What did I worry about during my growing up Years?

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:

https://berlioz1935.wordpress.com/2019/12/17/what-children-worry-about-most/

A Drop in Living Standards?

I ask myself the same questions again that I asked already a few days ago. Here they are:

“A drop in living standards to sustainable levels? It seems to me, hardly anyone is prepared for a drop in their living standards especially if our leaders do not have the guts to insist on it.
What then is most likely to happen in the near future?
Some more far thinking people tell us, something catastrophic may happen, namely the collapse of our natural support systems. . . . The majority of people so far resist believing all this. especially when the leaders give the impression that it is all right to just continue with our way of living the way it is. So, why change anything when we have such a ‘good life’; isn’t this the attitude of most people?”

I say it again, the majority of people so far resist believing that a drop in living standards to sustainable levels is necessary. I would say, in all war situations people generally did accept a drop in their living standards. They had to, right? My own experience in World War Two and the years after the war (in Germany that is) showed me that people could quite well exist with a huge drop in their living standards. Actually, a lot of people seemed to live a healthier life when food was scarce. This of course does not include people who suffered very ill health because of starvation! One might say, there is a actually a great difference between a scarcity of food for a lot of people and some terrible starving because of severe food shortages. . . . Anyhow, I think, excessive food consumption and wastage of food, the way it is being encouraged in our affluent society,  we should better try to avoid.

I think the excessive climate changes could be kept in better check if we tried very hard to avoid all these excesses of our modern way of life. We should act more and more as though we are in a war situation already!

The problem is, that most people in First World countries do not believe as yet that severe climate change is something we should be prepared for. However, all our knowledge about the climate change crisis should tell all of us that a crisis it is, a crisis as great a we face in a great war. And this crisis demands that our governments and big corporations act accordingly so that people in these crisis zones have a chance to survive.

And here now are a few reflections of mine what for instance life in ‘advanced’ countries such as Germany was like in the 1930s and even during the war between 1939 and 1945, as well as in during the difficult post-war years.

What puzzles me is, that I cannot recall that at any time during those years anyone had to live on the streets. Even during the time of bomb raids the survivors of bomb raids, as far as I know, did not have to live in the open but were accomodated in buildings that could still be lived in. A lot of people had to share accommodation with other people, meaning a four room apartment, apart from the original residents, was then shared with several other needy people.

During the time of World War Two some very severe bombing campaigns occured all over the world with severe loss of life. Ten examples can be seen in the following link.

 

HOW DID WORLD WAR TWO AFFECT US?

http://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2016-04/kriegsenkel-2-weltkrieg-

http://www.zeit.de/index

Peter and I, we both looked yesterday at two articles in ZEIT ONLINE. These articles are written in German by

Reading these articles prompted us to think once more about how WW2 affected us. We both came to the conclusion that we did not experience anything that would have caused us some trauma. Both our fathers survived the war, but we agreed that both our fathers most likely would have gone through traumatic experiences during the war. Both our parents’ marriages ended up in separation and divorce after the war.

 

Peter has written a number of blogs about his experiences during and after the war. On the 16th May 1945, soon after the end of the war in Germany,  Peter turned ten. Now, more than 70 years later, Peter still remembers amazingly much about 1944 and 1945, and as I said, he has written about it. You may find some of his blogs here:

https://berlioz1935.wordpress.com/page/2/?s=World+War+Two&submit=Search

 

Following is a link to the blogs that I wrote about my childhood during World War Two and after:

https://auntyuta.com/?s=World+War+Two&submit=Search

 

Matthias Lohre writes about how badly millions of people had been affected by the War. Yes, millions and millions of people. And a lot of readers wrote comments on this subject.  I read only a few of the comments, there are just too many. But just reading some of the comments, one becomes aware how badly even second and third generations have been affected by the traumatic experiences of their parents or grandparents.

