The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

Reflections on Life, Family and Community

Monthly Archives: February 2016

Walter K. Panknin – Wie ich die USA sehe Part III

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Guest Post by Gertrud’s Nephew Norbert Werner

Reifferscheid Family Tree – Chart III – III & IV
 Blog Contribution in German by Norbert Werner

Walter K. Panknin – Wie ich 1989/90 in den USA erlebt habe

(Wie ich die USA sehe – Teil III)

Zusammengestellt von Norbert Werner

Vorwort: Ende 1989 begannen unruhige Zeiten in der DDR. Die Menschen gingen auf die Straße und demonstrierten für einen „besseren Sozialismus“. Mit dem Anschluss an die Bundesrepublik und der Wiedervereinigung im Oktober 1990 kamen viele neue Sorgen und Probleme auf uns bisher recht unmündige Bürger zu. Ich suchte mir in Walter einen Gesprächspartner, der mir manches erklären und vielleicht auch einen Rat geben sollte.

Arlington, 30.9.1989

Ja, meine Lieben, auch ich habe in der Presse verfolgt, was in Deutschland so vor sich geht. Mehr als einmal habe ich an Euch alle gedacht und mich in Eure Situation versetzt… Ich bin ziemlich sicher, dass sich der in der UdSSR begonnene Prozess der Liberalisierung nicht mehr aufhalten lässt und über kurz oder lang auch in der DDR fortsetzen wird. Ein einzelnes Land, so groß oder klein wie die DDR, kann nicht auf Dauer in so verkrusteten Strukturen bestehen, vor allem nicht, wenn ja praktisch alle Nachbarländer, alle Verbündeten, alle Vorbilder von früher einen neuen Kurs einschlagen. Die Menschen sind einfach mündiger geworden. Zu lange hat man ihnen einzureden versucht, dass schwarz=rot ist, das ein Kreis viereckig ist. Lange, allzu lange haben sich die Menschen damit abgefunden, haben sich ihren eigenen Teil gedacht. Doch irgendwann kommt einfach mal der Punkt, wo man offen sagen dürfen will: Schwarz ist schwarz und rot ist rot, und ein Kreis ist rund. Es ist im Grunde die in jedem Menschen verbleibende „Würde“, die sich nicht total unterdrücken lässt. Es ist die Würde und das eigene Streben, ausreichend selbst bestimmen zu können was man tut, wohin man sich entwickelt, was man wird. Ich bin absolut sicher, dass in kurzer Zeit, in wenigen Monaten, maximal 1-2 Jahre, auch in der DDR ein Umdenken und ein drastischer Wandel stattfinden wird. Ich hoffe nur, dass dieser Wandel einigermaßen geordnet, ohne dramatische Vorgänge erfolgen wird. Wie es gehen kann hat man in Russland, Polen, Ungarn gesehen.

Leipzig,Montagsdemonstration - Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Leipzig,Montagsdemonstration – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Arlington, 23.10.1989

Leber N., liebe Ch., ich war in den letzten Jahren vielleicht nicht so oft bei Euch, aber doch oft genug, um mir ein sehr plastisches Bild von dem machen zu können was Euch in diesen Wochen und Monaten berührt. Auch hat uns unser reger Schriftwechsel im letzten Jahr noch näher zueinander gebracht, als wir ohnehin schon waren. Man braucht nur die Anzahl der Flüchtlinge der letzten Monate durch die Bevölkerungszahl zu dividieren um sofort zu sehen, dass fast ein jeder ganz persönlich betroffen ist. Plötzlich fehlt ein Freund, ein Kollege, ein Bekannter. Auch kann ich Deine Wut und Enttäuschung verstehen, dass gerade diejenigen geflohen sind, denen es noch am besten ging. Mit Deiner trotzdem so besonnenen Haltung scheinst Du gottseidank nicht allein dazustehen. Wie ich in der Zeitung gelesen habe, muss vor allem der große Protestumzug in Leipzig sehr verhalten und besonnen gewesen sein.

