Home Help

I finally come back to the subject of home help.


In the above post from the 10th of this month I wrote the following about my paternal grandmother:

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

And I said, that at the time (about 1940) grandmother would have been close to 68. From 1945 on as a refugee in Germany she lived a very impoverished life until she died in 1950, lovingly cared for by Elisabeth (Lies), her youngest daughter. Now, my maternal grandmother, Olga, never had any home help as far as I know. But for most of her life she had sombody close living with her.

My mother-in-law, Frieda, was born in 1900. Her working life at the Post Office lasted for 40 years. She retired at 60 and then lived another 27 years. The last few years of her life she needed a lot of home help, which was provided by her younger daughter Ilse. My mother, Charlotte, born in 1911, also needed a lot of help the last few years of her life. Charlotte was helped by granddaughter Corinna. Both Ilse and Corinna received a small amount of payment for their efforts. Frieda as well as Charlotte were able to provide this payment out of their pensions.

I was born in September of 1934. As I remember it, during my growing up years, we had always some live-in home help (called ‘Mädchen’). This ended only in January of 1945, close to the end of WW Two in Germany. Even during war time my mother was allowed to have home help because she had three children, and she also was not required to accept a job, whereas women without any children had to go to work fot the war effort!

I guess in the past any home help would have been paid substantially less than what is the going rate these days. That means, a lot of elderly people are not in a position to adequately pay for home help. This is where in our society we expect the government to chip in. Alas, government funds for social services somehow do not seem to be able to cover every needy elderly person. And families these days do not live close enough any more, to be able to be of help on a permament basis. Besides, most younger family members are usually in full time employment and also are inclined to help younger family members with raising children where that is possible because they live close enough, and when they can spare enough time away from work.

So, societies have changed. Social conditions are verty different from what they used to be. Still, a lot of people do have no job security and can be out of work any time. Some people offer to become ‘volunteers’, meaning they work for very little pay. But then, the people who have enough resources to function as volunteers seem to become pretty rare. Maybe in future more and more people are going to become very needy in old age? Or just wont live that long any more? So, is it going to sort itself out in the end? I don’t know.

Lemon and almond yoghurt cake with roasted strawberries


Lemon almond cake dusted with icing sugar served with yoghurt and roasted strawberries, an easy cake for afternoon tea.

Simple to make, this lemon cake is extra special with roasted strawberries.(ABC Life: Julia Busuttil Nishimura)

I love cakes that are simple to put together and don’t require any special equipment.

Mix and bake is usually my motto, and this cake is the epitome of that. It’s lemony, bright and perfect for afternoon tea.

The trick with this cake is to rub the lemon zest into the sugar to draw out all of the oils from the lemon into the batter. It’s also rather therapeutic to use your hands — win-win!

The beginning of spring is the first time we glimpse strawberries at the market, and here I’ve roasted them to intensify their flavour and also add a little something special to this cake.

Other fruits like plums, apricots or any stone fruit for that matter would be perfect here. Depending on their ripeness, they may take a little longer in the oven so be attentive as you want them to still hold their shape once roasted.https://www.youtube.com/embed/bpoKOEYROjA?feature=oembed&enablejsapi=1&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.abc.net.auYOUTUBETry this easy lemon almond cake with roasted strawberries

Julia Busuttil Nishimura is a cook, author and teacher. Her work celebrates simple ingredients, seasonal produce and the joys of coming together at the table. She’s the author of two cookbooks, Ostro and A Year of Simple Family Food. Julia lives in Melbourne with her husband, Nori, and sons, Haruki and Yukito.


Lemon almond cake150g caster sugarZest and juice of 2 lemons3 eggs1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract150ml extra virgin olive oil100g natural yoghurt100g fine polenta150g almond meal130g self-raising flourRoasted strawberries250g strawberries, hulled and halved1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extractJuice and zest of half a lemon1 Tbsp caster sugarIcing sugar, to dustNatural yoghurt, to serve


  1. 1.Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 23cm round cake tin.
  2. 2.In a large bowl, combine the sugar with the lemon zest. Use your fingers to rub the lemon zest into the sugar until damp and fragrant. Add the eggs and whisk until combined, followed by the lemon juice, vanilla, olive oil and yoghurt. Add the polenta, almond meal and flour and whisk until just combined. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.
  3. 3.Meanwhile, combine the strawberries with the vanilla, lemon juice and zest and sugar in a small bowl and toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer in a small baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the liquid is syrupy and the strawberries are soft but still holding their shape.
  4. 4.Dust the cake with icing sugar and serve with natural yoghurt and the roasted strawberries.