 

Even if Peter and I have not been affected personally by traumatic war experiences so I must say that as children and later young adults we were very much aware how much suffering the war had caused. Some families were totally or nearly totally wiped out because of the holocaust, military casualties or bombing raids on civilians. o All survivors from families with such traumatic experiences were experiencing trauma themselves and even the next generation became very aware that the parents were affected by war.

 

I wonder, how many people, alive today, have never been affected by war? Wars continue to be fought in a lot of countries and a lot of continents. The refugee crisis is now worse than ever. Is mankind going backwards? The few people, who are not affected by wars, do they not ever consider how wars affect the rest of humanity? For as long as some of us can live in peace, we do not care what is being done to the rest of humanity? How can we be so selfish? Has it just got to do with a survival wish?

 

Or is it just a feeling that we have no power to stop wars? But at least we can voice an opinion that we do not want all these wars, can’t we? I really do wonder whether mankind has any chance that some true peacekeepers with a lot of power will come to the fore once more to stop all this fighting! Well, for as long as there is life, there is hope! Or is there?

 

 

Once more remembering 1943/1944

Having read once more a few of my blogs on childhood memories, I came to the conclusion, it might be best if I tried to put all these blogs about my childhood as ‘pages’ together in the one place, so I could find them more easily when I wanted to look something up. It would make it easier for my children too to read up on my childhood. For now I plan to first copy the relevant blogs. I’ll probably need a few days or weeks for this. As far as possible I might refrain from putting anything else in my posts. Just as well, for ‘news’ items, as far as politics are concerned, usually do not give me much pleasure. And personal news, well, I could probably catch up with them at a later stage.

At the moment I collect the childhood memories rather randomly. Here is one about remembering 1943/1944:

Towards the end of September 1943 we left Berlin to live in the country. We moved to a place called the ‘Ausbau’, which meant that eventually ‘more’ was to be added to the building.. It was a simple rectangular red brick complex with several entrances around the building. There was no plumbing or electricity. The entrance for us ‘Berliners’ was on the left side at the front of the building. We had a cellar, a ground floor and two upper floors.

Mum, my two younger brothers and I, shared a bedroom on the first upper floor. We also had a small kitchen and a living-room. I would sleep in the living-room when my dad came home on leave. Two maids, one Polish, the other Russian, shared two rooms on the top floor. All the rooms on the top floor had sloping ceilings. Our Polish maid was in her early twenties. Her name was Maria. She was very efficient and always rather serious.. The T. Family, who lived on the ground floor, employed Katja, the Russian maid, who was only eighteen and extremely fun loving.

My mum’s sister, Tante Ilse, also had her rooms on the first upper floor. She had a bedroom and a living-room. On the ground floor, right underneath her upper rooms, she had a kitchen and a dining-room. She hardly ever used those downstairs rooms. Our friends from Berlin, the T. Family, occupied three rooms downstairs, namely a kitchen, a living-room and a bedroom, the same arrangement of rooms that we had on the upper floor.

There was an additional larger room for storage under the sloping roof. T. Family and my Family stored in that room additional larger furniture which we wanted to save from the bombs in Berlin. — In that room Mum stored a lot of Boskop-apples during the cold season. They were neatly spread out on some straw. Come Christmas-time, other delicious food was also hidden somewhere among our stored furniture. It was very tempting for me to go exploring in that room! Mum noticed sometimes, that some food was missing. And I admitted, when questioned, that I had helped myself to some of the goodies. However I was never punished for doing such a thing. That shows, that Mum must have been quite tolerant. —

On the same upper floor right under the roof was a playroom, which my brothers and I shared with eight year old Edith T. There was another room next to the playroom where Mrs. T.’s parents had stored some bedroom furniture. The parents were Mr. and Mrs. B. and had a business in Berlin. They sometimes stayed at the ‘Ausbau’ in that bedroom in order to be with their family away from the bombs in Berlin.

Our toilets were “plumps-closets” some distance away from the house. Water for cooking and washing had to be fetched from a pump in the backyard. Fetching water from the pump kept both maids very busy indeed. For lights we had kerosene-lamps, for heating there were coal-fired stoves which could also be used for cooking. Everything was very basic.

Gradually some changes were being made. The first big change was that our landlord had electricity laid on. All the workers who lived with their families in the other part of the building, received the benefit of electricity at the same time. This certainly was a very welcome improvement for them.

The ‘Ausbau’ was built close to a dirt-track which meandered through wide open barley-, oat- and potato-fields. On the track it was a good half hour to walk to the next village. Bike-riding however made it a bit quicker.

Werner M., the owner of all those fields that went on for miles and miles, was an acquaintance of Tante Ilse. He was apparently quite rich and also owned extensive brick-works (Ziegeleien). It was said of him that he was a millionaire. He was our landlord and he liked to spoil us. With no strings attached! Tante Ilse only had to voice a wish and Werner M. immediately did whatever he could to fulfill her wish. He spoiled us by constantly getting produce delivered to us: Potatoes, cabbage for making sauerkraut, wonderful treacle made of sweet-beets, and coal for our stoves.

Even I, as a nine year old, could see that sixty year old Werner M. was hopelessly in love with Ilse. I also was quite aware, that she always kept him at a distance. He was happy to just be invited for ”Kaffee und Kuchen’ on weekends and to spend some time with all of us. He always came to visit on his bike. On his daily inspection tours of the workers in the fields he also went around on his bike. He owned coaches with horses, but hardly ever used these to go anywhere.

Occasionally we were invited to his place (which people called ‘Schloss’), Then he sent a coach with a coachman to pick us up. Once in winter when there was plenty of snow, Werner M. sent a ‘Pferde-Schlitten’ (horse-drawn sledge). On this sledge we were wrapped up in blankets under a clear night-sky with the moon and lots of stars shining on us. It was unforgettable and one of the rare highlights in our otherwise pretty dreary country-life existence.

The place where Werner M. lived, did not look like a castle at all, even though people called it ‘Schloss’. It was not even a mansion but a rather large, but fairly plain house. There was a huge, fenced in veggie garden next to the house. I have seen the veggie garden only once. However I was very impressed by it, because it seemed to be so very large.

When we moved to the ‘Ausbau’, Ilse had already been divorced from her first husband. It was obvious that Werner M. would have liked to marry Ilse. However, it never came to that. Tante Ilse married Onkel Peter aka Helmut L. on July 20th, 1944.

***************************

It was a big thrill for me to go exploring among the furniture in that big storage-room, especially in the weeks before Christmas! Mum used to store lot of goodies during the Christmas season. It was very exciting for me to find out what new things had been stored in that big room. I remember seeing huge chunks of nougat (a yummy hazelnut-paste) as well as heart-shaped marzipan-pieces. There was a pot with sweetened thick milk. Sometimes I dipped my finger into it to lick this wonderful sweet stuff! I also liked to eat a few of the stored raisins and prunes! Smells of ginger bread and apples: It made me feel that Christmas was something to be looking forward to.

Where on earth did Mum get all those things from? It was war-time, wasn’t it? We were in the midst of war! I knew very well where all this came from. The parents of Mrs.T. had a distributing business. It was called ‘Backbedarf en Gros’. That meant they delivered goods to bakeries and cake-shops. Even in the midst of war deliveries of the above mentioned goods still took place! Of course there were shortages, but basically most things were still available.

Mr.T. and Mrs.T., as well as Tante Ilse and Mum were all good friends. Every Saturday night they came together for some card games. Eight year old daughterEva and I were allowed to stay up late on those nights. For hours we were watching the adults playing cards. At the same time we entertained ourselves with doodling on bits of paper. At around ten o’clock some cake and hot chocolate as well as coffee were served. But the maids did not have to do the serving, They were already in their rooms at this hour. The cake was usually freshly baked, very fluffy yeast cake topped with delicious butter-crumbs and filled with a thick custard. Hmm, yummy!

