Chapter 26 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part II

A Delicate Question Answered

Gertrud (Biene) Panknin’s Graduation Class – Who can find her?

On my 23rd birthday with less than a week left before my release from the military service, I sneaked away from the electronic maintenance job, which had been completed long ago and only existed for one purpose to keep us busy and to kill time. I sat alone at the table of Room 328. No sergeant, drillmaster or officer would bother me here. The carrier frequency equipment, for which I had been responsible for its smooth operation, was in top shape and my absence would not be noticed anywhere at the Falkenstein Barracks. I wanted to do something special on my birthday. The daily celebrations, the drinking and carousing to mark the remaining ‘glorious’ days in the army were not that special anymore.

43

Endless Celebrations: Less than Ten Days Left of Military Service

I longed for quiet, a time to reflect on this idle Wednesday morning. I wanted to respond to Biene’s anxious questions and genuine concerns. Here at the soldiers’ simple living and sleeping quarters no loud talking and singing were distracting me, I found the ideal space to grapple with the contentious issue raised by Biene about faithfulness. It was good to know that Biene trusted me to provide an honest answer. I was proud of her courage to touch on the topic of sexuality, which we two had been too shy to discuss at our few encounters. I took out from my closet pen and paper and began to write down my thoughts. It turned out to be a very long letter, in which I, trusting Biene as much as she trusted me, did not hesitate to truthfully lay bare my innermost feelings. The following are excerpts taken from my lengthy reply.

33

Peter and his Buddy at the Last Military Exercise – March 1965

“March 24th, 1965

 My dear Biene,

Yesterday I received your letter from Gotha. Your sister seems to have a rather strange opinion on men. I am glad that you broached the delicate subject of sexuality. But I found it a little troublesome  that you let yourself get so easily misled. But I don’t want to reproach you; for I myself had often to deal with opinions of young married and unmarried men who asserted that a girl could only be faithful and true to her partner, after she had gone to bed with him. Please forgive me this drastic manner of expression, but why should I beat around the bush? You see the accusations are coming from both sides. As for me, I refuse to accept any form of generalization, when people say, that’s how women are, that’s how men are.

 But now to your concerns! You would like to know how I think about it, dear Biene. Like in all men there is undoubtedly a force that drives me to the opposite sex. Yes, furthermore I concede that the drive is not necessarily directed to a particular person. Dear Biene, you must absolutely believe in what I am writing you now. Let no ever so bold opinion throw you off balance again, if you truly love me. Sexuality does not stand on its own, otherwise we would be like animals, but it is intertwined most intimately with the entire personality of the human being. There will always be tensions, in which we have to struggle to maintain the balance and keep this vital force under control.

 Whoever surrenders in this battle and needs to run to a woman to relieve his tensions is in my opinion a weakling and a coward no matter how assertive and self-assured he might otherwise appear. And in what comes now, you can totally put your trust. Since we love each other, this battle for me is over. I have been able to have this uncanny force coexist in harmony with myself. It is always there, lurking behind the scenes, surprising me at times, but it does not bother me any more. When I read a book, look at pictures, walk in the streets or watch a movie, it often and unexpectedly flares up, and then in full awareness of control I have to smile at myself. Don’t you think that one has overcome much, if one can smile at oneself? Do you still worry about me, even when I tell you that I am strong enough to wait for you and through you alone I have become so strong? As long as I can hope for the fulfillment of my ideals, which I have set for myself, you may chase your worries away. You stand in the midst of this sphere, dear Biene, whether I am in Canada or at the end of the world.

 How beautiful it is that we are so frank with one another! This will not only keep us together, but also bring us ever closer together. Do we want to show this spiteful world that one can wait for one another for years without so-called ‘side leaps’, do we want to, dear Biene, do we want to?

 Finally I would like to say one thing, your sister will one day have to concede that there are some exceptions among men, who will turn out to be ‘miracle men’. Now you will smile; thank you so much! Be completely reassured!

          Your Peter”

The modern reader may scratch his or her head over the outdated notions about love and faithfulness expressed in our letters over fifty years ago. Yet, in our mind they remain completely unchanged and have been our beacon of hope even through the darkest and most turbulent times in our life-long relationship.

 

21 comments

  1. arv! · March 18, 2017

    I had opportunity to read some books on relationship and married life which were published between 1940’s to 1950’s. As you pointed out, it seems like a different era. The focus then was always on building relationship. Today we live in a different world though where instant gratification rules. Long term thinking with respect to relationships is not a norm, it’s an exception. Well, each to his own!
    Humans will always live with preformed ideas and notions, which might not be good but that’s a reality. I also struggle with it many times both at both ends. I guess humans have inherited this trait.
    I’m sure when you look back at how the relationship developed between you both, you must be happy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Peter Klopp · March 18, 2017

      You touched on a very important point regarding relationships. Seeking instant gratification is definitely a trend in our modern era. While it has been always present in human nature, today’s world with its emphasis on rapid change and economic progress works against long-term planning with respect to relationships or anything else for that matter. Thank you, arv!

      Liked by 1 person

      • arv! · March 18, 2017

        well said. Long term planning sounds like a dated concept with respect to everything!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. GP Cox · March 18, 2017

    Many people may think – well that was a different world – but don’t most of us wish that world would return?! A solid, sincere letter of love, Peter!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · March 18, 2017

      Thank you very much, GP! I appreciate your comment very much. You are right, deep down most people wish for a time where ‘old-fashioned ‘ values provide inner peace, harmony and happiness.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. taphian · March 18, 2017

    Das nennt man wohl schonungslose Offenheit, lieber Peter. Bewundernswert. Ich würde solche Briefe nicht so gerne teilen. Aber nichtsdestotrotz ein sehr schöner, offener, ehrlicher Brief, der Biene sicher gefallen hat und die Grundlage war für Eure lange Beziehung. Ich wünsche Euch noch viele Jahre zusammen, liebe Grüße aus dem windigem, immer noch kaltem Hamburg, Mitza

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · March 18, 2017

      Ein Vetter aus Deutschland hatte mal ähnliche Bedenken geäußert. Private Dinge darf man nicht der ganzen Welt anvertrauen, so meinte er. Die Briefe sind Perlen, die man für sich behalten soll. Doch ich sehe das anders. So wie du gibt es ganz besondere und liebenswerte Leute, die mitfühlend meinen Blog lesen. All die anderen gehen verständnislos an ihm vorbei. Vielen Dank für deinen lieben Kommentar! Liebe Grüße aus dem regnerischen und unwirtlichen Fauquier, BC!

      Liked by 2 people

      • taphian · March 19, 2017

        Vielen Dank für Deine nette Einschätzung über mich, lieber Peter. Ich bin allgemein sehr empathisch und intuitiv veranlagt, da hochsensibel.
        Hier war auch den ganzen Tag Regen, das war nicht so schön. Gruß Mitza

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ann Coleman · March 18, 2017

    I think your letter was just beautiful. And if your notions of love and fidelity are out-dated, then all I can say is that in some respects, we need to return to the “good old days!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · March 19, 2017

      Dear Ann, I appreciate your comment very much. Our society needs to live by the set of values that are steeped in tradition and have been tested over a long period of time. They are standards of behaviour in all aspects of life, which give us something to strive for. It seems that the modern world has thrown them over board. A heavy price will have to be paid. Thank you, Ann, for your call for a return to the “good old days”!

      Like

  5. panhirsch · March 19, 2017

    Where is humanity now and what happened with this beautiful concept of love. To think that today relationships are broken through SMSes or mobile apps. Oh, sorry – are they true relationships anyway?
    That has been one of the most honest and beautiful love letters I have read Peter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · March 19, 2017

      I like the way you put a big question mark to the kind of relationship based on the truncated gibberish that is being shared through texting on our mobile devices. Is there any depth of thought possible on them? Thank you for your continued interest in our story!

      Liked by 1 person

      • panhirsch · March 19, 2017

        I do question this kind of behaviour, yes. But I wouldn’t be honest if I told you I’ve never done it myself. No more… can we have old style letters come back?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Peter Klopp · March 19, 2017

        Do not get me wrong, dear panhirsch. These devices have their purpose and they are useful tools. But as to the art of letter writing, they are useless in my opinion. Using emails would be a better choice.

        Liked by 1 person

      • panhirsch · March 19, 2017

        And the young would tell you… “who writes e-mails these days?” 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Edda · March 19, 2017

    Ich habe wieder einige Zeit über deinen Brief nachdenken müssen,Peter.
    Wie stark eure Gefühle zueinander waren/sind,geht ganz eindeutig aus diesen Zeilen hervor.Was mich sehr berührt hat sind die Worte,dass oft gerade Menschen,die nach außen stark und über allem stehend wirken,die grössten Feiglinge in der Beziehung Treue sein können,ob Männlein oder Weiblein..
    Eure Liebe zueinander hat sich zu etwas ganz Besonderem entwickelt,sie hat dann ja wohl ausser schönen Jahren auch schwere aushalten müssen!?Und standgehalten..
    Es sind jedenfalls Zeilen,die denjenigen,die in ihrer Beziehung eventuell schwankend und unsicher werden
    ein hilfreiches Beispiel sein könnten..
    Liebe Grüsse aus dem ebenfalls verregnetem Sottmar!👋👋
    Edda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · March 19, 2017

      Liebe Edda, dein Kommentar hat mich wie immer sehr erfreut. Er zeigt, wie sehr du dich in unsere damalige Lage hineinversetzen kannst. Mit einem Blick auf die weitere Entwicklung hast du auch richtig erkannt, dass auch schwere Jahre uns bevorstanden, die wir auf der Basis unserer Liebe bewältigt haben. Sei herzlich gedankt und gegrüßt am Sonntag, der seinem Namen Ehre macht. Die Sonne kommt gerade raus. Da wollen wir zu einer Foto-Session spazieren gehen.

      Like

  7. Bun Karyudo · March 20, 2017

    I don’t think your notions about love and faithfulness are outdated at all, Peter. My guess is that most people still crave them no matter whether they are young, old or somewhere in the middle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · March 20, 2017

      I am glad to hear that quite a few still believe in the notions of love and faithfulness and may even crave them as you say, Bun. In light of the staggering divorce rates it seems to me that their sense of commitment is on the decline.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bun Karyudo · March 20, 2017

        The rising rates around the world are rather depressing, I must admit.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Anthony Tornambe · April 20, 2017

    Good post

    Liked by 1 person

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