Berlin Demonstration - Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Berlin Demonstration – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Arlington, 9.11.1989

Meine Lieben,

mein Brief von gestern ist noch nicht abgeschickt und die Ereignisse haben sich überschlagen. Heute ist die Mauer gefallen. Mir fehlen die Worte, um Euch meine Empfindungen und Gefühle zu schildern. Was soll ich in diesen Stunden denken und schreiben, die in die Geschichte Deutschlands eingehen und die uns persönlich alle so tiefgreifend beeinflussen werden. Ich wünsche Euch Kraft, Besonnenheit und einen klaren Kopf, um in dieser Zeit weiterhin das richtige zu tun. Ich bin bei Euch allen in meinen Gedanken und bleibe Euer Walter.

Fall der Mauer - Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Fall der Mauer – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Arlington, 18.12.1989

Meine Lieben, der Versuch, die Ereignisse der letzten Wochen zu beschreiben und zu charakterisieren führt mich hinweg von Eurem und meinem Alltag. Doch eines Tages werden eure Kinder sagen können: „Ich habe es erlebt- ich war dabei!“ Ich hoffe und wünsche, dass die Ereignisse in der DDR sich niemals wieder umkehren werden. Ich weiß, das der Westen sicherlich nicht Sinnbild alles Guten ist, doch ich bin aus tiefstem Herzen überzeugt, dass Ihr alle einen Schritt in die richtige Richtung tut. Es wird Euch alle fordern,- es wird nicht leicht sein,- doch was war leicht in der Vergangenheit? Es wird Euch helfen auf lange Sicht. Und wenn ich sage „lange Sicht“, so meine ich die nächsten 5-10 Jahre.

Arlington, 9.10.1990

Aus der Ferne, doch in Gedanken war ich voll dabei, habe ich die Vereinigung unserer beiden Staaten erlebt und mitverfolgt. Zwei Staaten, wie sie sich gegensätzlicher kaum vorstellen lassen, die aber trotzdem zusammengehören Dies ist, jeder weiß und spürt und erlebt es, kein leichter Prozess. Für beide Seiten. Ich habe vor Kurzem an die Zeit nach 1945 gedacht, als meine Eltern im Alter von 53 bzw. 56 Jahren mit zwei 10jährigen Kindern und zwei Koffern ein neues Leben begannen. Ich glaube, wir haben ca. 4 oder 5 Jahre in einer Einzimmer-„Wohnung“ gelebt, ehe wir die erste Wohnung bekamen. 1961- im Jahr des Mauerbaues- machten wir unsere allererste Urlaubsreise nach Italien an den Gardasee.

 

Chapter 18 of the P. and G. Klopp Story – Part IV

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Happy End to a most Enjoyable Visit

Then a close family member dropped in for a brief visit. When she heard that I had been going out dancing with Roswitha, she mockingly and contemptuously commented on her in Father’s presence, “Ho! Ho! Peasant duffer! (Bauerntrampel in German)” By now I had become quite accustomed to the unpredictable outpourings of her sharp tongue. Her caustic and biting remarks at Mother’s place in Wesel had been edged forever into my memory. However, Father was livid. Having respected all his life the hard honest work of the farmers from whom we receive our daily bread, he was deeply insulted by that derogatory remark. He gave her a severe dressing-down for displaying unjustified disdain for such an honorable class of people. Never since my early childhood days, when he had read me the riot act for stealing eggs from Mother’s henhouse, had I seen Father so angry. If I did not know the meaning of holy wrath, I knew it now.

My brother Karl and his wife Ingrid with an aunt in front of Erna's house

Erna Klopp with her neighbor’s baby in her loving arms

Erna’s house was at least half a century old and the electrical wiring was outdated and no longer in compliance with the latest electrical code. It required that all circuits be properly grounded. It made me feel good that I was not just there to enjoy a relaxing summer visit but also had the opportunity to make myself useful. Father had bought the three-prong wire, and I installed it and connected it to the junction boxes, outlets and switches. When I showed reluctance to take the twenty marks Father wanted to give me as pay for my work, he lectured me somewhat like this, “Listen, Peter, if someone offers you money, not dishonest money mind you, but money earned for work you did, do not hesitate to accept it. For you not only cheat yourself out of the reward that is rightfully yours, but you also insult the generosity of the giver.” To such a powerful argument I had nothing to reply and took the twenty marks.

