I turned 10 in 1944. My father returned from the war already in 1945, namely as soon as the war had ended. We stayed at grandmother’s place in Leipzig at the time. The time in Leipzig was for us children a good time with mum, dad and also grandmother and a cousin of ours.
However mum wanted to return to Berlin as soon as possible. So she left us just before I turned 11 and went to Berlin on her own to look after our apartment where she had only one room to herself. All the other rooms where occupied by people who had no where else to live.
April 1946 was the time when we children and dad moved to Berlin to stay with mum. By that time we had the apartment to ourselves. All the other lodgers had left. I had hopes then, April 1946 would be the start of a new family life for all of us. But this was not what was eventuating. My mother insisted that my father had to move away from Berlin. It was just not the right place for him, so she said. He moved to West Germany and wanted all of us to move too. But my mother refused to leave Berlin. She refused to give up the Berlin apartment. I did not like it at all that my parents separated.
The next few years I hardly ever saw my father. My father corresponded with me. However there was always tension, for my mother did not like my father to write to me. Father was seriously sick a lot of the time. For many years he was not able to get proper employment. His extended family supported him as much as possible. They had a hard time themselves, for they were refugees and living in extremely cramped conditions.
I think I still felt socially fairly content up to age 13 since everybody else had to catch up too after the war. I did not feel inferior to my friends. We were all in the same boat. Come to think of it, all this changed during my later teen years. They were not exactly happy ones. I think I missed some sort of family life. My thoughts were, I just had to put up with it until I was old enough to leave home, which only happened when I was 21!
My parents never lived together again. When I was 16, mum did get a divorce from Dad. I think for a long time during my growing up years I worried about both my parents.
I remember distinctly, that I believed at the time that World War Two had been the war to end all wars. That there would never be another war, this was a strong belief in me and made me look hopefully into the future. Except then came the ‘Cold War’. This, together with the nuclear threat, made me feel pretty concerned about the future. And this concern has multiplied now with increasing climate change . . .
Berlioz, my husband, published today a blog about what children worry about and especially what he experienced between the ages of 10 to 13. His blog prompted me to publish a bit about my growing up years after World War Two. Here is the link to the blog of Berlioz: