Ernst was the sixteenth and last child of Friedrich and Emma Klopp. Within the short timespan from March till June 1900, four fateful events occurred in Wolmirstedt. In March the eldest son Friedrich (1875 – 1946) married Marie-Luise (née Weihe, 1880 – 1924), who was six months pregnant. At the end of May, Peter Friedrich Klopp (1852 – 1900) passed away. He was good-looking, handsome, slightly obese, and a giant of a man. He was generally of a cheerful disposition and was not disinclined to an occasional drink in the genial company of like-minded buddies every once in a while.
In the middle of May not long before my father’s birth, he was riding home from a hunting party. It appears that he often left direction and speed to the discretion of his well-trained horse. Maybe on this chilly night, he had had just one drink too many. Falling asleep on horseback is never a good idea, especially when you are in that cozy state of inebriation. Inevitably, he slipped off the saddle, and the horse trod home without him. Early next morning travellers found him lying half-conscious on the roadside. He was sober by now but suffered from a severe case of hypothermia. Soon after, he acquired a kidney infection, from which he was unable to recover. He died on the 26th of June 1900 at the age of 48.
At the beginning of June, the first child of the eldest son was born. Her name was Frieda (1900 – 1979). Finally, on June 28, 1900, the fatherless Ernst was born. Thus, Frieda and her uncle Ernst were of the same age. The two have never met again in later years.
These intersecting both joyful and painful events happened during those four months in the crowded conditions of the house in Wolmirstedt. The expulsion of the Klopp son Ferdinand (1879 – 1952) and his departure to the United States also occurred during the first half of 1900. All this wore down the family’s physical and psychological ability to cope. The acquisition of the mill Wehrmühle near Zieglitz by the forty-year-old widow appears almost like a desperate attempt to gain her freedom and independence from all these troubles at home.
Today I am going to walk you through our yard and garden. You can describe the property as still being in the semi-wild state not typically found on the manicured lawns of city dwellers. After a brief look at our backyard, we enter the garden, which I have downsized by using only raised garden beds, a more age-appropriate gardening method for one approaching the octogenarian stage in life. Then we follow the rapid climb of our youngest son’s hops plants. It reached the present height in less three weeks holding the absolute growth record of all our plants. After looking at the blooming blackberry bushes, we are making a tour around my wife’s art studio with an apple, plum and pear orchard and fire pit area surrounding it. I also would like you to see the rose that finally made its appearance, coming in last after the magnolia, azalea and lilac flowers. Enjoy.
It was painful for me to discover that the son of Anna von Waldenfels was an SS officer. However, what made this particular case even more shocking was that Georg von Waldenfels’ heart and soul was filled with an insatiable lust for power, glory and possessions, which even went beyond the allowable within the regime he was serving. In other words, he was an opportunist of the worst kind and would have been ‘successful’ in any other political system. He skillfully exploited every opportunity for his personal gain. For example, he attempted to acquire an estate worth millions of dollars in today’s real estate market, a large piece of property complete with a mansion, even a factory and many outbuildings that been confiscated by the state from a Jewish couple.
In spite of this blemish in our family history, I decided to publish it. What made my decision a bit easier was the fact that I had no personal connection with the son of my aunt Anna von Waldenfels. In all biographical endeavours one needs a certain emotional distance in order to preserve objectivity. Furthermore, so far my task had been to translate merely the relevant passages from my cousin’s book published in German with the somewhat long-winded title: “A Letter to the Descendants of the Klopp Family from Altenburg/Brome and Wolmirstedt.”
When I now turn my attention to the biography of Friedrich Ernst Klopp, it is important to be aware of the fact that emotional distance in describing objectively my father’s life is no longer possible. On the one hand, I continue to rely on Eberhard Klopp’s family chronicle for invaluable information. On the other hand, there are my very own experiences with and personal impressions of my father that needed to be told in order to add some deeply felt love, understanding and respect for my father to an overly sober and matter-of-fact kind report by my cousin. To distinguish my insertions from the translation, I am going to use the italic font style whenever I feel the need to throw additional light on my father’s fascinating life story or fill some of the gaps left in the Klopp family chronicle.
The contrast between the peace and serenity of our yard and the raging waters of a nearby creek could not be any stronger. On the one hand, there is the pastoral scene of the mallard duck couple happily searching and eating the sprouting vegetation in our yard. We had so much rain that small ponds developed in the low lying sections of our property which attracted the water loving creatures. On the other hand, there was the unnerving warning from our regional district that there was an imminent danger of flooding. Many communities were put on an evacuation alert, as the rivers and creeks were overflowing after heavy rains just a week ago. My wife and I went to have a look at Taite Creek some 10 km south of where we live. Here are two short videos that show peace and power provided by mother Nature. Enjoy.
While translating parts from the family chronicles written by my cousin Eberhard Klopp, my main focus was on rendering an accurate translation. My personal interest in our family history and a deeply felt responsibility towards the Klopp branch and future descendants living in Canada provided me with the motivation and necessary persistence to delve into this laborious and time-consuming undertaking. With the exception of four aunts and my father Ernst Klopp, I did not get to know the other twelve children of my paternal grandparents Emma Christiane and Peter Friedrich Klopp.
As I was writing down the wealth of ancestral information of Eberhard Klopp’s book containing more than 200 pages in small print and then publishing it on my blog one uncle and one aunt at a time, I gained deep insight into the causes of what makes a family function in harmony and of what makes it fall apart. Quite frankly, reading some of the stories shocked me so intensely that I hesitated for a long time to publish them online.
My readers, who read the posts on my nephew Georg von Waldenfels, a Nazi SS officer, may understand as to why I was tempted to leave out this embarrassing chapter of our family history. In the 1930s many people were misled by the promises made by the Nazi propaganda for a more prosperous and stronger Germany after having suffered through the worst economic depression in German history. Actually, at least initially, their hopes and aspirations were being fulfilled. While millions of people had been struggling to make ends meet, every person willing to work was now gainfully employed and able to put bread and butter on the table. They had no idea that the Third Reich that was supposed to last a thousand years would lie in ruins so quickly and millions of soldiers and civilians would be sacrificed on the altar of an insane ideology.
You will recall the budding development studies a couple of weeks ago. After six weeks of waiting, the magnolia bush put its beautiful flowers on glorious display. Then as a big surprise, the azalea plant, which had been so slow during the entire period, suddenly as if in response to my taunting was bursting out with a colourful and victorious cry: I am not going to be last as predicted by that ignorant blog writer Peter. And in third place comes the blooming lilac bush. So the rank order is official now. For the rose (in fourth place) to blossom, we will need to wait at least another week.