Together with Helga and Anita in Michelbach

Together with Helga and Anita in Michelbach

At times when Father’s back pains were hurting too much, he stayed in bed for most of the day. Adolf and I were sitting at his bedside to keep him company. Then Father and I would often talk about the great empires of the past and the lessons one might learn from the causes of their decline. I really warmed up to this topic as I had recently taken a keen interest in the history of the Roman Empire. We came to the conclusion that if one allows foreign religious and ethnic elements to penetrate the cultural core of the nation, it will sooner or later lose its identity, its values and strength and will eventually have to face first decline and then total collapse. Germany according to Father has not learned her lessons and was headed in the same direction. He pointed to the record player on the night table remarking, “The record is turning, the needle appears to be progressing even though it is running in circles, but in the end it will be starting all over again symbolizing the eternal recurrent of the same in world history.” Adolf feeling a little left out in this highfalutin talk said he would buy himself a couple of history books to study up on the things he had missed in school.

Reading and Relaxing - Summer of 1962

Reading and Relaxing – Summer of 1962

Before the end of my vacation in Michelbach I gave Erna my moped. The engine of her better looking moped had completely broken down. Adolf, the skilful mechanic and jack-of-all-trades, took the good engine out of mine and installed it into Erna’s moped. As reward for my generosity Adolf drove me in his Volkswagen beetle back home to Wesel, where he was going to spend a few days to visit with Mother and Aunt Mieze.

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

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Charged with Attempted Murder

Klopp Family Tree

Chart I – II

On a sultry summer evening pub owner Ferdinand Klopp, short-tempered and irascible at the best of times, was quaffing copious amounts of schnaps with his younger brother Wilhelm. As the drinking session was dragging on into the wee hours, the two had an argument over the financial status of the pub ‘Brown Elk’, which they owned and managed together. Wilhelm’s wife, whom mother-in-law Emma later described contemptuously as Satan’s wench, added oil to the fraternal dispute by heaping insults upon her brother-in-law Ferdinand.

WWI Pilot Ferdinand Klopp

WWI Pilot Ferdinand Klopp – Picture taken 1915

With no weapon at hand in such an explosive situation one would expect the dispute to deteriorate into a brawl. However, Ferdinand did have an illegal weapon, an army pistol hidden away somewhere. In his fury he aimed at his brother and pulled the trigger. The shot penetrated Wilhelm’s shoulder and injured his wife, who was standing behind him.

Castle at Wolmirstedt - Photo Credit: holidaycheck.de

Castle at Wolmirstedt – Photo Credit: holidaycheck.de

After his arrest Ferdinand, while waiting for the court proceedings to start, spent several weeks as prisoner in the castle at Wolmirstedt. His sentence turned out to be rather mild. The judge dismissed the attempted murder charge. It was clear to him that the accused committed the crime under extremely volatile and emotional circumstances. After being released from prison, Ferdinand handed over the pub to his brother, departed almost like a fugitive and left his home turf around Wolmirstedt in a big hurry.

Lake Scharmützel ß Photo Credit: Alfred Held

Lake Scharmützel – Photo Credit: Alfred Held

Ferdinand found refuge at his sister Jula‘s brick and mortar factory, whom I had already mentioned in a previous post. There he found employment and received a modest income. It appears that here in Diensdorf at the beautiful Lake Scharmützel Jula rescued her brothers Ferdinand and the still unmarried younger brother Hermann (1892-1957) from the devious comfort of drinking and carousing that people in trouble often seek as a form of escapism.

