Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch5 – Part 13

School Memories

Biene contributed this post.

As I already mentioned, my dad prepared us well for school. Before every lesson in his roomy study, he would say in English, “I am your teacher.” He wanted to acquaint us with a foreign language early on in life. He refused to teach us Russian, which would have been more helpful in a communist state controlled by the Soviet Union. Math was always fun. My brother and I had competitions in mental math, which I would usually win. Until my last years in high school, I consistently outperformed my brother. But then he surpassed me, and I could never catch up. Calculus was my downfall.


We had to memorize poems, ballads and, of course, lots of folk songs, which we would sing on long hikes in the beautiful forests of Thuringia. Most of the songs are still fresh in my mind. They bring back happy memories of picking berries, swimming in rivers and lakes, and picnics under beautiful trees. My dad would tell us legends and fairy tales often connected to the region’s folklore on these outings. Since the German language has fairly consistent phonetic rules, I learned reading almost on my own before entering school.

Walter and Biene

The famous German “Zuckertüte” or sugar cone bag originated in Thuringia near Gotha. This giant, brightly decorated cone-shaped paper bag was filled with chocolates, candies and other delicacies or little gifts to “sweeten” the first day of school. I wished we had a picture of ours. But at that time, my parents did not have the means to buy films.
We only had a few hours of school every morning for the first few years, including Saturdays. Students were expected to do homework and practice their new skills after school. Since my brother and I were fast learners, we had lots of free time to play when we returned home for lunch.

11 Replies to “Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch5 – Part 13”

  1. Biene, your father really loved you and your brother. It sounds like he spent much time preparing you for life and also introduced you to the beauty of nature in your part of Germany. I am sure that your enjoyment of the outdoors come from your adventures with your father.

    Blessings of healing with your broken leg!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I think of living under the Communists in East Germany after the war, I think of such a cold and harsh life. But this post indicates that children still were able to enjoy the outside world and get an education. And Biene, calculus was my downfall in math also!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am curious about the reason your son is studying in Hamburg. Is the programme offered in English? I visited Hamburg when I was still in high school and found it exciting.

      Like

      1. Peter he is doing a Master’s programme in Environmental Science. He is of the view that Europe is the right place for pursuing a career in environment studies. His shortlist had UK, Germany and Sweden initially. A year back he had enrolled in the UK for deferred because of the pandemic. By the time a year had passed his mind had changed. BTW this programme is run in English.

        Liked by 1 person

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