Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch6 Part 13

Injustice and Humiliation at School

Biene wrote this post.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was happy to have regular school again and looked forward to classes every day.

Two days after my mom had enrolled us at the Elementary School Am Baum  (at The Tree),  I woke up with a sore throat.  I was prone to severe allergies,  especially during the pollen season in the spring.  My mother suggested I stay home, sending my brother off at the usual time.  I did not want to miss school and pleaded with my mother to let me go until she relented.

I ran as fast as I could not be late, but classes had just started when I arrived.   Out of breath, I reached the classroom door where my teacher received me.  As I already indicated earlier, he seldom smiled and was very strict.   He looked earnest this morning,  “Why are you late?”. he asked in a stern voice; still out of breath, I stammered, “I wasn’t feeling well.”

“Don’t lie to me!” he shouted and, without warning, slapped me across the face.

Never before had I been physically punished by my parents or other adults. For a moment, I felt frozen in time.   I was so stunned and shocked that I did not know what was happening.  Eventually, like a sleepwalker,  I made it to my desk and sat there dazed until dismissal time.  I felt humiliated by this unjust punishment and very sad.  Until then, I had idolized and adored teachers.  In my mind, they embodied the highest human qualities like wisdom, knowledge, fairness, justice and kindness.  This undeserved slap in my face shattered that illusion.

Elementary School Velbert

Only when I got home did I cry.  It wasn’t the physical pain of the slap in my face that hurt but the emotional pain of undeserved punishment and the betrayal of trust by an abusive person in authority.

Most people did not own phones when I grew up, so my mother talked in person to the teacher the next day, but the damage was done.

10 thoughts on “Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch6 Part 13

  1. That is an awful, awful story. Teachers used to get away with so much physical and emotional abuse. I am so sorry that happened to you.


  2. Peter, it saddens me that the teacher did that. A lifetime of hurt which never should have happened. At the very least, the teacher should have contacted your mother rather than strike you.


  3. Biene, just when things were looking better, you had a set back.This teacher sounds like he had other troubles in his life and took it out on you. I trust you latter had teachers that were trustworthy.


  4. At that time it was still officially allowed to hit children at school, was it not? But it was usually being hit with a stick on the behind or with a ruler on the hands. Bad enough, but to hit a child in the face is base. I hope your mother gave him a piece of her mind and made him apologize to you!


  5. How awful! I’m so glad teachers are no longer allowed to hit children at all, but I honestly can’t remember a time when they are allowed to hit them in the face. That must have been devastating!


  6. Dear Peter
    Teachers were quite often stupidly authoritarian when were pupils.
    Thanks for sharing this event. Didn’t you become a teacher? Did you want to be a better teacher?
    With love from the sunny sea
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂


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