Presenting Part 2 of Local Author and Activist Lucia Mann

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Rented Silence: Chilling Historical Novel Exposes South Africa’s Deplorable Crimes Against Humanity, as Mother Buries Newborn Daughters Alive…

Masterfully crafted by Lucia Mann, ‘Rented Silence’ calls on actual events from WWII to the present day, to expose the unconscionable crimes committed in South Africa both during and after British Colonial rule. Readers join a mother who is at her wit’s end, choosing to bury her two tiny daughters alive to spare them the torment of a life in the sex trade. But one of them is saved, afforded a short idyllic existence before she is captured; the very crime her mother intended to prevent. This is her story, fusing fact and fiction in a narrative critics have said will “…make you view your life with a new-found sense of gratitude”.

Lucia 4

Bakersfield, CA – When South Africa’s National Party toppled in 1994 and apartheid came to an apparent end, the nation slowly began to carve out a new reputation to make it a major player on the global stage. However social activists such as Lucia Mann, who was born in British Colonial South Africa just after WWII, know that the country still has many deplorable acts to answer for.

In her latest, revised-edition novel, ‘Rented Silence’, Mann takes readers on a journey spanning seven decades, into the gut-wrenching story of a mother’s unconditional love, the unlikely survival of one of her daughters and a shocking exposé’ of South Africa’s very real human trafficking epidemic.

Author and Social Activist Lucia Mann

Author and Social Activist Lucia Mann

Synopsis:

From the “African Freedom Series”

TWO TINY NEWBORNS WERE BURIED ALIVE IN A COMPOST PIT, covered with corn husks and left to die. A hungry wild dog, saliva flowing, stood impatiently over the mound. As it started to dig out its prey, an escaped slave whooshed it away. Drawn by the sound of a weak human cry, the runaway cautiously approached the mournful whimper. What could provoke a new mother to bury her twin babies alive? A will to protect her children from the inescapable pain and horror of becoming chattel to an evil South African plantation owner.

Experience post-WWII Africa through the eyes of characters who unearth the painful secrets of those times:

  • – Shiya, a white newborn rescued from an intended grave, who lives five idyllic years in the bush before she is captured, tormented, and eventually freed.
  • – Anele, the black runaway slave who saves Shiya’s life and suffers the consequences for the rest of her days.
  • – Alan Hallworthy, the wealthy, cruel plantation owner who lusts for the bodies of young girls, even that of his own five-year-old daughter.
  • – Brianna, Shiya’s modern-day daughter who is mystified by her mother’s secrets and never stops trying to reveal the truth.

Lucia Mann’s story exposes South Africa’s crimes against humanity during and after British colonial rule. It takes you through a roller coaster of emotions as it describes South Africa from post-WWII to the modern day.

“The point of this story is to raise alarms about modern-day slavery, a problem many people think has somehow been abolished, and to do it through a story that captivates its readers by fusing real-world grit with an engrossing fictional narrative,” explains Mann, Founder of The Modern Day Slavery Reporting Center. “It’s vital to understand that unconscionable crimes against humanity still take place daily, and that it’s not a new problem.”

Continuing, “That’s why I have written a story that spans from British Colonial South Africa right up to the present day. I’ll admit that it’s an uncomfortable read in places, but a story that needs to be told so that we can start to acknowledge and take action on an epidemic that is only going to grow with time.”

Since its release, readers have come out in force with rave reviews. For example, one Amazon customer comments, “Without wishing to give anything away let me simply say what an awesome read this book is. The fact that it is based on true events makes it the more remarkable. If you like a book that is both compelling and heart wrenching then this is for you. A wonderful piece of work from a very gifted author. It’ll make you view your life with a new-found sense of gratitude. Highly recommended.”

‘Rented Silence’ ISBN: 9780979480591 is available now: http://www.amazon.com www.amazon.ca or directly from author.

The above released book is not to be mistaken for a copy by PublishAmerica/StarBooks ISBN 9781462629428 who have no legal copyright.

For more information, visit the author’s official website: http://www.luciamann.com.

About the Author:

Lucia Mann is a former British journalist and author of the two sequels in the African-set Freedom novels devoted to slavery and racial prejudice: Africa’s Unfinished Symphony (Indie Excellence winner), and A Veil of Blood Hangs over Africa.

