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My Paternal Grandparents in Lodz, visiting Lodz on a joined Passport!

12 Oct

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.

Josef Alexander and Hulda 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)

This is a picture of Dad's sisters from 1927 in Lodz.

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

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

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.

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.

Ute ist 6 Wochen alt

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.

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. I 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.)

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

12 Oct

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

Bayerisches Viertel in Berlin, Germany

11 Oct

http://www.touristinspiration.com/knowledge/things-to-see-and-do/bayerischer-platz-12454.html

” . . . .  The ”Bayerischer Platz” is the center of the ”Bayerisches Viertel”, (Bavarian district), with many streets named after Bavarian cities, which was destroyed a lot [more] during World War II (about 60%).  . . . .  ”

I just had a look at my post from January 2015 about Bayerishces Viertel. We used to live in Bozener Strasse. I always assumed that the town of “Bozen” was in Bavaria. I know now that is not the case.

Bolzano (Bozen) is in Southern Tyrol and belongs now to Italy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolzano

“During the gradual decline of the Romans’ influence in the 7th century, Bavarian immigration took place and the first mention of a Bavarian ruler in Bolzano dates from 679.[5] At that time, the Bavarians named the nearby villages around Bolzano Bauzanum or Bauzana.[6] Germanpopulations have been present in the region of Tyrol since this time.”

It seems, even though it belongs to Italy, the German population in Southern Tyrol is predominant. Here is what I found in wikipedia about the modern-day South Tyrol:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_South_Tyrol

“Modern-day South Tyrol, an autonomous Italian province created in 1948, was part of the Austro-Hungarian County of Tyrol until 1918 (then known as Deutschsüdtirol and occasionally Mitteltirol[1]). It was annexed by Italy following the defeat of the Central Powersin World War I. It has been part of a cross-border joint entity, the Euroregion Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino, since 2001.

 

My friend Eva Todtenhausen once tought me the text to the following Tyrol melody:

 

 

I was ten at the time, and I still remember the words!

https://auntyuta.com/2015/01/27/bayerisches-viertel-2/

This post brings back memories about Bozener Strasse. This is the street where I lived during most of my childhood and early adulthood years. Some of the buildings look a lot more colourful now than they used to. I like some of the very bright colours. During the 1930s and 1940s we children would use Bozener Strasse as our playground because there were usually no cars parked there. Our street was very out of the way and had no through traffic. Tante Ilse and Onkel Addi for instance parked their car in a nearby garage. I think to that garage it was a five minute walk!

I sometimes like to just browse through some older posts of mine. Being able to ‘search’ for certain subjects, often helps to find some posts that I am specially looking for.  Today for instance I wanted to find a picture from my first birthday. I assumed that at  some time  I had published this picture that was taken on my first birthday. Inserting “first Birthday” in the search space, resulted in the following:

https://auntyuta.com/?s=first+Birthday&submit=Search

Alas, nothing came up about my first birthday, but on the other hand quite a few posts that I enjoyed having another look at. Feel welcome, to browse through some  of my  posts too. I hope you find some of the posts interesting.

Cheerio, and have a good day!

 

 

 

Father, Mother and Grandfather

29 Jan

https://berlioz1935.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/october-27th/

Peter’s father, Richard Hannemann, was born on the 28th of October 1900 in Luckenwalde.

“Seventeen of his descendents live in Australia and nine in Germany Two of his grandchildren have passed away.”

https://berlioz1935.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/6-november/

Peter’s mother, Frieda Hannemann, nee Müller, was born on the 16th of November 1900 in Berlin.

“She was always a rather physically weak child, did not like any strenuous activity. On Sundays her father liked to walk with the family across the Tempelhofer Field (later Airport Tempelhof) where the walk over the sandy ground drove her to tears. But her father wanted to have his beer on the other side of the large field.

After school and training to be an “early childhood carer” she worked for a little while as a nanny, but later, during the Big War, she joined the Post Office and became a telephone operator in the new technology of telephony. She had a beautiful, clear voice right to the end of her life. In old age she still sounded like a forty year old on the phone.”

