In and out of Dreams

Ghost House

Ghost House


Last night I had several nightmares. After I shook off one,  another one  started. In the last one, I tried to escape from a high building and the only way out was climbing down a ladder outside. This ladder was attached to the long end of a  beam on which the ladder could slide towards a door. But first I had to reach the ladder. Once on it, there was nothing underneath. I thought I was in a Buster Keaton movie and “knew” I would fall off the ladder. I was at a great height and decided to wake up.

After that,  I drifted off to a quieter dream in which I found myself in an old  carriage, with wooden benches, on a train in Melbourne. In deep thoughts about my whereabouts, I lifted my feet up and placed them on the seat. Before the next stop, a man got up and walked to the door. When he stopped beside me he indicated, with a nod of his head, that he wanted me to take my feet off  the seat.

I apologised and told him, that I normally would not do such a thing.  We got talking, in an amicable way, about the ignorance of people. When the train stopped and he got off the train I had a thought and shouted after him that it was not easy for knowledgeable people and they  often were  mistaken for shy people.

A woke up and grabbed a notebook, I have  on my bedside table, to complete the thought I had started in my dream:

“In a sea of ignorance, the knowing person is quietly swimming to a distant shore. His silence is often mistaken as shyness by other swimmers around him, who noisily splash about, covering for their fear of the unknown.”


After TTIp comes TiSA

While researching TTIP on the net ( a former judge of the German Highcourt says TTIP is against international law) I discovered that there is something even more insidious in the offering: TiSA.

It boils down to that the USA want to conquer the world without having to fire a shot. All negotiations are in  secret and Australia is part of it.

As a Hitler Youth in the “Land of Peace”

The home belonged to the Inner Mission of Germany. This mission was part of the evangelical church. I will deal with my religious life in the home in another post.

We all know in 1944 the Nazi regime in Germany was on its last stretch. But in

Friedland, this “Land of Peace”, we did not notice. It was the duty of all children from the age of ten to join the Hitler Youth or the Deutsches Jungvolk. Before that age one could volunteer to join the Pimpfe, a sort of pre-Hitler-Youth. I did not volunteer, but had no choice at all. All the boys at the home joined. There wasn’t any debate about it.

Each Wednesday evening we had our “day of duty”. When it was dark we stayed indoors and instruction regarding the Nazi Party and its leaders were given in the common room. Naturally, a large photo of our Führer was on the wall. It appeared that he looked at any observer, no matter from which angle the observer looked. There were also some pictures of Jesus Christ on other parts of the wall.

In no time at all I knew all about the birthdays and life stories of our leaders. Don’t ask me now, because now I only know something about Hitler’s life. I did not mind those lessons. What I did not like was when we went outside onto a football field and received drill instructions. We turned right and left, we marched, did sit- and push-ups; we were ordered to run and stand at attention. Anybody who has military boot camp experience knows what I’m talking about. We learnt all the military songs that were in vogue. They were drummed into us. Often the weather was miserable and a strong wind blew over the field. Except for the drill I must confess I liked a lot of this activity.

Normally the Hitler Youth wore a uniform, but we did not have any. This did not stop them from using us as if we wore uniforms. We learnt to draw maps of the environment so we could make reports to our leaders. From time to time we went out into the parks and forests to play manoeuvre-like games were we could use our new learnt skills. A few years later all this would have been handy on the Eastern front. But the war was over a year later.

During the summer the Nazi Youth organisation set up a large coming together and march-past of all the units of the province, at Falkenberg, now Niemodlin ( pol., engl, germ). After a walk of 8 km to the railway station and a train ride we arrived at Falkenberg, a town in a festive mood. Drums, pipes and flags were everywhere. We assembled at the beautiful town square. We boys were all excited and marched to the athletic field. There, some big shots in uniforms made speeches. After it was all over we went home again. It was a long and exhaustive day.

