Chapter 17 of the P. and G. Klopp Story Part II

A Most Curious Camping Trip

How I Met Biene

Pentecost was a long weekend and the beginning of a one-week break from school, the last one before the summer holidays. Hans had dropped out of our planned camping trip, because he had to baby-sit his younger stepbrothers and sisters. So Helmut and I got together to discuss our destination and the supplies we needed for the two and a half days. The reasons for the choice of our campsite will forever remain one of the great mysteries of my life. The nearby forests on either side of the River Rhine were within easy reach of a two- or three-hour bike ride. Our favorite camping sites were on federal land, rarely controlled for trespassing by forestry officials, miles away from the noisy highways, perfect places to be in tune with Mother Nature. The choice for this particular location was the opposite of everything I had learned to cherish during the years as a scout. As Helmut and I unfolded the map for the area of North Rhine Westphalia, we glanced over the tent icons, which marked the locations of campsites, and spotted one that bordered directly on a lake. On closer inspection we found out that it was Lake Baldeney between the city of Essen to the north and the city of Velbert to the south.

Lake Baldeney - Photo Credit:

Lake Baldeney – Photo Credit:

          Apart from the dead side branches of the River Rhine, there was no real lake in the vicinity of Wesel. It appears to me that the things one does not have exert a certain attraction that one often finds hard to resist. So despite nagging doubts that in the light of the hard facts we had made a poor choice about our camping destination, our decision to go there was irrevocable. Who would have thought it possible that I would have considered taking a train to go camping? Was it not totally insane to trade a peaceful refuge in the forest for the hustle and bustle of a noisy commercial campground? The Rhine was filthy and burdened with chemical pollutants that came from the Ruhr industrial area, to which we were planning to go. With the economic recovery of West Germany came the demand for energy. Mining for the high-quality anthracite coal was in high gear bringing work and prosperity to the region, albeit at a price. On windless days the coal dust polluted the air. Dirt and grime covered walls, lawns, and even the wash that women hung up to dry. Yes, it is hard to believe that Helmut and I actually went, where – as people who knew the area around Essen warned us – the sun would seldom completely break through the gray cover of a leaden sky.

Lake Baldeney near Essen - Photo Credit:

Lake Baldeney near Essen – Photo Credit:

          So it came to pass that on the late afternoon of June 9th, 1962, two young men carrying heavy backpacks and holding a two-man tent between the two of them arrived at the Baldeney Lake campground. Helmut and I were pleasantly surprised to view scenery quite different from what we had anticipated to find. The sky had cleared from the cleansing action of an early morning rain. There was not even a layer of industrial haze left to obscure the blue sky. The sun shone brightly, the trees were in full leaf, the lawn impressed us with its light-green spring verdure, best of all the brilliantly shining lake reflecting the blue sky created an ambiance we had not expected in a park south of the city of Essen. Since it was still early in the season and only a few hardy people had ventured out to camp, we had no trouble finding a suitable site near the lake shore to set up our tent. We enjoyed an early supper, which I had prepared from a can of chunky soup and had heated it up over my gasoline fueled camp stove. We spent the evening listening to pop music from my transistor radio and taking in the lush-green trees and bushes that the locals call the green lung of the Ruhr region. The only reminder that the black gold was mined north of here deep down from the rich coal deposits came when we looked at the dark soles of our feet black from our bare-foot walk through the park.

          Next morning after a frugal breakfast with cereal and milk we pulled out our air mattresses into the brilliant morning sun. We relaxed reading, listening to music from Radio Luxembourg and watched people saunter by on the way to the beach. Two men, one in his early sixties, the other a little bit younger than I, caught our attention as they brought two of those so-called folding boats down to the lake shore. They can be easily transported on buses, trains, and even in the trunk of a car, because when folded together they easily fit into a large duffle bag.