Postcard #2

We live in the same world and breathe the same air.

matthew r. joseph

Dear China,

For political reasons that have nothing to do with the citizens of Australia or the citizens of the People’s Republic of China, our governments are engaged in a number of disputes. I think that this situation is a shame, and that the political decisions of governments do not need to become disagreements between people. We live in the same world and breathe the same air. Humanity is not divided by borders, only governments are. 

Stay in touch,


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Memories from September 1943 to Beginning of 1945


Towards the end of September 1943 we left Berlin to live in the country. We moved to a place called the ‘Ausbau’, which meant that eventually ‘more’ was to be added to the building.. It was a simple rectangular red brick complex with several entrances around the building. There was no plumbing or electricity. The entrance for us ‘Berliners’ was on the left side at the front of the building. We had a cellar, a groundfloor and two upper floors.

  Mum, my two younger brothers and I, shared a bedroom on the first upper floor. We also had a small kitchen and a living-room. I would sleep in the living-room when my dad came home on leave. Two maids, one Polish, the other Russian, shared two rooms on the top floor. All the rooms on the top floor had sloping ceilings. Our Polish maid was in her early twenties. Her name was Maria. She was very efficient and always rather serious.. The Todtenhausen Family, who lived on the groundfloor, employed Katja, the Russian maid, who was only eighteen and extremely fun loving.

   My mum’s sister, Tante Ilse, also had her rooms on the first upper floor. She had a bedroom and a living-room. On the groundfloor, right underneath her upper rooms, she had a kitchen and a dining-room. She hardly ever used those downstairs rooms. Our friends from Berlin, the Todtenhausen Family, occupied three rooms downstairs, namely a kitchen, a living-room and a bedroom, the same arrangement of rooms that we had on the upper floor.

   There was an additional larger room for storage under the sloping roof. The Todtenhausen Family and my Family stored in that room additional larger furniture which we wanted to save from the bombs in Berlin. — In that room Mum stored a lot of Boskop-apples during the cold season. They were neatly spread out on some straw. Come Christmas-time, other delicious food was also hidden somewhere amongst our stored furniture. It was very tempting for me to go exploring in that room! Mum noticed sometimes, that some food was missing. And I admitted, when questioned, that I had helped myself to some of the goodies. However I was never punished for doing such a thing. That shows, that Mum must have been quite tolerant. —

   On the same upper floor right under the roof was a playroom, which my brothers and I shared with eight year old Eva Todtenhausen. There was another room next to the playroom where Frau Todtenhausen’s parents had stored some bedroom furniture. The parents were Herr und Frau Braun. They had a business in Berlin. (They sometimes stayed at the ‘Ausbau’ in that bedroom in order to be with their family away from the bombs in Berlin.)

   Our toilets were “plumps-closets” some distance away from the house. Water for cooking and washing had to be fetched from a pump in the backyard. Fetching water from the pump kept both maids very busy indeed. For lights we had kerosine-lamps, for heating there were coal-fired stoves which could also be used for cooking. Everything was very basic.

   Gradually some changes were being made. The first big change was that our landlord had electricity laid on. All the workers who lived with their families in the other part of the building, received the benefit of electricity at the same time. This certainly was a very welcome improvement for them.

   The ‘Ausbau’ was built close to a dirt-track which meandered through wide open barley-, oat- and potato-fields. On the track it was a good half hour to walk to the next village. Bike-riding however made it a bit quicker.

   Werner Mann, the owner of all those fields that went on for miles and miles, was an acquaintance of Tante Ilse. He was apparently quite rich and also owned extensive brick-works (Ziegeleien). It was said of him that he was a millionaire. He was our landlord, and he liked to spoil us. With no strings attached! Tante Ilse only had to voice a wish, and Werner Mann immediately did whatever he could to fulfill her wish. He spoilt us by constantly getting produce delivered to us: Potatoes, cabbage for making sauerkraut, wonderful treacle made of sweet-beets, and coal for our stoves.

