What I learned about Health and Illness

All I learned about health and illness came from my mother. I never questioned her ideas or methods. She had been trained as a nurse and loved to take care of the sick.

The only doctor in our area lived far away but made house calls. We never went to see the doctor. And the only time I remember when she visited was when there was an outbreak of scarlet fever and diphtheria. One child infected the other and that was good; we were all sick at the same time and then it was over and done with all at once. No one of all my family was ever deathly ill when I was a child. But I was told, when I was a baby I had a bad case of whooping-cough. Mother told the story. She was pushing the baby carriage with me in it when she met an acquaintance who took a look at me and mother expecting a nice comment was shocked to see the lady’s reaction. She took a look at me herself and was horrified. I looked half dead. The illness had struck suddenly and caused great concern. I was also told that at another time when I was still a baby mother was called home from a trip because I had a serious throat infection. Of course I have no memory of that.

We all got the measles and chicken pox and now and then a runny nose and a cough, but that was it. The flue was unknown and if you got a cold was your fault because you had not dressed warm enough. There was no talk of germs. But we knew we could get warts from touching frogs and should not have cats or dogs lick our faces. No pets were allowed in our bedrooms.
I learned that to be healthy is normal. Illness was not normal. Adults were hardly ever ill. Only once did one of our maids get shingles and that was a big deal. No one in our family ever had a broken bone. But just at the time my youngest brother was born, I was in the hospital for an appendectomy. So I missed out on the excitement of his birth. I was 11 years old. A very inexperienced doctor must have practiced on me. I remember the nurses put a heavy sandbag on the stitched up wound. The result was, the scar grew as wide as a finger and all my life I never showed my belly. My older sister also had her appendix out as a child and her scar was hardly visible. But I must admit that it might not all be the doctor’s fault. I reacted to any hurt badly and my skin showed the anger.

Once I fell down the steps in the wood cellar and cut my knee badly. It was bleeding and looked horrible. I was still sitting on the steps when my parents put some dark blue solution on. I bet it was iodine. I burnt terribly but I just bit my lips. The knee healed but has been painful at different times later in life. Today when I walk down the steps, it pains a bit but I never take the elevator. Iodine was one of mother’s favorite medicines, Franzbrandwein and Essigsauretonerde she also used a lot. I don’t know what the English names are.

I cannot remember father or mother ever sick. Mother of course was in bed with the new-born baby but she was not ill. The first birth I remember a little was of my sister Margarete. She is 5 years younger than I. My parents had engaged a special nurse to be there for 2 weeks at the time of birth. But my sister was not ready to be born when she was due. All waited and waited and finally the nurse had to leave. So we were told Margarete needed extra time to make herself pretty. Of all the 6 girls she is still the one most concerned with her looks. She also was very dainty. When there was a spill on the floor she would take the rag with two fingers, drop it on the floor and wipe it up with her foot.
My youngest sister was born just 2 months before I turned 7. At that time early in the morning we older children were awake and waiting. We were told we would have a new baby. When someone came and told us we had a new sister and her name was Barbara we were thinking how could our parents choose that name. We had never heard it before and found the name very strange. No one in our family or in our village or even in our fairy tales or the Bible had it.  I have no memory of seeing the baby for the first time. I have a feeling of being uncomfortable with some memories. I guess much was put into the subconscious.

Father made mother the Queen and he made sure we obeyed her, served her and respected her. She was the absolute ruler of the children and the large household. She was very down to earth and knew what worked.

She believed we were ill only when we had a fever or did not eat. If we were ill we had to stay in bed and were not allowed to do anything we liked. So, no one wanted to be ill. She also talked about where she was trained, there people got only water-soup to eat. So we felt grateful that she was kinder and allowed us to eat good soup if we were able to. But we would not get anything special. She planned the meals and knew what was good for us and we ate what was served.
Once we brought head lice home from school. She just shaved our heads. The hair would grow again but the lice were gone. Fresh air was very important. The rooms were aired daily, bedding and clothing were always aired in good weather and the washing was dried outside on the clothe line. The children needed to be outside even on cold winter days.
Mother also knew a lot of home remedies that worked wonders but she thought the best medicine was sleep. Still, when the first sun tan lamps came out mother bought one and in winter we would lie under the health-giving rays with special glasses over our eyes. She also bought fruit and vegetable health juices for us. This was very new and special and she got cod liver oil and we had to swallow it. Otherwise mother believed the body will heal itself and most health troubles people suffered from were due to overeating, laziness or too much thinking. She told of her mother never being sick. If my grandmother did not feel well she went in the garden and did some hard digging and when she came back she would say, now I feel better.

I realize how fortunate I am to have learned some good health care as a child. What we today call health care is really illness care. We had healthy immune systems because antibiotics were unknown.
But there were some things that are much better now. Many injuries of children were never taken seriously or not recognized and resulted in damage that with age only grew worse. I once fell out of a tree and for a little while could not breathe but I asked my brothers and sisters who were present not to say anything to my parents because I knew it was my fault and I felt guilty. I also hurt my tailbone repeatedly falling on the ice. It is still very crooked, so I now know it was broken but no one ever knew about it.

When you are a child in a very small village without television and having learned not to ask unnecessary questions your greater knowledge comes from books and I have loved them and enjoyed them ever since I learned to read. My parents had already a very big book, similar to Grey’s Anatomy and when I was a little older I found there some basic biology explained that was never talked about. My parents did the best with what they knew.

So till next time take care, Tela




Choosing Responsibility Early

What I express in the following poem started with the first self-awareness.
The sense of responsibility was very strong in me. I feel I was born with it. When I fully knew I could not get out of my circumstances I accepted all as God’s will. I was a good child . My problems became judgemental. I felt I knew what was right. From my limited reasoning there was only right or wrong, truth or falsehood. Understanding and accepting human difference did not come easily. When I knew what was right, I felt offended by anyone who did not agree. I took it personally. Because of my all-important religious beliefs I became very self-righteous. My inner wish to go to a heaven-world remained and I would have committed suicide to escape my unhappy life. But that I knew would only put me into hell.
When I was about 7 years old I was standing on our balcony upstairs and saw bombs falling out of the sky. I did not know what it meant but never forgot the vision. I never talked about it, only remembered. Four years later the bombs rained down on Koenigsberg in 1943. Mother took me there 2 days after it happened and we walked through the bombed out sections knowing people could be buried under the rubble.

To let you know that I grew into greater understanding here is my poem.
But I will soon return and continue with my story.

Being Different Is Our Gift

Many people have my birthday. Many people might have my name.
But I am who I am, we are not the same.
I needed to grow like a young tree.
I felt, I was right. I had to be me.

I wanted someone to understand. I prayed and longed for the promised land.
Could I find a friend who would give me a hand?
I’m convinced I am different. I am convinced nobody knows how I feel.
I am lonely and hurt. I’m so down as in prayer I kneel.

Then I start learning, slowly but true, I am more alike than different from you.
I begin to care, are willing to share, knowing you have feelings too.
What is uniquely myself, this I can share; what I feel, my insights, my care.
My difference I show because now I know:
It’s my gift and has made me aware.

Tela La Mer
Kelowna, June 24, 2012

The Practical One

Greetings again my Readers,

To bring the past into the present is an interesting experience. For me it requires great determination. I find I have no time. But I already know I have just as much time as anyone. In fact I have all the time in the world. So, why is it so difficult to let go of all the other things that require my attention and revisit my little girl. She still wants to be heard. She still wants attention. She still wants to be understood.
I told her many times: “It is not important anymore. You have had so much care and protection and you just did not realize how privileged you were”. She says: “Your thoughts are not important, but my story is real, tell it as it was”.