Biene and her Dad

Biene and her Dad

          For lunch I opened a can of sardines, an excellent staple for people like us traveling on a shoestring budget. Helmut having relied on me in charge of the provisions grumbled about the meal that consisted only of slices of dry bread and fish. In the meantime the boaters had returned to their tent with the folding boats. As we found out later, they were Herr Panknin and his son Walter. It seemed strange to us that they had nothing to eat and just sat there as if they were waiting for something. That something was obviously food. For now at a distance we noticed two persons approaching the camping area. As they came nearer, they turned out to be a woman and a young girl carrying baskets filled with delicious food perfect for a picnic in the sun. Enviously we looked on, as Frau Panknin and daughter Gertrud with a rather curious nickname Biene (Bee in English) unpacked the mouthwatering content of the baskets. We could see that this was culinary heaven on earth, Schlaraffenland, as a German fairy tale by Grimm so aptly describes the land, where people eat the finest delicacies in gluttonous quantities without having to work for them.

Twin Brother Walter with one of his Model Airplanes

Twin Brother Walter with one of his Model Airplanes

          What attracted me to this family, however, was not so much the food, which in comparison to our lunch was so alluring, but rather that pretty seventeen-year old girl whose first impressions on me provided a good match with the image of idealized beauty that had been growing in my mind for the past two years. Biene, from the moment I cast my eyes on her, radiated a charm whose magic did not depend on bracelets, earrings, and similar outward adornments, not on make-up or perfume, which I rightly or wrongly loathed as poorly disguised cover-ups, but rather on the very lack of all those artificial means. In short, I gazed in admiration at the girl of my dreams.

Biene at the Mediterranean Sea

Biene at the Mediterranean Sea

          Helmut and I were watching Biene and her twin brother play badminton in the open field. There was no net. The game was not very competitive. Its objective was to set new records by counting the number of times the birdie would fly back and forth before hitting the grass. Suddenly the idea occurred to me that we all could organize a mini-tournament with two pairs competing with each other for the highest score. After we had introduced ourselves, I explained the idea of a badminton tournament to be played with two pairs. Seeing that this would add a little bit of excitement, Walter and Biene readily accepted the proposal. As I had secretly wished, Biene wanted to form a team with me. I no longer recall how many rounds we played, but Biene and I always succeeded in getting the greatest number of hits. We were both very competitive, but the success in the game depended on complete cooperation. We felt good about our victories over our rivals and even more so, because we had won them together.

          It was only a matter of time, until the topic of the folding boats would surface in our conversation. Walter suggested going for a ride on the lake. Herr and Frau Panknin voiced no objections, indeed they were happy to see their twins go boating and at the same time having a little bit of peace and quiet. Somehow Helmut had managed to partner with Biene, which at first made me feel quite annoyed. But he argued convincingly that it was now his turn, since I had spent so much time playing badminton with her. As I was paddling with Walter, I soon got over my disappointment. Full of enthusiasm for his hobbies, Walter talked about his model airplanes and ships that he had been building. That was quite a pastime for Walter and took a lot of time, skills and dedication to bring a building project of this kind to perfection. I thought that just as Walter needed to have a plan and all the parts ready before he could even begin, so did I going through the same process in building a working radio. The moment Walter mentioned that he was thinking of using radio controlled devices to direct his model in the air or on water, I got quite excited and told him about my electronics projects, especially about the tube driven transmitter that provided musical entertainment to my friends in the apartment block in Wesel. Having found an area of common interest, we paddled less and less vigorously and talked all the more enthusiastically not realizing how fast time had been slipping by. When we pulled the boat ashore, we had already exchanged addresses and promised each other to mail each other schematics of electronic circuitry. Of course, what Walter did not know was that I had established a link to Biene, a connection that went beyond mere electronics. Like in an electric current, which the battery is pumping through a circuit providing energy and action to its individual parts, so warm feelings were flowing through my heart in the belief that Biene may have taken a liking to me during our badminton contest with Walter and Helmut.

Friedrich Wilhelm Ferdinand Klopp (1879-1952) – Part II

Turmoil in the Parental Home at Wolmirstedt

Klopp Family Tree

Chart I – II

Around the turn of the century the rope maker’s apprentice Ferdinand Klopp turned 21 years of age. The family structure in the overcrowded house in Wolmirstedt threatened to fall apart. The business of rope making was just beginning to secure an income to feed the family. It was also quite foreseeable that the continuously expanding family would soon reach the breaking point.

