Ferdinand Klopp (1879-1952)
A Somewhat Rocky Start
On November 22, 1879 the fourth child was born in the house on Hemmsack Street in Osterweddingen near Magdeburg. Anyway, these houses – some still existing today- are traditionally ascribed to the dwellings of mill leasers and workers since the 19th century. Already in 1881 Ferdinand moved with his parents back to Jerslebe3n, spent three years there at the Düppler Mill and in 1885 entered the Elementary School of Wolmirstedt, the birth place of my father Ernst. In the nearby town of Jersleben, Ferdinand’s father P.W.F. Klopp had found work as miller master.
In 1893 Ferdinand was sent to Hannoversch-Münden to attend a dairy apprenticeship program. When he returned to his father’s great disappointment after only one year of training, his father forced him to work with his eldest brother Friedrich as a rope maker’s apprentice in the Wolmirstedt house. He had probably shown little interest in his work in Hannoversch-Münden and further increased the image of a good-for-nothing worker under the whip of his elder brother and rope making master Friedrich. The disrespectfully treated Ferdinand was from then on called rather degradingly clown (“Klon”).
Turmoil in the Parental Home at Wolmirstedt
Around the turn of the century the rope maker’s apprentice Ferdinand Klopp turned 21 years of age. The family structure in the overcrowded house in Wolmirstedt threatened to fall apart. The business of rope making was just beginning to secure an income to feed the family. It was also quite foreseeable that the continuously expanding family would soon reach the breaking point.
Although the siblings Jula and Karl, the nineteen-year old Rosa, the eighteen-year old Alma, possibly also the fifteen-old Anna had most likely been placed elsewhere, the parents Emma and Peter Friedrich Klopp still had to care for the remaining five sons and three daughters. In addition, they had to cope with the newly-weds Friedrich, their eldest son, and Marie-Luise Klopp, who was expecting her first child. This all happened at the same time, as my grandmother Emma was expecting her 16th child, my father Ernst Klopp.
In this tense and often emotionally charged atmosphere lack of control and anger were heaped onto the ‘Late Bloomer’ Ferdinand. His father P.F. Klopp turned violent and beat him up on several occasions. The dummy, as Ferdinand was often branded never forgave this kind of humiliation. Father Klopp in the meantime was seeking comfort through beer and schnaps in ‘Fatjes Hotel’ or in the ‘Anchor’. One night in May 1900 his alcoholic excesses cost him his life, when on his way home he fell off his horse.
On a Special Mission to the United States of America
It cannot be stated with certainty whether Ferdinand’s father kicked his son out of the house or whether Mother Emma sent him on a special mission to the USA. In 1900 Ferdinand arrived there and spent almost five years in Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago. Ferdinand’s job was to research the market for the usefulness of American varieties of flour and to arrange for their purchase and export to Wolmirstedt, Germany. The mission appears to coincide with the planned acquisition of the water mill at Zielitz. Widow Emma was perhaps calculating improved marketing chances for her business.
But Ferdinand was developing his own life plans. he became engaged to an American woman, which indicated that he may have had plans to stay in the US. But the engagement did not work out, primarily because his mother from the Old Country was pleading for his assistance. For the first time in his life ‘outcast’ Ferdinand was needed on the home front.
He now saw himself in the role of a “savior in times of need”, returned from the US and acted accordingly at the Wolmirstedt house in June, 1905. The relations with his eldest brother Friedrich worsened and soon reached the boiling point resulting in a state of constant enmity between the two brothers and their families. Incapable of carrying on with the rope making business in this poisoned atmosphere, Ferdinand reluctantly or rather craftily passed on the factory to his brother. He did this without being clear about the ownership question with regard to the inheritance of the property. He most likely left that critical question deliberately open in collusion with Emma. When Ferdinand followed his mother to Elsenau, West Prussia (now Poland), in 1905, the property and inheritance question was left precariously hanging in the air.
Charged with Attempted Murder
On a sultry summer evening pub owner Ferdinand Klopp, short-tempered and irascible at the best of times, was quaffing copious amounts of schnaps with his younger brother Wilhelm. As the drinking session was dragging on into the wee hours, the two had an argument over the financial status of the pub ‘Brown Elk’, which they owned and managed together. Wilhelm’s wife, whom mother-in-law Emma later described contemptuously as Satan’s wench, added oil to the fraternal dispute by heaping insults upon her brother-in-law Ferdinand.
With no weapon at hand in such an explosive situation one would expect the dispute to deteriorate into a brawl. However, Ferdinand did have an illegal weapon, an army pistol hidden away somewhere. In his fury he aimed at his brother and pulled the trigger. The shot penetrated Wilhelm’s shoulder and injured his wife, who was standing behind him.
After his arrest Ferdinand, while waiting for the court proceedings to start, spent several weeks as prisoner in the castle at Wolmirstedt. His sentence turned out to be rather mild. The judge dismissed the attempted murder charge. It was clear to him that the accused committed the crime under extremely volatile and emotional circumstances. After being released from prison, Ferdinand handed over the pub to his brother, departed almost like a fugitive and left his home turf around Wolmirstedt in a big hurry.
Ferdinand found refuge at his sister Jula‘s brick and mortar factory, whom I had already mentioned in a previous post. There he found employment and received a modest income. It appears that here in Diensdorf at the beautiful Lake Scharmützel Jula rescued her brothers Ferdinand and the still unmarried younger brother Hermann (1892-1957) from the devious comfort of drinking and carousing that people in trouble often seek as a form of escapism.