Peter’s parents got engaged in 1922
and married in 1929.

https://berlioz1935.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/my-granddad-and-world-war-i/

This blog is about Peter’s grandfather, Otto Hannemann, father of Richard Hannemann.

“Otto Hannemann, was a carpenter foreman in the growing city of Berlin. Born in the small town of Luckenwalde, south of Berlin, he looked for work in the big city to support his growing family.

When the world war one 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).
It seems he had his training in Schwerin, the capital of Mecklenburg

He was sent to the Western Front. (Perhaps he was even opposite Australian forces.) 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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lille”

Wedding Reception

1 Aug

https://auntyuta.com/2015/11/03/the-wedding-reception/

Last year I published this blog about the Wedding Reception of Ebony and Ryan. I probably never published the photos that were taken in Wollongongs’s Botanical Gardens on the morning of the wedding on 31st of October 2015. I found in my drop-box three of these photos and publish them here now.

11219342_1077237902288846_5633398254641679417_n

Bride and Groom have already two sons: Lucas (3) and Alexander (1)

 

12247026_1074932685852701_1216448809190250998_n (1)

 

12249754_1074933115852658_5615760444264758010_n

 

 

 

 

At last another Entry in Uta’s Diary

12 May

https://auntyuta.com/2016/04/12/utas-diary-tuesday-12th-april-2016/#comments

The last entry in my Dairy was exactly one month ago! Time flies . . . .

At my age time flies more and more.

On the 14th of April I published some comments to a blog by John Lord and Catterel wrote a comment to what I had said on that day:

auntyuta.com/2016/04/14/on-july-25-2014-john-lord-published-a-post-about-whether-grammar-matters/

I said: Finally I’d like to make a comment on the subject. I did not finish high-school and have never been to university. English is my second language. I have been blogging since July 2011. I very much enjoy the contact with other bloggers. I am aware that university educated people do find that there is a lot wrong with the way I write. I know that my daughters as well as my son may point to quite a few errors in any of my writing that I have published. 

 

Here is what Catterel wrote:

 

“Dear Uta, as long as you communicate honestly and clearly, especially in a language that isn’t your mother tongue, all is forgiven! I’ve seen too many students traumatised into silence by over-critical teachers who leapt on every tiny error and destroyed the learner’s confidence. Yes, grammar matters of course, otherwise we’d be mutually incomprehensible, but it’s only one aspect of a language and like all living things, it evolves.”

 

Here is a bit of what I wrote on the 15th of April:

auntyuta.com/2016/04/15/how-did-world-war-two-affect-us/

I wonder, how many people, alive today, have never been affected by war? Wars continue to be fought in a lot of countries and a lot of continents. The refugee crisis is now worse than ever. Is mankind going backwards? The few people, who are not affected by wars, do they not ever consider how wars affect the rest of humanity? For as long as some of us can live in peace, we do not care what is being done to the rest of humanity? How can we be so selfish? Has it just got to do with a survival wish?

On the 17th of April Gerard Oostermann wrote the following reply to a Reblog I published on that day:

“There is a lot there, Uta. I think there is so much more in living with someone that many just choose to totally ignore. The ultimate banana skin is what in the west we call ‘love’. Many get blinded by that, especially romantic love, and this is just a cruel trick of nature. As soon as someone says: ‘I truly love you,’ run away as fast as you can. It is so often doomed to fail. When ‘love’ enters, we start to project the most outlandish, wonderful but totally unrealistic qualities onto the person of our affections.
A good friendship, care, consideration and mutual respect might well be the much better and more solid ingredients of love.”

I replied: I very much like your insightful comment, dear Gerard. They say hate and love can be very close together. I suspect that my parents had a love/hate relationship. They probably would have projected the most “outlandish unrealistic qualities” onto each other! And I reckon respect is absolutely essential for a lasting and mutual beneficial love relationship. And of course without friendship, care and consideration you cannot live together in a satisfactory way.

