Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) Part 16

Cousin Hartmut Kegler’s Vacation Report

This is the third part of the guest post written by my cousin Hartmut Kegler, who also wrote the children’s seminary on Albert Schweitzer I published a few months ago in the original German. I waited until now because it throws some additional light on my father Ernst Klopp and on the happy years in Gutfelde (Zlotniki).

The Hunting Firearm

Finally, still vivid in my memory is another experience that was connected to a visit by my uncle Gerhard Kegler. [In January 1945, he was sentenced to death for disobeying Himmel’s insane order to defend the fortress and town of Landsberg, where thousands of innocent townspeople would have lost their lives. His story can be found here.] He was a colonel on the eastern front at that time and was on vacation in Gutfelde. One day, he asked me if I could shoot with a gun. Since I carried on my shirt the shooting badge of the German Youth Organization, I proudly answered yes. My problem, however, was that as a cub I had only been using a light pellet gun. But my uncle entrusted me with a heavy hunting firearm. At my uncle’s visit I was eleven or twelve years old but went full of pride out into the field. Then I spied a riot of crows which were sitting on a high poplar tree. I loaded the gun, raised it, aimed and pulled the trigger. The recoil of the firearm and the loud bang almost knocked me over. The crows flew away. I had not hit any. Since then I have never touched a gun, and never needed to nor was I forced to use one.

Generalleutnant Gerhard Kegler – Gutfelde 1944

The relationship of Uncle Ernst and Aunt Erika with the Polish personnel was, as I recall it, fair and respectful. I believe that they owe their successful escape from the Red Army to the proper treatment of the Polish personnel. The farm workers prevented through their cooperative actions that Uncle Ernst was captured by the Soviet soldiers. Through a series of adventurous moves he managed to safely make it to West Germany. [The actual tragic events that my cousin Hartmut Kegler did not know will be published on a later post.]

1943 Family Photo – My mother on the right with me on her arm

While at the fronts and the bombarded German cities, in concentration and POW camps innumerable people found a horrible death, we children enjoyed happy days during our vacation in Gutfelde. Much later I began to think about the darker sides of life. At any rate, I am thankful to Aunt Erika and Uncle Ernst for their hospitality and for giving us the freedom to romp around at our hearts’ content.

End of Hartmut Kegler’s childhood memories

Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) Part 15

Cousin Hartmut Kegler’s Vacation Report

This is the third part of the guest post written by my cousin Hartmut Kegler, who also wrote the children’s seminary on Albert Schweitzer I published a few months ago in the original German. I waited until now because it throws some additional light on my father Ernst Klopp and on the happy years in Gutfelde (Zlotniki).

The Games we played in Gutfelde

In the pond of the park, we enjoyed going for a swim but also played ‘war’ on it. We scrounged up wash-bins and tubs, we used as our battleships and loaded them up with chunks of sod that were our ammunition. On these ships, we rowed around the pond and fired at each other with the clumps of grass and dirt. The ‘ships’ that had been hit often tipped over so that we were forced to swim with them ashore. However, we did not succeed rescuing a particularly valuable zinc tub, which sank in the deep water. Together we tried to retrieve the tub by diving but could not find it. Aunt Erika to whom we had to report the loss naturally was very angry with us and we were much ashamed of our misdeed. The tub most likely still lies today at the bottom of the pond.

Happy Children at Gutfelde

We also played peaceful games. One of them was circus performances. In the park, there stood next to beautiful shrubbery a big old tree. There we presented our acrobatic showmanship. From the sturdy branch hung a swing, which we skillfully used for our performances. In addition, we did gymnastics exercises complete with headstands and rolls spiced up with oodles of clownery. Our mothers and other spectators generously provided applause and praise.

In Gutfelde, we had our own carousel. At the lower end of the estate building was a horse-operated gin. It consisted of a massive wood beam that was mounted on a large cogwheel, which in turn was connected to a shaft leading into the house. Its purpose was most likely to drive a generator inside the building. The beam was pulled by a horse, which trod around in a circle and was guided by the coachman. We children sat down on the beam and with great delight, we turned cozily round and round on this most unusual carousel.

To be continued …

Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) – Part 14

Cousin Hartmut Kegler’s Vacation Report

This is the second part of the guest post written by my cousin Hartmut Kegler, who also wrote the children’s seminary on Albert Schweitzer I published a few months ago in the original German. I waited until now because it throws some additional light on my father Ernst Klopp and on the happy years in Gutfelde (Zlotniki).

Playing War Games

 According to the prevailing circumstances our games often took a war-like character. I still have the following events vividly in my memory:

– Within the wide boundaries of the estate was a horse pasture. There, the yearlings were kept and could roam wild and free. We had fun chasing these horses around a bit so they would gallop over the entire pasture. It so happened that my four or five-year-old brother Jürgen had run away from us and somehow wound up among the galloping herd. We older children watched and gasped in horror. But Jürgen took the terrifying moment in stride without blinking an eye and miraculously stayed out of harm’s way. For his bravery, we awarded him the ‘Iron Cross first-class’.

– The big hay barn was the place where we played paratroopers. The barn had two floors allowing us to jump from the upper nearly 5 m high floor into the soft hay below. I do not know any more whether everyone had the courage to jump but some dared to take the plunge and even performed a midair somersault.

The ‘Warriors’ at Gutfelde

–  The war games also had a sinister side which we children did not recognize as such. It showed how children at a very young age were already shaped by the dominating culture of the Nazi era. We launched a ‘campaign’ into the settlement of the Polish farm workers, which was adjacent to the park of the Gutfelde estate. There we captured Polish children about our own age and made them ‘prisoners’. We ‘deported’ them to the estate mansion and handed them over to Uncle Ernst. However, he read us the riot act and sternly informed us that one does not do such cruel things and sent the Polish boys and girls back to their village.

