The calendar says it was Sunday. I have to confess, the weekdays were meaningless at the time. I can’t remember when the newspaper stopped either. During the last few weeks, the newspaper was reduced constantly in size. Four pages became two and eventually the paper had only one sheet. What did the paper tell us.? It told us where the front was. By now the Red Army was closing in on three sides. It was clear even to us, that they were going to encircle Berlin to cut it off from the West. Any relief for the beleaguered city could only come from there. Our needs were immediate. Some food was still available and extra rations were announced over the radio. Sometimes, only selected shops would have a particular item and long queues would form.
Here is how my mother saw the day:
Day 2 Sunday 22. April 1945
“It is Sunday! After being awake half the night we finally got a few hours of good sleep. Suddenly, rumours are spreading like wildfire throughout the apartment building: There are to be extra rations of meat, legumes, coffee and other groceries. The sale is supposed to start as from 11 o’clock on. Peter has already, at 10 o’clock, taken his place in an endless queue at the butchers. Every hour or so we are swapping places with each other so that we can have a rest or something to eat. It is a cold and rainy April day. Now, after 6 hours queuing, we are exhausted and we are cold right through to the bones. We are giving up queuing for the day and console ourselves with more luck for tomorrow.
The activities of the artillery have somewhat lessened. Only towards the evening it is getting more livelier. But as from today, we are allowed to stay in our building’s air raid shelter. This is much better because we are able to go back to our flat to fetch something when and if the need arises.
Some of the occupants of the upper story flats have already arrived. Today we are especially brave as we go after a while into the flats to be able to sleep in our own beds.
According to an OKW (Supreme Command of the Army) statement the enemy is now at Lichtenberg (approx. 8 km as the crow flies.berlioz).”
The small green door, then black and of better design, led to a hallway and to a courtyard. The shop on the right used to be our greengrocer where we often queued for hours to get potatoes or some veggies. To the left of the door can be seen a window. This used to be a barber shop before the war. When Herr Vogel, the barber, died the shop was converted into a room. Herr and Frau Vogel were the parents of our caretaker. The next shop used to be a shoemaker who was not only repairing our old shoes but was making new ones if we supplied the leather. For instance from an old handbag. He was not only paid with money but also in kind.
The other tenants have relented and allowed us back into the air raid shelter. I must have looked harmless being without my sisters. I would not say “Boo” to anyone. My mother was my God. At that stage of my life, obedience to her was the only object of my life. In the evening, when we moved into the communal cellar, that was the air raid shelter, my bed was on a two seater kitchen bench. Even for me, it was too short. My mother made it comfortable with lots of cushions and blankets. We were right in the middle of it. The other people took their places along the walls of the cellar.
In the photo on the left, you can spot four bricks made of glass on the ground. They were there to let some light into the cellar. But it was next to nothing. After one walked through the hallway one saw the courtyard.
We lived in the apartment in the corner on the ground floor. In the flat above us my maternal grandparent lived before they passed away. This courtyard played a big part later after the Russians arrived.