My re-published reflections about my parents  you can find here:

auntyuta.com/2016/04/16/reflections-about-war-reflections-about-my-parents/

 

The following days during last month I just did some reblogging of different authors’ blogs that I found very interesting. After the 20th of April I did no more blogging for quite a while. For weeks I did not even touch the computer to do some reading. I read instead Jonathan Franzen’s Novel FREEDOM which I had acquired at a very reduced price. I thought, reading this novel was extremely well spent time!  I actually had a few health problems which  caused me not to want to sit at the computer . . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jr9dB2Xf9e8&list=RDJr9dB2Xf9e8#t=23

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jr9dB2Xf9e8

http://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/federal-budget/melbourne-dad-duncan-storrar-steals-the-election-debate-from-the-pollies/news-story/3e3bdcd28baf3005b65f677cf3952271

 

An ARTICLE called “The truth about my father” you can find  in Google.

Duncan Storrar became famous after last Monday’s Q & A program. I think what Duncan’s twenty year old son says about his father makes an interesting background story. Duncan seems to suffer from debilitating anxiety attacks. To speak his mind on Q & A was extremely brave of him!

 

 

 

 

Reflections about War, Reflections about my Parents

16 Apr

On a sunny morning in August 2011 Peter and I had morning tea in front of our house. We noticed a wild dove, who seemed to watch us, while she looked again and again towards a large bush. Was she thinking of building a nest there? We had found birds’ nests in the past in bushes near the front of our house. It was not like this with this bird. She soon took off to look around elsewhere.

Suddenly we talked about the games we played as children. We were comparing our different attitudes to being left alone. I mentioned that I cannot remember ever having been distressed when I was left to do something by myself. I had my ‘Kinderzimmer’, where I was often supposed to play on my own. When I was all by myself, I liked to invent people who would talk to me. I totally accepted that not all the time someone could be with me no matter how much I loved to be surrounded by people.

‘Yes’, Peter said, ‘I played with my toys all by myself too. I can imagine your Mum would have been home with you more often than mine because your Mum did not have to go to work, whereas my Mum always went away, and I hated it, when she went away. I did not want her to go away.’

I said: ‘I don’t think, it bothered me, when Mum had to go somewhere without me. However, I was very happy when I was allowed go on an outing somewhere with someone. And I certainly loved it, when I was allowed to play with other children.’

Many children my age and older lived in our street, the Bozener Strasse in Berlin-Schöneberg. The buildings in our street were five stories high. We all lived in rented apartments. Our street was very secluded with no traffic to speak of. We would play ball-games in the street. We also played singing games or games where we had to recite certain verses. I can still remember a lot of the songs or verses that went with our games!

The above was one of the first things I published. Noeleen sometimes liked to look up some earlier blogs. She happened to come across this piece. Here are her comments and my replies to it:

Noeleen: “This is lovely to imagine, Aunty Uta – playing ball in a good secure street. But being left alone – wow, you didn’t mind? It’s funny how as an adult, we’d be thought crazy if we made up people to talk to, but I can see your imagination was very alive, and kept you company. How funny to imagine that both your husband and you played with your toys alone. Similar as children, and not even knowing it…”

My Reply: “Thank you very much for visiting, Noeleen, and commenting. Making up people to talk to, isn’t that what we do when we write fiction? When real people talk to me, or I listen to others talking, certain conversations just stick to my mind and I reflect on them over and over again.
When I was about five and we were celebrating grandfather’s 70th birthday, there was music and dancing. I happened to be outside in the entrance hall listening to the music and trying out a bit of dancing on my own. Uncle Edmund noticed me. He asked me what dance I was doing. I said: ‘Swing. I’m dancing swing. This is what Mum and Aunty Ilse are always dancing.’ Uncle E was rather amused. I am sure his face showed great amusement! It embarrassed me greatly. I think, this is why I never forgot this incident.
Mum always told me I was not a very good dancer, same as my father. She called it ‘stiff’ dancing. I admired Mum and Aunty for being such good dancers. I longed so much to be able to dance like this!
I think Uncle repeated the word ‘Swing’ in a mocking way as though it was funny I should be using such an English sounding word for my little dance.”

Noeleen: “Ah, memories. We just can’t escape them.”

My Reply: “This reminds me that we all seem to remember different things. I think you said your sisters remember not the same things that you remember. Peter remembers a real lot about his childhood but his sisters don’t. I would certainly remember not the same things my brothers remember. My children probably all remember quite different things too. I mean they don’t necessarily all have the same memories. I think it’s great when you are able to write down some of your memories. And so we’re really lucky that we are helped along with this by having the opportunity to do it in the form of blogging. I find blogging is great fun! And to see how so many different people go about blogging all over the world, this is something truly amazing.”

