Childhood Memories

I publish here a copy of something I had published already in May 2013. I did get some very interesting comments to this post at the time. So I copied all the comments and my replies as well. Some of my new blogger friends might want to have a look at it and maybe some of my older blogger friends also would like to have another look. 🙂

This now 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”.’

Submitted on 2014/10/15 at 9:49 am | In reply to auntyuta.
Just now I did re-read this whole post and all the comments. As Peter says, between “Will” and “Reason”, “Will” will always win. I think this is because most people will their emotions let their thinking rule. Well, this is the way it is, this is what humans are like.

To come back to 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.

In the next comment section I post some details about the book from Wikipedia.

auntyuta
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Submitted on 2014/10/15 at 9:30 am
THE BOOK THIEF

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the novel. For the film adaptation, see The Book Thief (film).
The Book Thief
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak book cover.jpg
1st Edition front cover
Illustrator Trudy White
Cover artist Colin Anderson/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Country Germany
Language English, German
Genre Novel-Historical Fiction
Publisher Picador, Australia; Knopf, US
Publication date
2005(Australia); 14 March 2006 (worldwide)
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 550

The Book Thief is a novel by Australian author Markus Zusak.[1] Narrated by Death, the book is set in Nazi Germany, a place and time when 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.[2]

berlioz1935
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Submitted on 2013/05/21 at 11:05 am | In reply to Robert M. Weiss.
Robert, you are spot on with your overall view of history. I always say, that the 2. 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, let 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
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Submitted on 2013/05/21 at 10:27 am | 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.

auntyuta
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Submitted on 2013/05/21 at 7:59 am
Thanks for this very insightful reply, Robert.

” . . . . 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.

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.

catterel
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Submitted on 2013/05/20 at 9:02 pm | In reply to auntyuta.
HiI Uta – yes, no, yes. I’m writing a memoir that gets added to sporadically, but haven’t published many old photos from that time. Maybe I should!

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. At about 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.

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 7:58 am | In reply to catterel.
Hi Cat, do you write a lot about your early childhood and do you have pictures of that time published? Do you find you cannot disclose too much about people who are still alive? It’s great for your kids to be told by you what life was like in the 1940’s and 50’s.

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.

Early Memories

Before I was three we lived in Taunus Strasse, Berlin- Friedenau. Some time during 1937 we moved to Bozener Strasse in Berlin-Schöneberg. This is where Tante Ilse and Onkel Addi lived as well and also my friend Cordula and her parents. Later on we did get to know Family T. who lived in the house opposite our apartment building.

During my early childhood Bozener Strasse was a very quiet street. There were no cars parked in the street.

Tante Ilse had this narrow but very long balcony with a lot of plants to water. As a two year old I loved to help with watering some of the plants!

Uta loves to water the plants. Mum is looking on.
Uta loves to water the plants. Mum is looking on.

Here Mum still has this “Bubikopf” which I believe became fashionable already in the 1920s.

In the next picture, which was taken in Bozener Strasse on 21st September 1947, my brother Peter is nearly six. I stand behind Peter. I turned thirteen on this day. My brother Bodo is on the left. He is nine. Beside him Eva Todtenhausen, who is going on twelve and beside Eva is Cordula who is twelve. Today I found out that Cordula died in July 2011, aged 76. This was very sad news for me. 😦
2-06-2009 5;02;21 PM23-02-2009 6;29;31 PM

The above picture is from my birthday in 1940. We stand under the huge chestnut tree. Cordula spent part of the war outside of Berlin. She is not in the 1940 picture.

We took the following picture of Bozener Strasse during our Berlin visit in September 2012. It is still the same chestnut tree. But look at all the cars now!

DSCN3831

Our apartment was on the third floor, Tante Ilse lived two floors further up. Mum quite often went up with me to visit Tante Ilse. One of my early memories is that Tante Ilse and Mum were lying  under the bright lights of some tanning lamps (Höhensonne).  They used some oil on their skin which smelled beautiful and made their skin look shiny. Their skin usually had quite a bit of a tan. They wore some protective dark glasses. Sometimes they made me lie under the lamp for a little while.  I  liked it when some of this nice smelling oil was rubbed all over my body. I too had to wear these dark glasses. I liked to wear them for a little while. But I was required to lie totally still. Very soon  I did get sick of it, not wanting to lie still any more under the hot tanning lamp. I was then always glad when I was allowed to get up again.