4 Seilerei Klopp

Although the siblings Jula and Karl, the nineteen-year old Rosa, the eighteen-year old Alma, possibly also the fifteen-old Anna had most likely been placed elsewhere, the parents Emma and Peter Friedrich Klopp still had to care for the remaining five sons and three daughters. In addition, they had to cope with the newly-weds Friedrich, their eldest son, and Marie-Luise Klopp, who was expecting her first child. This all happened at the same time, as my grandmother Emma was expecting her 16th child, my father Ernst Klopp.


St. Joseph Church in Wolmirstedt – Photo Credit:

In this tense and often emotionally charged atmosphere lack of control and anger were heaped onto the ‘Late Bloomer’ Ferdinand. His father P.F. Klopp turned violent and beat him up on several occasions. The dummy, as Ferdinand was often branded never forgave this kind of humiliation. Father Klopp in the meantime was seeking comfort through beer and schnaps in ‘Fatjes Hotel’ or in the ‘Anchor’. One night in May 1900 his alcoholic excesses cost him his life, when on his way home he fell off his horse.

Walter K. Panknin – Wie ich die USA sehe – Teil I

Guest Post by Gertrud’s Nephew Norbert Werner

Reifferscheid Family Tree – Chart III – III & IV
A very critical view of the US condensed from letters written in the late 1980’s
Photos  from Walter Panknin’s New York Album 1988

Blog Contribution in German by Norbert Werner

Walter NY 3

Vorwort: In einem früheren Beitrag schrieb ich über meine Erlebnisse anlässlich meiner ersten „Westreise“ mit meinem Onkel Walter nach Kanada. Kurz nach unserer Rückkehr übernahm Walter 1987 in New York die Vertretung seiner Firma für die USA und lebte hier längere Zeit. In dieser Zeit entwickelte sich ein intensiver Schriftverkehr. Ich hatte den Eindruck, dass er seine Erlebnisse, Gedanken, Gefühle … jemanden mitteilen wollte. Dazu kam in den Jahren 88/89 die Zeit des Umbruchs in der DDR mit vielen neuen Erfahrungen für uns. Auch ich suchte jemanden, den ich mal fragen konnte über so viele (heute) alltägliche Dinge. Diesen Schriftverkehr habe ich über die Jahre aufbewahrt, aber leider nur die Briefe von Walter an uns (und vielleicht auch an Biene, …). Ich möchte aus diesen einige Passagen zitieren, die ich für bemerkenswert halte. Einiges erscheint aus heutiger Sicht vielleicht merkwürdig, aber sie wurden vor fast 30 Jahren geschrieben und spiegeln die Ereignisse dieser Zeit wieder.

Walter NY 1

  1. Dezember 1987 – 22 Uhr

Mein lieber N.,

– der lange Brief an Euch ist geschrieben

– meine Vorbereitungen für das morgige meeting habe ich abgeschlossen,

– und nun dachte ich, sei es Zeit, Euch zu verraten, warum ich Euch so oft schreibe.

Der Grund ist einfach und nur demjenigen verständlich, der je in den USA gelebt hat.

Als ich am 27. September hier ankam dachte ich mir, es sei vielleicht interessant, ein Tagebuch zu führen. Also kaufte ich mir am 1. Tag bei Woolworth ein Tagebuch. Ich füllte die ersten 5 Seiten aus und dann stellte ich fest – wenn ich umblättere-, dann lösen sich die vorhergehenden Seiten auf. Die Qualität des Heftes war einfach zu schlecht.

Danach habe ich versucht, auf der

   * weltberühmten 5th avenue,

    * dem welt- welt- berühmten Broadway,

   * dem super, super, super technical buisiness supply service ein kleines Heft zu finden,

welches ordentlich gebunden- nicht nur geklebt ist, welches einfach weiße Seiten hat- vielleicht einen hübschen Umschlag-, welches sich nicht von alleine auflöst, wenn man mehr als 6 Seiten umblättert.- Ich habe es bisher nicht gefunden.

