The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

Reflections on Life, Family and Community

Chapter 34 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part I


Storm Clouds on the Horizon


Key Player #1 in Chapter 34: Gertrud (Biene) Panknin 1965

As the drama unfolds I will introduce for each part of this chapter one person, who played a major role in our desperate struggle for being reunited in Canada.

We define our identity always in dialogue with, sometimes in struggle with against the things our significant others want to see in us.  Even after we outgrow some of the others – our parents, for instance – and they disappear from our lives, the conversation with them continues within us as long as we live. Charles Taylor

The Letter to Biene’s Parents

To merely summarize the troubles we experienced, the opinions we voiced, the arguments we had and the decisions we made, the agonies and struggles of the heart would have distorted the true picture we had created through our correspondence between October 1965 and March 1966. On the one hand an objective approach, if it were possible at all, would never have succeeded in describing the passionate appeals we fervently made to one another in the face of dire adversities. On the other hand a purely emotional account would most certainly have embodied on my part a lot of bias and subjectivity. So for the next two chapters I mostly let the letters speak for themselves. They include more and more often our first attempts to correspond with each other in English. Here and there I corrected a few grammatical errors and edited out some awkward expressions without changing the intended meaning.  The letters in a sense are also a fine record of our progress in the use of the English language. As to those still written in German it is my hope that not too much of their emotional impact has been lost in translation.

September 25th Didsbury

My dear Peter,

…From my mother I had an immediate reply to my letter, which was going to prepare her for the letter from you. With her words my mother has taken a big burden off my heart; for she writes that she is glad that things are working out for us and that she would help us in as much as she could. She congratulates you to your success at your entrance exam and is confident that we somehow will make it together. Strangely, I felt my heart ache, even though I was happy all the same. Please, dear Peter, write to my parents soon; for now they have been prepared. How I wished I were already with you! Then I would know that everything was true and not just a dream.

Be lovingly kissed, Your Biene

October 15th Calgary

My dear Love,

There are a lot of important things I have to tell you. But first of all I have to apologize that my letter is so late. It is quite possible this will happen again and again for the next couple of months, because the academic work is overwhelming. Only with a time schedule from dawn to dusk I am likely to pass the final examination in the spring, Therefore, dear Gertrud (I guess it sounds better in English to say your real name), remember that I am working hard, that I am devoting more love to you by spending every minute available to me for studying.

About a fortnight ago, I wrote a long letter to your parents. I am still waiting for an answer. I don’t know what they will think of me, and in which way they will react. I only hope positively. I explained the situation and spoke of you as Biene without recognizing that, because this name had become so familiar to me, I had forgotten at this moment that a little more formality would be required. I hope they will not mind it. Canada was shown not in terms of a paradise for their daughter, but as the place to start a completely new life with all the uncertainties of the future, which I cannot anticipate now. They have seen the financial problem as well as the problem of my professional career. Now it is up to them to make their decisions, I hope, in favour of both of us…

With a thousand warm kisses, Your Peter

The letter I wrote to Biene’s parents does no longer exist. As the events unfolded it became very clear that I had made a grave mistake by describing honestly and realistically all the challenges we would be facing in a letter that was supposed to make them agree to let their daughter go to Canada and marry me.

40 thoughts on “Chapter 34 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part I

  1. Edda

    Es zeichnet sich deutlich ab, Peter, daß nun eine schwere Zeit auf Euch zukommen wird. Auf einer Seite habt Ihr mit allen Euren Wünschen und Hoffnungen gestanden und alles dafür getan, um so bald wie möglich zusammensein zu können und auf der anderen Seite Bienes Eltern, die ja auch nur das Beste für ihre Tochter wollten.. (Da fällt mir auch so einiges aus meinem Leben ein..😏 😉.)
    Es wird wohl wirklich so gewesen sein, daß Du in Deinem Brief an Bienes Eltern zu ehrlich warst..?
    Und da heißt es doch immer, ehrlich währt am längsten..😳
    Viele liebe Grüße!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Ja, die düsteren Gewitterwolken am Horizont unserer Geschichte deuten auf schwere Zeiten hin. Liebe Edda, es ist nun schon zum zweiten mal, dass du gewisse Parallelen aus deinem eigenen Leben erwähnst und hast mich deswegen ein wenig neugierig gemacht. Ich kann mir gut vorstellen, wie du und Dieter auch so manche Sorgen hattet. Vielen Dank für deine n lieben Kommentar, liebe Edda! Mein Blog findet immer mehr Anklang und ist nun schon bis ins ferne Indien gedrungen, wo es auch Menschen gibt mit einer Schwäche für eine altmodische Romantik!


      1. Edda

        Ja,Peter ,Deine Blogger haben mich auch schon fasziniert. Bei vielen hab ich schon etliches gelesen. Wahnsinn , wo alle so herkommen und was sie machen!!!!👍👍👍

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Peter Klopp Post author

        Du hast recht, liebe Edda, immer mehr Blogger erscheinen auf der Klopp Family Bühne und beteiligen sich mit ihren Kommentaren,und fangen an, alte Posts zu lesen. Ich freue mich schon sehr auf Stefan und Laura. Sie werden ihr Scrabble Spiel mitbringen.