Childhood Memories about World War Two

This is what I published in May 2013:

‘I have now two pages about my childhood. One is just “Uta’s Early Childhood”, the other one is “Uta’s Early Childhood, Part II”. In the Part II I inserted today some pictures about my sixth birthday in 1940 plus one picture from summer of 1942. All these pictures were taken during the war, World War II that is, when we lived in Berlin, Germany.

Did we suffer during the first years of war? I don’t think so. Except that my father had moved away from Berlin. He became the manager in grandfather’s furniture factory in Lodz, Poland, which since the German occupation in 1939 was called Litzmannstadt. My father had grown up in Lodz. His family had lived in Lodz since the early 1800s, when this part of Poland belonged to Russia.

My father had studied in Leipzig, Germany. In 1930 he had married my mother in Leipzig. During the early years of their marriage they had for the most part lived in Berlin. Sometime during the early war years my father had some disagreements with some Nazi people he worked with in Berlin. I think he didn’t voice his disagreements publicly. Had he done so, he may have ended up in a concentration camp!

In the end he was allowed to remove himself from Berlin. As I said he became then the manager in grandfather’s factory. My mother typically chose to stay with us children in Berlin. We only went for some visits to “Litzmannstadt”.’

 

On reflecting how children experienced the Nazi area in Germany, one book, that deals with this, comes to mind. I read it only recently. It is set in a small place near Munich in southern Germany. I lived near Berlin and in Leipzig during the last years of the war. So I have no experience what life was like for children in Bavaria during these war years in Nazi time. However what Markus Zusak tells us in his historical novel THE BOOK THIEF sounds absolutely believable to me.

THE BOOK THIEF

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the novel. For the film adaptation, see The Book Thief (film).

Pages 550

“The Book Thief is a novel by Australian author Markus Zusak. Narrated by Death, the book is set in Nazi Germany, a place and time when Death, the narrator, notes he was extremely busy. It describes a young girl’s relationship with her foster parents, the other residents of their neighborhood, and a young Jewish man who hides in her home during the escalation of World War II. First published in 2005, the book has won numerous awards and was listed on The New York Times Best Seller list for over 230 weeks.

berlioz1935
In reply to Robert M. Weiss.
Robert, you are spot on with your overall view of history. I always say, that the 2nd WW was a continuation of WW I as it was finished in an unsatisfactory way. Meaning, nobody was thinking about the future. Versailles was a disaster. A much better solution was found at the end of WW II. The Germans, at the end of WW I, were hoping that Wilson’s 14 Points would be adhered to.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteen_Points

As a result “The humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles”, as you say, led to the rise of Hitler.

You say further “By borrowing heavily from German mythology, Wagner, the concept of the ubermensch, Hitler instilled in the young a burning pride in Germany’s future. Hitler was also influenced by Schopenhauer’s “Will to Power”. This idea is the subject of a book. “The Jew of Linz” by Australian writer Kimberly Cornish

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jew_of_Linz.

Cornish has been criticised too, but I found it an interesting read on a certain view point of history. Schopenhauer stipulates, that in a contest between “Will” and “Reason”, “Will” will always win.

berlioz1935
In reply to The Emu.
The disagreement with the Nazis was on two levels: personal and about the conduct of war.

Personal: When Hitler came to power he joined the party as a “good” public servant would. Later the life style of his wife could have headed for divorce. This was intolerable for the Nazis and they asked him to discipline his wife or he could not remain a member of the party.

Contact of War: After the Sportpalast Speech

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sportpalast_speech

in which Goebels called for “Total War” to be waged. Uta’s father was of the opinion that it was pure propaganda. As an economist he could see that many mistakes were made and the German industry and population were not put on a war footing. He criticised the use of forced labour and called for the utilisation of German women in industry. Only 33% of women were working. Working women was an anathema for Hitler.