In late summer of the same year we were once again sent to Falkenberg. This time to see a film. It was the film “Münchausen“. It was especially commissioned by the government as a project for the 25th anniversary of the UfA (German film company). It was also the first German colour film. By the time it reached us, it was already a year old, but I did not know that at the time. The showing of the film was arranged in a large hall. I’m not sure, but it could have been in the town hall. There were hundreds of people and the hall was filled to capacity and the walls were adorned by many large Swastika flags. As we were waiting before the start of the movie suddenly there was a commotion and it was announced that the Gauleiter for the region of Upper Silesia would enter the hall. We all jumped up and and shouted, “Sieg Heil”.

Of course the Gauleiter gave a rousing speech of which I can’t remember a word today. I’m sure it ended with, “Heil Hitler”. The lights were dimmed and we saw a newsreel first. What I remember of this newsreel is an item where they showed a night air raid on Berlin by the RAF and how the air defence operated. Search lights scanned the sky and the Flak was firing its deadly grenades up into the air. This was done with an over the top commentary as was the norm during the war. For me as a boy from Berlin it was suggesting that Berlin would be safe even so my mother had written to me that there were now daily air raids day and nights.

The main feature was enjoyed by all, but when I saw the movie on the internet a couple of years ago I found it rather mediocre. Seeing a film, for the first time in colour, that day was a special experience for us. We would have talked about it for days.

All the indoctrination did not turn me into a proper Hitler Youth, because I did not like the military drill at all.

The School in the “Land of Peace”

Friedland was a small town. The Boys Home was at the edge of town on the corner to the country road to Opole (Germ. Oppeln). “40 Km to Oppeln”, a road site sign at the end of town told us. I never got to go to Oppeln and those forty kilo-meters always seemed to be a yardstick for a long distance. Later on in life I ran Marathons and the distance past the forty kilo-meter mark was especially hard.

The school was in the centre of the town, about ten minutes to walk. We boys from the home all walked together. But once we reached the school we all dispersed to our respective class rooms. I had to go to third grade but none of the other boys went into the same class that I did.

The school building was a rather more modern one from the one that I was used to in Berlin. The Berlin schools were beautiful brick buildings built before the turn of the century. The building in Friedland was probably built during the twenties or early thirties. To my surprise we had girls in the class. But we were not sitting together. Two rows of desks were divided by a centre-aisle. The boys were sitting on the right side and the girls on the left side. For reasons little understood by me at the time the girls became of an enormous interest to me. They all seemed pretty and nicely spoken. But the real, big surprise, was the lady teacher. In Berlin I only knew elderly lady teachers. Mostly war widows, dressed in black mourning dresses. They did not seem to like boys and we all received corporal punishment for little wrong doings.

But this young lady, always dressed, in the blue work dress of the Reichsarbeitsdienst (Reich Labour Service), was the most beautiful woman I had seen in my short life. She took a liking to me too. This became apparent when she marked my work, giving me encouragement. My copy books looked as messy as in Berlin, but contained only good marks.

One day, a paper bag containing sandwiches was found in the class room. The teacher was looking for the owner of it. When nobody owned up to it the teacher decided I should have the sandwiches as I was from the boys home and would probably not get enough to eat.

Her decision was so popular that from that day on three or four girls brought me, without fail, every Monday each a parcel with cake from the previous Sunday. It mostly contained Streuselkuchen, a speciality in Silesia. I loved it but could not eat it all myself. I took some to the home to share with other boys.

I have to report, that corporal punishment was not absent in that school. And even I raised the ire of my young teacher. But she did not carry out the punishment herself. A couple of times I was sent to another teacher in the building and had to report for punishment. He then gave me about three hits with a stick across the upturned hand. This was very painful and the fingers started to swell after it. This silly teacher was in the habit of having one foot on a seat while our hands were above his thigh. One day, more from instinct than by design, I pulled my hand suddenly away and the teacher hit his own thigh very hard. I got an extra smack for that.

Instead of listening to the teacher I often looked out of the window where I could see some hills. I imagined them to be part of the Riesengebirge (Mountain of the Giants). For a city boy this was something new and unexpected. To be able to see so far into this distance was inspiring. Thoughts could fly over the landscape to wherever I wanted them to go.

At the end of the school year – in Summer – I got a good report and was allowed to join the forth grade after the Summer school vacation. All in all the experience of that school was not a bad one and with a steady supply of cake on Mondays I really had it made.