The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

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Chapter 40 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part III

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calgarypeacebridge

Calgary Peace Bridge – Photo Credit: http://www.ucalgary.ca

Tackling a Delicate Problem

The Idealist is Voicing his Opinion

Conclusion of Peter’s Letter

Dear Biene, regarding children you found a seemingly good solution by suggesting that we should go and see a doctor together. I would like to broach this hot topic right away. The doctor will help you in no other way than to recommend to you to swallow that notorious pill. Allow me to tell you, dear Biene, why I harbour such a profound resentment against any such plan. Please do not consider me old-fashioned, when I launch an attack against this form of birth control, even though it is being hailed as a great medical success story.

I do not wish to talk about the obvious health related consequences at this time, but more importantly rather discuss the hidden psychological effects on our life together. In my view the interplay between tension and relaxation determines our creativity. Ideas are sparked by the inner tension and within the subsequent state of relaxation rests true happiness. If now by using the pill our relationship deteriorates into something rather common or even vulgar, where inner tension never surfaces and, if it does, is immediately dissolved, then – so it appears to me – our life will taste no better than lukewarm water. Therefore, Biene, let us be ‘old-fashioned’. Watch your internal calendar and if your biological clock is halfway accurate, we will find a useful solution. I strongly believe it would be far better for us to become parents than to lead such a distastefully ordinary life.

As to my studies you should know that I have practically regained the lost  years of my German army time by having started my studies here in Canada. Since I am taking senior courses in German literature, I am ahead of my Canadian fellow students in my academic placement by at least two years. So should I have to interrupt my studies next year, I could already expect to earn a fair teacher’s income.

My dear Biene, should I have used another hurtful word in my letter, please do not be offended, but let your anger burn and your wrath be directed at me.

Always in love with you,

Your Peter

Chapter 39 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part I

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Calgary with the Rocky Mountains in the Background – Photo Credit: aagroup.ca

Biene Hitting Rock Bottom

“I think this is what we all want to hear: that we are not alone in hitting the bottom, and that it is possible to come out of that place courageous, beautiful, and strong.” – Anna White

Biene in Distress

February 6th,1966, Velbert

My beloved Peter,

I have not been feeling well for quite some time. I must come quickly to you. Every day I am expecting news from the embassy. I received my first salary today and now have saved up over a thousand marks.

family157

Biene wrote this letter at the back of this early Picasso card.

At the moment I feel so depressed that I am not as strong as you would like me to be. But this time will also pass. I don’t want to see anybody and yet I have to put up a nice front every day, which is getting on my nerves. I feel totally run down. But Peter, I must quickly come to you. Do not be distressed; otherwise I become really sick.  Hopefully my father didn’t write you anything bad. I can’t take it any more! Dear Peter, if you don’t lose your trust in me, I will find it also again in me.

After all I belong to you! Your Biene

February 13th, 1966, Velbert

My dear Peter,

In what kind of painful unrest must you have been through my silence! Peter, please forgive me. Now I feel better, and it seems to me as if I had gone through a dangerous illness. Peter, my nerves and my entire being were completely out of balance to the point that I had almost lost myself in something at the end, which would have ruined our entire life. But now I have overcome this weakness and I feel my faith and strength return again. How I yearn for that day, when the long wait will be over! O Peter, I am ashamed of myself that I almost did not succeed in fending off the insidious indifference, which suddenly appeared as an enticing way out. But now, Peter, you need not be worried about me any more. I only hope that you are fine and that no treacherous temptations seek to lure you, when you suffer too much from loneliness.

When I am with you, Peter, it would be perhaps best to go and see a doctor to get some professional advice. For I feel we should not have a baby for the first little while. Do you think, he might be able to help us?

My dear Peter, when you are lonesome, always think that one day it will be like in Michelbach again, where together we were happy and sad. And for our wedding, Peter, we two drink a bottle of Moselle wine just like we did on that evening in the thunder and lightning storm.

All my desires and dreams still live in me and still have the same power.

Yours in love, Biene

Chapter 38 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part IV

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Campus sign by the arch with the new logo. 2016

University of Calgary –  Image courtesy University of Calgary

Peter’s Pleading Letter and Biene’s Reassurance

(Conclusion of Peter’s Letter)

Dear Biene, I also want you to have your freedom to decide. During the first six weeks here a double burden will rest on your shoulders. I have no choice any more, since I have made mine already in December. So your yes will also be my yes and your no will be my no. Look at everything carefully when you come including the things that might shock you and then decide whether you can bear the absence of your relatives and friends for a long time. If you think you can, then throw our love onto the scales for the final decision.

The poem expresses the worry that dream and reality are no longer as close together as they once were in Michelbach and that the role in a family as wife and mother would no longer mean as much as then. How can I possibly explain that later after a few years, when we will be doing better, you would want to study from morning till evening  and to withdraw  as wife and mother from the family just to obtain a diploma? Biene, please understand me correctly. At the university there are many inspiring individual courses, which offer opportunities for intellectual enrichment. I would be the last one to oppose such desires. But a full university program as you desire indicates that you have begun to look at life, love, and marriage with different eyes. The goal that I once vaguely and exuberantly set in our book of dreams is still worth striving for and has already taken on clear and concrete forms. Yes, we evolve and we must work on us, but we should never ever attempt to change our character. Actually I don’t worry too much about you. For I know how much you are exposed to your mother’s influence. She planted contradictory ideas into your heart. Here her endeavors for your security are going too far. Perhaps in her fear about you she believes that one day I could abandon you or we could separate and then you wouldn’t have a profession to fall back on. Please reexamine earnestly if such wishes in you are genuine or if they merely represent a favor towards your anxious mother. For me this is a question of utmost importance and I hope it is for you as well.

Again I seem to be so stiff-necked, and it hurts to be like that. Just follow that one path that once had been the right one for both of us. In fact I am not commanding you to do anything Rather I am imploring you not to deviate from our life’s ideals. Even if we cannot reach them completely, the work and the endeavour towards them will provide sense and purpose of life. In an active and meaningful life true happiness will not be very far.

Give my kindest regards to your parents and your brother Walter

For now be lovingly embraced by your Peter

January 31st, Velbert

My dear Peter,

just a few lines! How much I feel for and understand your worries! Have no fear. All my dreams about our future are still the same. And I will try everything to realize them with you, believe me. As to the money my parents (my mother actually) are prepared to pay the return fare. But I will do it only as you suggested, because I know my father has enough money. If only I were already with you, then everything would be easier. I am waiting for more information from Cologne. At the moment I am completely exhausted; but I will soon answer all your questions. I am so happy that you passed your exams. Peter, I shall always be, God willing, a good wife to you.

I love you.

Your Biene

Chapter 38 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part III

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The University of Calgary campus in the winter of 2015.

University of Calgary –  Image courtesy University of Calgary.

Peter Offers Three Choices

January 22nd 1966, Calgary

My beloved Biene,

I passed the exam, also the one in English. But this appears unimportant to me in the light of your coming this spring; I will write you the details of the exam some other time.

I fear that a few things I wrote must have hurt your feelings. I am sorry and apologize. You are in the least responsible. Rather the causes for all the troubles rest with me. That’s what I think; for I have critically examined myself. You know, when I am separated from people and I am sitting for hours at the same spot and study, then painful loneliness takes control over my heart. It comes from nowhere, from the silence of a tortured soul. However, I am aware that this pain can be alleviated by a sociable life and above all by the giving and receiving of love. You see, dear Biene, in our separation I often did you wrong, when unexpected news and such moods came together in a perilous brew. From now on I will make an effort to separate the two from each other.

O Biene I appear to me like a stubborn grumbler, because I must voice my objections all over again. I worked out with my brother that as a typist in an office you will barely earn enough money for the flight back home. And how do you propose to get to Canada, if your father is not willing to pay a single penny for the fare? Biene, forgive me please, if I seem to be so harsh; but you appear to dream about a happiness that still needs to be acquired with all our strength. The wedding is just the beginning of a lengthy struggle and not the final station of perpetual bliss. Whether we stay in the basement or whether we move (by the way I found a three-room apartment with a balcony, shower, bath etc., which will become vacant in the spring), we will be lacking everything. I am still eating from the plastic plate my mother once gave me when I was a boy scout. We will need tableware, cooking utensils and a few pieces of furniture. My brother is willing to pass on a few things to us. But it goes without saying that he can’t give away everything. I got to know many student couples, who started like this and have been quite happy all the same, because they could watch their day-by-day progress. But they did not start with debts, which would be the case, if we worked all summer not for our apartment, but for your return flight.

I see only three solutions out of this miserable situation: EITHER you follow completely your mother’s advice, come here for the summer, make your decision and work in a household, where you don’t have to pay for room and board, OR we get married after a certain waiting period and we let your father pay for the flights to and from Germany OR in case he doesn’t, you stay in Canada and we invite your parents to come. Later when we are financially better off we could fly together to Germany. I think this is a reasonable and responsible suggestion and I wished you would think it over during a quiet moment.

Peter’s letter to be continued

Chapter 38 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part II

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Fern

Sorge um einen Verlorenen Traum

O lass noch einmal jene Stunden

der Zweisamkeit vor Dir entstehen,

um die noch ungebrochene Blume

des stillen Glücks ein zweites mal zu sehen.

 

Ob du noch weißt, wie ich mit ungeübter Hand

Dir gold’ne Zeilen in das Buch der Träume schrieb,

den zarten Schleier, der versprach, ein ganzes Leben

in sanfter Milde zu umspannen, wo er verblieb?

 

Süße, schwere, einst entschwundene Wonne

drang in unsere Herzen mit dionysischer Gewalt;

denn wir als Glieder in der Kette, Ahn und Enkel eingereiht,

schicksalstrotzend, hoffnungsfroh fanden unseren Halt.

 

Mit ernstem Blick seh’ ich des Tages letzte Strahlen

in eisigen Höhen sich vor mir entfalten.

Wenn auch ein fernes Herz für mich noch schlägt,

Ich spüre Angst und Sorge in mir  walten.

 

 Fragend schau’ ich, den Hauch des Vergangenen suchend,

zum Abendhimmel hoch hinauf.

Teure Biene, komm und eil in meine Hütte

und schlag das Buch der Träume wieder auf!

 

Alberta Rose

Worry about a Lost Dream

Oh let once again those hours

of togetherness arise before you,

to see the still unbroken flower

of quiet bliss a second time.

 

Do you remember how I with inexperienced hand

wrote golden lines in our book of dreams,

the gentle veil, which promised to span a lifetime

in tender sweetness, where it remained?

 

Sweet and heavy bliss, once vanished, 

penetrated our hearts with Dionysian force;

for we, as links in the chain of ancestor and descendent,

rebellious and hopeful found our strength and support.

 

With somber glance, I see the last rays of the day

 in icy heights unfold before me.

Even though a distant heart still beats for me,

I sense fear and worry reign within me.

 

While seeking to catch the aura of the past,

I look questioningly up to the evening sky.

Dearest Biene, come and hurry to my  hut

and open the book of our dreams again!

Chapter 38 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part I

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383px-University_of_Calgary_Logo.svg

Will a Passionate Poem make a Difference?

Picking up the pieces of a shattered dream is better than having no pieces to pick up at all.

Matshona Dhliwayo

Poetry to the Rescue!

For three long months Biene had to endure the assaults from her parents, twin brother, relatives and friends on our plans to carve out a niche for our future in Canada. No doubt, while the arguments were partly driven by selfishness and the fear of losing daughter, sister and friend, they were also motivated by love and concern for her happiness in a distant land. Biene, endowed by nature with a big heart and a keen sense of perception felt empathy especially for her mother’s despair. Thus, she made compromises, which deeply affected me and touched a very sensitive nerve.

While Biene was struggling with real people, who were bent on imposing their idea of happiness on her, I in faraway Canada had to fight a different battle. Having no one to talk to and argue with, I battled with phantoms breaking through the crevices of my beleaguered mind, where dream and reality once so intimately interwoven were drifting apart with each new letter from Germany.

Then I remembered that two years earlier I had written a novella entitled “Carthage” (yet to be translated into English). The book written for Biene was my desperate attempt to declare my love to her and to win back her heart after the engagement with her Dutch fiancé had fallen apart. So as a prelude to a very long letter I composed  a poem. It was written in the spirit of German classic literature and poetry that I was studying at the time and was definitely inspired by my worries about all the troublesome changes made to our plans. The poem was to remind Biene of our hopes and aspirations, which we had recorded less than a year earlier in our book of dreams.

In Part II of this chapter I will publish the original poem in German and for my English speaking blogging friends I will add a translation with no attempt to preserve rhyme or rhythm. My hope is that not too much of its emotional impact is lost in translation.

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