Walter Panknin (1998 – 1977) and His Family – Ch5 Part 14

Gender Inequality at the Panknin Household

Biene contributed this post.

My brother had an inquisitive mind and constantly tried to figure out how things worked or how people made them. I would often discover that my toys or dolls were broken or taken apart. They had fallen victim to my brother’s curiosity. It would upset me tremendously. Although my parents expressed some sympathy, they never punished my brother or tried to change his behaviour. They not only condoned his often destructive explorations but almost encouraged them. They were proud of his clever findings and discoveries. In the name of science, they expected me to sacrifice my toys.

I do not have many memories of our early school days. But I remember that our teacher was called Frau Gans (Mrs. Goose). Her name very much amused my dad. In German, you say “dumme Gans” to a “dumb female.” Our teacher definitely was not “a stupid goose.”

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Both my brother and I were artistic and liked to draw and paint. I produced my first “masterpiece” in grade one. We were supposed to paint a picture of a wall. Mrs. Goose was very impressed with my work because I painted such a realistic-looking brick wall and a happy worker beside it. My dad was a bit puzzled by this unusual theme. “Why paint an ugly wall?” he asked. Ten years later, the communist regime built the Berlin Wall to separate the two parts of Berlin. Maybe this early art exercise in wall paintings was the first step to glorifying wall building. Or was it a premonition?

16 Replies to “Walter Panknin (1998 – 1977) and His Family – Ch5 Part 14”

  1. It is strange that in our generation female children still had to be considerate, but male ones didn’t. In the old days the boys got more freedom, because they were supposed to be soldiers and might die young. But in our generation, right after the war? It was not so much different in our family. However, my brother was not supposed to destroy things, no matter for what reasons. One could say that he was not completely free to do whatever he wanted.

    Yes, the wall, who would have thought that something like that would be possible …

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s tempting to make that connection, which however doesn’t exist. Wiktionary gives the etymology of ganz as ‘Old High German ganz (“whole, sound, healthy, complete”), from Proto-West Germanic *gant (“whole, healthy; all, complete”).’ In contrast, German Gans, like the closely related English goose, descended from Indo-European *ghans, which was the name for that kind of bird.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Those of us of a certain age remember not only the fall of the Berlin wall, but the building of it in the first place. I’m afraid that increasingly many young people in the United States and Canada don’t know the value of freedom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was in my last year of high school, when the wall was built. Our school organized a field trip to view this monstrous wall. Now new walls, not quite so visible, are being built around us. I wonder when they will come down.

      Like

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