Mr.T. always stayed in Berlin during the week, where he worked in the business of his parents-in-law. Being over forty, he was not required to join the German army. Mr.T. always brought some sweet goodies along when he came home from Berlin for the weekend.

During the summer of 1944 Mr.T. and Mum liked to go on their bikes to a neighbouring Nursery where they were able to trade sweets for fresh produce. Eva and I were often allowed to go along with them on our bikes. The sweets were traded for strawberries or cherries or gooseberries as well as peaches and apricots, and later on in the year for pears and apples. I remember the Boskop apples were still in season in late autumn. The owner of the nursery was a well-off looking middle-aged woman who was very fond of sweets and loved to trade her produce. At one time we found out that she thought Mr.T. and Mum were a couple and we girls were sisters. Laughing joyfully, Mum and Mr.T. explained, that this was not so.

Only once as far as I remember were we shown into the lady’s home. Mr.T. made complimentary remarks about the interior of the house. He said it showed off the owner’s good taste. I liked the lady’s house a real lot too. Our families used to have well furnished apartments in Berlin. But this modern looking villa in the midst of the nursery really was something else. My feelings were I would very much like to live in a place like that. However we had to be happy with our accommodation in the Ausbau. To us children it was always pointed out, to be happy that we did not have to live among the bomb raids in Berlin. I’m pretty sure that by myself I felt that I’d rather live in Berlin, bomb-raids or not. I think to children bomb-raids usually didn’t seem as scary as to the adults. At the time we children had had no experience yet how absolutely horrible these bomb-raids could become.

In 1990, soon after the Fall of the Wall, I went with my family to have a look at the area where we used to be hidden away from the bomb-raids. We discovered that the nursery as well as the lady’s house had completely vanished. There was nothing left of the ‘Ausbau’ either!

In 1943, when we had lived at he ‘Ausbau’ only for a couple of months, Mrs. T. delivered a healthy daughter in a regional hospital. The day after the baby was born, it may perhaps have been a Saturday or Sunday, Mr. T. and Eva went for the forty-five minute bike-ride to the Hospital. I was thrilled that I was allowed to go with them! The baby was rather tiny. I think this is why she was soon called Krümel (tiny crumb). Her given name was Ruth. Eva had a pet-name too. She was often called Honkepong.

As soon as Mrs.T. came home from hospital, there was a nurse waiting for her to take charge of the baby. Mr.T. said something like: “Katja is a very nice girl, but I would not trust her with our new born baby. I am glad that Nurse is here to help my wife to look after our Krümel.”

Nurse used for herself the bedroom next to our playroom. Sometimes she sat with us children in the playroom. Since Christmas was approaching, she taught us how to make some Christmas decorations. I was very impressed, because I was nine years old and nobody had ever taught me anything like it! Nurse also made sure, we learned our Christmas poems. We had to be prepared to recite them to Santa on Christmas Eve!

 Maria, our Polish maid, had been with us since before my little brother was born. He regarded Maria as his ‘Dah-dah’, that is he always called her ‘Dah-dah’. By the end of January 1945 we had to flee from the ‘Ausbau’ as the Russians were approaching fast. We went to Berlin first and then by train to Leipzig to stay at Grandmother’s place. Maria remained in Berlin with her Polish fiancee, who was a butcher.

 When we parted from Maria, little brother Peter had just turned three. Yet he must have missed her for quite a while since she had always looked after him and I am sure, he loved her very much and she loved him. Mum always trusted Maria, who was in every way caring and efficient at the same time. Mum was always impressed how quickly Maria worked. Any dirty dishes were washed immediately. She was indeed capable of doing all the housework. Mum was happy to let her do just about everything. An exception was the baking of a large cake on Saturdays, which Mum loved to do herself.