   Even I, as a nine year old, could see that sixty year old Werner Mann was hopelessly in love with Ilse. I also was quite aware, that she always kept him at a distance. He was happy to just be invited for ”Kaffee und Kuchen’ on weekends and to spend some time with all of us. He always came to visit on his bike. On his daily inspection tours of the workers in the fields he also went around on his bike. He owned coaches with horses, but hardly ever used those to go anywhere.

   When we were invited to his place (which people called ‘Schloss’), he would send the coach with a coachman to pick us up. Once in winter when there was plenty of snow, Werner Mann sent a ‘Pferde-Schlitten’ (horse-drawn sledge). On this sledge we were wrapped up in blankets under a clear night-sky with the moon and lots of stars shining on us. It was unforgettable and one of the rare highlights in our otherwise pretty dreary country-life existence.

   The place, where Werner Mann lived, did not look like a castle at all, even though people called it ‘Schloss’. It was not even a mansion but a rather large, but fairly plain house. There was a huge, fenced in veggie garden next to the house. I have seen the veggie garden only once. However I was very impressed by it, because it seemed to be so very large.

   When we moved to the ‘Ausbau’, Ilse had already been divorced from Adolf Schlinke. It was obvious that Werner M. would have liked to marry Ilse. However, it never came to that. Ilse married Helmut Lorenz on July 20th, 1944.


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

Mum used to store lot of goodies for the Christmas season. It was very exciting for me to find out what new things had been stored in that big room. I remember seeing huge chunks of nougat (a yummy hazelnut-paste) as well as heart-shaped marzipan-pieces. There was a pot with sweetened thick milk. Sometimes I dipped my finger into it to lick this wonderful sweet stuff! I also liked to eat a few of the stored raisins and prunes! Smells of ginger bread and apples: It made me feel that Christmas was something to be looking forward to.

Where on earth did Mum get all those things from? It was war-time, wasn’t it? We were in the midst of war! I knew very well where all this came from. The parents of Frau Todtenhausen had a distributing business. It was called ‘Backbedarf en Gros’. That meant they delivered goods to bakeries and cake-shops. Even in the midst of war deliveries of the above mentioned goods still took place! Of course there were shortages, but basically most things were still available.

Herr and Frau Todtenhausen, as well as Tante Ilse and Mum, all of them were good friends. Every Saturday night they came together for some card games. Eight year old daughter Eva and I were allowed to stay up late on those nights. For hours we were watching the adults playing cards, and at the same time we were entertaining ourselves with doodling on bits of paper. At around ten o’clock some cake and hot chocolate as well as coffee would be served. But the maids did not have to do the serving, They were already in their rooms at this hour. The cake was usually freshly baked, very fluffy yeast cake topped with delicious butter-crumbs and filled with a thick custard. Hmm yummy!

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

During the summer of 1944 Herr Todtenhausen and Mum liked to go on their bikes to a neighbouring Nursery where they were able to trade sweets for fresh produce. Eva and I were often allowed to go along with them on our bikes. The sweets were traded for strawberries or cherries or gooseberries as well as peaches and apricots, and later on in the year for pears and apples. I remember the Boskop apples were still in season in late autumn. The owner of the nursery was a well-off looking middle-aged woman who was very fond of sweets and loved to trade her produce. At one time we found out that she thought Herr Todtenhausen and Mum were a couple and we girls were sisters. Laughing joyfully, Mum and Herr Todtenhausen explained, that this was not so.

Only once as far as I remember were we shown into the lady’s home. Herr Todtenhausen  made complimentary remarks about the interior of the house. He said it showed off the owner’s good taste. I liked the lady’s house a real lot too. Our families used to have well furnished apartments in Berlin. But this modern looking villa in the midst of the nursery really was something else. My feelings were, I would very much like to live in a place like that. However we had to be happy with our accomodation in the Ausbau. To us children it was always pointed out, to be happy that we did not have to live amongst the bomb raids in Berlin. I’m pretty sure that by myself I felt that I’d rather live in Berlin, bomb-raids or not. I think to children bomb-raids usually didn’t seem as scary as to the adults. At the time we children had had no experience yet how absolutely horrible those bomb-raids could become.

