I was born in Kassel, Germany in 1950. There were still a lot of bad things to see after WWII and the economy was still down. At the time when I was born, we were 5 persons in a flat of a master bedroom, a very little bedroom and a kitchen. There was no living room. The flat was in a former barrack and the toilets were on the end of a long hallway – we did not have any bathroom. Once a week my parents put a washing tub in aluminium on the floor, filled it with warm water and all of us children were washed in the same water. By the way since the end of 1952 we were one more in this flat because I’ve got one more brother. So in all I have three brothers, born 1946, 1948 and 1952.
We were a poor family, but we children have had a great time there. In our area were a lot of children living. We had each other and also the kids of the neighbors. I was babysitting once for a four-year old girl, when I was six – such things will not be possible today. We had trees around, we were climbing on – me too ;-). I also have had girls to play with, when I was a little older. The father of one of them had a bakery. I loved the smell of freshly baked bread!
It was a wall around the area we lived, called Hasenhecke, with a big gateway. Some meters inside this was a grocery shop. At that time fruits from abroad where very expensive, but all people were loving me, so did the grocery man and he often gave me a banana for free. I still like bananas! By the way: I was born with hip dislocation. Nobody was observing it, but my mother. She told the doctor, that I am not sitting properly, that I am sitting lopsided. I think I have been around six month I was sitting up and she saw it. In the age of nine month I came to the hospital and got a gypsum. I had that for a whole year, but it was changed all after I were growing. In the beginning my father took me home to their flat, but I did get some abscesses under the gypsum and I had to stay at the hospital because our flat were humid and the hospital was not. I did become the favourite of the nurses and there I have got bananas for the first time in my life. I do not remember the time at the hospital, of course, but my parents told me. I was looking all my life for love, but after my last divorce. I do not know if it depends on this long time at the hospital, the way my parents treated me or maybe all together. Finally I am grown up and prefer friendship.
My father had been in WWII, he was born 1921, though he was not very old when the war started. He had got a fragment from a bomb in his head. It was not possible to take that out. He had got epilepsy of that. Always when he was drinking one or another beer, he got sick. He fell down e.g. My eldest brother was calling for the doctor, when my brother was only six years old, he had to leave the house for that. There were no phones in the flats at that time. My mother had to stay with my father and us. The fragment in my father’s head was moving and for that – after some years – he had no epilepsy any more.
My mother was born 1924, she was living at the country side with her mother and little brother in the grand parents house during WWII. She was also infected of this horrible time, but another way. She was collecting all things she once came over like old newspapers, but that started first some years later, when we had enough money she could subscribe to a newspaper. She also collected her old clothes – never throw away any of them. I was neither allowed to touch the clothes when I was a child nor when I was a teenager.
My mother was not happy about us children, it was hard to bring us up at that time and also it has been hard to give birth to me, my parents told me. Even the birth of my little brother has been complicated and in addition to that my little brother refused to eat the first two weeks of his life. She got my oldest brother when my parents were living in one room only and had to fetch the water from outside. First when my other brother were born they have got this little flat, where I was born. Yes, all of us four children were born at home, not in a hospital.
My father was very excited when he got a daughter and did “all” for me. He was visiting me at the hospital very often – If I remember right what they told me, he was visiting me every evening after work. My grandmother Dorothea (my mum’s mother) were visiting me sometimes, too. She also gave me a stuffed bunny. I liked that very much, but did tear the ears of it. I have had that bunny for many years anyway. My grandmother Auguste (my father’s mother) was not living in the same city as we and nobody told me, that she has been visiting me.
As bad as the flat was for us, as good were the surroundings. We had a big green behind the house, where we were playing often. My father did build a sandbox behind the house, just under the kitchen window. My father has been a carpenter before WWII. Therefore it was easy for him to make it, but it was still hard to find the material for the sandbox. By the way, my father did work in a dying fabric (they made fabrics coloured) with accountancy. He also attended an evening class for getting a certificate in accountancy at that time. In that sandbox we baked lot of cakes and my little brother tried to eat them more than once. He was always running into the kitchen to my mother, when he had done that. My mother got angry about us, who made the sandy cakes, but we just liked to play and also told my little brother not to eat of them. On the green we were playing, running and rolling around and very happy. We picked daisies and dandelions. Sometimes we did made hair rings of them. My father had also a dark side, of course – as everyone. I remember one Christmas eve when he was coming home drunk after coming from work. For many years we have had rice pudding at that evening, but he did not really like it. In his condition he throw it away saying, there are bones in it. Anyway my father learned to manage the consume of alcohol and never became an alcoholic. I am very happy about that.
Because my mother was still ill of the births of my little brother, we have had some help for the house work and to take care about us children once or twice a week. I loved these nurses, but my mother did not, especially one. They did not do the work the same way as my mother was used to, of course. There are always different ways to do things. She was also a little jealous, I think. I remember that one learned us to count the cars of the trains which were going quite often near the place we lived. Because we could not really count yet, but my eldest brother, we counted that way: Mail, parcels, visitors, home (in German it is: Post, Paket, Besuch, nach Haus). I still do that some times ;-). At the weekend my father often were taking us to the forest close to our area, there were also a miniature garden – with small houses, a little mill etc. It was called “Märchenmühle”, that means fairy tale mill. We children loved the walks and this place. My mother was not often following. I remember a day when we were out of the house with one of our nurses. It was raining, but stopped after a while. The ground was really wet and muddy. Children usually like that, so did we. When we were arriving at home again our clothes were very dirty and my mother very angry, because she had to wash our clothes and she still had to wash in a tub with heating in the cellar. All washing had to be done by her own hands, but the clothes could dry outside on the lovely green. After that day my mother regretted all help from outside, but later on of her mother.
When I was around five years old – It must have been during the summer 1955 – my father were going with me by bicycle with an auxiliary engine to Lorch/Rhine. There were a lot of hours to drive, because the little city is around 250 km away. The bicycle had a maximum speed of around 25 km/hour. I do not remember the way to Lorch, but the way home. My father gave me caffeine tablets, that I did not fall asleep on the seat at the front of the steering gear. I also remember that my aunt and her friends (two other women named Elisabeth and Maria) were welcoming us happily and the other day we have been at a fairy tale park. We had to cross the river Rhine by ferry to go there. In the park were a lot of small houses with the figures of some fairy tales aside or in front of them. There were also the witch with her gingerbread house from the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel. My father liked to take pictures with me in front of these, but I was afraid of the witch!
In the afternoons I often accompanied my brothers when they were doing their homework, especially in maths. I learned the numbers and learned to count including adding numbers and got the correct results. I did not have any friends yet, but the 2-year-younger girl in our apartment-house. Anyway I was playing with the most of the kids in the neighborhood. It did not matter for me if boy or girl. I loved to be outside, especially when the weather was nice and sunny. From time to time we did get some carrots of one of our neighbors, who had a garden spot in this area. My brothers were happy about them, but I was not. I did not like the sweet taste of the vegetables.
As I already told you, my father had good and bad behaviours as well as my mother had. She could not really good take care of us. When we had done things, she did not like, e.g. did not came home in time, did not help her as much as she wished, she told us: “Wait until dad is coming home, so you will feel it.” Actually she did tell our father what happened during the day and he beat us. Yes, it is true. My father did hurt us a lot. It was not forbidden at that time, but there were not many parents, who beat their children in our neighbourhood. I do not remember a lot of details before the time my father were going with me to visit my aunt. Really much I remember first from the year I became seven, the year I started at school.