Es sollte ein Tagebuch werden, doch es kam nie zustande. Es wurden nur lose Blätter an Euch – die Briefe.

Walter NY 2

  1. Februar 1988

Meine lieben Grimmaer,

obwohl ich gar nicht sicher bin, ob ich meinen letzten Brief an Euch bereits abgeschickt habe, möchte ich doch noch schnell ein paar Zeilen an den „ruhenden Pol“ schreiben.

Nun gut, letzten Dienstag war ich nach Washington geflogen … Danach 3 aufreibende Tage in der Firma. Sie waren deprimierend.

Leute, die 10,20,30 Jahre tätig waren, werden von einer Woche zur nächsten entlassen, sie stehen praktisch auf der Straße,- wenn sie nicht selbst vorgesorgt haben. Es erschüttert mich sehr, dies mit anzusehen. Mit jedem Tag wird man ein Jahr älter…

Morgen werde ich nach Portland fliegen. P. ist nicht New York. P. verhält sich zu N.Y. wie Grimma zu Moskau. Die Leute dort sind anders, die Einstellung, die Atmosphäre. Ich mag die Leute sehr gerne und ich hoffe, sie im Vertrauen auf die St.-Technik bestärken zu können.

Manchmal habe ich das Gefühl, als wenn ich hier wie in „Trance“ lebe. Und ich habe das Gefühl, das es den anderen ebenso geht, es kann nicht anders sein, denn die täglichen, stündlichen, minütlichen Änderungen versetzten einen in Hypnose.

        * Sicher nicht jeden, wenn sein Tagesablauf geregelt ist,

     * Sicher aber so manchen, der wie ich den ständigen Wechseln ausgesetzt ist.

Und das Erstaunliche ist – ich habe es beim letzten Aufenthalt in Gummersbach gemerkt-, man beginnt sich daran zu gewöhnen, man beginnt es vielleicht zu lieben, obwohl man es beinahe „hasst“.

Was ich so schreibe, klingt wie in einem Kitschroman: Die große „Hassliebe“ auf N.Y., doch irgendwie spiegelt es zumindest die augenblickliche Wahrheit wieder.

Eigentlich wollte ich ein weiteres Kapitel über die Kontraste in N.Y. schreiben. Davon gibt es so viele- und sie berühren einen so stark.

Stattdessen lasst mich kurz erzählen, was ich vorgestern gekauft habe für 179 $. Es ist ein Telefon mit allen Schikanen.

      * 10 Nummern kann ich speichern und auf Klopfdruck auswählen,

     * Ich kann einen Anrufbeantworter einschalten, der alles aufnimmt, was während meiner Abwesenheit ankommt,

     * Ich kann beliebige Nachrichten hinterlassen,

     * Ich kann auf eine andere Leitung, z.B. Büro umschalten,

     * Ich kann auf Tastendruck eine belegte Nummer neu anwählen,

    * Zusätzlich kann ich all dies von einem externen Telefon aus erledigen, also

     * hören, was jemand hier ausgerichtet hat,

     * ändern, was ich per Band sagen will etc.

Ein Wunderwerk der Technik, aber zugleich eine Selbstverständlichkeit für alle, die hier leben, ein Kontrast in N.Y. Innerhalb von zwei Minuten habe ich den Flug für morgen reserviert, bestellt, bezahlt- per Telefon. Ein Sprung ins Nachbargebäude, und ich habe mein Ticket. Doch es dauerte 2 ½ Wochen, bis ich 4 Pakete mit Büchern durch den Zoll bekommen habe. Ich musste 5 Formulare (fünf!) ausfüllen, eine Spedition einschalten (162 $) und xxx Anrufe tätigen. Formalismus wie in …

Walter NY4051

Great Neck, 5. Mai 1988, 20.15 Uhr

Obwohl das Telefonnetz in den USA wahrscheinlich das beste der Welt ist, so leidet es doch an einigen Besonderheiten…Man kann innerhalb einer Stunde

     * 5x im Sekretariat anrufen und

     * 5x wird man nach dem Namen gefragt,

     * 5x wird man nach der Firma gefragt,

     * 5x wird man gebeten, die Telefonnummer anzugeben.