In 1990, soon after the Fall of the Wall, I went with my family to have a look at the area where we used to be hidden away from the bomb-raids. We discovered that the nursery as well as the lady’s house had completely vanished. There was nothing left of the ‘Ausbau’ either!

In 1943, when we had lived at he ‘Ausbau’ only for a couple of months, Frau Todtenhausen delivered a healthy daughter in a regional hospital. The day after the baby was born, it may perhaps have been a Saturday or Sunday, Herr Todtenhausen and Eva went for the forty-five minute bike-ride to the Hospital. I was thrilled that I was allowed to go with them! The baby was on the tiny side and soon called Krümel (tiny crumb). Edith had a pet-name too. She was often called Honkepong.

As soon as Frau Todtenhausen came home from hospital, there was a nurse waiting for her to take charge of the baby. Herr Todtenhausen said something like: “Katja is a very nice girl, but I would not trust her with our new born baby. I am glad that Nurse is here to help my wife to look after our Krümel.”

Nurse used for herself the bedroom next to our playroom. Sometimes she sat with us children in the playroom. Since Christmas was approaching, she taught us how to make some Christmas decorations. I was very impressed, because I was nine years old and nobody had ever taught me anything like it! Nurse also made sure, we learned our Christmas poems. We had to be prepared to recite them to Santa on Christmas Eve!

 Maria, our Polish maid, had been with us since before my little brother Peter was born. He regarded Maria as his ‘Dah-dah’, that is he always called her ‘Dah-dah’. By the end of January 1945 we had to flee from the ‘Ausbau’ as the Russians were approaching fast. We went to Berlin first and then by train to Leipzig to stay at Grandmother’s place. Maria remained in Berlin with her Polish fiancee, who was a butcher.

 When we parted from Maria, little Peter had just turned three. Yet he must have missed his Dah-Dah for quite a while since she had always looked after him, and I am sure, he loved her very much and she loved him. Mum always trusted Maria, who was in every way caring and efficient at the same time. Mum was always impressed how quickly Maria did all the housework. Any dirty dishes were washed immediately. She was indeed capable of doing all the housework, and Mum was happy to let her do just about everything. An exception was the baking of a large cake on Saturdays, which Mum loved to do herself.

Maria always made some potato-salad for the weekend. I watched how she did it. To the peeled and sliced potatoes she added finely cut onion, some oil, pepper and salt. Then she poured hot vinegar-water over the potatoes as a finishing touch. The huge salad-bowl was placed outside on a shelf near the stairway so the salad could cool down. I often helped myself to some of the warm salad when nobody was looking, because I loved to eat the salad when it was still a little bit warm. It was the same every Saturday. I watched Maria preparing the salad and placing it on the shelf outside. Then it did not take long before I had a good taste of it!

Friday night was the night for our bath. Maria placed a small tin-tub on the kitchen-floor. She carried several buckets of water from the outside pump to the kitchen. Some of the water she heated on the kitchen-stove in an especially huge pot. I was always the first one to use the bath-water, then it was brother Bodo’s turn. Little brother Peter was always the last one. Some hot water was added for everyone, but still the water must have been quite dirty for little Peter after Bodo and I had had our baths!

When Maria first came to live with us, she knew very little German. However she was determined to learn German quickly. She liked to ask Bodo and me how to pronounce certain words. She also asked me how to write those words in German. Mum often praised Maria, that she was willing and able to learn quickly. This applied to everything she did. She was an amazingly efficient person. A ‘pearl of a maid’ people would say of her. Maria was a city girl. She came from Lodz, which was called ‘Litzmannstadt’ at the time. We had spent the summer-months of 1941 at Zokolniki (near Lodz) and that was when Maria was assigned to us as a help. Mum liked Maria and wanted her to come with us when we went back to Berlin. Maria told me later that she did not want to leave Poland. But she had not been given the choice to stay in her own country.