Maria always made some potato-salad for the weekend. I watched how she did it. To the peeled and sliced potatoes she added finely cut onion, some oil, pepper and salt. Then she poured hot vinegar-water over the potatoes as a finishing touch. The huge salad-bowl was placed outside on a shelf near the stairway so the salad could cool down. I often helped myself to some of the warm salad when nobody was looking, because I loved to eat the salad when it was still a little bit warm. It was the same every Saturday. I watched Maria preparing the salad and placing it on the shelf outside. Then it did not take long before I had a good taste of it!

Friday night was the night for our bath. Maria placed a small tin-tub on the kitchen-floor. She carried several buckets of water from the outside pump to the kitchen. Some of the water she heated on the kitchen-stove in an especially huge pot. I was always the first one to use the bath-water, then it was brother Bodo’s turn. Little brother Peter was always the last one. Some hot water was added for everyone, but still the water must have been quite dirty for little Peter after Bodo and I had had our baths!

When Maria first came to live with us, she knew very little German. However she was determined to learn German quickly. She liked to ask Bodo and me how to pronounce certain words. She also asked me how to write these words in German. Mum often praised Maria, that she was willing and able to learn quickly. This applied to everything she did. She was an amazingly efficient person. A ‘pearl of a maid’ people would say of her. Maria was a city girl. She came from Lodz, which was called ‘Litzmannstadt’ at the time. We had spent the summer-months of 1941 at Zokolniki (near Lodz) and that was when Maria was assigned to us as a help. Mum liked Maria and wanted her to come with us when we went back to Berlin. Maria told me later that she did not want to leave Poland. But she had not been given the choice to stay in her own country.

When Katja arrived, we could see that she was very different from Maria. She was a country-girl from Russia. She never learned German as well as Maria did. She could never be trusted to do all the house-work by herself. Mrs.T. always had to supervise her and do certain things herself because Katja took too long to learn to do it properly. But we all loved Katja. She was always cheerful and full of beans. As a country-girl she did not know certain things that a city-girl had been brought up with. Maria took to instructing Katja about certain things. I think they communicated in German. After they finished work in the evening, they had plenty of time to stay in their rooms together and keep each other company. Both girls always had to get up early. During summer, school-classes in the village started as early as seven o’clock. That meant, I had to get up at six o’clock to get ready for school. Mum never got up that early. But Maria always came down at six o’clock to start working for us. She often had to do Peter’s linen early in the morning, which I am sure was not one of her favourite tasks.

I mentioned in this post our landlord, Werner M.  He is here in this picture which was taken by Mrs. T. on Christmas Eve 1943.

Werner M. is on the left, on the right is Mr. T.

Tante Ilse is next to Werner M. together with cousin Renate. I am in the back with my doll.

The children in front are Eva T. and my brother Bodo.

Next to Mr. T. is Mum and Grandma Olga (Mum’s mum) is on the left next to Werner M.

Christmas Eve 1943

I won’t copy the comments I received to this post, only my replies to them. If you want to see the comments, please go to: https://auntyuta.com/2013/06/02/childhood-memories-194344/

Here are my replies:

I experienced this country life nearly seventy years ago. It was very different from life in Berlin. Thanks for commenting, dear Catterel.

I hope some of my descendants are going to find it of interest, Robert.

Well, Emu, the memory can be quite shady. Some things we remember, some things we forget. We always seem to remember holiday times better than other times for instance. I think lots of things that have to do with how I felt at the time did get stuck in my memory. Maybe as a kid I didn’t often have a chance to really talk about my feelings. This is why I reflected a lot during the hours when I was by my lonely self. This reflecting came naturally to me. Nobody did give me instructions how to do it. When someone made a comment to me that stirred my feelings in some way, I would probably reflect on this comment for hours later on and never forget it. As a kid I seem to have analysed what sort of feelings certain persons gave me.
Auntyuta.