Born in British Colonial South Africa in the wake of WWII, Mann saw and felt firsthand the pain and suffering of those who were heinously treated because of the color of their skin. She currently resides in British Columbia, Canada, where she is fine tuning her next novel: The Sicilian Veil.

Visit Lucia Mann on-line at www.luciamann.com.

Lucia Mann is also the founder of The Modern Day Slavery Reporting Center at www.reportmdsrc.org.

Contact: Lucia Mann / authorluciamann@vahoo.com / (250) 269-7280

Chapter 18 of the P. and G. Klopp Story – Part III

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Is it Love?

Within the scope of the family history I would go too far if I included Erna’s side of the family except the ones that I came into contact with. There was the Langlitz family, Walter, Frieda (Friedchen) and their two daughters Helga and Anita. Walter had become a successful contractor who ran a prosperous business with his impressive array of trucks,

Church of Michelbach now part of Schotten - Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Church of Michelbach now part of Schotten – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

caterpillars, backhoes and other heavy machinery that he had acquired to assist in the government sponsored land reform program. In contrast to the northern provinces of Germany, where the eldest son inherits the farm, inheritance laws in the south required equal division of the fields among all the children of the deceased farmer. Thus, over time emerged a chaotic patchwork of tiny fields often less than one ha in size, which made farming more and more inefficient and unproductive. So Walter profited from the reallocation of land by owning the right equipment at the right time. The two daughters, Helga and Anita, age 12 and age 10, whose exact degree of relationship to Erna I do not recall, often showed up to play board games, such as chess and checkers with the newcomer in Father’s home.

52

Peter Basking in the Sun – Summer 1962

Erna was also anxious to have me meet her 16 year-old niece Roswitha, who lived a few houses down the street with her widowed mother. Even though I did not recognize it at the beginning, it was clearly a matchmaking effort supported by Father. In collusion with her sister-in-law, Erna invited her niece over for coffee and cake to make sure we would see each other as often as possible. Roswitha in terms of the standards I had set for what a girl should look like fell well within the range of acceptability. However, inner qualities, such as interests in activities that one could do together, readiness to share and exchange thoughts and feelings, to support them and if necessary even to oppose them, such qualities, which began to gain more and more in importance for me, were severely lacking. In a way my encounter with her helped me set the bar a few notches higher, which further limited the number of choices for my future mate. I vaguely felt for the first time that only love could help jump the hurdle. But what is love? I could not tell, because I had not experienced it yet. So what Erna had hoped for, did not happen. We were friends, who did things together for a while. We walked down the steep hill down to the town and district swimming pool in Schotten and on Saturday evenings we went dancing in the nearby villages. The music was not exactly rock ‘n’ roll, but we could dance to it, whenever a fast beat would permit. The performance of the band improved with each refill of the giant beer mugs during the frequent breaks. Thanks to the loud music there was no opportunity to talk, and there would not have been much to talk about. On our long walk home in the moonlight I explained to her how the stars would move like the sun following the rotation of the earth. For everything I said during my scientific dissertation she approvingly giggled. Only once did she protest to express her utter disbelief, when I insisted that the moon shining so brightly now onto the forests and meadows would also show its pale face during daytime.

