Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) – Part 9

County Court Duties in Dietfurt (Znin)

Please note that my thoughts on my father’s life appear in green print. What is shown in regular print is translated from my cousin’s book on the Klopp family.

At the time of my birth, my father as manager and inspector was in charge of the estates Silberberg, Oberhof and Gutfelde totalling an area of approximately 3000 ha. Although he must have been thankful to the authorities for landing him such challenging and prestigious position and therefore may have harboured a favourable disposition towards the Nazi regime, he always strove to keep his humanity in dealing with his fellow human beings, Germans and Poles alike. In particular, through his actions he distanced himself from the policy that forbade German citizens to fraternize with the defeated enemy. It is a great testimony to his moral independence from the dark and sinister sides of Nazi Germany that he allowed Polish men and women to live and work closely and cordially with the Klopp family at the Gutfelde residence and the agricultural headquarter for the region. He maintained an excellent working relationship with the former Polish estate manager Haluda, who after WW2 took over as director of the communist run state farm. From the stories I picked up from my mother I speculate that Father owed his survival to his reputation of treating fairly and equitably all the people who worked for the large estates under his directorship. Other inspectors notorious for their arrogance, cruelty and injustice in dealing with the Polish population were rounded up, lynched, hanged or shot in the closing months of the war. On a  Polish website with special focus on mansions, manors, and castles of Poland, I found an entire page devoted to Gutfelde – now an agricultural training center with orchards, wheat and corn under cultivation, 800 cows and 8000 pigs. The same page to my great surprise mentioned my father’s name as an administrator during WW2! The mansion-like imposing building was built around 1880 in the late-classical style and consisted of a body with a higher wing and ground floor extensions. It has not changed much in the last seventy years.

Gutfelde/Zlotniki 2012

The estate secretary was Czeslawa Pruszewicz. Due to Nazi marriage restrictions regarding Poles, she could not call herself Gromowska until much later. My late brother Karl (1929 – 2019) added in a footnote the following comment, “She maintained through correspondence with Erika Klopp regular contact for more than 40 years and died in Rogowo in 1986. Her granddaughter still keeps up the connection with the Karl Klopp family in Detmold to this very day (1997). Ernst Klopp did not tell much about his experiences as an estate administrator. However, it is safe to assume that the descendants of his former Polish estate personnel have kept him in a favourable light.

The Dietfurt Hospital, where Peter Klopp was born

In the Dietfurt county hospital the last child, son Peter, was born on March 24, 1942. Contrary to family tradition and in comparison to his four older siblings, Peter for the time being remained unbaptized. It seems reasonable to assume that in view of Ernst’s positive attitude toward the system a certain alienation from the church institution may have played a major role in that decision.

Little Peter in Gutfelde

Even though Ernst Klopp was not a lawyer, he functioned never-the-less as a semi-independent within the county court system. In a sort of pseudo-independence acting in an honorary unsalaried function, he dealt with complaints among Nazi members against each other as well as with charges from outside the Nazi hierarchy against such individuals. In some individual instances, Ernst also dealt with cases of complaints coming from the Polish population. He was not a civil servant but was authorized to sign and authenticate documents such as marriage, birth and death certificates. He held his honorary position with the Dietfurt county system not on the basis of NS Party Membership, which he did not have, but rather on his reputation as a capable estate manager.

5 comments

  1. Amy · August 14

    Very interesting, Peter. I can’t imagine living under the Nazi regime (of course, I wouldn’t have been allowed to), so I don’t know how good people managed to balance their sense of morality with their own need for preserving their own safety and that of their families. It sounds like your father did his best to remain a good person while working under those who were among the most immoral people that history has known.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stella, oh, Stella · August 14

    I am surprised that he got away with not being a member of the Nazi party. My grandfather told us that the police was putting pressure on people, who were not members, saying that they would lose their jobs, their children would not be able to go to university and stuff like that.

    Like

  3. That is very honorable that the descendants of the former Polish Estate honored your fathers work and kindness.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ann Coleman · August 16

    It speaks so well of your father that he had the courage to treat everyone fairly even under Nazi rule. I’m not surprised that his kindness spared him later. And that photo is so sweet!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · August 17

      Thank you, Ann, for the kind words for my father’s life in the most eastern part of Germany. These were challenging years indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

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