Chapter 21 of the P. and G. Klopp Story – Part I

Sorrows of Young Peter


“The Five W’s of Life:
WHO you are is what makes you special. Do not change for anyone.
WHAT lies ahead will always be a mystery. Do not be afraid to explore.
WHEN life pushes you over, you push back harder.
WHERE there are choices to make, make the one you won’t regret.
WHY things happen will never be certain. Take it in stride and move forward.”



With the transfer to the Falckenstein Barracks in Koblenz things were looking up for me. Our room was only slightly smaller than the one we had at the basic training camp, but instead of fifteen men only ten would share the sleeping facilities. The only drawback at the beginning was that the windows were facing one of the major north-south traffic arteries. The noise from the trucks and cars was considerable and lasted right through the night. At first I thought I could not sleep at all in a room inundated by the roar of engines and swishing of tires even with the windows closed. But little by little I got used to it and like the loud surf at the seashore at the Baltic Sea it no longer bothered me after a few days. I am sure that if the din below had suddenly stopped the silence would have woken me up.


Peter on the right with truck driver and communication assistant

Also the pace of our daily routines significantly slackened. We still had to line up and stand at attention for the morning and noon announcements. But there were now more instructional sessions both theoretical and practical with emphasis on specialization depending to which of three major groups we belonged in the signal corps. The linemen were responsible for connecting the various field centers during military exercises. They had from a physical perspective the toughest job. Rain or shine, heat or cold, their task was to unroll miles of cable and when the maneuver was over roll it back onto the empty drums on their backs. I had the good fortune that I was assigned to the second group. I was working inside a Mercedes truck packed with electronic gear, which I had learned to operate during my training sessions. The linemen would arrive huffing and puffing after a strenuous march through forests and fields. All I had to do was to connect the wires to the carrier frequency sets, call up my counterpart at the other end and tune up the line so that it would be capable of carrying several channels at once. It was the latest technology in those days, but miniscule by today’s standards, where thousands of telephone calls can be placed over a single wire or a wireless connection. The third and most prestigious group consisted of the wireless operators trained to set up and maintain point-to-point, line-of-sight connections. To be useful, the linemen also had to connect them by cable to our stations. I liked maneuvers of this kind, especially the ones that lasted a whole week, and often as a bonus resulting in an extra long weekend pass. It was during these action filled times that I began to reflect on the career proposal the captain had made to me less than a month ago. During guard duty, which I had to do every three weeks or so, whenever my turn was announced on the company bulletin board, I had also some time to do some thinking on the purpose and meaning of military service in a world that lived under the spell of the Cold War and under the threat of a massive attack by communist forces to take over Western Europe. While walking inside the fenced perimeter of our barracks I was searching for answers to those questions that popped up in my mind during those boring two-hour shifts in the dead of night. I composed a poem, which I included here in the hope that not too much is lost in translation.

Peter at work at his 'home' packed with electronic gear

Peter at work at his ‘home’ packed with electronic gear

Night Watch

Drearily the rain is falling.

I am walking in monotone even steps.

Nothing is moving in the semi-darkness.

Radio trucks like monsters are staring at me.

They appear to mock me,

Indeed threaten to devour me.

You servants of men!

To what end are you being abused?


Aren’t you defending freedom and peace?

If you prevent that

For which you have been built,

Then sacred is your presence.

Yeah, just stare at me!

Your power brings me joy.

And I am walking past them

In monotone even steps.


To avoid war, an army must be strong so that an aggressor will understand that nothing would be gained and much more would be lost. It was the balance of power that kept the peace in the Cold War period, in which I was a soldier.

Elise Alma Klopp (1882-1975) – Part III

Active and Mentally Alert to the End

Rastenburg (Kętrzyn), East Prussia - Photo Credit:

Rastenburg (Kętrzyn), East Prussia – Photo Credit:

At the end of World War II Else was the only surviving child of the Scholz family. Else had married the engineer Artur Thieß. He is the one I called Uncle Artur, even though he was my cousin by marriage. He was born in Rastenburg, East Prussia,in 1905. For twenty years he had been active in the technical division of the German Post Office. After the war he was teaching at the institute of engineering within the East German postal system. There his talents found recognition and he quickly advanced to the position of lecturer at the department of engineering and electronics specializing in low-frequency applications in Berlin-Lichtenberg. In 1952 he published a book on low-frequency transmissions. He also frequently served as guest lecturer at the famous Humboldt University. [Knowing my interest in the field of electronics, he now and then sent me textbooks on transistor theory and practice.It was apparently permitted to mail books from the German Democratic Republic to the West, but not in the opposite direction.]


