember Dad did ask me at the time whether I thought it would be better for us children if he re-married our mother. Well, I must admit, I did not think so at the time. I just could not imagine the two of them being civil to each other after all the hostilities that had been going on between them for many years.  I think I was eighteen when this question came up. When I was younger I would so much have loved to be living with two parents under the one roof. At eighteen I had overcome these feelings of deprivation of not having two parents around all the time. Should I have thought more about my two younger brothers? Maybe Mum would have mellowed and been able to put up with Dad for the sake of the boys who definitely would have needed a father  – – – –

Mum with her three children: Uta, Bodo and Peter-Uwe.  1948 in Berlin
Mum with her three children: Uta, Bodo and Peter-Uwe.
1948 in Berlin

I don’t know whether Mum would have paid any attention to what I could have been saying. I always had the feeling I could not talk to Mum about these feelings. It was very different with Dad. He always wanted to hear my opinion on everything.

Anyhow as it turned out I left old Germany a few years later with my husband and two young children. Dad was quite devastated to see us leaving. He had become so attached to his first born granddaughter Gaby. She gave him such great joy!  We were soon well and truly settled in Australia. We felt Australia was for our young family much better than Germany. We never regretted having left Germany behind.

Dad’s secretary, Frau Kusche, was a war-widow. She came from Lodz in Poland the same as my Dad. She had raised a son and a daughter as a war-widow. I had seen Frau Kusche only once briefly at the office. I later heard her 28 year old son who was married and also had a little son, this 28 year old was suffering from terminal cancer. Before he died he was witness at the marriage of his sister who had been an air-hostess and was marrying an American. My father, who had married Frau Kusche in the meantime, was also present at the wedding, together with his new wife of course.

Frau Kusche’s first name starts with G. Dad had a few good years with her towards the end of his life. He too, sadly died of cancer when he was only 62. He and G made a few visits to America to see G’s daughter there. They had also planned to come and visit us in Australia. Sadly, this never eventuated. G. was looking after Dad when he was terminally ill. It took a lot  out of her. But she recovered eventually. She’s still alive and well now, being in her nineties, her daughter-in-law keeping an eye on her.

Uta’s Diary, January 2021

How does Covid19 affect us?

Well, it is the beginning of 2021. We migrated from Germany to Australia in 1959. So we have been in Australia well over 60 years. We had two children under two when we migrated. And then we had another two children born in Australia. Australia definitely is our new home country wheras Germany is our ‘old’ home country!

When my father died of cancer in Germany in 1966, no way could I have contemplated rushing over to Germany to his bedsite. Airtravel to Germany would have been much too expensive for me. The first time we could afford to travel by air to Germany for a visit was in1977. After that Airtravel became more and more affordable. We were able to travel lots of times to Germany for visits. We even travelled to other European countries to England and to America.

Now, with the virus none essential airtravel is becoming outright unaffordable for the average citizen. Even travel between the different states in Australia is becoming more and more difficult. With all the travel restrictions in place because of the virus, our son, who lives in Victoria, nearly did not make it to New South Wales to be with his dying father!

For the past forty years or so we had become used that travel overseas as well as within Australia had become possible any time. Now, since this virus has to be watched, all of a sudden all this travelling has been put on hold. How do we cope with it? I must say, so far we do not seem to cope with it all that well. All these restrictions because of the virus go on people’s nerves. Wearing a mask to avoid infection? What a bother! No, to have to wear a mask when you are among people, really is not very pleasant. Germans would say: ‘Mach eine gute Miene zum bösen Spiel!’ That means you can pretend to be cheerful even if this thing is not to your liking!

And what about ‘Social Distancing’? How difficult is that for people? In lots of places, some signs on the floor indicate how far to keep away from the person in front of you. When it comes to sitting down, you usually are expected to leave the chair on both sides of you empty, and some signs indicate where people cannot sit. The exception is of course, when people are from the same family and live together, meaning people that do live together do not have to sit separate. But often extended families have the urge to sit close together too!

When they have that urge to congregate in clusters in order to be able to talk to each other, what does that indicate? Can we not talk to each other when there is a bit of room left between us? Apparently the urge is to be as close as possible to the person we want to talk to. This is the normal way to have a converstion, is it not? Well, not anynore! The virus teaches us something different. And we better learn quickly to cope with all these changes for the virus is going to be with us for quite a bit longer. Even all the vaccinations will not wipe out the danger of infection 100%!

Uta’s Diary

It is Caroline’s Birthday: Dec. 9, 2020

The above pictures I took a bit over a month ago! Today I took some pictures outside because it was such great sunny weather. A lot in the backyard looked beautiful to me. It was a really good Sunday again. I spent many hours outside including an early morning walk and starting to read a book I had been wanting to read ages ago and never actually started reading it. Today I managed to read already 100 pages in three sessions. All the reading I did sitting outside in different places. It is so good to spend time outside. What could be better?

With the downloading of the new pictures I don’t feel quite up to it yet. I wanted to show Martin how much everything has been growing since he planted it. It really is very luscious growth this year after all that rain. But yes, it was very pleasant to have today a day without any rain and also hardly any wind!

Instead of today’s pictures I inserted now a few pictures from last month when Peter was still alive, but deteriorating a lot in that he was not able to eat properly any more, not even cake! We moved the card table close to his bed with Caroline’s sumptuous birthday cakeon it, so that he would feel included in the birthday celebrations. Alas, he managed to eat only a tiny, tiny bit.

These are the trees I always love to visit!
Over th last few weeks and months we often had a lot of clouds!