He wrote a Memorandum to Hitler and for his effort was hauled in front of Martin Bormann, secretary of Hitler, who advised him not to insist on sending the Memorandum to Hitler. Instead they sent him to the “Ostfront” because he was a Russian speaker.

This is the stuff novels are written about. A lot of what we know is only bits and pieces. Adults did not talk to children about it. Later, yes, but not all came to light.

My response: As I said, my father left Berlin to become manager in grandfather’s factory in Litzmannstadt (Lodz). Towards the “Ostfront” he was sent later, probably in 1943. I remember we were visiting Dad and the Grandparents in 1940/1941. In August 1941 we were back in Berlin, but Dad stayed with his parents.

 

Robert M. Weiss
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Submitted on 2013/05/21 at 3:00 am
Janusz Korczak was offered an opportunity to escape from Poland, but he did not take it. Instead, in 1942, he marched with his orphan children to the death camp of Treblinka…. No doubt people in great psychological need follow cults, and often utilize unhealthy coping mechanisms. What happens with countries brings matters to a larger scale, and nationalism has been responsible for many wars. The humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles, the rampant unemployment, and other factors went into the cauldron of Nazi Germany. Hitler’s genius was to work with the young people, and gain their support in actively supporting the Third Reich and its goals. By borrowing heavily from German mythology, Wagner, the concept of the ubermensch, Hitler instilled in the young a burning pride in Germany’s future. Hitler was also influenced by Schopenhauer’s “Will to Power”, the incendiary speeches of Bismarck, and the methods of American advertising… History is composed of a series of reactions and counter reactions. Perhaps one day we will succeed in isolating the variables responsible for the vagaries of history, and gain a more precise understanding of the historical process.

 

auntyuta in reply to Robert M. Weiss:

” . . . . nationalism has been responsible for many wars.” This is a known fact. Still, leaders don’t want to learn from this and continue to promote it.
Will there ever be a time when mankind can live in peace without any wars?
Maybe if there’s an outside threat we’ll then be acknowledging our common humanity.

So he marched to the death camp with his children . . . . . I wonder how many children were with him.

Is it that the Nazis rigorously went to eliminate everything that seemed foreign to them?Do a lot of people to this day have an innate fear about this what doesn’t fit into their view of the world?

I think not many people are interested in understanding the historical process. They are just interested in how they see their own little world, which is an island surrounded by things that frighten them. Does this lead to fundamentalism? Can fundamentalists live peacefully together with non-fundamentalists or other fundamentalists? If they don’t want peace, what do you do? Eliminate them? Every religion teaches you not to kill unless you are attacked. So for instance Talibans want to kill us. So we are allowed to kill them. Aren’t we? No objections to killing Talibans. Too bad if a few other people get killed along the way. And so it goes. No wonder I need prayers to stay sane. Because the historical process goes on whether I like it or not.

 

The Emu
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Submitted on 2013/05/20 at 11:37 am
Very interesting Auntyuta, to read of your background in those years, virtually a first hand account and must be recorded and handed down into your family and put into book form.
It intrigues me as to the disagreement your father had with the Nazi;s, maybe you could elaborate on this Auntyuta.
A great historical reading.
Emu aka Ian

auntyuta
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Submitted on 2013/05/20 at 3:10 pm | In reply to The Emu.
“The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was the American program to aid Europe, in which the United States gave economic support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to prevent the spread of Soviet Communism. . . .”
Ian, this recovery program helped Germany enormously after WW II. Whereas what happened after WW I was a terrible disaster for Germany. The result was that the Nazis came to power!
The disagreements my father had with the Nazis had to do with the war. But sorry, I cannot recall properly what my father said about it. Anyhow the way I remember it, my father was objecting to the way the war was conducted. I think he moved to “Litzmannstadt” towards the end of 1940. This for instance would have been long before Pearl Harbour!
For a great part of 1941 we stayed with the grandparents in Poland.
By August 1941 we were back in our apartment in Berlin (without my father of course). In September 1941 I started school. I was then aged seven already! My second brother was born in October 1941.
My first school reports say my father’s occupation was “Betriebsführer” (Manager).
He was born in 1904. During the first war years he was regarded as being too old to be conscripted. But by 1943 his year, that is men having been born in 1904, were being called up for military duties. After some training my father was made straight away to be an officer. He was sent to the Eastern front.
He came back from the war with his health ruined. For many years after the war he suffered from these health problems without getting any support from my mother I might say. But his sisters and the sisters families as well as his mother who were all refugees from Poland, well everyone in his extended family supported him to the best of their ability. Eventually he did recover and was able to get full employment. Soon after the war my parents separated, Only in 1949 my mother got a divorce from him. In the 1950s when he was gainfully employed again and his health had improved a lot, he asked my mother to marry him again. She refused.
He married his secretary in 1959. In 1966 he died of prostate cancer.