I remember thinking that Auntie was a very beautiful looking woman with her very long curly hair. In the three way mirrors of her dressing table I remember watching  how Auntie brushed her hair. It was very strong and long chestnut-coloured hair.  Auntie usually brushed it slightly back so it stayed behind her ears. She often wore very long blue earrings. Oh, I loved the look of these blue earrings.  They looked beautiful hanging down from Auntie’s ears! I think Mum did not wear any earrings, because her ears were covered by her hair. Mum’s brown hair was very fine and much shorter than Auntie’s. My hair was rather fine too. Mum always cut it quite short. I often wished  that I could wear my  hair longer but Mum would not let me grow it longer.

Both Auntie Ilse and Mum wore identical three big rolls of hair horizontally on top of their heads. The front rolls covered the top of their foreheads, the other two rolls were rolled behind the front roll. They often wore identical clothes, for instance light pink angora wool tops with identical grey suits.

1948: Mum 37, Uta 14, Bodo 10 and Peter 7.
1948: Mum 37, Uta 14, Bodo 10 and Peter 7.

Mum features her three big rolls of hair, I am already allowed to wear my hair long!

———-

Mum often called me  ‘MAUSEL’ or ‘Mauselchen’, whereas Auntie liked to call me ‘HERZCHEN’ or ‘LIEBLING’. Dad sometimes said ‘HERZEL’ to me, but he usually called me by my name. Mausel is derived from Maus (mouse), Herzchen means ‘little heart’, Liebling means ‘darling’.

Cordula’s mum once told  me, that her name meant ‘heart’ in the Latin language, but not to tell anyone otherwise some children would make fun of the name. I did not want anyone to make fun of Cordula. So I promised myself to keep the meaning of the name to myself.

My brother Bodo was born in June 1938. I think Cordula’s  brother Tilwin was born a few months after that. Mum said that Tilwin was an extremely odd name. It turned out he grew up with very bright red hair. The children in the street teased him about his hair. As much as possible Cordula always stood up for her  brother. I think for the most part Tilwin avoided playing with other children.

The Lepsius apartment was on the same side as our apartment, just two floors further up. (Auntie Ilse’s apartment was on the other side of the fifth floor). I often went up to the Lepsius apartment all by myself to play with Cordula. They had a ‘roof-garden’ (Dachgarten) above their apartment. It was the size of a big room and had no roof above it. I remember the sun shining right into it. The floor was concrete and along the walls were garden-beds . Cordula was allowed to look after her own little garden-bed.. Once Cordula’s Mum let me have a portion of a little garden-bed too! Cordula’s Mum and Dad were always kind to me. They made me feel welcome and included.

Cordula’s family had food that I had never seen before.. For snacks we children were often given some kind of brown flakes and raisins. Sometimes we were given dates or figs. I loved this food! My Mum thought it was strange to eat something like that. In Mum’s opinion this family was rather odd because they had lived in the Middle East for a while. Cordula’s  father was an architect. My Mum called him ‘the Hunger-Architect’ (Hungerleider)  since he seemed to get hardly any work in his profession.

Mum must have seen their apartment once for I remember her remarking how sparsely furnished it was.  Mum found their choice of furniture quite odd. There were a great number of shelves stacked full with books. These shelves went from floor to ceiling. Herr Lepsius sometimes showed us children books with colourful  illustrations. He also told us stories. We loved one story in particular which had a funny ending. We demanded to be told that story again and again. Each time we laughed our heads off and Herr L laughed with us. The story was about a beggar who knocked at the door of an apartment. A ily had two connecting apartments across two buildings; that is, the wall between the buildings had beautiful maid opened the door. Some time later the beggar knocked at another door of an apartment in the neighbouring building. And the same beautiful maid opened the door! We found the astonishment of the beggar very funny! Herr L explained to us, that a wall had been broken through to connect the apartments on that floor. This was actually where the family of Herr L had lived, when he was a boy.

Herr L was old and bald. He was about twenty years older than his wife. Quite a few years later Cordula and I went to the same high-school. We walked there together every morning. One morning I climbed up the stairs to  Cordula’s  apartment to find out why she  had not come down yet to go to school with me. I rang the bell. Frau L opened the door. She was in tears. She did not let me come in but went with me to the top of the stairs. She said: “Our father just died; I haven’t even told Cordula yet.”  She looked at me with despair in her face.  I did not know what to say. She hugged me and then she disappeared in her apartment.

Uta’s early Childhood

I published this post about the book ‘Unser Kind – Our Child’ about one year ago. I wanted to reblog it today but came up with some major difficulties.

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. I think the photo further below was taken around my first birthday. It shows I was still quite bald!