The surviving children of the Thieß marriage were all female: Ingrid, Gerlinde, Antje (see photo below) and Silvia. They were all known to me through my two visits in 1959 and 1962.

Anje Thieß 1962 (third girl) participating in competitive rowing

Anje Thieß 1962 (third girl) participating in competitive rowing for the German Democratic Republic

In the tender loving care of her daughter Else and son-in-law Artur Thieß,  Aunt Alma passed away on September 10, 1975 at the age of 93. Mentally alert until the very end she reached the oldest age of the entire Friedrich and Emma Klopp family.

Eine ergreifende Liebesgeschichte – 2. Teil

„Zum Verlieben, nur nicht mehr zum Kriegen“

Schloss in Birkholz - Foto:

Schloss in Birkholz – Foto:

Nun gab es an dieser Schule in Quitzöbel einen Schulleiter, dessen Name Eberhard Trampenau war, und der zu diesem Zeitpunkt als 28-Jähriger schon ein ziemlich bewegtes Leben hinter sich hatte. Er stammte aus Dallmin bei Karstädt, wo er zusammen mit drei Brüdern und zwei Schwestern auf einem Gutshof aufwuchs. Sein Vater war dort herrschaftlicher Kutscher, seine Mutter arbeitete auch auf dem Gut. Die Eltern hatten es nicht leicht, ihre sechs Kinder durchzubringen. Mutter Minna war gezwungen, bei der Arbeit auf dem Gut immer mal wieder ein paar Kartoffeln oder Rüben mitgehen zu lassen, um die vielen hungrigen Mäuler zu Hause zu stopfen. Vater Albert war überzeugter Atheist, was in jener Zeit, der ersten Hälfte des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts, ziemlich ungewöhnlich und dem Ruf der Familie im Dorf nicht gerade förderlich war. Es entsprach dem damaligen Zeitgeist, dass Pfarrer, Lehrer und Gutsbesitzer in einem Dorf bestimmten, was „rechtens“ war. Auch Eberhard hatte das als Jugendlicher zu spüren bekommen, denn als er konfirmiert werden wollte, war der Pfarrer der Meinung, dass er nicht die „richtigen“ Sachen anhabe und ließ ihn aus diesem Grund nicht zur Konfirmation zu. Es ist verständlich, dass Eberhards Einstellung zur Kirche zeit seines Lebens nicht nur ablehnend, sondern auch von Wut und Intoleranz gekennzeichnet war. Sein Werdegang als Jugendlicher und junger Mann war durch die Verhältnisse der dreißiger Jahre und der Kriegszeit vorprogrammiert: Hitlerjugend, Arbeitsdienst, Unteroffiziersschule, Kandidat der Offiziersschule. Mit 18 Jahren musste er in den Krieg ziehen, wurde dort bald verwundet und verlor zwei Finger. Gleich nach dem Krieg nahm er an einem „Neulehrerlehrgang“ teil (der kurioserweise wahrscheinlich im Gutshaus in Dallmin stattfand), das heißt, er wurde in relativ kurzer Zeit zum Lehrer ausgebildet, an denen damals großer Mangel herrschte. Sie waren entweder im Krieg gefallen oder aufgrund ihrer politischen Vergangenheit für diesen Beruf nicht mehr tragbar.


Jedenfalls hatte es Eberhard in dem Jahr, als Elisabeth an seine Schule kam, bereits zum Schulleiter gebracht. Auch war er bereits verheiratet und hatte eine Tochter, wobei Gerüchte über lautstarke Auseinandersetzungen und durch die Luft fliegende (volle!) Windeln darauf hinwiesen, dass diese Ehe nicht gerade glücklich verlief.