Die Frage ist: Warum? Nun, sie ist einfach zu beantworten. In den sogenannten Sekretariaten sitzen Mädchen, die wahrscheinlich nur die vorigen drei Fragen stellen können, mehr haben sie nie gelernt. Es sind schlecht bezahlte Stellen, meist werden sie von Schwarzen besetzt. Ja, das ist N.Y., das ist USA. Die Mädchen im Sekretariat sind komplett überfordert, wenn man ihnen eine Frage stellt, die mehr als 5 Worte umfasst. Wenn man auf die Frage „Dürfen wir zurückrufen?“ mit NEIN antwortet, so bricht für sie eine Welt zusammen, sie wissen nicht mehr, was sie tun sollen. Also lässt man es besser und wartet auf einen Rückruf…

Als ich vor 2-3 Jahren mit einem China-Projekt befasst war, nahm ich an einem Seminar teil, in dem uns ein wenig die chinesische Philosophie, Haltung, Verhandlungsweise nahegebracht wurde. Jedem schien es selbstverständlich, dass ein solches mehrtägiges Seminar sinnvoll war. Nie würde jedoch jemand auf die Idee kommen, ein solches Seminar für Kontakte in den USA zu veranstalten. Meiner Meinung nach sind die Unterschiede zwischen den USA und Europa wesentlich größer als vielleicht zwischen China und Europa. Die große Gefahr lieg darin, dass man die Unterschiede nicht sofort bemerkt und – sobald man die andere Philosophie kennengelernt hat-, man sich zu schnell daran gewöhnt, und vielleicht akzeptiert.

Es muss einmal gesagt werden, doch es ist wahr: Die USA sind bezüglich Rassenfragen und Nationalismus mit Sicherheit schärfer, drastischer (oft unterschwellig) eingestellt, als es vielleicht je in Deutschland der Fall war. Hier sind es nicht die Juden, die diskriminiert werden. Die Juden –gerade in N.Y.- haben eine Vormachtstellung. Nein, es sind die, – wie man es vornehm umschreibt-, die Minorities, die Minderheiten…

N.Y. wird in der Werbung allgemein „The big Apple“ genannt, von dem jeder ein Stück abbeißen möchte. Man kommt nach N.Y., um „to make money“, nicht, um Geld zu verdienen nein Geld zu machen! Dies ist ein wichtiger Unterschied. Man versucht „Geld zu machen“, nicht durch eigenes Schaffen, Intelligenz, Wissen, sondern durch Ausnutzung der anderen, der Unwissenheit, der Unsicherheit, der Schwierigkeiten anderer, anderer einzelner Personen, Firmen, Konzerne. Man macht 10 $ Gewinn, indem man einen ahnungslosen Taxigast übers Ohr haut …Jemanden, z.B. eine Firma, halbwegs legal um 10.000.000 $ betrogen zu haben, ist eine stolze Leistung! Man lässt sich öffentlich dafür feiern und beglückwünschen.

Es ist eine andere Mentalität, doch es gibt – gottseidank- auch noch andere Amerikaner.

Mit Sicherheit ist das wieder nur eine der vielen, vielen Facetten, die der große Kristall N.Y. hat. Diesmal habe ich einen Blick auf die dunklen Stellen dieses glitzernden Steins geworfen. Aber es gibt auch die schönen Seiten, die guten Stellen, nur, diese nimmt man vielleicht eher selbstverständlich zur Kenntnis, freut sich darüber und vergisst, darüber zu berichten.

Walter NY4052

Great Neck, 19. Mai 1988

Meine Lieben,

Vergangenes Wochenende lernte ich einen Piloten kennen, der über 20 Jahre lang eine große Passagiermaschine geflogen hat, die Boing 727. Er hat ein schönes großes Haus, eine toll eingerichtete Werkstatt und mit Stolz führte er mir seine letzte Errungenschaft vor: Ein elektronisches Wörterbuch. Wenn man nicht genau weiß wie ein Wort geschrieben wird, dann tippt man einen ersten Versuch in das Gerät und erhält dann die korrekte Schreibweise auf Knopfdruck dargestellt. „Walter,“ sagte er, „dies ist eine tolle Errungenschaft, jetzt kann ich endlich wieder Briefe schreiben.“ Der 52jährige Mann hatte einen Hochschulabschluss in Physik, war Pilot und gleichzeitig halber Analphabet.