<a href=”https://auntyuta.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/uta-before-her-first-birthday.jpg”><img src=”https://auntyuta.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/uta-before-her-first-birthday.jpg&#8221; alt=”” title=”Uta before her first birthday” width=”490″ height=”469″ /></a>

<a href=”https://auntyuta.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/sept-1935-uta-1-year-old.jpg”><img src=”https://auntyuta.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/sept-1935-uta-1-year-old.jpg&#8221; alt=”” title=”Sept. 1935, Uta 1 year old” width=”490″ height=”672″ /></a>

 

Looking up Aunty Uta’s Childhood Memories

3 Responses to “Aunty Uta’s Memories 1943/44”

  1. auntyutaJuly 30, 2011 at 1:54 am Edit #

    With hubby’s help I managed last night to add some of the continuation of my memories 1943/1944. Over the past five years or so I saved quite a few pages of memory writing in Open Office. So far my writing is not very well organised and needs more editing. When I started with memory writing I did it hoping that maybe some of my grand-children and great-grand-children might be interested in reading it later on.

    Hubby and I joined a writers’ group for a number of years. When this stopped, I stopped writing since nobody seemed to be interested to read any new writing of mine on a regular basis. In the writers’ class we were given lots of encouragement by a qualified tutor! Recently I always found excuses why it wasn’t important to keep writing. Somehow there were constantly other things that took priority.

    I’m glad now that my niece encouraged me to try blogging.

  2. muniraAugust 2, 2011 at 1:01 am Edit #

    What an incredible story Aunty Uta. I loved reading every word. Somehow, listening to or reading someone’s stories of the past is so much better and that much more evocative compared to a history book. I felt transported to a different world as I read this post.
    I’m glad you started blogging. It’s very commendable and your memories are amazingly vivid.

  3. auntyutaAugust 3, 2011 at 9:55 am Edit #

    Thank you very much. Your reply made my day. I started reading some of your blogs and enjoyed them very much. Blogging for sure opens different worlds for us, doesn’t it? I try to read as much as possible. I loved it that you included old family pictures. I hope that some day in the not so distant future I may manage to add some of my old family pictures. I’m going on 77 and there’s still so much to learn. Yet I have to try to take it easy. I have to accept that certain things take longer as you get older. When I change trains at Central Station in Sydney for instance it takes me much longer to proceed along the stairways than most other people. I JUST HAVE TO TAKE IT A BIT SLOWER THAN ALL THE YOUNGER PEOPLE: And that’s it. As long as I can manage a little bit, it’s better than nothing.I enjoy my life.I can honestly say I am grateful for every day that’s still given to me

    Today is the 22nd of January 2013

    I thought the other day I should go back to writing more about my childhood memories. I do not like so much to write about the present when I have to be constantly aware that I shouldn’t say things about people who are still alive because they mightn’t like what I tell about them. Another way to avoid offending people would be to fictionalize all my writing. I sometimes do change a few names. However I am usually reluctant to do this. I get all confused when I don’t know whether to just change names or fictionalize my writing all together.

    Since I looked up what I published here at world.press way back in July 2011, I thought it would be interesting to copy it so that my new readers could read it. I noticed Munira was one of my earliest readers. I’ve copied here her comment to my childhood memories. To me this comment is very interesting. I couldn’t copy all of what I had written in July 2011. But for bloggers who would like to read these memories, please look them up in the archives under July 2011.

My Friends in 1947

I’m surprised that Franziska isn’t in that birthday photo from 1947, when I turned thirteen. Dr Petzel used to give Franziska ‘preferential’ treatment because her father had a doctor title. I remember I used to climb with her and her younger brother on chestnut trees to pick nice ripe chestnuts. This must have been in autumn of 1946.

So Franziska is not in the picture. Gisela (16), Jutta (14), Lilo (14) and Irene (still 13) are in the picture from right to left.

Cordula had turned 12 on the 20th May of that year, whereas Eva would turn 12 in December of 1947.

There are four school-friends in the birthday photo. Gisela was already sixteen and seemed very mature to us. She had to do all the housework at home because her mother had died.  Her father worked as a truck-driver.  Gisela was an excellent reader. When a teacher had to leave the class for a while,  Gisela was usually given the task to read something to us. Everybody listened to her reading. She was a very good a reader!

Second there is Jutta. I always loved her beautiful naturally wavy long hair. I think you can’t see it much in the picture. Where she lived, there was a perfumery in the basement. The scent of perfume was always quite overwhelming! After school I would often walk with my friends in the direction where Lilo and Jutta lived. We always talked a lot on the way. I think very often it was a lot of philosophical talk. When we arrived at the house where Jutta lived, we would not part straight away but keep on talking for a bit longer.

I think instead of taking fifteen or twenty minutes to walk home, I often took nearly an hour! The family’s daily program was such, that we couldn’t have lunch together anyway. The way I remember it, my classes in high-school usually lasted till close to 2 pm. But then we never had any afternoon schooling except when we wanted to learn something extra curriculum as for instance typing on a typewriter or stenography.