When Katja arrived, we could see that she was very different from Maria. She was a country-girl from Russia. She never learned German as well as Maria did. She could never be trusted to do all the house-work by herself. Frau Todtenhausen always had to supervise her and do certain things herself because Katja took too long to learn to do it properly. But we all loved Katja. She was always cheerful and full of beans. As a country-girl she did not know certain things that a city-girl had been brought up with. Maria took to instructing Kartja about certain things. I think they communicated in German. After they finished work in the evening, they had plenty of time to stay in their rooms together and keep each other company. Both girls always had to get up early. During summer, school-classes in the village started as early as seven o’clock. That meant, I had to get up at six o’clock to get ready for school. Mum never got up that early. But Maria always came down at six o’clock to start working for us. She often had to do Peter’s linen early in the morning, which I am sure was not one of her favourite tasks.

Childhood Memories continued

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ja wenn wir schaun, schaun, schaun

übern Zaun, Zaun, Zaun,

in das schöne Land Tirol –

Ja dann freuet sich die Sennerin,

ja wenn wir schaun, schaun, schaun übern Zaun.

Ja wenn wir gucken, gucken, gucken

durch die Lucken, Lucken, Lucken,

in das schöne Land Tirol –

Ja dann freuet sich die Sennerin,

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

Grandmother Hulda

Grandmother Hulda buys Eggs

                            Probably a Slightly Fictional Story

In my memory sticks a meeting with a woman on a small farm outside Lodz, which was called ‘Litzmannstadt’ at the time. One day Grandmother wanted to buy eggs from the farm where she had been buying eggs for years. She took me along for the ride in the Pferde-Droschke (horse drawn taxicab). I cannot remember any other time, when I was allowed to go out with her. So this was really something very special for me. I was thrilled, that Grandmother had chosen me to accompany her!

Grandmother greeted the farm-woman in a very friendly manner and proudly introduced me, saying: ‘This is my grand-daughter, She is here for a visit from Berlin.’ The woman seemed very happy to see my grandmother. With a big smile she greeted both of us. Grandmother did not enter the small farmhouse, but handed the woman her very large basket asking her to fill it up please. The woman left and soon returned with the basket full of lovely large hen-eggs, about thirty of them. Then the women talked a bit more.

The farm-woman enquired about Grandmother’s family. She seemed to know, that Grandmother had many children. ‘Did you receive the Silver Cross for having had six children?’ she wanted to know. And Grandmother replied:’I did indeed receive a Cross, but it is the Golden Cross for eight children. My first two children, that were twins,died in infancy. All my other six children are alive and well..’ At that the farm-woman looked admiringly at my Grandmother and uttered a few words of congratulations for having received the Golden Cross.

Come to think of it, this conversation must have happened in German, otherwise I could not have understood a word of it. To me this woman probably seemed just like any other German woman living in Poland.

The eggs were beautiful. One morning we had some of those large, fresh eggs as soft boiled eggs for breakfast. Grandfather was there and two of his sons, one of them being my father. Someone made a comment how good tasting those eggs were. This did it. Fresh good tasting eggs like this, they had to be from a farm, and probably from that farm, where Grandmother always used to buy her eggs.

My uncle put his napkin down. Then the inquisition started. ‘Mother, where did you get these eggs? Did you get them from those Jewish people on the farm, where you always used to buy your eggs?’

Grandmother answered defiantly: ‘Yes, this is where I bought them.’

Uncle looked around, first at Grandfather, then at my Father. ‘Help me out here,’ he said. ‘Am I hearing this right? Mother had no scruples whatsoever hiring a Pferde-Droschke to go out to that farm and buying produce from a Jewish woman? And the Polish coachman very likely bearing witness to all this! My goodness, Mother, don’t you realise, this could put you into jail? Your whole family could suffer because of this. Our factory might be taken away from us. Think about it, Mother! Just think about it for one moment. Do you want to jeopardise our whole future for a few eggs?’

Grandmother looked very upset. I had the feeling, she could not understand, how buying a few eggs from a farm was supposed to effect the future of the whole family in an adverse way. Then my Father started to speak up. ‘Look, Mother,’ he said, ‘You have to understand, we do not make the rules. The authorities do. Since there is this rule, that Germans are not allowed to buy anything from Jewish people, we better live up to this rule, because if we ignore it, it might cost us dearly. You do not want your own family to suffer hardship now, do you?’

