Mutti Panknin Fighting for her Husband’s Pension
Biene wrote this post.
The first year of high school was a big adjustment for us. We had to get used to a variety of teachers and teaching styles. Learning a new language was fun but also very difficult. We had to memorize many English words, their difficult pronunciations and their idiosyncratic spellings. To this day, the infamous “th” is still a challenge for me sometimes. Spelling rules are relatively consistent in German, but exceptions to the rule are common in English. Memorization of words and phrases seemed to be the best solution.
Although school ended at 1:15 p.m., we had little free time because of heavy homework for each subject. In the afternoon, my brother and I would sit at our only table in the small room of the “House of Rocky Docky” and study. His homework was utterly different from mine. We hardly talked to each other, immersed in a different world. My father worked in the Krupp dental laboratory and would not return until supper. My mother had her battles to fight. She was constantly on the go trying to fight for my father’s right to receive a government pension from the police force he had worked for until Germany was divided.
Most people in Germany did not have phone service when I grew up. It was difficult for my mother to talk to government officials and other essential contact persons involved in her struggle to get justice for my father. It was a difficult and stressful undertaking for my mother and very exhausting. She had to travel by bus or train to government offices in other cities to get an appointment. She had to write letters and fill out lengthy forms, which often landed in the wrong departments or were filed away unread. There was an overload of administrative work for the government officials to accommodate all the refugee claims from the east.