Some Thoughts on the Education of Children a few Generations ago and now

Growing up in the 1930s and 1940s in Germany something of utmost importance seemed to be ‘die Kinderstube’. I was made to believe that without a proper ‘Kinderstube’ a child had no proper chance to get on in life. So my mum and aunt would tell me, how fortunate I was to have this ‘Kinderstube’. How then did I experience this fantastic place called Kinderstube? Oddly enough, I had a ‘Kinderzimmer’. My Kinderzimmer was never called ‘Kinderstube’. It was just that all our rooms were called ‘Zimmer’. To call a room ‘Stube’ was socially not acceptable according to Mum. I was made to understand that only socially low standing people would call their rooms ‘Stuben’. Nonetheless, to have a kinderstuben upbringing seemed to be of the utmost importance!

So, as a toddler I would spend many hours every day in my Kinderzimmer. All my toys would be kept in that Kinderzimmer. I loved my Kinderzimmer and all my toys. I was very much used to be playing with my toys in my Kinderzimmer. So, mostly I would spend a lot of time all by myself in that Kinderzimmer. I remember it quite well, how I would spend time all by myself. I did not mind this, really, because I was used to it. But I always was most happy, when another person would spend some time with me!

I think when I was about four or five, I was allowed to invite a childhood friend to come to my place and play with me. We might be allowed to have a bit of a look into the livingrooms, but to spend time to play in one of the livingrooms was not the done thing. Playtime with my companions would always take place in the kinderzimmer. The same would happen when I went visiting one of my friends.

Did I go to Kindergarten? No way! When I asked Mum, why can’t I go to Kindergarten, she would say, that only kids who had a working mother, needed to go to Kindergarten. And these mothers only had to work because the kids’ fathers did not have a sufficient income.

I could not wait to start school. I knew the beginning of the schoolyear would be at Easter. I would have liked to start school at Easter in 1940. However my birthday is in September. That meant I could not start school at Easter in 1940 because I was then only five years old. It was said I needed to be six years old to start school. In 1941 there was a change: School begin was transferred to the beginning of September, and then I was already nearly seven!

For the first day of school children were accompanied by an adult and receive a ‘Zuckertüte’ that was filled with sweets and fruit. From the second day on children did walk to school and back home all by themselves!

Our school hours in first class were twice 50 minutes. This was our schooling for the whole day! Usually I walked to school with Rosemarie who lived across the road from where I lived. When I started school there were 200 kids enrolled in that school on that day. They made up four first classes, two classes for girls and two classes for boys. That means in every class were about 50 kids!

The war, World War Two that is, had started in September 1939 and ended in May 1945. It so happened that from the beginning of January 1945 all German schools had been closed because the end of the war was near. Later that year I started highschool, that is I had to wait till September for ther school to open. So, in September 1944 I had started fourth class. Only three months later this class was finished. And this was all the official schooling I had till September 1945!

How does the life of kids of my generation differ from the life of todays kids? Todays parents have so many problems with teaching their kids because of the Coronavirus. I do understand that it is very difficult for a lot of parents to have to adjust to all the recent changes because of the virus. I just ask myself, how did my generation manage to grow up in times of war and during the aftermath of the war?

I just copied this post about my early childhood with some pictures:

https://auntyuta.com/2020/05/07/i-published-this-some-time-ago-what-mum-wrote-in-the-book-unser-kind-our-child-and-some-of-my-toddler-and-early-childhood-photos-and-photos-of-my-parents-and-family/

This saying about ‘the Kinderstube’ I think was well known all over Germany. Whenever a child would not behave exactly ‘the right way’ that child would be asked: “What sort of Kinderstube did you have?”  or perhaps the question would be: “Did you not have a Kinderstube?” and the answer might have been: “Yes, but I was not in it!”

Another saying comes to mind: “Children are meant to be seen but not heard.” I think this meant if a child was allowed to sit together with a group of adults, the child was expected to say not a word unless spoken to.

Here are two questions of mine: “Children who had a Kinderstube, were they fortunate?” And the other question: “What if children did lose a great amount of schooling because of the influences of war?