Grandmother was shaking her head, being close to tears of frustration. Her eyes often looked a bit teary anyway. Then Father said: ‘All we want, is, that you promise us, that you will not under any circumstances go out to that farm again. Will you promise us that?’ Grandmother nodded. And that was that.

Grandfather, who normally was very talkative, had not said a word through all this.


Weeping softly, she says defiantly:

‘I bought the eggs from a Jewish woman.

So what? Are you going to kill me for it?

Aren’t I free to buy my eggs from whomever

I want to buy them from? What does it matter to you,

whether the eggs come from Jewish, Polish, Russian

or German hens? Tell me, what does it matter to you?’

( This is, what Grandmother actually never said, but what she may have felt like.)

6 thoughts on “Grandmother Hulda buys Eggs”

  1. catterelEditThank you for this, Uta – so many people outside Germany could never understand how or why the ordinary folk often went along with the anti-semitic laws of the Third Reich. It’s easy to stand outside and criticise,,and say “they should have resisted”, but as your Uncle pointed out, when your livelihood is at stake, you think of yourself and your own family first. I’m not condoning this – just aware that “He who is without sin should throw the first stone.” It was one of the lessons I learnt from living in Germany.Reply
    1. auntyutaEditThank you so much for commenting, Cat. Peter and I just finished watching a TV Movie from Germany. It shows the life of one (fictional) person from 1904 to 1997. This woman, Sonja, who was born in 1904, had family connections with the famous Hotel Adlon in Berlin. Her life was very much shaped by what went on in this hotel because for a great part of her life she was employed there. Because of Nazi interference she lost her daughter and the Jewish father of her daughter. The way the Nazis are depicted is truly mind boggling. I reckon there’s no excuse for behaviour like this. It’s good when people are made to think about this.Reply
  2. backonmyownEditA very poignant story indeed. Thank you for sharing it.Reply
    1. auntyutaEditThanks for reading it, Pat.Reply
  3. aussieian2011EditThanks for sharing that rather sad yet interesting story, I think there must have been many such incidents back in those dark days.
    1. auntyutaEditI saw a Jewish friend of mine being taken away in a truck. He was about ten and I was a few years younger. I cannot recall any other incidents. But you are right, Ian, there must have been many incidents.
      There was a synagogue not far from where we lived. I think it got burned in 1936 when I was only two. I cannot say for sure that I saw it burning. But I have this feeling I may have seen the flames from where I was sitting in my stroller!

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

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

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

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

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


It says in the second last paragraph: “When Maria first came to live with us, she knew very little German. However she was determined to learn German quickly. She liked to ask Bodo and me how to pronounce certain words. She also asked me how to write those words in German. . . .”

Postcard #1

I love to reblog this!

matthew r. joseph

Dear everyone,

The world is a bit of a mess right now. It seems as if racism, misogyny, greed and religious persecution shape the global social order, unchecked by the core values that almost all of us say we believe in: freedom, love, dignity, compassion. When I reflect on the tools at my disposal—words—it is easy to become disheartened about my prospects for contributing to a solution. But I actually have more than mere words at my disposal. I am a political philosopher with an abiding interest in the well-being of my fellow humans. I view philosophy as a practical tool for approaching problems, and I think that even if my contributions are small, they can still count for something. With that in mind, I send off this first postcard with a simple message.


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Landlord’s Game or Monopoly?

I published this on July 1, 2015 and want to reblog it! I wrote in this post from 2015: that I was especially interested in finding out what “Anti-Monpolist” rules had been suggested!

The ‘rules’ are as follows:


The Landlord’s Game is based on present prevailing business methods.  This the players can prove for themselves; and they can also prove what must be the logical outcome of such a system, i.e., that the land monopolist has absolute control of the situation.  If a person wishes to prove this assertion — having first proven that the principles of the game are based on realities — let him do so by giving to one player all of the land and giving to the other players all other advantages of the game.  Provide each player with $100 at the start and let the game proceed under the rules with the exception that the landlord gets no wages.  By this simple method one can satisfy himself of the truth of the assertion that the land monopolist is monarch of the world.  The remedy is the Single Tax.


