Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) – Part 12

Freedom from Fear at Gutfelde

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

Another important aspect contributing to the sense of well-being and safety at Gutfelde was the lack of fear within this close-knit community. The Gestapo had almost unlimited control over Germany’s citizens in the more populated areas areas of the Reich. As reported in the posts on my aunt Tante Meta, a person could get into serious trouble simply by being denounced to the secret police for having made some derogatory remarks about any of the Nazi leaders, especially if the criticism was directed towards the Führer Adolf Hitler. Anyone having an axe to grind with a neighbour could pass on information. Even if, as it was the case regarding Aunt Meta’s husband, the charges were dropped for lack of evidence, the harrowing experience would stay with the accused for the rest of their life.

Gutfelde/Zlotniki 1912 Taken from a book on Manors in today’s Poland (very likely the oldest photo of Gutfelde in existence)

Out here in the far eastern corner of  Germany, the Ernst Klopp family and Polish staff lived and worked together in harmony, a situation actually frowned upon by the authorities. Sarcastic remarks and political jokes about the leaders of the Nazi regime, which elsewhere would have resulted in serious consequences, were quite common at Gutfelde. I recall three comments, which my mother had overheard at the large estate household and had passed onto me many years ago. I need to warn my readers the statements are somewhat crude.

Gutfelde – Zlotniki 1912

About Adolf Hitler at a time when it was clear to all that the war would be lost: “Our great Führer got us into this sh-t. No doubt, he will find ways to get us out of this mess.” About the Nazi Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, who suffered from a clubfoot handicap. He delivered many speeches aimed at keeping up the morale of the German people: “Now comes Little Clubfoot’s fairy tale hour.” About the commander of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering. It is presented here in German, because the joke’s effect depends very much on the implied rhyming word, which is missing: “Hermann Goering sprach vor kurzem, man kann auch ohne Zwiebeln auskommen.”

What I recently heard about the use of jokes in the Nazi era seems to fit the picture I painted of the Klopp family at Gutfelde. As long as the jokes excluded the political system and its leaders, they were tolerated, even encouraged. Obviously, the people at Gutfelde had crossed the line of acceptability. But the liberating influence of all that bantering must have been tremendous.

17 comments

  1. Amy · September 4

    Very interesting, Peter, that your family felt secure enough to make those comments. I wonder what else they were saying about what was going on during the Nazi regime.

    By the way, I first read this on my phone where the green color does not show. Also, everything I read on the laptop is green, so I assume so far these chapters are all your words, not your cousin’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · September 4

      Amy, would you think that blue would show up better on your phone? I could change the font colour in a jiffy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy · September 4

        I think the phone app converts all font to black–But I am not sure.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Peter Klopp · September 5

        I changed the font colour to blue. It looks better now and should be more visible and easier to read.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Amy · September 5

        Sounds good, and I will check to see if it is still black when people read it on an iPhone. I almost always read on a laptop, so hadn’t noticed before. And for me, the green was fine!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Stella, oh, Stella · September 4

    Sounds like they lived in a kind of bubble for a time. In the cities it was bad with the denunciations. It was enough that one disliked one’s neighbour.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · September 4

      Yes, indeed, there was such a bubble in former West Prussia.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stella, oh, Stella · September 4

        Good for them, it postponed the horror for some time, and as you mentioned before, if I remember correctly, the good relationship with the Polish workers saved his life.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Peter Klopp · September 4

        Some Polish workers even decided to flee with the Germans as they feared the Red Army and its cruel soldateska.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Stella, oh, Stella · September 5

        And right they were … weren’t they?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pure Glory · September 4

    Peter, your family was really blessed to have a sense of some normalcy during the Nazi era. A little bit of peace during a huge storm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · September 5

      Indeed, it was a little bubble of peace for my family until the storm swept them away too near the end of this terrible war.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Peter Klopp · September 4

    I changed the green colour of the text into blue. Hopefully, this will show up more prominently on your cell phones.

    Like

  5. Amazing that your family got away with the freedom of thoughts at this so very troubled and horrible times.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ann Coleman · September 5

    I think the freedom to make those little jokes and remarks must have meant a great deal to them!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ankur Mithal · September 13

    I believe all oppressive regimes have a common dislike of any semblance of disagreement. They start believing in their own greatness and goodness and isolate themselves more and more. And eventually, they fall. But unfortunately, after inflicting untold misery on many.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · September 13

      It seems to me unless these regimes are destroyed by war and violence they tend collapse under their own weight.

      Liked by 1 person

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