Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch5 Part 16

A Happy Childhood in a Time of Fear and Oppression

While my parents increasingly suffered under the oppressive political system, my brother and I experienced a happy childhood. We were oblivious to the hardships my parents had to endure. My mother had to struggle every day to provide food and other necessities.

The Three Panknin Children

Even essential food items such as butter, flour, sugar, meat and cheese were scarce, and there were long lineups at the grocery stores every day for the limited supplies. Luxury items such as coffee, cocoa, chocolate, citrus fruit and cigarettes were hardly ever available. Ironically, the most coveted things for many people were cigarettes and coffee.

Food was scarce, but basically, everything from clothing to building materials was in short supply or unavailable. Regular planned outages rationed even electric power. While West Germany had a rapid economic boom after the war, East Germany had an economic decline. People in the East were angry and upset that they had to struggle for survival under a totalitarian system while their brothers and sisters in the West were enjoying freedom and prosperity. If people complained or criticized the system, they could be “denounced” to the authorities and severely punished. People could no longer trust each other. For many demoralized people in the East, West Germany became the “Promised Land,” They started calling it the Golden West. Significant numbers of desperate people escaped to the West, risking their lives and giving up all their material possessions in the pursuit of freedom and happiness. There wasn’t much that West German people could do to help their friends and relatives across the border.

12 Replies to “Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch5 Part 16”

  1. It’s hard to imagine the contrast between East Germany and West Germany. And sadly those harsh days seem to have left a difference even now between the two parts of the country.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Even 15-20 years after the war it was still rather bad with regard to supplies. I remember when visiting my grandparents, it was a great excitement, when there were bananas at the local grocery shop and people would stand in queue for them, and they got only a limited amount, so that everybody could get some.

    My father’s parents lived in East Germany in Rostock. My Grandfather moved there, because he could get a job only there, he was a sea captain on a big fishing steamer. But that was before the wall and all that cr….. and then, over night, they were trapped. He was several times denounced by his subtenants, who were usually teachers at the local school. (He was forced to have a subtenant, because the state deemed their house too big for only the two of them.) He was called to the police to defend himself. He was lucky that he didn’t go to prison, I never understood why, because sometimes people went to prison for nothing. But I was glad, of course.

    When Germany was reunited, we paid a percentage of our salary as solidarity contribution to the eastern federal states for some years. Some people complained about it, but I think that was fine, as I knew what they had suffered, sliding from one dictatorship into the next. And when they left, the Russians took everything with them that they could possibly transport and screw off, even railroad tracks. So the contribution was sorely needed. Everybody, who had family in the East, agreed with me, I am sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dass Du Dich trotz der schweren Zeit damals an eine glückliche Kindheit erinnern kannst, zeigt , wie sehr Deine Eltern erfolgreich gekämpft haben, Biene, um Dich und Deinen Bruder durch alle Schwierigkeiten zu retten und Euch alles zu geben, was Ihr brauchtet! Wie viele Opfer sie gebracht haben , um Euch durch diese Jahre zu bringen, kann man nur ahnen.
    Die Fotos zeigen, dass Deine Schwester auch viel dazu beigetragen hatte, damit Ihr das Lachen nicht verlerntet. Da brauchte Eure Familie viel Kraft und Mut, um diese Jahre durchzustehen.

    Stella beschreibt hier sehr ausführlich und genau diese Zeit, dem gibt es nichts hinzuzufügen!!!! Genau so war es!!
    Herzliche Grüsse!
    Edda

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Liebe Edda, wie immer habe ich deinen Kommentar meinem Bienchen gleich vorgelesen. Sie hat sich sehr über deine lieben Worte gefreut. Sie dienen als Ansporn, bald wieder ihren eigenen Blog zu schreiben. Liebe Grüße an euch aus dem fernen Kanada!

      Like

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