In Love with Leipzig

This is a copy of one of my earlier blogs!

“I found an interesting contribution about the German city of Leipzig.

http://blog.goethe.de/meet-the-germans/archives/179-In-Love-with-Leipzig.html

As a ten and eleven year old in 1945/46 I did get to know a bit about this city. Sure, when we first moved there to stay at grandmother’s place, the war hadn’t finished yet and we experienced quite a few bomb raids.

As I told in another blog, one bomb raid in April 1945 turned out to be disastrous for us. This was probably the very last bomb raid that Leipzig had to endure, because soon after the American troops together with some Canadians occupied the city. When the Canadians moved through neighbouring streets to lay out some cables, we kids were watching them. We were impressed by their appearance. They were all very young looking, tall and lean in immaculate uniforms. We welcomed the foreign troops.Them being with us meant, we wouldn’t be bombed any more. From now on we could sleep in peace!

We were a family of six. Having lost our home in the bomb raid, we applied for accommodation for our family. We were given a flat in an area where the buildings weren’t damaged at all. We were assigned an apartment that had  three rooms plus kitchen and bathroom. Had grandmother been just with Renate she would not have been able to get an apartment  of this size. Only families of five or more were assigned accommodation with that many rooms! So we were lucky again. Grandmother stayed in this apartment in Friedrich-Ebert-Strasse for many more years. She died in 1957.

About Leipzig I remember the ‘Ratskeller’, where we had a few times a lovely meal. I always thought it was something special to eat out somewhere. But I loved Grandma’s cooking too. Like magic she always produced excellent meals even when there was not much food available. She was a great one for improvising. And never ever was any bit of food thrown out. She always pointed out to us, to throw away good food, was a sin. This kind of thinking still sticks with me today!

I also  remember the Thomaner Church in Leipzig and the Thomaner Choir. I believe the journalist who wrote the blog about present day Leipzig is from England and lives in Berlin now. He went for a visit to Leipzig and ended up loving this city. If ever I have a chance to visit Germany again, I plan on paying Leipzig a visit together with Peter, my husband, and Peter, my brother. If you are interested in finding out more about Leipzig, please look up the above link.”

Last year during our visit to Germany we did not forget that we had wanted to visit the city of Leipzig. We  actually went there for a day visit. We had in our minds to search for  the grave of my paternal grandfather who had died in 1947. After a lot of searching we were able to locate his grave site. We made some pictures which I published in a blog. Leipzig seems to be a thriving city these days. We would have liked to stay there a bit longer. But we had to go back to Berlin the same day.  The Main Leipzig Railway Station (Hauptbahnhof) has been very modernised. A huge modern shopping center is located within its premises.

Grandmother Hilda buys Eggs

                            Probably a Slighly 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 G o l d e n Cross for having had e i g h t children! My first two children, who were twins, died in infancy. Over the following years I had six more children, who are all alive and well. It counts as having had eight children.’ 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.

GRANDMOTHER’S QUERY

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.)

Easter Photos from 1935

 

Apparently Mum’s mother came from Leipzig to Berlin for a visit  around Eastertime, when I would have been about six months. I think the dress I wear may have been knitted by Mum. Grandma volunteers to hold me up so I can show myself properly to the camera!

In the photo with Mum we see some Fruit, Easter-Eggs and Toys on the table.

The photo with Dad was also taken on Easter Sunday.

 

From my Childhood

 

I was born in September of 1934. I was my parents’ first born child. They had married four years earlier in September of 1930 when my mother was 19 and my father was 26.

I show here a picture of my parents’ wedding day and a picture with me as a baby; my mum and the proud grandparents looking on! I think the grandparents must have been proud of the new addition because I was the daughter of ‘Oleg’ who everyone said was their favourite son. At the time the grandparents had already two grandsons by one daughter and a grandaughter by another daughter.

 

Pictures from 1938

My brother Bodo was born on the 9th of June 1938. I remember waking up in the morning and being told by Auntie Elsa that I have a little brother –  ‘ein Brüderchen’. He was beautiful! I saw him lying in his cot in my parents’ bedroom.I was overjoyed that this was my brother!

That same month my Dad’s father came to visit. Uncle Adi and Aunty Elsa drove Grandad, Dad and me to the Olympic Stadium  in their huge car. There were some pictures taken in the big square in front of the stadium. I look so very happy walking along with Grandad. Mum didn’t come along with us on that day because she had to stay with little Bodo. I think she kept still to her bed at the time. So it must have been soon after Bodo’s birth which was a planned home-birth. For years to come Aunty Elsa would talk a lot about it how it eventuated. She said coming home from seeing a movie at the cinema she noticed a hanky that had been placed on our balcony so it could be seen from the street. This was the sign, that the delivery of the baby had started and Aunty Elsa got very excited and rushed up to be with her sister. Apparently a midwife had been on call all the time and the delivery went on very smoothly. I never did get disturbed by it and must have been sleeping right through the night in the neighbouring room!