To be continued …

Meta Emma Klopp – Friedrich and Emma’s Fourteenth Child – Part 3

The Tragic Loss of a Son

In 1910 the sons Werner (died in 1990) and Paul (died in 1932) were born in Weinheim. In 1910 came the transfer of their father to the renown senior high school in Mannheim, which was named after the French major and geographer “Tulla Oberschule”. The unremarkable years of a tranquil teacher’s existence were interrupted in the middle of World War I. In June 1916 Vincenz Mülbert was drafted into military service by the 14th Army Corps of the State of Baden. He served as a truck driver at the Recovery Unit I (Genesungsabteilung) of the Reserve Infantry Regiment 109. In October his daughter Hildegard was born in Mannheim.

During the static warfares in 1918, Vincenz took on active duty at the Aisne (east of Reims) and in the Upper Alsace. At the beginning of September 1918, he was declared “no useable for service at the front” on account of his highly strained nerves. As “being capable of garrison service”, he experienced the war’s end at the balloon battalion 139. On 22 November 1918, he received his demobilization papers and was released from his military service.

He returned to the former teaching post at the school in Mannheim. In May 1923, his wife Amalie gave birth to the twins Gertrud Ida and Hedwig Margarethe in Mannheim. In December followed the birth of the sixth and last child Rudolf Pius. It was according to a teacher’s news bulletin a premature birth. At that time the family possessed a home in Quadrant L of Mannheim.

From an application for financial assistance in September 1932 to the school administration one may be able to reconstruct the circumstances of a serious fateful event. The 19-year old son Paul, a commercial employee, suffered from depression and had already been receiving medical treatment for a long time. On 30 August 1932, he withdrew from his parental home and for ten days was reported missing. On the fourth of September, the Hessian police found his clothes on the banks of the riverbank of the River Main near Frankfurt. “Whether it was an accident or suicide could not be determined”. The body was retrieved from the river on the 7th of September, transferred to Mannheim and buried there. Mülbert already owed a large amount of money to the bank and was forced to borrow some more to cover the cost of transportation and burial expenses, He had asked for assistance in the amount of 258 marks.

To be continued …

Meta Emma Klopp – Friedrich and Emma’s Fourteenth Child – Part 2

The ‘Baby of the Family’ and ‘Frau Professor’ Later

Toward the end of the year 1934, the high school teacher Professor Vincenz Mülbert (1875 – 1958) underwent prostate surgery at the Limburg Hospital. Considering the whole story, Vincenz may have also received psychiatric treatment. Between this man, who was just going through the agony of divorce, and Meta Klopp developed a more than the usual patient-nurse relationship.

Vincenz had suffered a series of painful blows during the span between 1930 and 1935. They included a bitter mix of personal fateful events and ominous pressures stemming from his political and academic superiors. Meta Klopp, by no means an unattractive woman, felt with her fine sensitivity the needs of the man in her care. The call for love reached her heart, perhaps delayed by some overprotected years, but now with power, apparently for the first time in her life. After all, there was between the engaged couple an age difference of almost twenty years. In 1935 Vincenz celebrated his 56th birthday.

Vincenz Mülbert was born on 12 November 1879 in Edingen near Heidelberg, the son of a catholic commissioner Franz Mülbert in Mannheim, who had been sick and unemployable since 1896. After the elementary school in Edingen, Vincenz attended the high school in Tauberbischofsheim from 1891 up to grade 11 and transferred ‘because of his low achievement to the high school in Mannheim, where he graduated in 1899’.

He enrolled at the University of Heidelberg. In the third semester, he abandoned the study of classical linguistics and turned to modern languages at the University of Freiburg. For the last two semesters, he returned to Heidelberg. His major subjects were German and French with Latin as his minor. In his application for admission to a high school position in the spring of 1905, Mülbert mentioned in detail six key areas: Gothic grammar, Old High German grammar, Middle High German and modern German literature of the 18th and 19th century.

After his employment as a civil servant of the State of Baden, Vincenz began his exemplary career: May 1905 teaching position and passing the examen and successfully completing his trial period at the Middle School in Bretten, September 1907 High School in Hettenheim, September 1908 Middle School in Schnepfheim. On 22 March 1910 upon the authority of “Friedrich, by the grace of God, great-duke of Baden, duke of Zähringen, Vincenz Mülbert was installed as a professor of the High school in Weinheim”. Mülbert had now achieved official rank and social status. In full anticipation of a secure financial basis, he married on 30 September 1909 the merchant’s daughter Amalie Schmitt of Taubenhofsheim, presumably a sweetheart from the high school days.

Lucia Selma Elsbeth Klopp – Friedrich and Emma’s Twelfth Child

Another Early Death in the Klopp Family

The twelfth child, born in Wolmirstedt on 4 August 1894, did not reach adulthood just as the seventh and tenth child. Although Selma had been mentioned in family circles, nobody could recall any details about her final resting place. The date and place of death could not be found in the official records of the town of Wolmirstedt, Jersleben or Elsenau. However, a photo of her exists (not in my possession), which was made in 1903 or 1904 by the photo store owned by Paul Lorenz. It shows her when she was about nine or ten years old. Her face, no longer childlike, already displays features of early adolescence. In all likelihood, she suffered from a lung disease just as her sister Else born a year later, who will be the topic of the next post. In 1903 or 1904 she moved with her mother Emma to Elsenau in West Prussia, and there she must have passed away a little later having suffered from tuberculosis.

Kirche_Elsenau_(Olszanowo)

Church in Elsenau (Olszanowo)