I guess children are always in some way affected by wars. Our present day children in first world countries may have very little knowledge about wars and how to live through a war. Now because of the restrictions that are imposed upon us because of the Coronavirus it is said it is like being in a war. I wonder, how our children and their parents and grandparents may be able to adjust to it to find themselves all of a sudden in a warlike world?

 

I published this some time ago: What Mum wrote in the Book “UNSER KIND – OUR CHILD” and some of my Toddler and early Childhood Photos and Photos of my Parents and Family

https://auntyuta.com/2017/10/12/what-mum-wrote-in-the-book-unser-kind-our-child-and-some-of-my-toddler-and-early-childhood-photos-and-photos-of-my-parents-and-family/

UNSER KIND’ – OUR CHILD , this is the title of a book Mum used for recording notes about my development. Here are some of the notes:

“Uta was born on Friday, 21st September 1934, at 19 hrs and 55 min. in Berlin-Schöneberg. Her birth weight was 3200 g, she was 51 cm in length.

Friday, 5th October 1934, Uta 14 days old. This is the day when she was outside for the first time. She had her first solid food on the 23rd December. She enjoyed eating biscuit with orange juice. On 2nd April 1935 she drank out of a small cup all by herself.

On 27th February 1935, Tante Ilse’s birthday, she wore a dress for the first time. She congratulated Aunty with some violets in her hand. When Uta was four months old she raised herself up into a sitting position for the first time. She could already stand quite well when she was six months. She was ten months and two days old when she took the first two steps all by herself. She could climb one step by herself at twelve months without holding onto anything.

Her first tooth appeared when she wasn’t quite seven months old yet. At twelve months she had six teeth at the top and two at the bottom. These teeth appeared one after another without any problems. On the 20th of March Uta wore ‘Schuhchen’ (little shoes) for the first time.

On the 24th of March 1935, a Sunday, she was baptised in the ‘Kirche zum Heilbronn’ by Pfarrer Wiligmann. Uta’s first words were “wau, wau”. Later she said “Mama” and then “Papa” and “Buh”. With “Buh” she meant ball.

She had three small pox vaccinations, because the first two weren’t successful. (Unsuccessful on 12.5.36 and 24.10.36. Successful vaccination on 13.4.37.)”

Here now is what Mum wrote on the 26th of September 1935: “Uta likes children a real lot. She wants to play with every one. She loves to play in the sand. – When I take her out she always likes to stand up in her pram and she smiles at every one. People always take notice of her. When Uta was ten months old I took her on a bike-tour. She was placed in a basket-seat which was fastened to my handle-bar. We went along the Promenade of Münster. It started raining a bit. Because of this she ended up with a bit of a cold.

She was eleven months when she was for the first time in an outside water, the Aasee of Münster. The temperature was 24 degrees (Celsius). Uta went across the German border into Poland when she was nine months. This was her first major trip. Destination Lodz.

For Uta’s first birthday we were still in Münster. Sissi and Teo were our guests. Uta loved all the presents. All day long she played with her toys.”

And there’s a list of all the presents I received, from Aunty in Berlin, from Grandma in Leipzig and also from the grandparents in Lodz.

These are pictures from Lodz in June 1935. I’m in the pictures with my cousin Horst who was born in February 1935.

These are pictures of me from July 1935 in Münster/Westphalia

These are two more pictures from September 1935

Mum wrote I loved to play with sand. Here I’m sitting at one of the sand-boxes (Buddelkasten) with my ‘boy-friend’. I think I was fond of boys at a young age!

The last two pictures are taken in my ‘Kinderzimmer’. I have great fun sitting in the little bed which is for dolls and teddies. There’s one of the chairs which was a gift all the way from Lodz for my first birthday.

I have here a few more pictures Mum took of me as a toddler. Apparently I wanted to try out whatever other children had, be it a toy car, a doll’s pram or a big tricycle. I didn’t own any of these things, but gee I was keen on trying them out!

