I started the first part of this diary in April of 1989, and probably finishes that year. I don’t remember. Today, it is November 20, 1991, you asked me on the phone if I had continued writing. I had to tell you that unfortunately I had not. But I kept thinking about what you said. So I reread this evening what I wrote so far.
I am finding there is room to improve. In my expression, in the sequencing and in the presentation. But everything is correct. And crystal clear logic is not my thing anyways. So I shall continue.
I have to add one thing. Upon rereading I realized, I withheld a man.
Why I do not know, he meant a lot to me. Very much to be accurate. He is the brother of Christel Mueller-Huells, Andreas. Between my first marriage that ended 1944 and my second one that started 1952 were eight not completely lonely years. I was friends with some of my colleagues but nothing lasting came of any of those connections.
Then I met Andreas. I think Annemarie was playing cupid for us. At the Chemical Company in Gruenau there was a festivity. Annemarie, her future husband and Andreas worked there. Andreas was not to happy about it, he had wanted to study. His dream was to become a Music Conductor. But he was drafted, and then became prisoner deep in Russia in a mine. When he returned in 48 he had to deal with the fact that his father had shot himself at the end of the war. He had never been a Nazi, he just despaired. Christel had to feed herself and the painter Ohse with her piano lessons, so Andreas had support himself and their mother. And right away. He had to take the first job offer, which was sales for the Chemical Factory. A job he despised.
Annemarie had invited me to the festivity, and place me at a table with Andreas. We danced and talked a lot that night. But that was it. I did not expect to see him again. But I realized in the following weeks that I could not get him out of my head.
And suddenly I got an invitation to a Sunday outing. Even though it was pleasant event there followed a long silence.
But eventually Andreas took a shine to me. We developed a deep love. We had interesting years with outings, museum visits and theater evenings. And many visits to his friends of whom he had many, and they were smart and interesting people.
But years went by. and I realized that he had no plans to commit. I sometimes felt that I was not enough for him. He was very smart, and came from a very cultured family.
Conversations with me did not run deep enough for him. That was the impression I got.
About the time my frustration had reached its peak there was the summer party at my school in Schoeneweide. And my college Kurt Bothe who had always been so reserved dance the whole night with me.
After that we were a couple, and we got married in the next spring. Father, who after his divorce never planned to get married again, changed his mind that night of the party. And I loved him for many years. You are truly a child of love.
I met up a few more time with Andreas but immediately let him know about my new relationship.
He did not seem overly crushed. We split in peace wishing each other well.
Shortly before or after I re-married, Andreas went to West Germany.
He lived in the Allgaeu then moved to Urach, here in Baden-Wuertemberg. Now in management. He married a medical doctor. They had two sons. One had asthma and need much care and money because of curative trips to the Baltic Sea. That and whatever else damaged the marriage. She went back to being a doctor, and moved away. He still lives in Urach. And the irony of fate. Later, when the son was healthier, he died in a motorcycle accident.
Christel passed me these little tidbits about Andreas’ live.
One time shortly after we move to the Zeppelin Street Andreas came by for a few hours. He had business at Mercedes Benz, and wanted to see me again. My consolations is that we talked freely about everything to the end. So we can keep each other in good remembrance.
And here I remember another point I forgot to talk about.
The years after 45 might have been poor in food and money but they were rich in cultural life. Berlin was home to several famous actors at that time. And the cultural offering were rich and varied. After all we had to catch up. Annemarie and I went often to the theater or to the opera. It might sound like bragging but we did not miss any major event. We bought cheap seats but still at times had to miss out from lack of funds. But we still live on the memories today.
I meet a very interesting colleague who unfortunately was married and he took me to a few unusual interesting exhibitions. I often think about that.
Then I got access to the inner circle of the painter Ohse (even before I met Andreas).
Mr. Ohse gathered a group of adoring fans every Saturday evening. Some fawned openly, some more discreet. Christel kept a watchful eye on all of it.
That ugly old man had charisma. Unfortunately he knew it and enjoyed the adorations. I did not like him but I do love his art.
And I liked the very interesting conversations on those evenings. One could look forward to that all week long.
And every one of us came with a gift. A few lumps of charcoal, a bundle of firewood, a lard sandwich, a little jar of honey, a few cigarettes. Or for Ohse a cigar. And if one was flush one brought something alcoholic. We spent all week hunting for something special to bring as gift. And everything was shared and enjoyed.
I discovered that Ohse was a master at starting a discussion topic that was interesting, and could be taken apart to exhaustion. We had empty stomachs but fully active minds.
Old lady Mueller-Huells came to a tragic end. One winter day she went out on the ice of the River Dahme and never returned. Her body was discovered much later under the ice. Nobody said it but it seemed to be a deliberate act to end her life.
Mother was deeply affected since they had become pretty good friends in the last years.
The family had three children. The sister of Christel and Andreas lives in Munich, her name is Lea von Phaler.
Another memory. Klaus’ marriage to Erika happened right around the time of your birth. When and how long exactly I do not remember.
Erika was a good singer and guitar player. She sang a lot of songs for you. You liked her a lot. There are 4 pictures where you look at her with adoring eyes. You must have been about a half a year old.
Erika liked to sit and visit me in the kitchen. She sat on the little footstool by the door. Later on that was your favourite place too.
I still remember a conversation we had after Klaus decided to quit his Physics-Math studies at the university. He said “I do want to build airplanes. So I have to go to the Technical Institute to study. And that is in Dresden.”
Erika was bemoaning that fact that Klaus would be absent. She said she loved him but could not be faithful if he was absent, she knew herself.
And so it happened. No sooner was Klaus gone when she met her Frenchman who was studying to become a Music Conductor in Berlin. I don’t remember his first name. I think it was Bernard. Last name Rotstein.
They are married to this day. He is Conductor in a theater in Paris.
Erika is now ready to retire. She worked as Translator for a large car manufacturer these past 22 years. She had traveled to Berlin on business trips a few times but never looked up Klaus. She was afraid to harm him political and otherwise.
But now she took up contact. At the end of October she called Klaus. And a day later she called me. I had to tell her all about you. She said she would stay in contact.
Even though I had almost forgotten about her I was happy she contact me. We clicked right away again. I’m surprised how much I think of her since that call.
She did not have children of her own but an adopted one.
Because of her large brown eyes and her heavy black ponytail we always refereed to Erika as “The Spaniard”.
Another thing: At the beginning I introduced you to my family but not father’s. I want to rectify that.
I never met his parents Max and Wally. I was never able to get a clear picture of them from his descriptions. Wally seems to have been head of sales in a fashion store for many years. Max seemed to have had several jobs.
They had 4 sons : Kurt, Fritz – Merchant Marine Officer, Martin – Director of the Mannheimer Insurance, and Heinz who was a tailor.
I only met Heinz. He owned a bar in Berlin Kreuzberg later in life. We visited him there a few times. Now he is dead too, like all the others. Only father, the oldest of them, is still alive.
He is already ill since several years. Blind, diabetic, immobile. But fate has not allowed him to die.
A little about my friends. I met Annemarie in high school and we developed a life long friendship.
Irmchen I met in the service years. We lost track of each other for many decades but were able to reconnect deeply later on.
Eva Graeber was the youngest of three daughter of a family in Schlesien. Klaus stayed with them during the war. One got assigned to a family, no choice who or where. But it was good for Klaus. They had a large garden, chickens and rabbits. Klaus got to eat. Something people in Berlin had not been able to do in a while. Then in the freezing winter of 45 he made his way home all alone. Days he was not sure if he would freeze to death or starve first. But he made it though ill with a high fever.
You might wonder why mother allowed Klaus who was only 13 to travel alone back to Berlin. She didn’t. Mother believed in a German win of the war almost to the end. But then she also realized the truth. So she set out to get Klaus. But they passed each other on the way. Mother did not get very far until she had to turn around. When she came home, and found Klaus sick but safe she almost collapsed.
I was home at that time since I was to wait and see how things worked out according to the telegram from the director of my school in Nakel. I was short of 21 years old, and had lost all illusions as to the outcome of the war.
Once Ehrenfried was sure he could trust me he had me listen at 2pm to BBC radio. It was very risky to do so, prison or death if you got caught. We plugged the keyholes in the door with cotton. The radio was so low we almost had to crawl into it to hear. We were shocked to hear the losses Germany was suffering. We heard about the persecution of Jews and concentration camps. Something the average German had no clue about. Once I tried to hint of the realities to mother but she got very upset, and told me Ehrenfried was a bad influence.
After Ehrenfried got drafted I continued to listen to BBC. But I took all the precautions he had taught me, and also set the radio back to a German broadcast frequency when I was done listening.
After Ehrenfried got drafted I had to take a renter. It was an older female teacher and 100% Nazi. Her brother came visiting at times. In SA uniform, upper echelon. When she needed to use the bathroom she had to pass my room. I almost died of fright but I could not stop listening. I also had more courage in my youth than I do today.