Elisabeth 1955

Elisabeth 1955

Kaum hatte Elisabeth ihre Arbeit an der Schule in Quitzöbel begonnen, verliebte sie sich Hals über Kopf in ihren Schulleiter. In ihrem Tagebuch – das ich 20 Jahre später lesen durfte und das mich zu Tränen rührte, und das dann irgendwann unverzeihlicher Weise und zu meinem großen Bedauern nach einem heftigen Ehestreit in den Heizkessel flog – schwärmte sie immer wieder davon, wie nett und gutaussehend und klug er sei. An die Worte „Zum Verlieben, nur nicht mehr zum Kriegen“ kann ich mich noch genau erinnern. Wie das Leben so spielt, war auch Eberhard recht angetan von ihr, und es kam, wie es kommen musste: sie gaben ihren Gefühlen nach und beschworen damit für sich und natürlich auch für ihre Familien eine schwere Zeit herauf. Viele Kollegen verurteilten sie, Elisabeths Mutter und Großmutter versuchten hektisch, sie zu bekehren, Eberhards Frau war unglücklich, aber sie konnten nicht voneinander lassen. War es Unrecht? Ich bin da nicht ganz objektiv, denn wären die beiden „vernünftig“ geblieben, würde es mich und meine Geschwister nicht geben, und das fände ich ganz schön traurig. Also mag das jeder selbst beurteilen, und wer darüber den Stab bricht, hat entweder noch nie geliebt oder war bei Eintritt seiner eigenen großen Liebe in der glücklichen Lage, gerade frei und ungebunden zu sein.


Chapter 20 of the P. and G. Klopp Story – Part IV

Biene’s Moroccan Pen Pal

One Saturday morning, not long before the short weekend leave, the corporal nervously entered our room and told us that the captain himself would be checking out hallway, room and closets. “Don’t disappoint me,” he demanded half pleadingly, half threateningly. We were eager to oblige being interested only in one thing, the pass that allowed us to go home. So we scrubbed and polished the wooden floor, mopped the tiles of the hallway especially well. For weeks I had specialized in cleaning the windows. I discovered that the toilet paper available in large quantities worked best to give the glass that desirable sparkling look. Of course, the closet had to be immaculate. Over one speck of dust a grumpy sergeant could deny your weekend pass or at the very least cause a delay of several hours.

Biene, Papa Panknin, and Twin Brother Walter

Biene, Papa Panknin, and Twin Brother Walter

The captain, however, not only represented the kind and benevolent father figure to us, but also had recently become the proud father of twins, the event that among us soldiers earned him the title Scatter Gun (Streubüchse). He now entered the room. We stood at attention next to our closet. It was clear from the way the captain approached the first soldier that he was more interested in passing on a few words of wisdom than in the inspection of our open closets. So when it was my turn, I was quite relaxed. He must have gone through our personnel files, for he said, “Klopp, I see that you are a high school graduate. What are your plans for the future?” Without waiting for an answer, he continued, “When you are young, you must have a dream. Without a dream you are nothing but a hollow entity. Understand me right; I am not talking about a fuzzy dream about getting rich and famous. What I mean is the dream of becoming a valuable member of society and a contributor to the common good.” With about these words the officer, turned philosopher, spoke to me. Now he reminded me that he had not answered his question.

“I love electronics and would like to become a high frequency engineer,” I stated emphatically.

As if ignoring my reply, the captain went back to the importance of having a dream. “A dream is nothing but an idle pipe dream, if you cannot find the means to realize it. You must have a plan backed up by a number of concrete steps. You must always keep your goal no matter how distant before you inner eyes, so you don’t miss your target.”

Then he came to the point, “So you want to become a high frequency engineer. That’s your dream. Well, here is a plan for you to consider. The Bundeswehr (German army) will send you to a postsecondary technical institute all expenses paid. In return, you commit yourself for ten years of service or if you wish, you can opt for a permanent career as officer and instructor. Think about it and let me know when you are ready to talk.” With these words he moved on to the next soldier, who had a picture of a naked woman taped to the inside of his closet door. The captain took one look and to our surprise did not reveal the slightest trace of anger, when he addressed him with a soft voice, “Say, young man, how would you feel to see a photo of your sister in the nude on somebody else’s closet door?” and with that remark he moved on to the next soldier. Needless to say we all got our weekend pass including the one with the pornographic picture. In a general assembly of the company our leader once spoke about his dream to read and understand Immanuel Kant’s ‘Critique of Pure Reason’ before his retirement. To be sure, it was a far loftier goal than mine of becoming an electronic engineer. The book that he was referring to is to the understanding of philosophy what Einstein’s theory of relativity is to the understanding of physics.

Falckenstein Barracks still in Use Today - Photo Credit: wikipedia .org

Falckenstein Barracks still in Use Today – Photo Credit: wikipedia .org

In the meantime Biene’s letters kept coming with the regularity of a clock and brought the sunshine of her empathy for the hardships of a soldier into my heart. We agreed to write one another in such a way as if we had known each other for a long time, to treat each other with honesty so that in the absence of face-to-face encounters no false impressions developed in our minds. Even secretiveness would be a form of dishonesty I noted in one of my letters. Being sincere was the necessary ingredient for the development of a true friendship leading so I was hoping to something more permanent. All Biene and I had for now were the letters, in which we expressed our feelings in the discussions of poetry, movies we had seen, or simply the daily obstacles that fate would throw into our path.