 

auntyuta

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Submitted on 2013/05/20 at 7:46 am | In reply to Robert M. Weiss.
Hi, Robert, I have the feeling what you say about Hitler may be absolutely right. My generation (after all I was only a child during the Hitler years) on the whole has learned not to trust people like this.
Aren’t there certain people around in certain countries who somehow are able to get followers when clearly if they only started thinking a bit for themselves maybe they couldn’t be followers? Sadly people in general go more by their feelings and what’s in it for them rather than thinking about the consequences of their support. Aren’t most people selfish? If something is promised that advances them they go for it, don’t they?
I guess Janusz Korczak was a remarkable educator, right? I think you mentioned him in one of your blogs. But I can’t recall any details. Did he for instance survive the war years? Did he have family? It is of course admirable if people stand up for what they believe in.
The best example where protests by a lot of people resulted in an immense change happened in the Eastern part of Germany. The fall of the Iron Curtain, which for years and years looked rather impossible, all of a sudden was possible in a rather peaceful way. That it went ahead peacefully was thanks to some noble people who restrained themselves from interfering.
War and Peace, War and Peace, maybe this is the fate of mankind for ever and ever. Didn’t Orwell say, some people when they say peace mean war? Our previous Primeminister Keating here in Australia used to fight a lot in parliament. His attitude was it was better to fight in parliament rather than attack each other in the street.

Robert M. Weiss
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Submitted on 2013/05/20 at 2:24 am
Many people at that time didn’t voice their opinions openly. Janusz Korczak, the Polish educator, did. He walked through the streets of Warsaw wearing his Polish army uniform, and was put in jail for his efforts… I continue to be amazed how the Germans could have supported such a madman as Adolf Hitler, which he clearly was. He misused Darwinism, Nietzsche, and never followed his main tenet: to produce children for the Fatherland. Perhaps he knew that that he was the most misbegotten cross and handicapped person of them all.

catterel
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Submitted on 2013/05/20 at 12:10 am
Yes, do please write about your childhood. It was so different then, and personal memories make it come alive for our children and grandchildren. My early life in England (1940’s and 50’s) seems like tales from a distant planet when I reminisce to the kids!

auntyuta
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Submitted on 2013/05/19 at 4:36 pm
Hi Diana, thanks for the comment and welcome to my blogging. I read your about page and am interested in what happened to you when you turned forty. I remember, a long time ago when I turned forty my life seems to have undergone some kind of a change.
A lot of the subjects you write about look very interesting to me. I want to do some reading of your blogs pretty soon.
Cheerio, Aunty Uta.

Holistic Wayfarer
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Submitted on 2013/05/19 at 1:51 pm
Keep writing. That was a fascinating era — and we are just so comfortable these days. We don’t appreciate what our parents and grandparents endured to sustain the basic things we take for granted

Response by Emu 18th Oct 2014:
You got a lot of interesting comments on this article Uta, I do recall this post, the comments illustrate the interest in this part of your life and this part of history in general.
These memorys must be recorded while you can, as overtime history does get altered to suit the imaginations of the reader in recorded history.
Emu

REPLY

auntyuta
October 18, 2014 at 3:38 pm
Thank you so much for coming back to this story, Ian, and commenting on it again. At the moment my head is full of reviews to the book “Before I go to Sleep”. I googled all these reviews and spent quite some time reading them. At the moment I took a break from reading. Having seen the movie today with Peter we did discuss the story quite bit. The acting was superb: Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman at their best! If the story is supposed to be a real life story, there were a few things that did not make real sense to us. We happened to mention it to the cinema owner and he suggested that maybe in the book there would be some more clues. Not having read the book yet but having looked up a number of reviews about it I am more or less informed now about a few more details. However it makes me wonder how often in the real world people are being lied to and don’t know whom to trust, and how often it is easy for criminals to escape prosecution because the police or the medical profession do not follow up on any given clues?
To me the whole thing is a human relationship story. How people relate to each other I always find most interesting.
I hope you, dear Ian and Ana, you both have a good weekend. When are the two of you going on another trip?  🙂
Cheers
Uta

MY PARENTS

.This 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’.