We already had a telephone at the time. To this day I remember our number! I was allowed to answer the phone. I was told to say: ‘Hier bei Dr. Spickermann!’ when answering the phone.

The picture with me beside Mum’s bed looking at Bodo in Mum’s arms shows that my parents’ beds had been seperated for the delivery of the baby. Normally these two beds would have been close together.

A few months later we had another visitor to Berlin: My cousin Ursula. The picture which was taken on our balcony shows Ursula holding little Bodo and me looking on.

And for good measure I’m going to add a picture of Grandfather and Grandmother from 1934 when I was a little baby.

After the War (1945)

 

When the front in the east broke down, my father discharged his driver and he discharged himself. He ‘organized’ a bike for himself and started cycling towards Leipzig in civilian clothes.

 

 He arrived in Leipzig in the very early morning hours and went straight to Sophienstrasse, believing us to be there at grandma’s. What a fright he experienced, when he saw the bombed out place with a huge pile of debris, where the entrance should have been! He cried and cried, because he thought, we were all dead. It was still a bit dark and he could not see clearly. Next thing he thought, he ought to enquire at the police station, whether anyone in that cellar of Sophienstrasse 20 had survived the bombs.

 

To his relief he found out at the police station, that everyone in that cellar had survived! They were also able to provide him with our new address in Leipzig, which was the place of grandma’s sister. That meant he did not have far to go to find us. I remember, waking up that morning, where Mummy was already awake, sitting up and talking to Daddy, who sat at the end of the bed!

 

The Americans, including the Canadians, were still in Leipzig. I cannot remember, that there had been any fighting in the area before the Americans came. The Canadians I had seen first. They were all very tall, very slim looking guys, probably only around twenty years old. They moved through a neighbouring street in their jeeps. Some soldiers were walking close to the jeeps, extending cables along the road.

 

Some German civilians stood around, watching our ‘occupation force’; they were clearly amazed, how good-looking, fresh and young those soldiers appeared. They did their work in a non-hurried, casual way, here and there throwing some friendly glances towards young and old people, who stood watching them. To us, this meant, the war was over.

 

In this beautiful spring weather we could look hopefully to the future again. Since my grandmother’s old apartment had been destroyed by bombs, and since her family of seven needed accomodation, she was allocated an apartment after only a few weeks waiting time. The new apartment was in a different part of town, not so close to the city any more, but still close enough for walking to the city centre.

 

I cannot remember how all the furniture, which Grandma had saved from the ruins of her apartment, got to the new place at Friedrich-Ebert-Strasse. But I know for a fact, that every piece of furniture had been set up in the new place. The residential buildings were only on one side of Friedrich-Ebert-Strasse, the other side of the street was a nature strip along a canal.

 

We kids went for lots of walks with Dad along this beautiful nature strip during the upcoming summer months. As far as I remember Mum never came along for these walks.

 

In June 1945 the Russians replaced the American occupation force in Leipzig and the Americans moved to Berlin. It so happened that our apartment in Berlin was from then on in the American Sector of Berlin!

 

What sticks to my memory is how contingents of Russian soldiers marched through the streets of Leipzig, singing loudly. The had marvellous voices!

In Love with Leipzig

I found an interesting contribution about the German city of Leipzig.

http://blog.goethe.de/meet-the-germans/archives/179-In-Love-with-Leipzig.html

As a ten and eleven year old in 1945/46 I did get to know a bit about this city. Sure, when we first moved there to stay at grandmother’s place, the war hadn’t finished yet and we experienced quite a few bomb raids.

As I told in another blog, one bomb raid in April 1945 turned out to be disastrous for us. This was probably the very last bomb raid that Leipzig had to endure, because soon after the American troops together with some Canadians occupied the city. When the Canadians moved through neighbouring streets to lay out some cables, we kids were watching them. We were impressed by their appearance. They were all very young looking, tall and lean in immaculate uniforms. We welcomed the foreign troops.Them being with us meant, we wouldn’t be bombed any more. From now on we could sleep in peace!

We were a family of six. Having lost our home in the bomb raid, we applied for accomodation for our family. We were given a flat in an area where the buildings weren’t damaged at all. Our flat had three rooms plus kitchen and bathroom. Had grandmother been just with Renata, the two of them had not been able to get a flat of this size. Only families of five or more were assigned accomodation with so many rooms! So we were lucky again.

About Leipzig I remember the ‘Ratskeller’, where we had a few times a lovely meal. I always thought it was something special to eat out somewhere. But I loved Grandma’s cooking too. She always like magic produced excellent meals even when there was not much food available. She was a great one for improvising. And never ever was any bit of food thrown out. She always pointed out to us, to throw away good food, was a sin. This kind of thinking still sticks with me today!

I also  remember the Thomaner Church in Leipzig and the Thomaner Choir. I believe the journalist who wrote the blog about present day Leipzig is from England and lives in Berlin now. He went for a visit to Leipzig and ended up loving this city. If ever I have a chance to visit Germany again, I plan on paying Leipzig a visit together with Peter, my husband, and Peter, my brother. If you are interested in finding out more about Leipzig, please look up the above link.