Up to this moment I had also maintained a loose correspondence with my dance partner Margret, who was working as a nurse’s aid in the Wesel hospital with the goal of becoming a registered nurse. The letters we wrote read more like newspaper reports and contained for the most part our criticism of the rotten world around us that we could not change. In short they were devoid of any feelings expressed or implied. In response to the dilemma that could only grow worse over time, I decided to write her a short note explaining to her in keeping with our sober writing style matter-of-factly as to why I did not wish to carry on with our correspondence. She acknowledged receipt of my message in a final postcard. I was relieved that she took my note with a sober mind and in the end did not get emotional about it.

Morocco's Beautiful Coastal City - Photo Credit:

Morocco’s Beautiful Coastal City – Photo Credit:

In the meantime Biene was raving about the sunshine, warmth, beauty of a rocky coastline in a distant land in North Africa. I attributed the sudden and unexpected passion for Morocco to the extended periods of rain and depressing overcast skies we had experienced of late. But later she wrote about her grave concern for her pen pal. He had suddenly become ill and wanted her to come and visit him presumably in the hope for a miraculous recovery. The news came like a cold shower and considerably dampened my spirits. I realized that while I had read perhaps too much between the lines, Biene might have read too little. But who was I to assume that just because I had broken off the correspondence with Margret, Biene should do the same with her pen pals? So I did the right thing and expressed my sympathy with the fatally ill young man of Morocco. ‘Thousands of people’, I wrote, ‘die every day and it does not affect us. But if a friend or close relative passes away it is as if our world is falling apart. The bridges we so lovingly and carefully built to reach across suddenly collapse and only memories remain at the end.’

Final Photo of the entire Company - Who can find Peter?

Final Photo of the entire Company – Who can find Peter?

In the meantime my basic training was coming to an end and I was getting ready for the transfer to the Falckenstein barracks. There was a lengthy pause in the flow of mail. Biene’s high school class went on a field trip to Paris, which was intended to be a short immersion into French culture. Upon her return she sent me a long letter describing her exciting adventure with her class in France, but did not mention her Moroccan friend any more. I carefully avoided the topic. Instead, knowing that Biene was taking Latin classes at high school I boldly sent her a signal in Latin: Amor qui non agitur moritur, which means ‘Love that is not active dies.’


Elise Alma Klopp (1882-1975) – Part II

Alma Scholz (née Klopp) and her Family

Alma. widow at 37, did not marry again. During WWII she lived in the Friedrichstraße in Berlin close to Strausberg Square. There, already 63 years of age, she lost her home during a bombing raid in 1943. From that time on she lived with her daughter Else and her son-in-law Artur Thieß.

Friedrichstraße_Unter_den_Linden_Berlin - Photo Credit:

Friedrichstraße, Unter den Linden Berlin – Photo Credit:

Her two sons Otto and Willi did not return from the war. Willi died in action on Christmas Eve 1943 in Finland, while Otto was reported missing in East Prussia at the beginning of January 1945. He probably perished with thousands of refugees and injured soldiers, when the hospital vessel “Wilhelm Gustloff” sank in the icy Baltic Sea, after being torpedoed by a Soviet submarine on January 30, 1945.

Boarding the Wilhelm Gustloff January 1945 - Photo Credit:

Boarding the Wilhelm Gustloff January 1945 – Photo Credit:

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has the following to say and I quote, “The MV Wilhelm Gustloff was a German military transport ship which was sunk on 30 January 1945 by Soviet submarine S-13 in the Baltic Sea while evacuating German civilians, Nazi officials and military personnel from Gdvnia (Gotenhafen) as the Red Army advanced. By one estimate, 9,400 people died, which makes it the largest loss of life in a single ship sinking in history.” Lucky were those who survived the war, because they had been refused to board the already overcrowded ship.