My brother Adolf relaxing at the Schotten Swimming Pool

My brother Adolf relaxing at the Schotten Swimming Pool

With my first visit to see Father after such along gap inconceivable in the light of today’s custody laws that require visiting rights at regular intervals, I accomplished much more than just reconnecting with him. The ice had been broken. Other family members now were eager to come in a spirit of reconciliation that was shared even by Mother albeit somewhat reluctantly. Near the end of my holidays my brother Adolf dropped in for a visit. He had returned from Canada to Germany on a temporary basis to learn a trade in an apprenticeship program at the Honeywell Company at Hanau. There he eventually acquired a journeyman ticket as a trained machinist that would – so he was hoping – land him a good paying job upon his return to Canada. Adolf endowed with a witty sense of humor and an extroverted personality was the life of the party no matter where he went. In formal or informal gatherings, in suit or in jeans, with academics or with factory workers, he was the born entertainer who made people cheer up when they were depressed, got things rolling when they appeared to be stuck. Everybody liked him. He had many friends and few enemies. There was just one problem with this gregarious likable brother of mine. He seemed to be shy, yes even afraid of unmarried women, who might take too much of a liking to him, pursue him with the full force of passion and lock him up in the golden cage called marriage. When we received an invitation to a social evening by Roswitha’s mother, Adolf felt safe, because his youngest brother was with him. On the surface it looked like we were the suitors, Roswitha being courted by two promising young men. In reality in a strange reversal of the customary roles it was the other way around. As we gathered in the living room, Frau K. served us wine, crackers and cheese, spent a few perfunctory minutes in conversation with us and discretely withdrew with a few cheerful words meaning that we now were on our own. I found the situation very odd and to some extent embarrassing, because I had expected her to stay. It was Adolf who saved the day or more accurately the evening with his social skills that helped to get the ball rolling. He asked Roswitha about school, hobbies, her likes and dislikes, the weather, and all the other trivia that he was so apt in using as a social lubricant. To her replies often accompanied by the aforementioned giggles he added humorous comments that made us laugh and feel at ease. Eventually even I emerged out of my taciturn shell and presented to everyone’s amusement a few jokes and riddles. Around eleven o’clock Adolf ironically remarked that it was time for us ‘boys’ to go home. We politely said good night and cheerfully departed to have another drink of a more potent kind at our Father’s place.

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

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Ferdinand’s Wheeling and Dealing

Klopp Family Tree

Chart I – II

On the basis of daughter Victoria Luise’s birth in 1910 at Kriewen (today Polish Krzwin  about 15 km southeast of Koscian) one can safely assume that after two years Ferdinand managed to lease another dairy or mill. Never resting he finally succeeded in squeezing his eldest brother and family out of the house in Wolmirstedt. However, he did not use the property for himself, but rented it out, until he eventually sold it to the neighboring print shop Adolf Grenzau between 1912 and 1914. In 1914 the Ferdinand Klopp family dwelled in Elsterwerda, Brandenburg, where his fifth daughter Else Meta was born. It was rumored that Ferdinand bought agricultural property in that region.

Elsterwerda, Brandenburg - Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Elsterwerda, Brandenburg – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

At the beginning of WWI in 1914 Ferdinand was drafted into the army. With the rank  of a sergeant he earned the Iron Cross. On a photograph of October 10, 1915 he is described as a pilot of the Third Company, Aviation Department 6 in Großenhain. Whether he was actually promoted to the rank of an officer could not be determined by the author of the Klopp family chronicles, Eberhard Klopp.

Großenhain - Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Großenhain – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

At the end of WWI Ferdinand was in possession of considerable amounts of money due to any of the following circumstances. Mother Emma was known for her financial generosity, the army may have provided funds as part of the decommissioning process, Ferdinand may have received compensation for his lost properties in West Prussia, which now had become part of Poland, last but not least the sale of his Wolmirstedt house may have added a significant amount to his bank account. A decisive factor in his systematic and hard-nosed isolation of his eldest brother Friedrich can be traced back to his insane penchant for revenge by the impulsive and irascible Ferdinand.

'Coffee' Mill at Elbeu - Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

‘Coffee’ Mill at Elbeu – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

In Elbeu, where he – so it is said – acquired ‘estates’ in 1919, the sixth and last daughter, Rosel, was born on November 16, 1919. As a matter of fact, Ferdinand and his younger brother Wilhelm (1886-1937) got together on a joint business venture. Wilhelm, who likewise returned for his lost properties in the eastern provinces to Wolmirstedt and had bought a new house in Elbeu, arranged for the purchase of the inn ‘Brauner Hirsch’ (Brown Elk). The author of the Klopp Chronicles, which I am translating at least to a large part in this blog, stated that on his visit of the region in 1990 he viewed a derelict guesthouse run by the GDR trade organization (HO) on the road to Magdeburg. In 1932 the pub had become the scene of a ‘brotherly’ altercation, which resulted in a murder charge and will be the topic of next Thursday’s post.

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