16th November 2013


Today would have been my mother’s birthday. She was born in 1900, the same year as my father. It was the beginning of a fresh new century. She was born in the building below after a seven months pregnancy. It is probably the reason why it was a home birth. On the other hand, home birthing was quite common in those days.

Berlin, Blücherstrasse 37a

Berlin, Blücherstrasse 37a

She was always a rather physically weak child, did not like any strenuous activity. On Sundays her father liked to walk with the family across the Tempelhofer Field (later Airport Tempelhof) where the walk over the sandy ground drove her to tears.  But her father wanted to have his beer on the other side of the large field.

On her first birthday she looked like this:

scan0004

I’m not sure what she is thinking here. Is she looking at her dad and thinking , will he abandon me here? After school and training to be an “early childhood carer” she worked for a little while as a nanny, but later, during the Big War, she joined the Post Office and became a telephone operator in the new technology of telephony. She had a beautiful, clear voice right to the end of her life.  In old age she still sounded like a forty year old on the phone.

This is how she looked as an eighteen year old:

Sitting on a typical bench in Viktoria Park, Berlin

Sitting on a typical bench in Viktoria Park, Berlin

At this time she lived with her mum and dad in an apartment in this street.

Dudenstrasse 26 to 30 (earlier Dreibundstrasse and Immelmannstrasse)

Dudenstrasse 26 to 30 (earlier Dreibundstrasse and Immelmannstrasse)

She lived in four different apartments  from 1913 to 1955. We were living here during the war, but were lucky enough not to experience any heavy damage.

In the next two pictures you see me with my mother at various stage of my life.

My mother and me as a three year old 1938

My mother and me as a three year old 1938

Together again this time as a five year old,  1940

Together again this time as a five year old, 1940

The next picture became very important to me in 1944 when I was evacuated for a whole year. I carried this very picture on me all day and looked at it a few times a day. I was always afraid I would lose all memory of her.

1942

1942

Of all my children she saw Gaby as an infant before we migrated to Australia. Our son Martin she got to see in 1980, but I have no photo of it. Caroline was in Berlin in 1980 as an infant and later, in 1986 and you can see them both  and me.

May 1986

May 1986

In the next two picture you see her as I remember her in my mind for the rest of my life. In the first photo you see her with one of her granddaughters in Berlin, Marianne. Both pictures where taken on Mother’s Day 1980.

1980

1980

Mother's Day 1980

Mother’s Day 1980

She passed away, suddenly,  on the 7 January 1988. I talked to her on New Year’s Day and her voice was as clear as ever.

Here is my birthday present to her. A flash mop in Leipzig singing the “Ode to Joy”.

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MAMA !”

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8 thoughts on “16th November 2013

  1. This first photo of you and your Mum: is that Schultheiss Brauerei am V-Park right behind you? This nice corner at Dudenstrasse you and Ute showed me when in Berlin?

  2. Very good Berlioz. Glad you still have those photos. The Dudenstrasse looks very elegant with all the geraniums on the balconies.
    Your mother also liked indoor plants. I can see a happy plant in the right corner. They are almost indestructible.
    I love looking at memories. Thank you Berlioz.

    • The Berliners love their balconies and geraniums seem to be their favourite plants. During the dark days of war and after the war they kept rabbits their to supplement their meagre meat rations.

      The hoses you see were built as a housing cooperation for low paid postal workers. In those days, 1913, they provided indoor toilets (normally there would be toilets to share among several apartments) and bathroom. electricity as well as gas connection; uncommon for low paid people. I visited the building last year and found they have solar panels on the roof and feed electricity into the grid that keeps the cost of running the property down. We talked to some people there and they were very happy to live an “old” building. The rooms are large and the apartment are especially good for people without children. But in 1913 families had children, sometimes lot of children.

    • I love to share my memories, especially with my children and grandchildren. When I grew up, during the war and its aftermath, I had plenty of opportunity to observe history unfold in front of me and I was keen to take it all in.

    • My mother was a good person, but we were not always on the same wave length. I loved her and that was all that mattered. During the final days of the war she braved the bullets of the battle sides to find something to eat for us. What more can you asked from your mother. I always remember her fondly.

    • exactly. I too had a lot of differences with my mother but loved her with all my heart before I stumbled upon some really ugly, unanswered questions.

      love teaches us to accept our loved ones despite all sorts of differences, often clashes.

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