Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch6 Part 2

First Impressions of the  Sandhorst Refugee Camp

Biene wrote this Post

My mother was distraught after our first night in the crowded dormitory shared with twelve strangers and other strangers passing through our room from the adjacent sickroom.  She feared for our health and well-being due to the proximity of the contagious people who had to pass frequently through our door to visit the facilities or other places in the building.

Mutti Panknin at the Refugee Camp

After my mother voiced her concerns to the management, we were assigned to a small private room furnished with two metal bunk beds, a table with four chairs and a small wardrobe.  Although this room was smaller than my father’s study in Gotha, we felt happy to have more privacy.  We still had to share our door to the hallway with the occupants of the neighbouring room; a young widow and her two children.  Her son was five years older than my brother and me, while her daughter was two years younger than us.  But despite the age difference, we became good friends.

Rainer and Gabi’s mom always looked glamorous. She dressed like a film star.  I knew what film stars looked like from pictures of American actors and actresses in the packages of chewing gum.  I started collecting those pictures when staying with our friends in Dortmund. When I commented on her mom’s clothes to Gabi, she told me her mother’s secret.  Her mom had found a way to contact actors’ fan clubs in the United States.  She would tell them about her plight as a widowed refugee asking for charitable donations.  She would receive big parcels with the most fashionable, expensive outfits, shoes and accessories, often only worn a few times by her idols. Gabi’s brother Rainer went to the Merchant Marine Corps as a cadet after he turned 14 years old and had passed grade 8.   He brought me a beautiful scarf from one of his training sessions in Hamburg, the biggest harbour in Germany.  My mom proudly displayed it on the wall, as you can see in the picture. I admired and adored Rainer.  He would be travelling to many of the places my dad had shown us on the world map.

11 Replies to “Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch6 Part 2”

  1. Biene, so glad that you are telling your story. The hand of God protecting you and your family is so evident. Glad your mother’s request for a more private space was granted. You kept healthy and made wonderful friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can understand that your mother was concerned. Good that she told the administration about this, and that they gave you another room. Sometimes a situation changes only when we take initiative, as your mother did. I hope you didn’t have to stay too long in that refugee camp.
    I am also thinking of your father, who had been in that terrible prisoner of war camp. The refugee camp must have brought back mamories, even if the circumstances were nothing like that.

    Liked by 1 person

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