1934 to 1941 – Berlin

Then the horrible day came when my father died in the crash of an experimental flight. Mom quickly dissolved our household. We moved back to Berlin where all our relatives lived.

Father is buried in Berlin. In the large cemetery of Baumschulenweg.

Since father had life insurance, and for that time a tremendously high amount, mother decided to build a house. At the time she thought that she had invested the money for all times for Klaus and myself. Who would have thought of WWII?

Mom engaged an architect. He showed her many beautiful building sites. Especially he kept pointing her toward the Schwarzen Grund in Berlin-Dahlem. We would have been West-Berliners.

No, mother loved the lot at the edge of the forest in Berlin-Gruenau. Fate! But she could not have guessed how things would develop.

In one thing she followed the advice of the architect. He advised her to use good materials and build solid walls. That was our luck. Many houses in our street suffered damage from an air mine which left us almost untouched. Only one inner wall collapsed.

The whole garden was put in by a gardener. He made plans which Mom agreed to. He planted everything perfectly. Later mother took care of all of it herself. In front of the house there was a lawn, decorative bushes, an Almond tree, two roundels with Cana Lilies and a variegated Box Elder. Later that tree grew so big you could see it all the way form the end of the Ammersee Street when you came from the S-Bahn.

In the back a rock garden around the plateau, then grass with a cluster of Birches to the right and a cluster of Pine trees to the left. At the end were vegetable garden and fruit trees. Many bed held Strawberries which I especially love. Around the compost pile we had he pumpkins in fall. Mother cooked a delicious pumpkin soup.

In fall I had to get elderberries from where our road dipped into the forest. Then we had semolina pudding with elderberry sauce. Fantastic!

We lived downstairs which had a winter garden. Upstairs with the balcony lived family Damm.

By the way we left all Pine trees standing on the lot to maintain the woodland feel. Behind us there was for many years only one more street before the forest.

Besides the forest Gruenau also had other things to offer. The river Dame, a tributary of the river Spree. The river was straight at the monument to Sports whre in 1936 the Olympic rowing event were held. And a little further on was our public swimming area. A huge area with lovely yellow sand. A real beach paradise. In the summer our daily destination. But only during the week. On the weekends the city people arrived in droves. We always said: half of Berlin goes to the Dame river (and also to the Mueggelsee), and the other half goes to the Wannsee. Berlin has a fantastic surrounding. Endless forests, many rivers (Dame, Spree, Havel) and a chain of lakes. With a fleet of passenger boats, the White Fleet. We enjoyed taking river trips, by ourselves or with out of town company. We crossed over to Marienlust which was nice boat trip by itself. Then a strolled and up the step of the Mueggel tower. From there we had a great view of the forest, rivers and lakes. In the summer full of white sails.

Klaus was still in elementary school in the Regattastreet the first few years. I went to the Dorothean High School for Girls in Koepenick. A new building with many noteworthy details. Good classrooms are expected. But also perfectly stocked Physics and Chemistry labs. Home economic rooms with enough sewing machines. Art rooms where one could step outside. On the rooftops of the two gymnasiums one could paint outdoors.

The gymnasiums had simply everything one could imagine. In the basement, in the training pool was a  chained row boat. Only after the theory was firmly learned one could go out to the school owned boat house. From the school house, through the school yard to the school park, where in the heat of summer lessons happened outdoors, through the school garden, where every class had a vegetable bed, to the boat house on the river Spree. We had eight seaters, four seaters, two and even one seaters. A full boat house. I found rowing especially enjoyable. Actually all sports. I enjoyed exercise. At that time there were school fees and I’m sure there were other additional expenses. The rowing surely cost extra. And the fabrics for the sewing class and the art supplies.

Our school had a huge auditorium. Above the entrance was the music room. For events the wall was slid aside and then the choir stood like on a podium.

At the end was a large stage and I remember it was used often. We had many school events with real theater performances. For that we studied hard but enjoyed it.

I can’t remember anything special about my time at school. School was not difficult for me. I was good to very good in German, History and Geography. And so it was understood that I would graduate. My mother very much wanted that. But over time math kept getting harder and harder for me. In the end I didn’t understand any of it anymore. When I also started to get bad grades in Latin, first a 3, then a 4, I had enough. I only wanted out. Annemarie had graduated at middle school level. Mother pushed me another year in the hope I would catch on. But I did not want anymore. With 17 I left school.


NEXT: 1941

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