PART II BACKGROUND INFORMATION OF MY LIFE STORY

Hallo again,

To continue my story I need to give some background information on my parents and ancestors. A little more than 500 years ago at the time of the Reformation by Martin Luther great changes happened in Europe. The forebears of both father and mother lived in Holland and had left the Catholic Church and joined the newly founded Mennonite Church. They were very sincere and devout in their Christian faith and it is the most outstanding characteristic of my forebears and has continued to the present. There exists a written record going back to the first group of pioneers who left Holland to settle in what was West-Prussia and there to a very fertile land-triangle called “die Niederung” which means the low lying land. This area is bordered by the 2 rivers Weichsel and Nogat flowing into the Baltic Sea which forms the northern border with the most beautiful shoreline of white sand. This land was flooded every spring when the winter ice melted. The Dutch settlers were very good at building dikes and they made the land safe for farming. This is what my ancestors did.The whole area today belongs to Poland and the best known City in the north is Gdanks formerly Danzig. Father’s family became Lutheran while Mother’s remained Mennonite. All of Mother’s ancestors had been farmers and married within their own faith. My parents married in 1930 and mother joined the Lutheran Church.

Father’s family was well known and respected. His father and grandfather had been influential politically and earned the love and respect of the people. Father was raised much more formal. That was absolutely necessary to fit in with your peers of the upper class. Children can be very cruel and at that time you were shamed and laughed at easily. The way you were dressed, the way you spoke and how you presented yourself in posture were so important that parents did everything to make sure their children made a good impression. So much depended on correct behavior. It was every parent’s greatest duty to train the child well. A university education was possible only for the upper class.
Father had studied agriculture and later leased an Estate called Riesenwalde which he managed for some years. The nearest city was Riesenburg. That is where he met my mother during his stay for an appendix operation. My mother was a nurse working in that hospital and there I was born about 3 years later. A hospital birth was already very modern. Most people could not afford it. Almost every child was born at home with a midwife in attendance. I was the second daughter and was expected to be a boy. All my baby clothes were in blue and it became my favorite color. My older sister got a necklace with a red ruby pendent and I got a beautiful Aquamarine which I treasured all my life. When it disappeared about 3 years ago I felt a deep loss. I have no memory of the first years but I still have a few photos. One was taken at my baptism with my parents and 3 Godmothers. Cameras were still very special but mother had to have all the newest things and she loved to take pictures.

Father bought his own Estate when I was two years old. A third sister was one year and a fourth child was expected. This had to be a boy and he should be born on the land and in the house he was to inherit. The son was the heir who carried on the family name. So Hans Adalbert was born in our own new house. Tradition was respected and accepted. Progress was not easy. By moving to East-Prussia my Father was already breaking out of the familiar territory. Cars were still so rare I did not see one till 1939. We got around in horse-drawn carriages and in sleighs in winter. There were no street lights and in winter kerosene lamps would be attached to the sleigh. The winters were very cold. I remember one dark evening being in the sleigh as we were going to the train station most likely to pick up my mother who had been to Koenigsberg shopping. I had climbed out from under the covers and had perched myself up on the back looking at the stars. They were beautiful. All of a sudden there was a bump and I found myself in the snow with the horses going on. I was not hurt but I was very worried I would be left behind. Luckily someone noticed my fall and I was picked up. We always travelled by train. It was very popular. All our relatives lived further West, most of them in West-Prussia, too far for casual visits. As a result I grew up hardly knowing my grandmothers, aunts, uncles and cousins. Both grandfathers had already died before I was born.

I will continue and share what I know from 1934 till the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

In the meantime, live well, Tela

A New Start , March 2014

Sunday greetings to all my Readers,

I have not written anything to be shared on this site for a long time. There were many reasons. The computer did not allow me to choose my own settings. That was something I wrestled with over and over again. I was unable to do what I wanted. Finally I realized my way was not working. I gave up.  But that is not my nature. I believe were there is a will, there is a way.

At this stage in my life, being almost 82 years old I am knowing how precious life is and I want to use it wisely. I have many things I enjoy, much curiosity, many choices and my needs change constantly. I love to do nothing; just knowing I am allowed to do that makes me feel most fortunate. Besides of caring for my body I am free. My body has served me faithfully and I am deeply in debt to it. So I now take good care of my health. It is a full-time job. The body is now my greatest teacher. There is no end to the lessons. But I love to learn and find great joy in receiving more and more insight.

One aspect of my being is quite overpowering and has been driving me relentlessly. I have resisted it with all my might, in many ways, in self-judgment, with excuses, great emotional suffering and pain. I exhausted all the ways I could think of to gain the control I thought I needed for true mastery. I am not just persistent; I am stubborn, endlessly patient, truly long-suffering. Giving up, surrendering does not come easily to me. I have surrendered many times in prayer and was convinced I was the willing instrument for  Divine Spirit to express through me. Did I not always want to do the best I could? Was I not faithful, forgiving, kind, honest, fearless, loving, tolerant, clean, dutiful, adaptable, courageous and accepting of all I am and of all that is ? Well, we all learn eventually: What we resist persists.

So, now I start again. Willing to be me without self-judgment, just sharing what I have experienced. I always felt I can ad nothing to make any difference. I am just wasting my time and energy and that of others. There are thousands of people sharing their stories,  failures, victories and their insights much more interesting than mine. There is nothing worthwhile I can contribute. Well….. it might not make any difference; it does not have to. Just sharing my story might be the only thing I can still do for my children and grandchildren and telling it might be enjoyable. From my present perspective it is good to review and record my past. My children and grandchildren could not imagine it, even if they tried. So I will start at the beginning of my life and share with you all that comes to my mind. The angel that loves to write through me will be very happy.

I was born as the second daughter to my parents Wanda and Hans Witt on May 28, 1932. My parents owned a small estate in East-Prussia, a home for German-speaking people long before Germany as a modern nation existed. It was the bread basket of Germany, rich  farmland with little industry. Just 30 km north lay the Baltic Sea and 30 km west of our village the city of Koenigsberg. That beloved city  was our centre of learning and culture. In 1932 the landowners in our province were still the ruling class and enjoyed a good life. Our family grew rapidly. I had seven siblings all born between 1931 and 1941. Until the outbreak of World War II we had a trained child-care person who taught us children’s dances and games and special skills. My father was in charge of the land and my mother was in charge of the large household. There were often guests and agricultural students who lived with us. They ate at our table, while the maids ate in another room  but of course they served us. My mother had all the help she needed, a cook and a maid for cleaning lived with us but extra help for the large vegetable garden or special events was always available. Twice a year a seamstress came to stay with us for as long as she was needed. Much of our clothes was home-made and alterations were created from old things. Nothing was wasted. Almost everything we needed was produced in our village. There was a little store in walking distance were I was sent for things like salt or sugar. Being self-sufficient was a great science, now mostly lost.

I will continue with my story. So, till next time, fare well,  Tela