How on earth did Mum convince the children to let me try out their things so she could take these photos?

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On my fourth birthday Tante Ilse gave me a ‘Puppenwagen’, a pram for my
dolls.

Mum kept a big photo album with pictures of me. Growing up, I always liked to look at all these pictures. However, I remember distinctly that the following pictures annoyed me quite a bit. I felt awful that the pictures showed me being so very plump! When I was told I looked ‘cute’ I tended not to believe it. I was self conscious at an early age and mostly didn’t feel ‘cute’ at all. I still often don’t like my picture taken because I think I might look awful! The adults in the pictures are my Mum, Tante Ilse and Onkel Addi. I wonder who took the pictures with all three adults in it. Was it perhaps my father? Pussi was Tante Ilse’s dog. Apparently I loved carrying this dog.

For good measure I want to include here another blog with my father and mother in it and some of the extended family.

My father, Alexander Spickermann, was born in Lodz on the 13th of May 1904. The following picture of him was taken in about 1916. This is the earliest picture I have of him.

Alexander’s brother Edmund Spickermann, was born in 1902. Both brothers studied in Leipzig, Germany. The following pictures are from 1925 in the city of Leipzig. There is first Alexander and then Edmund. Both brothers are in their student outfits. And then there is a picture of both of them in front of the Völkerschlacht-Denkmal in Leipzig.

Alexander ca 1916

Leipzig ca. 1925

Edmund ca 1925

Alexander und Edmund am Voelkerschlachts Denkmal after 1925

Alexander, Charlotte, Ilse, Edmund 1925

Alexander and Charlotte are my parents. They were married on the 25th of September 1930. Earlier that year, that is in 1930, Alexander promoted to Dr. phil and Edmund, I think, to Dr. rer.pol. The above picture is from 1925 when Alexander and Edmund first met Charlotte and Ilse. Charlotte was only fourteen years old at the time. Her sister Ilse was eighteen. Below is my parents’ wedding photo from the 25th of September 1930. (Charlotte was born on the 23rd of March 1911 and Ilse on the 27th of February 1907).

25.9.1930

ca 1930

Ostern 1935 mit Oleg

Above is another photo of Dad from 1930. The next photo was taken around Easter of 1935.

Dad is holding me. I had been born on the 21st of September 1934. So I am about six months in that picture.

2-06-2009 5;02;29 PM

In the above picture Dad is probably not quite forty yet. And then there is the photo of the Grandparents’ Golden Wedding Anniversary in Litzmannstadt (Lodz) in November of 1943. On the left is my sixteen year old cousin Ursula; next are Dad and Mum and I am in front beside Grossmutter (Grandma). I am nine years old.

Golden Wedding (2)

Below now is the picture that was taken in June of 1938 soon after the home-birth of my brother Bodo. Since February of 1930 Ilse had been married to Adolf Schlinke (Onkel Addi). They owned this beautiful car, called ‘Wanderer’.
Grossvater Josef Spickermann (Granddad) was in Berlin for a visit. Presumably to see Bodo, his new grandson. The Schlinkes took Granddad, Dad and me for an outing in their car. The picture was taken in Berlin at the Reichssportfeld. Dad is in the picture on the left.

The next picture is taken at the Baltic seaside resort of Graal/Müritz in 1940. In the ‘Strandkorb’ are Mum and Tante Ilse, Dad is standing next to them.

Oleg,Joseph,Ilse,Ute an Schlinkes Wagen

Alexander mit Charlotte und Ilse Graal Mueritz 1940

I copied three more photos, probably all from the 1950s. The first one is Dad in his office, the two others are party photos with Dad and his family. In the last photo are Dad and his three sisters and two brothers. They were probably celebrating someone’s birthday. The Spickermanns liked to come together as a family.

In the Office MNid 1950

Lies, Alfred, Gertrud, Alexander,Ludwig, Horst 13.5.1964

Geschw. Spickermann, Alexander, Ludwig, Jenny, Olga, Lies, Edmund 13.5.1964

I did another copy of this post and published it on the 3rd of June 2020