Alma, the Sixth Child of Friedrich and Emma Klopp
Foreword by Peter Klopp
Aunt Alma is the only person in the Klopp family, with whom I maintained a correspondence until her death in 1975. As a young man, I paid two visits to Berlin-Köpenick, where she resided, the first before and the second after the building of the Berlin Wall. Her son-in-law Arthur Thieß, whom I called Uncle because of the huge age difference, continued the correspondence. Until his passing we exchanged letters, documents and photos providing an invaluable source of data on my early childhood environment at Gutfelde (Zlotniki) near Dietfurt (today’s Znin in Poland).
Alma was born as the sixth child in the ‘Düppler’ mill of Olvenstedt near Magdeburg on December 6, 1882. At the age of 22, she got married in Berlin on January 14, 1905, to the farmer’s son Otto Scholz. He had his roots in Sosnitza-Steinksheim (today Polish Sosnica at the Lutynia river) about 10 km southwest of Pleszew, where he was born on November 27, 1880.
Otto Scholz was employed as coachman by lamp manufacturer Wessel, who owned at that time the entire 25 ha peninsula Schwanenwerder/Havel (known as Sandwerder until 1902). Here the children Otto (1906), Else (1907), Charlotte (1908), and Willi (1910) were born. Otto Scholz participated in the battles of WWI and returned safe and sound from the war to his hometown. In the starvation year of 1917, their daughter Charlotte was sent to a children’s care facility in East Prussia, where she died after coming down with dysentery. Since Otto was noticed for the adroit handling of horses during the war years by an army veterinarian, he found employment in 1918 at the Berlin Veterinarian Institute (later taken over by the Humboldt University). During the production of serum, Otto Scholz contracted blood poisoning and anthrax, of which he died on February 13, 1919.
Alma and her Family
Alma. now a widow at 37, did not marry again. During WWII she lived in the Friedrichstraße in Berlin close to Strausberg Square. There, already 63 years of age, she lost her home during a bombing raid in 1943. From that time on she lived with her daughter Else and her son-in-law Artur Thieß.
Her two sons Otto and Willi did not return from the war. Willi died in action on Christmas Eve 1943 in Finland, while Otto was reported missing in East Prussia at the beginning of January 1945. He probably perished with thousands of refugees and injured soldiers, when the hospital vessel “Wilhelm Gustloff” sank in the icy Baltic Sea, after being torpedoed by a Soviet submarine on January 30, 1945.
The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has the following to say and I quote, “The MV Wilhelm Gustloff was a German military transport ship which was sunk on 30 January 1945 by Soviet submarine S-13 in the Baltic Sea while evacuating German civilians, Nazi officials and military personnel from Gdvnia (Gotenhafen) as the Red Army advanced. By one estimate,9,400 people died, which makes it the largest loss of life in a single ship sinking in history.” Lucky were those who survived the war because they had been refused to board the already overcrowded ship.
Active and Mentally Alert to the End
At the end of World War II Else was the only surviving child of the Scholz family. Else had married the engineer Artur Thieß. He is the one I called Uncle Artur, even though he was my cousin by marriage. He was born in Rastenburg, East Prussia, in 1905. For twenty years he had been active in the technical division of the German Post Office. After the war, he was teaching at the institute of engineering within the East German postal system. There his talents found recognition and he quickly advanced to the position of lecturer at the department of engineering and electronics specializing in low-frequency applications in Berlin-Lichtenberg. In 1952 he published a book on low-frequency transmissions. He also frequently served as a guest lecturer at the famous Humboldt University. [Knowing my interest in the field of electronics, he now and then sent me textbooks on transistor theory and practice. It was apparently permitted to mail books from the German Democratic Republic to the West, but not in the opposite direction.]
The surviving children of the Thieß marriage were all female: Ingrid, Gerlinde, Antje (see photo below) and Silvia. They were all known to me through my two visits in 1959 and 1962.
In the tender loving care of her daughter Else and son-in-law Artur Thieß, Aunt Alma passed away on September 10, 1975, at the age of 93. Mentally alert until the very end she reached the oldest age of the entire Friedrich and Emma Klopp family.