If the players wish to prove how the application of the Single Tax would benefit everybody by equalizing and opportunities and raising wages, they may at any time during the game put the single tax into operation by a vote of at least two of the players.

RULES.Players were left in possession of their holdings and, with the exception that the Title Deeds are of no value, the gain goes on as before under the following rules:

RULE 1.    Pay no taxes on Absolute Necessities.

RULE 2.   All land rent is paid into the public treasury to be used for public improvements.  (Begin game under single tax with empty PUBLIC TREASURY.)

RULE 3.    All railroad fares and franchise rates are paid to the individual owners as before until the public takes control of them (see Rule 6), when they are FREE.

RULE 4.    When a player stops upon an unimproved lot (except Government Reservations, see following rule) he first pays the full land rent into PUBLIC TREASURY, and then, if he so desires and can afford it, he may improved the lot by erection of a house thereon.  But if the space upon which he has stopped is already improved by another player’s house, he first pays the full land rent into the PUBLIC TREASURY and then pays the full house rent to the owner of the house.  If that anytime a player has money to invest, he may, in his turn, erect a house on anyunimproved lot he chooses, whether his checker is on that space or not, provided no other player bids against him for the privilege of building there.

The “bid” money (or rent) is paid into the PUBLIC TREASURY.

RULE 5.    HOGG”S GAME PRESERVES and LORD BLUEBLOOD’S ESTATE are supposed to be reserved by the Government for Free College sites (see part c, Rule 6), and until the colleges are erected a player whose throw brings him upon one of the use spaces is trespassing and must go to JAIL.

RULE 6.  (a) When the cash in the PUBLIC TREASURY from land rents and fines amounts to $50 it is paid to the holder of the SOAKUM LIGHTING SYSTEM charter for the purchase of the plant, which is then owned and operated by the public, (the change to public ownership being by condemnation, excluding value of right of way).  The card is returned to the pack, and henceforth the Lighting System space is free to all players.  If the card is still in the pack the $50 is paid into the MISCELLANEOUS pile.

(b) When the cash in the PUBLIC TREASURY amounts to $50 more, go through the same process with SLAMBANG TROLLEY; then P.D.Q.R.R.; then GEE WIZZ R. R., and so on around the board until all the railroads are free.

(c) Then when the cash in the PUBLIC TREASURY amounts to $50 more it is put into the MISCELLANEOUS pile from which a Free College is taken and placed on LORD BLUEBLOOD’S ESTATE and the jail penalty is annulled.

(d) When the cash in the PUBLIC TREASURY amounts to $50 more it is transferred to the MISCELLANEOUS pile and WAGES ARE RAISED TO $110.  When the cash amounts to $50 more, wages are raised to $120, and so on, raising wages $10 for every $50 in the TREASURY, until the end of the game.

RULE 7.    After the first FREE COLLEGE is erected, if a player goes to college he takes a blue card marked Education and when he gets four of these cards he exchanges them for a card marked Professor, which card counts him 100 at the end of the game.

RULE 8.    Under the Single Tax the Poor House is eliminated because all players have access to land — the natural opportunities to labor.    If a player cannot afford to make the move called for by his thrown, he puts his checker upon any NATURAL OPPORTUNITY space (inner corners) he may choose, back of the space to which is throw would bring him.  Then just before throwing in his next turn he takes from the MISCELLANEOUS pile the wages called for by the NATURAL OPPORTUNITY space upon which he has placed his checker, pays his rent for such space into the PUBLIC TREASURY, throws his dice, and moves out.  A player must make the move, if possible, even if it takes him to JAIL


Some time ago Harper’s Magazine wrote about the antimonopolist history of the world’s most popular board game.

You can look it up here:


I was especially interested in finding out what “Anti-Monpolist” rules had been suggested!



E C O N O M I C  G A M E  C O,  N E W  Y O R K.

NOTE TO READERS: The origianl rule set was OCR scanned; however, I did not fully proof
them prior to posting. There are some spelling errors that need corrected. This will be corrected.
If you have questions about any errors you find please email me at landlordsgame@gmail.com


The Landlord’s Game is based on present prevailing business methods.  This the players can prove for themselves; and they can also prove what…

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