Our Landlord in 1943/1945

Our toilets were “plumps-closets” some distance away from the house. Water for cooking and washing had to be fetched from a pump in the backyard. Fetching water from the pump kept both maids, Maria and Katja, very busy indeed. For lights we had kerosene-lamps, for heating there were coal-fired stoves which could also be used for cooking. Everything was very basic.

Gradually some changes were being made. The first big change was that our landlord had electricity laid on. All the workers who lived with their families in the other part of the building, received the benefit of electricity at the same time. This certainly was a very welcome improvement for them.

The ‘Ausbau’ was built close to a dirt-track which meandered through wide open barley-, oat- and potato-fields. On the track it was a good half hour to walk to the next village. Bike-riding however made it a bit quicker.

Werner Mann, the owner of all those fields that went on for miles and miles, was an acquaintance of Tante Ilse. People said he was a millionaire. Apart from these Ländereien he owned extensive brick-works (Ziegeleien). He was our landlord and he liked to spoil us. With no strings attached! Tante Ilse only had to voice a wish and Werner Mann immediately did whatever he could to fulfill her wish. He spoiled all of us by constantly getting produce delivered to us such as: Potatoes, cabbage (for making sauerkraut), wonderful treacle made of sweet-beets, and coal for our stoves.

Even I, as a nine year old, could see that sixty year old Werner Mann was hopelessly in love with Ilse. I also was quite aware, that she always kept him at a distance. He was happy to just be invited for ”Kaffee und Kuchen” on weekends and to spend some time with all of us. He always came to visit on his bike. On his daily inspection tours of the workers in the fields he also went around on his bike. He owned coaches with horses, but hardly ever used these to go anywhere.

Occasionally we were invited to his place (which people called ‘Schloss’), Then he sent a coach with a coachman to pick us up. Once in winter when there was plenty of snow, Werner Mann sent a ‘Pferde-Schlitten’ (horse-drawn sledge). On this sledge we were wrapped up in blankets under a clear night-sky with the moon and lots of stars shining on us. It was unforgettable and one of the rare highlights in our otherwise pretty dreary country-life existence.

The place, where Werner Mann lived, did not look like a castle at all, even though people called it ‘Schloss’. It was not even a mansion but a rather large, but fairly plain house. There was a huge, fenced in veggie garden next to the house. I have seen the veggie garden only once. However I was very impressed by it, because it seemed to be very large.

When we moved to the ‘Ausbau’, Ilse had already been divorced from her first husband. It was obvious that Werner Mann would have liked to marry Ilse. However, it never came to that. Tante Ilse married Onkel Peter aka Helmut Lorenz on July 20th, 1944.

**************

Our part of the building had a huge storage room on the top floor. A lot of our furniture was stored there. I loved to go exploring among the furniture where Mum used to store a lot of goodies. Especially in the weeks before Christmas Mum used to store there a lot of stuff. It was very exciting for me to find out what new things had been stored in that big room. I remember seeing huge chunks of nougat (a yummy hazelnut-paste) as well as heart-shaped marzipan-pieces. There was a pot with sweetened thick milk. Sometimes I dipped my finger into it to lick this wonderful sweet stuff! I also liked to eat a few of the stored raisins and prunes! There were smells of ginger bread and apples: It made me feel that Christmas was something to be looking forward to.

Where on earth did Mum get all these things from? It was war-time after all! We were in the midst of war. – However I knew very well where all this stuff came from. The parents of Mrs.T. had a distributing business. It was called ‘Backbedarf en Gros’. That meant they delivered goods to bakeries and cake-shops. Even in the midst of war deliveries of the above mentioned goods still took place! Of course there were shortages, but basically most things were still available. Mr. Fritz T. was in that business with his parents-in-law. This is why he stayed in Berlin during the week. But on weekends he left Berlin to stay with his family in the Ausbau. He usually was able to bring along some delicious Backbedarf. And apparently he was always willing to let my mum Charlotte have some of the goodies too. Mr.T., being over forty, was not required to join the German army.

