Corinna and the Family

Corinna, my niece, is the daughter of Klaudia and my brother Peter Uwe. She is the one who introduced me to WordPress. And this is how I came up with the blog name Aunty Uta.

Corinna has a son named Carlos Emilio. It was his birthday the other day and I forgot it. I am really becoming very forgetful! Corinna’s partner and the father of Carlos is Walter. Carlos has an older half-brother who lives with his mother but comes regularly for visits. The two brothers get on very well together.

So this is a bit more history. For an outsider all these names and connections may be rather confusing. I too seem to get to that stage now, where it is somewhat difficult to keep up with all the names. This is why it is good for me to write everything down. This way everything may stick a bit better in my memory. Also some of my descendants could in future perhaps be interested in all this, that is, if, what I write down is going to be preserved somehow for posterity!!

Maybe I am going to publish my posts about marriages and divorces and separations and partnerships in my “pages” one day to keep them all together. That way someone who is interested in my family can look it up all at once. I find it interesting to contemplate about different living arrangements that people have. Looking at my extended family there are various examples of different ways of living together. What about single persons? Well, there are not many in my family that I can think of. But there are some. I can also think of one single parent with one child. Most divorced people in my family seem to have ended in some kind of new relationship, either a new marriage or just a partnership.

I think I did not mention one brother of my father who as a widower married a widow. Other widowed relatives stayed on their own after their spouse passed away. And so it goes. All my relatives, who were older than I, seem to have passed away now. I cannot think of any that are still alive. That means I am well and truly the oldest in my family!! 🙂

In Peter’s family I can think of several people older than him who are still alive: For instance his two sisters, also cousins Margot and Renate. I had three older cousins on my father’s side: All are dead. However there are a number of younger cousins that are still alive. I really would like to see all of them one more time.

On my mother’s side there were only three cousins all together, all older than I. Come to think of it, one of the cousins, Wolfgang, the son of my mother’s brother, may still be alive. He is eight years my senior. So I am probably not the oldest after all!! 🙂

Wolfgang’s twin sister, Renate, died in October 2012. At the time we happened to be in Berlin for a visit. Renate died in Munich. We travelled from Berlin to Munich for Renate’s funeral. Soon after I wrote a blog about this.

MY MOTHER

The following I posted once before. So it may sound familiar to you.

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

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

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

Mum promised her sister, she’d fly to Westerland the same day. She was quite excited about this. In her excitement she forgot to ring Dad’s office to let him know about her plans. Or did she deliberately not ring him because she sensed that he would have objections to her leaving us children in the care of our home-help! I remember when Dad came home he was furious when he found out that Mum had taken off to join her sister and left us children in the care of our eighteen year old home-help! I believe Mum stayed in Westerland for a whole week. When she returned, she talked excitedly about how she had been spending time with her sister in Westerland.  Come night-time they waited till Auntie’s mother-in-law was fast asleep, pretending they were going to sleep too. However as soon as they thought the old lady was fast asleep, they escaped through their bedroom window and went dancing. I remember seeing pictures of them that were taken on the dance-floor. They had already acquired a nice brown tan from having spent time on the beach. I remember looking at the photos and seeing how very brown their faces looked in sharp contrast to their white dresses. Two young marine officers, smartly dressed in their uniforms, could be seen with them. Later I found out, that one of the officers was Helmut Lorenz who five years later became Aunty’s second husband after her divorce from the first one. And the other officer was no other than Max Tomscick, who after the war became Mum’s friend and whom she would call ‘Bambie’.  If I’m right that this holidaying on the isle of Sylt took place during the first half of August 1939 this would mean that just a few weeks later, on the first of September, Germany was at war and the above mentioned young navy pilots would immediately have been on call for they were officers in the German Navy.

I cannot recall that having to stay without Mum for a week did cause us any hardship. So the young home-help must have coped quite adequately.  When Baby Brother was nearly a year old he had developed an allergy to cow’s milk. He was not allowed to drink milk then. However when he was a bit older, he could drink milk again.

Mum’s third child, also a boy, was born during the war in 1941. We had a twenty year old Polish maid at the time, who soon cared for the new baby as though he was her own. She became his ‘Dada’. She was the main contact person for the first three years of his life. This second brother became a very happy and contented child, whereas the first brother was always highly sensitive and suffering from asthma through most of his childhood. Dad, when he was around, would pay a lot of attention to us children. But I suspect, this very sensitive brother did not always get sufficient attention. However when he had one of his awful asthma attacks Mum would always be very concerned and tirelessly look after him. Later on in life he failed to establish a long lasting relationship with a woman. The photo shows Mum with us three children in 1948.Charlotte mit ihren drei Kindern 1948

Our Polish maid, Maria, with  the three of us, Summer 1944
Our Polish maid, Maria, with the three of us, Summer 1944
This is a pass-port photo of Maria.
This is a pass-port photo of Maria.

OUR LUCKY ESCAPE

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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