Eine ergreifende Liebesgeschichte – 1. Teil

Anke Schubert schreibt über ihre Eltern

Eberhard Trampenau und Elisabeth Kegler

Familienzweig Kegler – Karte II a – III

Rühstädt, Quitzöbel 1953

Es war einmal – so beginnt auch dieses Märchen von einer großen Liebe, die 27 Jahre später nach vielen Höhen und Tiefen erloschen sein sollte – eine junge Lehrerin. Das war Elisabeth, die später unsere Mutter werden sollte. Sie zählte 20 Lenze und war ein sehr hübsches Mädchen. Eigentlich hatte sie ihre Lehrerausbildung noch gar nicht abgeschlossen, weil ihre lebensbejahende und offene Art es mit sich brachte, dass der Weg zum Ziel so manches Mal durch Umwege verlängert wurde. Nach ihrem Abitur hatte Elisabeth angefangen, in Potsdam Pädagogik und Deutsch zu studieren. Doch schon nach einem Jahr entschied sie sich, das Studium abzubrechen, denn eine unglückliche Liebe ließ es ihr unmöglich erscheinen, weiter in Potsdam zu bleiben.

View of the rebuilt Potsdam City Palace at night - Photo Credit:

View of the rebuilt Potsdam City Palace at night – Photo Credit:

Dieses Hindernis auf dem geradlinigen Weg zum Erreichen des Berufszieles hörte auf den Namen Jochen. Er war das, was man gemeinhin einen Herzensbrecher nennt, sah gut aus, war bei allen beliebt und hatte schließlich sein Interesse Elisabeth zugewandt, die ihr Glück zunächst gar nicht fassen konnte. Man traf sich häufiger, ging zusammen aus und Elisabeth war überaus zufrieden. Der junge Mann, immerhin schon 22-jährig, wollte sich aber schon nach kurzer Zeit nicht nur mit Händchenhalten und Abschiedsküsschen abfinden. So inszenierte er die perfekte Verführungssituation – eine Flasche Wein, Kerzenschein und leise Musik. Elisabeth fand das zwar wunderschön und sehr rührend, war aber trotzdem noch nicht zu dem bereit, was er sich erhoffte. Sie bat um Jochens Verständnis und um mehr Zeit. Beides war er aber nicht zu geben bereit. Verletzte männliche Eitelkeit und Egoismus ließen ihn vom feurigen Verführer zum beleidigten Macho werden, und um ihr zu beweisen, dass er keineswegs auf sie angewiesen war, tauchte er alsbald mit einer anderen Dame an seiner Seite in Potsdams Straßen auf. Elisabeth war darüber sehr unglücklich. Sie meinte, es nicht ertragen zu können, ihn und seine jeweiligen Bekanntschaften noch jahrelang sehen zu müssen und brach kurzerhand das Studium ab.

City Hall and Church at Perleberg - Photo Credit:

City Hall and Church at Perleberg – Photo Credit:

Das war damals wohl nicht ganz so tragisch – gemeint ist natürlich der Abbruch des Studiums, nicht dessen Ursache -, denn es gab für sie wie für viele andere junge Leute die Möglichkeit, schon als Lehrerin zu arbeiten und sich nebenbei durch Weiterbildungen auf die erste und später auf die zweite Lehrerprüfungen vorzubereiten. Also reiste Elisabeth von Potsdam nach Perleberg und ging zusammen mit einer Freundin zum Schulamt, um sich um eine Lehrerstelle zu bewerben. Der Schulrat hörte sich ihre Geschichte an, hatte ein gewisses Verständnis für ihre Situation und bot ihr an, nach Quitzöbel zu gehen, dort an der Schule ihre praktische Ausbildung zu vollenden und ein Jahr später, im Juli 1954, ihre staatliche Abschlussprüfung abzulegen. Elisabeth war überglücklich, als sie das Schulamt verließ. Nun sollte doch noch alles gut werden, und sie konnte ihr Berufsziel verwirklichen.

hurch of Legde_Quitzöbel - Photo Credit:

Village Church of Legde-Quitzöbel – – – Photo Credit:

Als ansonsten meist folgsame Tochter hatte sie es in diesem Fall aber leider versäumt, ihre Familie über diese nicht unwesentliche Abänderung ihres beruflichen Entwicklungsweges zu informieren. Just an diesem Tag hatte nun ihre Mutter Johanna, die ja auch Lehrerin war, dringende Erledigungen beim Schulamt zu machen und traf dort ihre Tochter, die gerade glücklich in Richtung ihres neuen Wirkungskreises aufbrechen wollte. Von Mutter Johanna zur Rede gestellt, beichtete Elisabeth alles. Johanna war äußerst aufgebracht und forderte, alles wieder rückgängig zu machen und nach Potsdam zurückzukehren, aber Elisabeth ließ sich nicht dazu überreden und fing ungeachtet des Protestes ihrer Mutter ihr neues Leben in Quitzöbel an.