Mr. Fritz T. and Mrs. Edith T., as well as Tante Ilse and Mum were all good friends. Every Saturday night they came together for some card games. Eight year old daughter Eva and I were allowed to stay up late on those nights. For hours we were watching the adults playing cards. At the same time we entertained ourselves with doodling on bits of paper. At around ten o’clock some cake and hot chocolate as well as coffee were served. But the maids did not have to do the serving, They were already in their rooms at this hour. The cake was usually freshly baked, very fluffy yeast cake topped with delicious butter-crumbs and filled with a thick custard. Hmm, yummy!

During the summer of 1944 Mr.T. and Mum liked to go on their bikes to a neighbouring nursery where they were able to trade sweets for fresh produce. Eva and I were often allowed to go along with them on our bikes. The sweets were traded for strawberries or cherries or gooseberries as well as peaches and apricots, and later on in the year for pears and apples. I remember the Boskop apples were still in season in late autumn. The owner of the nursery was a well-off looking middle-aged woman who was very fond of sweets and loved to trade her produce. At one time we found out that she thought Mr.T. and Mum were a couple and we girls were sisters. Laughing joyfully, Mum and Mr.T. explained, that this was not so.

Only once, as far as I remember, were we shown into the lady’s home. Mr.T. made complimentary remarks about the interior of the house. He said it showed off the owner’s good taste. I liked the lady’s house a real lot too. Our families used to have well furnished apartments in Berlin. But this modern looking villa in the midst of the nursery really was something else. My feelings were I would very much like to live in a place like that! However we had to be happy with our accommodation in the Ausbau. To us children it was always pointed out, that we should be happy that we did not have to live in Berlin where all these bomb raids occured. I’m pretty sure that by myself I felt that I’d rather live in Berlin, bomb-raids or not. I think to children bomb-raids usually didn’t seem as scary as to the adults. At the time we children had had no experience yet how absolutely horrible these bomb-raids could become.

In 1990, soon after the Fall of the Wall, we went for a visit to Germany and had a look at this area east of Berlin where we used to be hidden away. We discovered that the nursery as well as the lady’s house had completely vanished. There was nothing left of the ‘Ausbau’ either!

In 1943, after we had lived at he ‘Ausbau’ for a couple of months only, Mrs. T. delivered a healthy daughter in a regional hospital. The day after the baby was born, it may perhaps have been a Saturday or Sunday, Mr. T. and Eva went for the forty-five minute bike-ride to the Hospital. I was thrilled that I was allowed to go with them! The baby was rather tiny. I think this is why she was soon called Krümel (tiny crumb). Her given name was Ruth. Eva had a pet-name too. She was often called Honkepong.

As soon as Mrs.T. came home from hospital, there was a nurse waiting for her to take charge of the baby. Mr.T. said something like: “Katja is a very nice girl, but I would not trust her with our new born baby. I am glad that Nurse is here to help my wife to look after our Krümel.”

Nurse used for herself the bedroom next to our playroom. Sometimes she sat with us children in the playroom. Since Christmas was approaching, she taught us how to make some Christmas decorations. I was very impressed, because I was nine years old and nobody had ever taught me anything like it! Nurse also made sure, we learned our Christmas poems. We had to be prepared to recite them to Santa on Christmas Eve!

Maria, our Polish maid, had been with us since before my little brother was born. He regarded Maria as his ‘Dah-dah’, that is he always called her ‘Dah-dah’. By the end of January 1945 we had to flee from the ‘Ausbau’ as the Russians were approaching fast. We went to Berlin first and then by train to Leipzig to stay at Grandma Olga’s place. Maria remained in Berlin with her Polish fiancee, who was a butcher.

When we parted from Maria, little brother Peter had just turned three. Yet he must have missed her for quite a while since she had always looked after him and I am sure, he loved her very much and she loved him. Mum always trusted Maria, who was in every way caring and efficient at the same time. Mum was always impressed how quickly Maria worked. Any dirty dishes were washed immediately. She was indeed capable of doing all the housework. Mum was happy to let her do just about everything. An exception was the baking of a large cake on Saturdays, which Mum loved to do herself.

Maria always made some potato-salad for the weekend. I watched how she did it. To the cooked, peeled and sliced potatoes she added finely cut onion, some oil, pepper and salt. Then she poured hot vinegar-water over the potatoes as a finishing touch. The huge salad-bowl was placed outside on a shelf near the stairway so the salad could cool down. I often helped myself to some of the warm salad when nobody was looking, because I loved to eat the salad when it was still a little bit warm. It was the same every Saturday. I watched Maria preparing the salad and placing it on the shelf outside. Then it did not take long before I had a good taste of it!

Friday night was the night for our bath. Maria placed a small tin-tub on the kitchen-floor. She carried several buckets of water from the outside pump to the kitchen. Some of the water she heated on the kitchen-stove in an especially huge pot. I was always the first one to use the bath-water, then it was brother Bodo’s turn. Little brother Peter was always the last one. Some hot water was added for everyone, but still the water must have been quite dirty for little Peter after Bodo and I had had our baths!

When Maria first came to live with us, she knew very little German. However she was determined to learn German quickly. She liked to ask Bodo and me how to pronounce certain words. She also asked me how to write these words in German. Mum often praised Maria, that she was willing and able to learn quickly. This applied to everything she did. She was an amazingly efficient person. A ‘pearl of a maid’ people would say of her. Maria was a city girl. She came from Lodz, which was called ‘Litzmannstadt’ at the time. We had spent the summer-months of 1941 at Zokolniki (near Lodz) and that was when Maria was assigned to us as a help. Mum liked Maria and wanted her to come with us when we went back to Berlin. Maria told me later that she did not want to leave Poland. But she had not been given the choice to stay in her own country.

When Katja arrived, we could see that she was very different from Maria. She was a country-girl from Russia. She never learned German as well as Maria did. She could never be trusted to do all the house-work by herself. Mrs.T. always had to supervise her and do certain things herself because Katja took too long to learn to do it properly. But we all loved Katja. She was always cheerful and full of beans. As a country-girl she did not know certain things that a city-girl had been brought up with. Maria took to instructing Katja about certain things. I think they communicated in German. After they finished work in the evening, they had plenty of time to stay in their rooms together and keep each other company. Both girls always had to get up early. During summer, school-classes in the village started as early as seven o’clock. That meant, I had to get up at six o’clock to get ready for school. Mum never got up that early. But Maria always came down at six o’clock to start working for us. She often had to do Peter’s linen early in the morning, which I am sure was not one of her favourite tasks.

I mentioned in this post our landlord, Werner Mann. He is here in this picture which was taken by Mrs. T. on Christmas Eve 1943.

Werner Mann is on the left, on the right is Mr. Fritz T.

Tante Ilse is next to Werner Mann. together with cousin Renate. I am in the back with my doll. You can see me holding up one of my Käthe-Kruse-Dolls. Mum had knitted a lovely new dress for this doll.

The children in front are eight year old Eva T. and my five year old brother Bodo.

Next to Mr. T. is Mum and Grandma Olga (Mum’s mum) is on the left next to Werner Mann.

Christmas Eve 1943

This photo was taken in Tante Ilse’s livingroom. We were all sitting together for Christmas Eve celebrations. The photo is proof that my grandmother from Leipzig and cousin Renate were with us for Christmas 1943.

In the weeks before Christmas Mum loved to do some sewing of clothes as well as a lot of knitting for us children. When she did this we were not allowed in the living-room because she wanted the gifts to be a surprise for Christmas Eve. That meant of course that we had to be very, very patient. Naturally we thought Christmas Eve would never come!

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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utahannemann@hotmail.com
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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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utahannemann@hotmail.com
14.200.207.145
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.