  2. Pure Glory

    Oh, the uncertainty of knowing the future. The sweetness if your love for each other is evident over the physicalcal distancence and challenges. Thank you for sharing the letters, they really add to your story.. Awaiting the next installment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Thank you so much for your genuine interest! The letters are testimony of our trials and tribulations we endured on the road that led eventually to our coming together. My aunt, a true believer, once said that every obstacle in our journey through life has a divine purpose.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. thecedarjournal

    What a wonderful historical record for your grandchildren. What a great read for those of us who are still romantics. What hand written letters can express that is lost to the generations who have not used them. The long waits between posted letters and answers to what questions you posted. Thus – we must wait too…for your next chapter.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Yes, the main aim is to have a record for the grandchildren. But I find it extremely rewarding and motivating to see so much interest in the blogging world for our story. Thank you for your insightful comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. taphian

    You probably had to pass seven mountains in order to marry Biene, dear Peter:) Things that have been achieved with a lot of endurance are much more worthy than easy things, I guess. I’m waiting for the rest of the story, kind regards from Hamburg, MItza

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      You seem to have a sixth sense, dear Mitza. Yes, there were perhaps more than seven mountains to pass before we finally were able to embrace each other. Greetings from Kelowna where I make a daily trip to the cancer clinic. I am doing well and I will be home soon. Thank you for your kind words, Mitza!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Amy, if you like to read more of the love story, go to Klopp-Story at the top menu and click on Chapter IXX. There you have the chapters all in chronological order. I warn you, it is a long story but not without drama. The way my wife and I came together is nothing but a first-class miracle. Thank you so much for your inteerst, Amy!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. entdeckeengland

    Ich bin gespannt, wie es weitergeht und denke so bei mir, dass es meine Generation schon leichter hatte, auch wenn das sicherlich von Elternhaus zu Elternhaus verschieden war / ist, welche Rolle die Eltern bei den Lebensentscheidungen der Kinder spielen. Liebe Grüße aus der Wüste, Peggy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Vielen Dank, liebe Peggy, für deine verständnisvollen Worte zu unserer Liebesgeschichte! Falls du Zeit hast, kannst du auch zur Menu gehen und die Klopp Story anklicken. Dort sind die Kapitel in chronologischer Ordnung zu lesen. Ebenfalls herzliche Grüße aus dem Vorgebirge der Rocky Mountains! Peter

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Bun Karyudo

    Your letters to each other are, as always, delightfully tender and enchanting. The last paragraph of your post sounds rather ominous, though. I’m a little worried about where things will go from here. Perhaps it would have been more judicious not to write so openly to Biene’s parents about the problems you faced — and yet I can’t help thinking that, no matter what happens next, you were the better man for doing it. After all, what does any parent have more precious than a son or daughter? Being absolutely honest about the reality of your situation may not have been the most prudent course of action, but it was certainly the most honorable one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      In hindsight it was downright stupidity to write so frankly about the challenges that lay ahead. On the other hand, it would not have made any difference, even if I had written in glowing terms about our plans of getting married in a far-away country. Thank you, Bun, for this and all the other insightful comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. kopfundgestalt

    To write in all honesty can be a mistake. As I suppose they didn’t know you well enough to count that honesty as a sign of trust. Sometimes you need to be shlightly formal.
    As a matter of fact, they were the parents of their daughter and were therefore, to some extent, struggling with the idea to “hand on” their daughter to someone else.
    Thank you for the insight!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      To tell you the truth, in my view I was a blooming idiot to write such a letter to Biene’s parents who were deeply concerned about the wellbeing of their precious daughter. With a
      truthful description of all the real and imagined challenges that lay ahead, I gave them all the ammunition to fight Biene’s plan to join me in Canada. Thank you, Gerhard, for your insightful comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Joanne Sisco

    Taking bold action and is full of risks and challenges takes great courage. I’m not surprised the Gertrud’s parents would be reluctant to let their daughter embark on such an adventure so far away from their oversight.
    These letters from the past are amazing small time capsules!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Indeed, these letters are not only a precious time capsule, but also they triggered so many flashbacks and caused so many memories to resurface that without them our love story could never have been written. Thank you so much, Joanne, for your kind and encouraging words!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Joanne Sisco

        In a related story, my mom kept all the letters written to her by my dad during WWII. She was Dutch and my father was Italian, stationed with the Canadian Armed Forces.
        When my father passed away, those letters became almost a life line for her. She read and reread them right up until shortly before her own death. Those letters are now in the loving safekeeping of one of her grand-daughters.
        Like your letters, these ones from my dad document a love story ❤️

        It’s a shame that letter writing just doesn’t happen any more. The personality reflected through an individual’s handwriting is lost in this world of emails, texts, tweets, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Peter Klopp Post author

        I agree totally with your feelings about the loss of letter writing in the present iPhone generation. I also would like to encourage someone in your family with writing skills (perhaps you) to take on the task to go through the letters and piece them together into the wonderful love story these letters appear to be. Of course, in writing ours we have the advantage of filling in the missing details as we have experienced the story ourselves. Thanks for coming back and telling about your father’s letters, Joanne!


  9. Ankur Mithal

    Sometimes I am reading your posts backwards. I mean, the earlier ones later. However, I find that that does not in any way detract from the unfolding story. In fact, they are perhaps inspirational, in the upright and forthright manner you approach it, even though it might have worked better to have painted a less definite picture of the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Thank you, Ankur, for you kind comment on my posts. I am happy to read that you go back to read some of the older posts. As far as our love story is concerned, you may go back as far as Chapter 19, which you can find in the Klopp Story in the menu.

      Liked by 1 person

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