The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

Reflections on Life, Family and Community

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


Gradual Descent into Emotional Hell



Key Player #3 in Chapter 34: Walter Panknin, Biene’s Twin Brother

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.

On the 23rd of October, 1965 I had not yet received the devastating news about her family’s opposition to our wedding plans. Not being aware of the storm clouds gathering over our sweet hopes and aspirations, I wrote Biene a cheerful birthday letter. Being in a most jocular frame of mind, I teased her about the severe yoke of marriage and encouraged her tongue-in-cheek to enjoy the few remaining months of freedom until our wedding day in May . A few days later my mood changed drastically, when I received the bad news.

October 25th, 1965 Calgary University

My dear Gertrud,

If this turns out to be true what you have just been describing in your last letter, you will be in great trouble pretty soon. I had to force myself to work yesterday, because I kept thinking about your problem, which consequently is also my problem.

First of all, what your brother told you is definitely wrong or it is at least the wrong impression. I have never mentioned that I wouldn’t like to be in Canada. The more I think about it, the more I do believe that your parents and brother don’t have any objections against me, but against the fact that their only daughter and sister should leave them in a couple of months. Thinking of returning to Germany is now out of the question. I thank you again for not having interfered in the time of undecided matters and inner conflicts before I entered the university. But if you had done so, it would have been the only possibility of getting me back to the Old Country. Now I have decided to stay. It is not only the money (about one thousand dollars) that is invested now into my studies for the winter session, I am also personally involved with great delight in the courses, especially in German literature and cannot give it up just because your folks want to have you around for a few more years.

But you were resolute and are still resolute, as you wrote me. Didn’t your parents know that you intended to follow me after some time? Sure, they did. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that they must have hoped that our relationship would eventually come to nothing. I guess on this particular point they underestimated the strength and sincerity of our love. Maybe they will think quite differently when they realize that they cannot change your mind. Though I wished I could do more, I cannot help except politely answering your parents’ letter, but definitely stating that I am willing to stay.

There is something else I want to tell you. You said your brother is going to write me too. He may write as often as he wants to, but he cannot expect me to answer his letters as long as I haven’t gotten word from your parents. I know what an awful impact a death of a close relative can have so that I fully understand why they couldn’t answer. In this case I’m willing to wait another fortnight and even longer, but I cannot accept your brother as a mediator between your parents and me. Do you understand me? I think the matter is too important to have it delegated to your brother. I wrote your parents and expect no answer from anybody but from them alone. How can I find out that the arguments are his and not those of his parents? Would you mind telling him that I really enjoy studying now that ‘I really like to be in America’ and his conclusions must have been a misunderstanding.

Although I don’t want to, I am getting quite a bit worried. But when you are involved, how can I remain calm! Nevertheless celebrate with an untroubled spirit your 21st birthday. I hope you will get a day off on Friday.  As to your next year it is my heart-felt wish that in spite of all adversities all things will come to pass that you are hoping for right now

With lots of love, your Peter

28 thoughts on “Chapter 34 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part III

  1. Amy

    Such a powerful letter. You must have been quite a strong young man and your Biene a very strong woman. I can’t imagine how she felt when she read your letter—reassured? Worried? Proud of your strength? Moved by your determination?

    And so young—21! Today people that age are barely mature enough to think about the next hour, let alone commit to a lifetime with another person.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pure Glory

    What a resolute letter with strong determination to stay the course. Writing letters gives one a chance to choose one’s words. Today, we talk on the phone or on messenger. Not letting Walter, age 21, be the mediator for Biene’s parents shows great wisdom!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. taphian

    Die Art und Weise, wie Deine “Schwiegereltern” und ihr Bruder reagiert haben, erscheint mir heute sehr merkwürdig. Ein Kind “gehört” einem nicht, und nach Volljährigkeit (damals ja noch 21) kann jeder machen, was er möchte und hingehen, wo er möchte. Ich kann das Verhalten leider überhaupt nicht verstehen oder gutheißen. Wie gut, dass Du/Ihr Euch nie habt abbringen lassen von Euren Plänen. Wie wäre Euer Leben dann verlaufen?
    Alles Gute aus Hamburg, liebe Grüße Mitza

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Du hast schon recht , liebe Mitza. Biene war frei innerhalb des damals herrschenden Gesetzes. Doch war sie emotional gebunden an ihre Eltern. Daraus entstanden Spannungen, die sich bald in weiteren Posts entpuppen werden.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. kopfundgestalt