The third girl, Lilo (Liselotte), you may know already from some other blog. Cordula, Lilo and myself we had formed this circle. For a while we saw each other often and did lots of things together. We had studied in English a story about an English governess and her two charges. I made the story into a play. Lilo played the governess and Cordula and I we were the two teenage girls. We performed the play at home in English in front of an audience. This was great fun!

Lilo’s mum was a war widow. She had to go to work to sustain the family. There were three very much younger siblings.  Lilo was often responsible for them when her mother was at work. They lived in what I would call abject poverty. I’m not sure whether I remember this right or whether I’ve been dreaming it, but I think some one from the church did at some stage give a helping hand to the family.

Right beside me in the middle of the picture is Irene. I remember her from my piano lessons because she had the same teacher that I had. I think back to one birthday party at Irene’s. I think we were only about four girls at the party, Jutta was one of them. Irene’s mother was a medical doctor. I think her father did not live any more. Her mother had a partner who looked rather scary to us. He was very much the artistic type. Everything about him looked a bit wild, his hair, the way he moved and talked. He came out to entertain us with some piano playing. I think he played well.

On the way to the bathroom I had to pass the bedroom of Irene’s parents. And the door stood open. The bed had been left in a wild state. Today I think this is quite natural that people don’t always make their bed straight away. Anyway at the time this was really something new to me. I had never come across something like this before, in the middle of an afternoon in an apartment where they had a kid’s birthday party! Not that it upset me, on the contrary, I found it rather interesting to see how there were people with totally different values to what I was used to. And after all, the door had been left open totally accidentally. I just knew this instinctively.

I think Irene went on to become a doctor like her mother. Maybe not a medical doctor. But she went to university, that’s for sure. At the class reunion meeting in 1980 I was told about a lot of class-mates what they are doing now. The meeting was held in Franziska’s apartment, and she had invited me to it because she had found out that I was in Berlin at the time. Only about half a dozen women were present. I had my youngest daughter with me who wasn’t quite two yet. At the last minute it turned out that Peter couldn’t look after her and so I had to bring her along to the meeting! They were of course rather surprised that I had such a young daughter. There was one woman present, who had a five year old son at home. Every body thought she’d be the last woman in the group to have another child. And there I turn up from Australia with an even younger child!

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This picture was taken on the 21st September 1947, my thirteenth birthday. From right to left are:

Gisela, Jutta, Lilo, Uta, Irene, Inge (a friend of Eva’s), Cordula, Eva, my brother Bodo (9).

And in front my brother Peter Uwe (nearly 6) and Ruth (Krümel, nearly 4).

The following picture shows my high-school class of 1947. At the bottom from right to left you see Irene, Lilo, Uta, Ingrid, Gisela, Jutta, Else, Marianne. Behind Else in the second row from the top is Franziska. You can see she wears her hair in a roll on top of her head! Our class teacher, Fräulein Theissen, is the second one to the right of Franziska! The teacher was really much older than what she looks like in the picture. She taught English, which I loved.

Marianne is the one who came to Franziska’s class reunion meeting in 1980 and who had then a son of five years, whereas I had a daughter of not quite two! I think Marianne was born in 1934 the same as I. And they told me everyone thought she had her last child pretty late in life. They were all very surprised when she had another child. I wonder what they thought of me having a daughter at age 44.


Uta’s Birthday 1940

In 1940 I turned six, brother Bodo was a cute two. I was allowed to invite all my friends to a birthday party, boys and girls. I was so fond of all of them. The older girls were both ten. One is my cousin Sigrid, the other my friend Sieglinde. I think Sieglinde’s brother, who is also in the picture, is only eight. The younger girl with the huge bow on top of her head is five year old Eva. (I mentioned her a lot in my blogs.) Apart from little Bodo there are adorable Jürgen and very friendly Heinz in the picture, who both lived in the same building where we lived. There was a huge chestnut-tree opposite, which still stands now. It grew a lot more over the years. I believe it is about as high as the surrounding five story houses!

In the photos we are gathered under this tree and also in front of one of the sides of our house. Tante Ilse’s gift to me for my birthday were two Käthe-Kruse-Puppen, a boy and a girl. Of course they had to be in the pictures too. And of course Mum took all the photos which she always did on our birthdays.

About two years later during summer we had a dressing up party. Mum took a picture of us on Tante Ilse’s balcony. I think my brother Bodo looks lovely in the picture dressed up in long pants. I wear one of Mum’s dresses. Friend Eva is in the centre of the picture. The lovely young lady in the long dress is my sixteen year old cousin Renata. My friend Sieglinde on the right side is twelve and friend Inge with the blond hair probably ten. I think I wouldn’t have remembered the dressing up party if I hadn’t this picture. Pictures like these are truly a great memory boost!