Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) and his Family – Part 39

Philosophizing at Father’s Bedside

When Father’s back pains hurt too much, he stayed in bed for most of the day. Adolf and I were sitting at his bedside to keep him company. Then Father and I would often talk about the great empires of the past and the lessons one might learn from the causes of their decline. I really warmed up to this topic as I had recently taken a keen interest in the Roman Empire’s history. We concluded that if one allows foreign religious and ethnic elements to dominate the nation’s cultural core, it will sooner or later lose its identity. Its values and moral fibre will undergo first decline and then total collapse. Germany, according to Father, has not learned her lessons and was headed in the same direction. Pointing to the record player on the night table, he remarked, “The record is turning. The needle is progressing in its groove. But in the end, it will be starting all over again. symbolizing the eternal recurrent of the same in world history.” Adolf feeling a little left out in this highfalutin talk, said he would buy himself a couple of history books to study up on the things he had missed in school.


Before the end of my vacation in Michelbach, I gave Erna my moped. The engine of her better-looking moped had utterly broken down. Adolf, the skilful mechanic and jack-of-all-trades, took the working motor out of mine and installed it into Erna’s moped. As a reward for my generosity, Adolf drove me in his Volkswagen beetle back home to Wesel, where he would spend a few days to visit with Mother and Aunt Mieze. In this joyful summer of 1962, I saw Father for the last time alive. I am so glad that I did. How great would have been the loss if I had missed this golden opportunity to see him!

16 Replies to “Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) and his Family – Part 39”

  1. What a fascinating conversation. It obviously left its mark on you. And is a real legacy from your father. And although Germany, like all countries, has its flaws, in many ways it has done more to try and prevent repeating its mistakes than many other countries, including the US, which still uses religion and race as ways of dividing and discriminating against people.

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  2. Indeed, how great would have been the loss … it was supposed to happen, I am sure.

    I think that another factor of declining empires is when nations are so well off that they get decadent and import slaves to do their dirty work, because nobody wants to do it anymore. That was – in my eyes – also the start of the decline of the Roman empire. Slaves or cheap/illegal workers would be the same in this connection. The great emperors also had the tendencies to spread themselves too thin, conquer more and more countries and having to rely on people without a necessary control function.

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    1. Thank you for mentioning another factor which may have contributed to the decline of the Roman empire. I see parallels here too for our modern time. It may not be so obvious. But I see the same trend in the use of cheap labour being imported from poor countries. The living conditions for foreign workers here in Canada are deplorable.

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  3. Peter, besides all the facts of the Roman Empire History, I think you were blessed to have that cherished moment with your father, not knowing that it would be the last time to see him. I believe that he shared the message of his dying by saying about the needle is turning….. . history, maybe he was also talking about his own history, don’t know if this making sense to you.

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  4. Dass Du mit Deinem Vater noch solch beeindruckende und vertrauensvolle Gespräche führen konntest,war ein großes Glück, finde ich,Peter. Ohne es zu wissen,war es ja das letzte Mal für Euch beide, dass Ihr zusammen gewesen seid. Du hast in dieser Zeit mit ihm sicher das gefunden,was Du viele Jahre (wenn vielleicht auch unbewusst) vermisst hast.Diese schönen Erinnerungen an Deinen Vater sind für Dich wertvoll gewesen, das kann ich aus Deinen Zeilen lesen!
    Herzliche Grüße !
    Edda

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  5. Peter, I had only recently read / heard that the lessons of history are inevitably lost. From the Thirty Years War e.g. there is nothing left. So it will be with the Second World War and the expulsion from the Eastern Territories.

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  6. Those must have been such good conversations between your father and you, Peter. And it is very good that you did get that chance to spend time with him that last time. There is no “defense” for change. It happens with or without us.

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