    As I wrote in an earlier comment: Biene’s brother shouldn’t have interfered.
    Everybody should have been aware that written words can easily lead to misinterpretations, even more, when strong feelings are involved.
    How did you stand the stress resulting from this conflict?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Walter has placed himself in the role of the parents. His tone was aggressive, which did not sit very well with me. Thank you, Gerhard, for your kind words. The stress level was extremely high, and was getting worse with each and every new blow coming from overseas.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Edda

    Ob 10, 20 oder 30Jahre-wenn die Eltern sich gegen einen stellen, kann man unmöglich sagen: “Alles egal, wir sind auch ohne Euch glücklich.” Auch wenn man das will, es geht nicht auf Dauer..Und Ihr wolltet ja glücklich sein- und zwar
    mit Einwilligung von Bienes Eltern und ohne Einmischung von Walter…Es ist oft schwer als Eltern “loszulassen”- und schwer, eigentlich unmöglich , als “Kind” die Einwände der Eltern zu verstehen und schon gar nicht, diese zu akzeptieren.!
    Da habt Ihr aber eine furchtbar schwere Zeit vor Euch gehabt..
    Und damals gabs nicht die Möglichkeit, sich mal schnell über Mail auszutauschen….

    Schön, daß Du wieder zu Hause bist, Peter!!🙆 Erhol Dich gut bei Deiner Biene!
    Herzliche Grüße an Euch beide von uns.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Das hast du wieder mal den Nagel auf den Kopf getroffen, liebe Edda. Wie leicht wäre es gewesen, sich mit Mail Gewissheit zu verschaffen. Wenn du dich noch an die Krise mit dem Verlobungsring erinnerst, da hätte eine Message das ganze Problem der Sendepause sofort lösen können.

      Mein Bienchen hat sich schon Sorgen gemacht, weil sie noch keine Antwort auf ihre Mail über das Video vom kleinen Raphael erhalten hat. Schreib ihr doch bitte ganz schnell eine Antwort. Auch mir hat das Video mit dem Peek-a-Boo sehr gefallen.


  6. Ann Coleman

    That must have been such a difficult time for you! But it sounds as if you handled it with strength and dignity, and with a maturity that was beyond your years. No wonder you and Biene ended up together: you were meant for each other, I think!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Thank you, Ann! That was a very kind thing to say. If you consider the distance and the slow mail service, it was truly a great test of our love. But the most dangerous and most difficult part is still to come …

      Liked by 1 person

  7. ruthfreter

    Hi Peter!

    Mir gefallen diese kleinen Berichte von Eurem Familien-sein gut. Leider ist mein Gravatar wegen einer wp-Aktion in meinem Account nicht voll einsatzfähig und ich kann nicht liken – was ich für die letzten Einträge – über Dezember/Januar tun wollte.

    Vielen Dank für die kleinen Alltagsunterbrechungen durch Deine posts – Ruth

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Bun Karyudo

    Although these developments must have been very trying for you, Peter, I wonder if in some ways things might not have been even harder for Biene. It’s never easy to go against the wishes of those we love and respect, but it must have been particularly difficult when she was having to do it while you were so many thousands of miles away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Yes, dear Bun, you guessed it right. It was indeed a thousand times harder for Biene to stay on top of things. As for me, it was very frustrating to see the impending tragedy unfold without being able to do anything about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dina

    I have read your lovely letter with great interest, Peter. You were both so young and already you had come so far! Your determination and choice of words to clarify the situation are impressive and convincing.
    Maybe twins sometimes feel a stronger bond, that’s an interesting thought.

    I was 23 when I introduced my German friend to my family and my grandparents were not quite as amused as my parents when they heard we were to marry and I’d move to Germany. Their reaction helped me in a way to realise what I really want and I was able to express this quite clearly.

    We hope you are in good spirits, Peter. Are you halfway yet, “auf dem Berg”?

    Sending you warm thoughts and lots of love across the pond,
    Hanne and Klausbernd

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peter Klopp Post author

      Now, what you are writing about your personal experiences is very interesting. I wonder if the concern of your grandparents had something to do with the German occupation during the war. I remember, having lived close to the Dutch border, that the older generation of the Dutch population had understandably very hostile sentiments against us young German visitors. Yes, after 4 weeks at home, things are beginning to look up, but I still have a long way to go on the road of full recovery. Thank you so much for your kind words, Hanne!

      Liked by 1 person

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