Chapter 22 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part V

Four Deaths in Four Months

President Kennedy, "Ich bin ein Berliner" - Photo Credit:

President Kennedy, “Ich bin ein Berliner” – Photo Credit:

But first I had to endure another blow. Death had given me in quick succession several reminders of our transitory life here on earth. On November 22nd at the Maxhof army residence. I was listening to the American Forces Network (AFN Munich). The DJ suddenly interrupted the Country and Western music and after a short pause announced that President Kennedy has been shot in Dallas, Texas. Later that night it was reported that he had died of his gun shot wounds. I was shocked over the news of this tragedy, as I had taken a liking to this great man, for his fortitude to force the Soviet Union to remove their missiles out of Cuba. I liked the way he had publicly committed himself to the security of West Berlin. His famous statement, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’ will remain in me for as long as I live. Then in January our staff sergeant Wohl had a fatal accident, when his VW beetle collided with a public transit bus on an icy hillside road in Feldafing. Gauke and I and two other comrades accepted the sad task of becoming his pallbearers. I will never forget the heart-rending sobbing of the widow in the front pew, when the officiating priest addressed her with a few consoling words. A couple of weeks later, almost if death intended to remind me again of its presence, I lent sixty marks to a comrade so he could buy a train ticket to attend his grandmother’s funeral. On the morning of February 26th I was called out of the office to see the captain for an important message. This time Gauke stayed behind at his typewriter, and I went a little puzzled and worried to captain’s office alone. After I sat down, he informed me with genuine regret that my father had died of a massive heart attack during the night of February 25th. The officer granted me a five-day compassionate leave, effective immediately. I was numb. I could not respond with a single word. The captain deliberately ignoring military protocol shook hands with me and spoke kind words of condolences. Only a small number of family members, aunts, Erna’s relatives and friends attended the funeral in Michelbach. I wrote and dedicated a poem to my dad. The poem ended with a line in Latin:

Viventium, non mortuorum misereor.
I mourn the living, not the dead.

Grieving Father’s death and attempting to overcome the blow, I wrote Biene that I needed time to respond to her wish to see me again. It also took me quite an effort not to mention her pen pal from Morocco in my letter. Perhaps I should not have suppressed my feelings. For jealousy although often portrayed as a negative force has its legitimate place. Just as we need fear to protect us from dangerous situations, a small dose of jealousy at the very least reveals that you care and are sincerely concerned about your partner’s affection.

Novella 'Carthage' Dedicated to Biene

Novella ‘Carthage’ Dedicated to Biene

Back at Maxhof I began to edit and to copy in my very best handwriting the novella ‘Carthage’ into a thick green covered notebook. I dedicated the more than 200-page book to Biene. As it was not only a historical novel but also a testimonial of my love to her, it turned out to be quite literally the longest letter I had ever written. More importantly it ended in such a way that Biene herself one day could write the final chapter not as a flowery addition to an imaginary tale, but a true story with Biene and me being the main characters in the real world. At the time of my transfer back to Koblenz I was back home to celebrate my 22nd birthday.  There I mailed the book to Biene, after I had mysteriously hinted in a previous letter that I would be mailing her a very interesting book portraying us as Claudia and Publius. In the accompanying letter I wrote, ‘Dear Biene, you have sensitivity and understanding, Even though in this book everything had happened over two thousand years ago, its content is so current and volatile that I would not dare to show it to anyone but you. Whoever opens his heart is twice as sensitive and vulnerable. You will read many a chapter filled with blood-curdling details about this fateful city. Just remember what happens here in terms of physical suffering and pain is to be understood at the psychological level. I have been writing the novella for a long time. Personal experience and history went hand in hand to create it. The shock I experienced last fall put a sudden end to the story. You will notice that the form of the narrative lost its formal structure and the story ends in a desperate monologue. About some of the things, which I have written, I think differently today. But I have not lost my idealism. I am searching for a world, where I can turn my hopes and aspirations into reality.’  I felt like a general, who in a last-ditch effort committed all his troops and resources and staked everything on one card to win the battle and claim the prize of victory.

Gertrud (Biene) Panknin

Gertrud (Biene) Panknin


  1. GP Cox · October 14, 2016

    As much as death is inevitable, we find it so devastating, but relative to our loyalties. I had 4 deaths in four years – father, mother, aunt and son – wiped out my family, so the Kennedy deaths didn’t hit me very hard at all, but I felt very bad for the family left behind.


    • Peter Klopp · October 16, 2016

      Dear GP Cox, it was indeed a far greater blow for you of having lost father, mother, aunt and son. What is close to your heart hurts more than the death of a political figure, no matter how great he or she may be.

      Liked by 1 person

      • GP Cox · October 17, 2016

        Some people can’t understand why I don’t become choked up over JFK, but when you look carefully at his term of office, he didn’t really do anything.


      • Peter Klopp · October 17, 2016

        I once read your very critical post on President Roosevelt. It was an eye opener for me, as I only know the things he did from history books. Perhaps you could write a post on JFK. I try to be openminded when it comes to politics. Thank you for coming back to my post and stating your opinion!

        Liked by 1 person

      • GP Cox · October 18, 2016

        Sometimes I get too mouthy with my opinion. JFK took the credit for the Cuban Missile Crisis, but it was his committee that told him what must be done. The secret compromise with Russia was the idea of a news reporter, etc. you can see where I’m going.


  2. Bun Karyudo · October 15, 2016

    The sudden loss of your father like that must have been such a terrible shock for you, Peter. I can well understand your situation must have been one of emotional turmoil.


    • Peter Klopp · October 16, 2016

      Thank you, Bun, for sharing your compassionate thoughts and feelings about my father’s death!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Edda · October 16, 2016

    Da hast du damals viele sehr,sehr traurige Momente in kurzer Zeit hinnehmen müssen,Peter!
    Und deinen Vater zu verlieren,war das allerschlimmste.Ich konnte mich beim Lesen so gut in dich hineinversetzen.
    Besonders nahestehende Menschen zu verlieren,ist furchtbar.Das war auch in unserer Familie schlimm.
    Und da hab ich von
    “GP Cox” gelesen,dass er auch u.a. seinen Sohn verloren hat-wie furchtbar das gewesen sein muss..

    Aber du hast auch immer versucht,
    deine Gefühle in verschiedenster Art und Weise zu verarbeiten-bewundernswert!


    • Peter Klopp · October 16, 2016

      Liebe Edda, wieder have ich mich sehr gefreut, wie ihr an allem, auch an dem traurigen Teil meines Lebens mit großem Einfühlungsvermögen teilhabt. Glaubt mir, ich weiss eure lieben Worte sehr zu schätzen. Es gibt mir Kraft, das angefangene Werk dieser Biographie weiterzuführen.


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