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.