<strong>Here is a conversation I had with Dad when I was about eighteen:</strong>

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  – – – –

 

In June 1935 we went for a visit to Lodz in Poland, where Dad’s parents and all his brothers and sisters lived with their families. Dad’s sister Elisabeth (Lies) and brother-in-law Alfred Häusler owned a property near Lodz. This is where this picture of me was taken. I am probably not quite 10 months yet. Beneath is Dad’s passport which included Mum and Baby Ute (Uta).

 

Back to the story about my parents. 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 is Gertrud.. 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 is keeping an eye on her.

10 Responses to “My Parents”

berlioz1935
September 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm Edit #
Your parents were victims of the political reality and the war in Germany. It is hard to say what would have happened to them without the war interfering in their lives. Having known both of them I venture to say they were not suited to each other in any case.

REPLY

auntyuta
September 7, 2013 at 3:44 pm Edit #
You may be right there, Berlioz. Thanks for commenting.

REPLY

elizabeth2560
September 7, 2013 at 3:34 pm Edit #
It is amazing that Frau G is still alive so there is someone who you may share memories of your father with. It is sad about your parents separation. However, you have weathered the storms well and set your own firm roots with your own family tree growing strongly here in Australia.

REPLY

auntyuta
September 7, 2013 at 4:07 pm Edit #
Our family tree is indeed growing strongly here in Australia, Elizabeth. Of course, I do like this very much.
I saw my mother in 1994 shortly before she died.
With G I have some contact per e-mail and photos. We saw her in Duesseldorf in 1986. I would have liked to see her again last year when Peter and I were visiting Berlin. We also stayed for a while with my brother Peter Uwe in Meck/Pom (north of Berlin). Other than that we went to my cousin’s funeral in Munich. But sadly we were not able to travel to Duesseldorf as well. It would have been lovely to see G again. However it was good to see her in 1986. She told us a lot about her life with my father.

REPLY

chrisstov
September 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm Edit #
Telling that story must have brought back many memories. Thank you for sharing it with us.

REPLY

auntyuta
September 7, 2013 at 5:19 pm Edit #
It does bring back memories,Chris. Hopefully my descendants may be interested to read about it! 🙂

REPLY

WordsFallFromMyEyes
September 7, 2013 at 9:26 pm Edit #
Your memory is alive &amp; well, Aunty Uta. There is heaps of detail here. How interesting your dad was so open to your opinions – I like that.

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auntyuta
September 7, 2013 at 10:02 pm Edit #
Thanks, Noeleen. 🙂

REPLY

rangewriter
September 12, 2013 at 2:35 pm Edit #
As I grow up (;-) I discover that families the world over and through the centuries have been weird. Just plain weird! It’s a good thing to know. More kids should recognize this fact so they wouldn’t feel so isolated by the facts of their families.

REPLY

auntyuta
September 12, 2013 at 4:39 pm Edit #
Quite amazing, Linda, isn’t it? What exactly do you mean by ‘weird’? Families that are somehow ‘dysfunctional’? What about divorce? Hasn’t this been on the increase in our time? Maybe it has partly to do with the increase in life expectation? In any case I believe it is important for children to know who their parents are. Whether they stay through all their growing up years with one, two or none of their parents this is a different matter. Some parents might not be the best option for a child, but the same goes for some institutions. It all depends. I did get to know during my growing up years some very well functioning families. I am talking about our extended family and about the families of some of my friends. I also saw examples of desperately struggling war widows with for instance four children and a bone breaking job with very little money. When I was a child a lot of people seemed to blame WW II for the increase in dysfunctional families.