Als ich bei meinem letzten Aufenthalt in Long Beach mit einem 18jährigen Schüler ins Gespräch kam und sagte, dass ich aus Deutschland sei, antwortete er: „Ach ja, Deutschland ist doch ein Teil von Russland.“

Vor einigen Wochen forderte ich den „Business director“ unserer Firma auf, ein kurzes Protokoll zu schreiben. As er es mir vorlegte waren in der ½ Schreibmaschinenseite ca. 30 Schreibfehler. Der Mann hatte seit Jahren sein erstes Protokoll zu Papier gebracht.

Als ich heute im Supermarkt war, kaufte vor mir ein Mann 2 Artikel à 1,95 $. Er beschwerte sich, als er statt 2×1,95 $ insgesamt 6,45 $ zahlen sollte. Das Mädchen an der Kasse brauchte ca. 15 Minuten, bis es ihr nach 4 oder 5 Versuchen gelang, die zwei Zahlen handschriftlich richtig zu addieren (Die Maschine war leider blockiert.).

Was ich an diesen vier Beispielen nur andeuten konnte, verursacht so manchem Europäer den sogenannten „Kulturschock“. Die Beispiele sind nicht an den Haren herbeigezogen, sie ließen sich beliebig erweitern. Allgemein darf man feststellen: Die allgemeine Schulbildung in den USA ist auf einem derart niedrigen Niveau angelangt, dass es einen erschauern lässt. Es ist deprimierend und erschütternd zu sehen auf welches geistige Niveau die USA abgesackt sind.

Chapter 17 of the P. and G. Klopp Story Part I

Some Reflections on the So-called Coincidences of Life

“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”
Albert Einstein

Camping with Hans and Helmut
Hans Playing the Guitar and Helmut Sitting in frontofmy Tent

Hans playing the Guitar and Helmut sitting in front of my Tent

          Spring came early in 1962. I no longer played an active role in the scout movement. But my desire to get out of the city and enjoy nature in the company of friends was as strong as ever. Among my friends, who had survived the nine-year culling process at the high school, only Hans and Helmut were left. All the others were either eliminated by the academic hurdles or departed on their own looking for other ways of moving up the educational ladder. Ever since I did Helmut that great favor at the ballroom final, he was seeking my friendship and clung to me like a burr on a woolen sweater. He wanted to be included in our overnight camp-outs. When I objected on the grounds that there was not enough room in my tent, he replied that he would sleep in his own tent. So it happened one sunny weekend that three young men went out camping together, with Helmut – so it appeared – being the odd man out. Hans and I in spite of our differences shared a bond that had lasted for more than five years. Our friendship was based on experiences in the boy scout movement, on our common interest in experimental electronics, all the way back to early days on the school yard, when I was Ede Wolf and Hans one of three piglets that I was supposed to catch. Helmut was a newcomer and in a sense also an intruder, gentle, polite, simply wanting to be part of our camaraderie. Perhaps on his part it was a struggle against loneliness that intellectuals feel more intensely, but we perceived him as an intruder just the same.