Mother had her first baby May 15, 1931 and her eights on June 3, 1941. She was pregnant most of the time for 10 years. I never knew that. I never saw her big belly. In the clothes she wore it never showed. I only knew that the stork brought the babies. Since the last five were all born at home and we had storks on every roof top and all the people I knew agreed, I never questioned the story. Mother loved her baby till the next one arrived. The youngest got most of her attention but she was a very proud mother and enjoyed the admiration from other people when she could show us off. We had beautiful outfits and I was happy about that.
I was about 7 years old when I was classified as the Practical One. My older sister was very studios and she worked hard to be the best. But she was clumsy and better suited for mental work. She got a piano from our grandmother and had lessons. Of course only for a short time. All changed radically when war broke out.
I had spent much time in the kitchen watching the cooking. With the start of the war Mother lost all household help except one maid. Now I was needed and told my gift was
practical. This meant to me I was not made for studying but I could do real work. Not knowing any better I believed this and felt I had no choice. Actually by accepting this I made it so. I became the Practical One. It took a little while to learn everything. But I had found by trying to please I was considered good. So I gained some self-confidence. It came slowly. While baking Mother sent me to the pantry to get the sugar. I could not see it. I looked and looked. Finally I had to go and tell mother I could not find it. She went and got it herself. It was right in front; I felt so stupid. But I had trouble learning to see. I saw what I knew in my mind but not what was before me in reality. Because of that I knew I was missing an ability others had. This is still my problem. When watching television or driving I cannot get it all. I am slow. Mostly others did not notice but I felt and believed I was not very smart. I did my best to overcome my disadvantage. Eventually I became good at helping mother. With 9 years I was a perfect cook. I could bake, wash, clean and was very confident and self-sufficient in all things.
When I was 8 I got my first bicycle. It was a beautiful ladies bike and I was very proud of it. It did not take me long to learn to ride it. Never having had a tricycle and with no safety wheels learning to ride this bike was a major event for me. The sensation I felt when the adult let go and I was on my own I recall clearly. Of course I crush-landed in the ditch but that was the only time. After that I went everywhere on my bike and was sent to the nursery for the first lettuce from the greenhouse. I was not afraid of anything and would go anywhere. Physically I was very strong and soon had another child on the back of the bike and one in front on the handling bar. I liked to give the smaller kids free rides and felt good. There were no fears and no restrictions.
In school I had another problem. My handwriting was not good and it was considered part of a good education that your handwriting was pretty. But try as might it did not improve. Also I made spelling mistakes but not because I could not spell. I felt I had written the word correctly and when I read what I had written could not see the mistake. I just saw what I knew in my mind. Only when the teacher marked the mistake did I see I had forgotten a letter or used a wrong one. These were called mistakes of flight but I was not in a hurry. It was just that my eyes and my mind did not work together correctly. The other thing that bothered me was when someone watched me write. Only with greatest effort could I write when the teacher stood beside me and watched. Signing a cheque with someone watching is still hard but as a child I could not think when I felt the focus on me.
My feelings to Mother never changed. Her personality was so different from mine that no closeness was possible. Father had left for the war right at the start in September 1939 and was home only for a short time after the war against Poland was quickly won. He had worked for 5 years on our estate which had been run down by the previous owner. Now all was in good working order and he needed a larger challenge. (This is my opinion now. I might be wrong.) So he leased our estate to the most respected neighbor in the village and then volunteered as “Sonderfuehrer der Wehrmacht”. This means he became an officer in the army with the special mission to organize the food production on the land behind the German invasion in the Ukraine and in Russia. The last time I saw him was in 1942 when he was on leave. At that time he had a special photographer come to make a family photo with all eight children present. This is the only picture of the whole family. The photographer could not get a good picture. Always one of the children had looked away. I actually remember how frustrating it was for him. My sister Christa was caught at a bad moment. I still feel sorry for her; she looks so awful when in reality she was very beautiful. I look liked the most unhappy girl in the world. That photo I put later in my album which father started for me and in his handwriting gave names and dates to many pictures. The last one he put in for me is showing him with six fellow soldiers in 1939. He even wrote their names down. Father was missed in Russia in Nov. 1943. When we received the news Mother never showed her feelings. She had faith and she had hope and she was our example. I saw no one cry and I had stopped crying long ago. We had to be strong.

I still had not any one to confide in, to trust or call a friend. Our village was very tiny. Family visits from father’s or mother’s side became even less because of the war. I had to wait till I was 10 years old and went to high school in Koenigsberg before I could expand my view of the world. So far I had learned to be tough and capable and self-reliant. I was the Practical One.

To be continued…..

First Thoughts

Well, my Readers,

here I am again. Revisiting my childhood. Part of me feels it is a waste of time. It is so unimportant. Another part of me feels it is so selfish, completely egoistical but the little child says, this is the way it was for me. I did not know anything else. My feelings were what I was. I felt deeply that I was not allowed to be me and when I tried to please, it brought me no real happiness. I remember holding the baby bottle and having no interest in the baby. My thoughts were elsewhere. Where? …I do not know. Later in school the teacher hit me on the head to wake me up. I was day-dreaming, wanting to be away, longing to be free. Bible stories and fairy tales let me imagine a world where I could do what I wanted, were I had my own place, save from the invasion of others.
On the road to the train-station there stood very little pretty new houses built for new settlers. It was a government program I knew nothing about but I liked these houses and wished I would have one for myself with no maids and no one to disturb me. I was only thinking of myself. At the time individual freedom was a real luxury. I did not know that but I longed for it. The only place where I could be happy was in heaven. I wanted to be there. When mother heard me singing the hymn, “Let me go that I may see Jesus”, she became angry and said: “Stop singing this funeral song.” But I already knew God would wipe the tears from our faces and pain and sorrow would be forgotten. Because our church was too far away especially in winter, mother had a lovely Sunday school teacher come to our house and the children of the village were all invited. This was wonderful. This special lady told us only of a loving Heavenly Father and Jesus, his son, who was sent to earth to bring us the good news of a heavenly place that was prepared for us. She told us of how much Jesus loved the little children and of the guarding angels who watched over us. I believed with all my heart. Jesus loved me! She also taught us the most beautiful hymns. I still know them and sing them to myself when I feel down. The words and the melodies are the best medicine for a sad soul. We also learnt the bible verses that were good guidelines for right living. Trusting in God was all we needed to do. The trouble was, I and everyone else knew only conditional love. No one had ever heard of love given freely and when not deserving. We were taught, we had to be good to earn God’s love or the love of anyone. But Jesus understood our weaknesses and failures and all would be forgiven if we were sorry. Here I now see a big problem. Being sorry meant being good. God loved us when we were sorry. Well, this little child never learnt to be happy. I was sorry for all I did wrong; and wrong was everything that did not please others. No one ever said, “God loves you when you are happy”.
It was so unnatural for a child who was well cared for to be unhappy. No one understood anything about me. I had everything I could want. My siblings were not feeling sorry for themselves. They seemed normal. I remember our governess was leaving and she was going to be driven to the train station. I made up my mind I was leaving with her. I packed my doll carriage and climbed into the carriage. I was determined. I was leaving! No one paid much attention to me until the last moment. The horses were ready to go and I was forcefully lifted up and out. Everyone assumed I had been playing a game. No one realized that I was very serious. I cried and everyone else laughed. I might have been 5 years old.
Now I knew I had to stay with my family till I was old enough to leave on my own. I believed everything the adults told me and realized I was not good enough. There was no one I could talk to except God. I believed God knew my heart and he would hear me. I knew he was the creator of everything including me. He was my Heavenly Father. If I was wrong, he would have to fix me. I wanted to be good. So I trusted God and continued to live in my own world while learning to survive in the world of others.

Have you ever heard of such a crazy child? That’s what I was.
There is more to come, Tela

The Unhappy Little Girl I Was.

Hello again !

Today is the first Sunday of Summer, June 22 2014. Today I will pick up the little girl that still lives in me and ask her, why are you so unhappy ? Today I understand her but she has never been heard by others. Her story is my story and every child has one. Is that story important ?  Now in my old age I say yes. Not the story but the willingness to honestly share what your first thoughts and feelings were.

A small child knows only what it feels and what it is told. I knew I was unhappy, so I cried. I was a cry-baby. That was very difficult for my mother. She believed when a child is fed and clothed, protected and provided with all it physically needs, it should be happy. I remember her asking me, what is the matter ? I could not tell her. What should I say ? So she said, well if you have no reason for crying, I will give you one; and I got a good spanking and tried not to cry anymore. I feared my mother. Once we had a house-party. The men were is the room for the Gentlemen and the ladies were in the room for the ladies. That was traditional because the topics of discussion were so different for men and women of that time. The children were allowed in the room of the ladies and I remember  mother while in conversation drawing  me close so that I stood beside her. I did not dare wiggle out of her arm but I felt most uncomfortable and was glad when she released me. The people closest to me were our maids. But they were the maids and I knew I could not talk to them about how I felt. I had already learnt that you needed to please people and what you felt and thought did not matter to anyone. You must not lie but withholding the truth was not considered a lie. Whenever I expressed myself, I was corrected or criticized. As a result I started to distrust my inner feelings. I became convinced I was wrongly made and God was responsible. I felt innocent. I tried to be good but that meant always doing what I was told. So hiding was my escape.

My oldest sister, Elisabeth, felt I should obey her. She was older and had a great sense of responsibility but her I would not obey willingly, so she beat me. I could not defend myself. I just cried. With 6 years I started school  in our one-room village school. I wanted to be friends with the girls my age but they let me know that they felt I was not one of them. So I felt rejected. I was laughed at in class when asked about my eye color. I said my eyes were green and every one knew there were only blue, grey and brown eyes. There was a tiny boy my age who for some reason started beating me in the schoolyard and I could not defend myself. He used me like a pushing bag and I let it happen. My sister Brigitte, one year younger, was scratching and biting. Once she took both her hands and with her nails like a cat scratched my whole face. I just cried. Parents did not intervene much in these matters. Their philosophy was, children need to learn to defend themselves. Life was challenging and weaklings could not survive. I had a built in knowing of what was right or not. Anyone who acted differently than what I believed must be wrong. I was very judgmental because I could see only right or wrong. And I felt I knew what was right.

But there were times when I was happy. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon the fine horses were put to the carriage and we took a ride for the enjoyment of nature. I was allowed to sit high on top with the driver and at one point he let me hold the rains. I loved it. I also remember a picnic in the nearby woods, the family gathering mushrooms,  picking wild strawberries and the games and dances we learned with our governess. Best of all were the summer times when we went to the Baltic Sea and visited with our relatives. We stayed at a hotel but spent time together on the most beautiful white sandy beach and took walks through the park-like woods nearby. There I got to know mother’s mother, my aunts and cousins . All that ended when the war broke out in 1939. I was 7 years old and everything changed.

I will continue. I promise,  Tela














First years in Brasdorf

When I was 2 yrs old we moved from Riesenwalde in Westprussia to our own home in Brasdorf, Eastprussia. There my brother Hans Adalbert was born. After 3 girls now we had a boy. I only have little pieces of early memories. One of the first one is watching him being diapered and kicking and wiggling. I was astounded. He was not doing what was right. He was not a good boy. At one time I am going through the raspberry rows in the garden. The bushes were taller than I was and I was all alone and amazed.
The garden was large with a grassy area around 2 sides of the house and on the 3rd side a very large and long vegetable garden. I especially loved the fruit trees. We had one Transparent apple tree. These apples were ripe early but I ate them still green and never got sick. A very old pear tree in our garden, was so tall, it was left alone. The little delicious pears fell off when ripe and I got up early and enjoyed the ones that had fallen over night. They tasted like no other I have ever eaten. One cherry tree I climbed and hid among the branches. I liked to hide, so I would not have to do what I did not enjoy. Once I was missed and everyone was calling for me and I did not answer and stayed hidden. Only when no one was around did I climb down. I liked climbing and was not afraid of heights. When I was about 2 or 3 I saw the tallest ladder leaning against the highest haystack and I made it all the way to the top. I remember looking down and enjoying being so high. Then someone discovered me and started screaming. That frightened me so that I still remember the whole episode. They screamed: “Don’t move” and I waited for them to come and get me but I would have climbed down by myself.
We often played in the sandbox and in winter my mother even had a sandbox made in our playroom. When I look back now I see how good my mother was. She did many things which I as a child took for granted and only now appreciate. The philosophy of the time was, good parents need to train a child correctly. That meant a child must be obedient to any authority figure without question. Showing affection to a child was considered spoiling the child. I remember only one compliment I got when I had made a dress for my doll. Everything was done to keep us from becoming prideful but we were impressed with our responsibility to set a good example. We had to behave correctly and there were rules for everything.

In our small village every person was known and we as the children of the estate owner were treated with great respect. Of course I did not realize how protected we were. I remember in the center of the village by the roadside stood the tiniest hut, sturdily built out of wood and we were told that was the jail and we would be looked up in there if we were bad. No one ever was looked up there. I never heard of any crime in our area. Gossip was big news and I learned a lot by listening.
We knew we should not play with the village children. They spoke a Low-German dialect. Proper High-German was the mark of your standing in society. Your speech would give you away as to who you were. Appearances were a life or death matter.
Parents who loved their children needed to be strict disciplinarians. Most children feared to be beaten. I was a very good child never willingly doing wrong as I was just too afraid of the consequences. Once I broke a baby bottle. Plastic was not known. I hid the pieces and luckily no one saw it. I never told anybody. I often had to hold the bottle for the baby sitting by the baby carriage. Mother nursed the baby for 6 month, then it was my turn to hold the bottle for the baby. Our parents believed we needed to learn to work and that is why I liked to hide. I remember picking currents or sorting dried peas. There were many jobs for small children. One was to hold strands of wool on outstretched arms while the adult rolled the wool into a ball.
We had only one small store in our village. Many things we produced ourselves and as a result were very self-sufficient. Later during the war we even planted sugar beets and made our own syrup. Sugar was very valued and I loved sweets.
The garden was dug up by hand each spring and there were lots of fat worms coming up which we gathered and took to the chickens. When I came back and was asked: “Did the chicken enjoy the worms?” I said: “I do not know I could not see their teeth.” (Did they smile?) This I was told; I was too small to remember. I also like the story about myself when Mother was feeding me some porridge while sitting beside my highchair and talking to a visitor. She would put the spoon into my mouth and I would turn my head and spit it out and then open my mouth willingly for the next spoon. It took her a while before she noticed what I did. But when I was about 4 years old I learnt the rules about eating. I did not like the oatmeal. It was so slimy, I felt like throwing up. I remember both father and mother holding my head under running cold water and all I was worried about was that my beautiful big hair ribbon would get spoiled. From then on I have been eating everything without complaining. Another story I was told about my first train ride. I looked out of the window and was delighted to see the churches, saying there is a church and there is another church and look there is another one. I now know I was born religious. My faith in God and Jesus and heaven and the angels was for me not a belief but a knowing of the truth. I never had any doubts, I just knew the truth.
Both my parents were very sincere Christians, practicing what they believed. Father read us Bible stories at night and mother sang with us beautiful hymns which I still know by heart. We were taught to be honest and helpful and kind. Love your enemies! The exceptions were brothers and sisters. We were never told to love them and I was glad because I felt no love for any of them. I felt like a stranger in my own family except for my father. But he had little time for us. Still he took us on field trips and taught us the names of trees and flowers. He also did some physical exercises with us children like push-ups, knee-bends and stretches. He showed us that he could stand on his head. No one else I knew could do that. Most importantly I knew he loved me. I just knew it.
My mother I was afraid of. I felt she was like the evil stepmother in the fairy tales.

The next chapter is not easy to share as the little girl I was felt so very, very sad and alone. I could trust no one with my feelings and was strongly reprimanded when I expressed my thoughts. A happy childhood I did not know.


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

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