Peter strumming a few tunes on Hans’ guitar

          It was evening, when we arrived on our heavily packed bikes at a clearing. We quickly erected our tents helping each other to get ready for the night. After we had wolfed down our sandwiches, which our mothers had so lovingly prepared, we hurried into the woods, gathered dead branches and proudly started a campfire with only one match. In no time, flames leaped up and around the kettle, which we had suspended over the fire on a wooden tripod. Helmut, in my eyes still an intellectual nerd, impressed me how well he had learned the basics of camping in such a short time, and most of all how hard he tried to be helpful. The tea water in the kettle had almost come to a boil. Hans and I ceremoniously took turns adding tea bags, plenty of red wine, pepper and other assorted spices into the steaming brew. We lifted the kettle off the tripod to prevent the alcohol from evaporating. To fortify the punch some more, I pulled from my coat pocket a small bottle of rum and poured its brown content under the approving applause of my friends into the aromatic brew. By now it was getting dark. The stars began to shine in ever increasing numbers on the canopy of a moonless sky. The fire merrily crackled and its fiery tongues shot up high casting dancing shadows of us onto the mossy ground. It was time to fill our cups to the rim, to cheer to each other’s health and happiness, and drink. Hans grabbed his six-string and entertained us for a while with Spanish guitar music, which he played superbly off the cuff. In the meantime, the cups needed a refill. The warmth of this miraculous elixir penetrated deep into our bodies and spirits. During a pause I suggested to Hans to do something together, while the drink was good and the fire burning, “Let’s raise our voices and sing our favorite scouting songs.” Helmut being a good sport supported my suggestion, even though he did not know the lyrics of most of these specialized traveling songs. He would whistle along, whenever he recognized the tune, he said. Soon a chorus in a strange blend of young male voices, guitar chords, and whistling rose above the campfire strengthened in volume and enthusiasm by the concoction from the kettle. The birds waking up in the forest may have wondered why we were making such a cheerful noise. The more the night advanced, the more boisterously we belted out the songs, which glorified the violence and cruelty of the German and Swedish pike men in the Thirty-Year War in lines like, ‘We also came to Rome, there we threw the pope from his throne.’ ‘The little nobleman’s daughter we cast her into hell.’ And ‘Hang the chaplain on the window cross’. The booze, the raucous singing, the flickering flames, the starry night, all contributed to conjure up images in our young hearts of a time wild and free, in which we participated for this one short moment and in which Helmut had become a member of our friendship circle. Long after midnight we poured the remaining dregs from the kettle over the embers and happy and sleepy crawled into our sleeping bags.

Photography while Traveling

The Learning Curve

We all love to capture moments, as they remind us of our happier times. This is especially true of our travels, as we might not be able to revisit the place. However, for those who are not aware of what the basics of photography are, they can have a hard time capturing a good shot. And I am not even talking about ISO, which forms the bedrock of a photography class.

Imagine you clicking a selfie with the sun shining brightly in the background, or a landscape you clicked that looks too monotonous! Avoiding these mistakes doesn’t require any Technical know-how of the device. If you have a decent camera, which even the phones have these days, you can still do a pretty good job with your pictures.

Having traveled extensively over the years, and captured (and learned from) every type of a view, I now have pictures that speak…

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Friedrich Wilhelm Ferdinand Klopp (1879-1952) – Part I

A Somewhat Rocky Start

for Ferdinand Klopp

Klopp Family Tree

Chart I – II
Magdeburg - Photo Ctedit:

Magdeburg – Photo Ctedit:

On November 22, 1879 the fourth child was born in the house on Hemmsack Street in Osterweddingen near Magdeburg. Anyway, these houses – some still existing today- are traditionally ascribed to the dwellings of mill leasers and workers since the 19th century. Already in 1881 Ferdinand moved with his parents back to Jerslebe3n, spent three years there  at the Düppler Mill and in 1885 entered the Elementary School of Wolmirstedt, the birth place of my father Ernst. In the nearby town of Jersleben, Ferdinand’s father P.W.F. Klopp had found work as miller master.

Church at Jersleben - Photo Credit:

Church at Jersleben – Photo Credit:

In 1893 Ferdinand was sent to Hannoversch-Münden to attend a dairy apprenticeship program. When he returned to his father’s great disappointment after only one year of training, his father forced him to work with his eldest brother Friedrich as a rope maker’s apprentice in the Wolmirstedt house. He had probably shown little interest in his work in Hannoversch-Münden and further increased the image of a good-for-nothing worker under the whip of his elder brother and rope making master Friedrich. The disrespectfully treated Ferdinand was from then on called rather degradingly clown (“Klon”).

Arial Photo of Wolmirstedt - Photo Credit:

Arial Photo of Wolmirstedt – Photo Credit: