The Collapse of the Wolmirstedt Business Venture
Adapted and translated from Eberhard Klopp’s Family Chronicle
Chart I – II
Within five years the Klopp and Weihe families had added amongst and against each other so many wounds that only after a century one can look at them with a certain emotional detachment. They should not remain the last ones. Within the course of one generation, the two families had drifted apart and the deep gulf of enmity between them was steadily widening. In the Weihe family the daughter did no longer communicate with her mother, in the Klopp family mother, brothers, sisters no longer with Emma’s eldest son. In the Klopp/Weihe family – no longer worth being called a family – all members completely acted out their mutual dislikes emerging out of the most varied and unlikely causes.
The mill my grandfather Peter Friedrich Klopp owned and operated is now a German heritage site.
In the Klopp house in Wolmirstedt Friedrich devoted all his energies to the business. For the boat people on the River Ohre he produces ropes and cords, which the rope manufacturing plant ‘Seilerei von Friedrich Klopp’ kept ready for his costumers. Furthermore, he acquired a piece of land with a workshop south of the Ohre bridge on the right side on the road to Elbeu. There Friedrich and his workers twisted hemp fiber into ropes, The length of the ‘rope course’ was 15 m. In front of the bridge ramp the last house on the left at the Magdeburg Str. was the inn ‘At the Anchor’ (Zum Anker). It served as the meeting place for the Ohre boaters and was strategically located only 40 m from Friedrich’s factory and residence. Diagonally across stood ‘Fatje’s Hotel’, which served as a kind of exchange agency for goods and services, where the Wolmirstedt business elite would do their trading transactions. At the business table would often sit among other dignitaries Carl Loß (1865 – 1937), owner of a nobleman’s estate and of the largest sugar and starch factory of the region. Through him Friedrich primarily sold his various rope products. Ropes and nets were very useful and much-needed during harvest time. In order to secure the safe transport of sugar beets on the horse-drawn wagons they found much use in the Loß’s agricultural enterprise.
In these years 1907 and 1908 two more children were born to the Friedrich Klopp family. Under slowly deteriorating economic conditions Friedrich managed to provide food and shelter for his growing family until 1912, when he gave up his business. The steady decline of shipping on the Ohre River reduced the profitability of his business. The taking down of the old wooden Hindenburg Bridge in 1908 and the long wait for the construction of the new stone bridge cut off Friedrich’s access to the market, further diminishing his already declining business. Add to these problems new attempts by his brother Ferdinand to seize house and business and we find the perfect recipe for financial ruin and disaster.
To be continued ….
The Meddling of a Troublesome Mother-in-law
Chart I – I & II
Adapted from Eberhard Klopp’s Family Chronicle
When Emma’s eldest son Friedrich married Auguste Weihe of Zielitz, he could not foresee how much trouble the new connection would bring to the entire Klopp family. The cause was not so much his young wife, whom he loved dearly, but rather his mother-in-law Luise Weihe, who had her own ideas about the way the couple should conduct their life and business. She insisted that her daughter should share with no one her new nest in Wolmirstedt. She was not exactly excited over Auguste’s choice of her son-in-law. So her daughter should at least be spared from Friedrich’s siblings and relatives. She viciously described them as the ‘vagabond and fugitive children of Cain’ with reference to the Bible verse in Genesis 4, 14.
Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. King James Bible
With this remark Luise Weihe not only poisoned the climate of the newly established household, but also brought on the estrangement of Emma and her younger children with the family of her eldest son.
Emma’s grandfather Johann Christian Bauer (1792-183) was of Jewish ancestry. It would go beyond the set limits of this blog to report in detail the colorful and eventful life of Johann Bauer. However, it is important to note here that his parents had already converted to the Christian faith and that their 14-year old son had been confirmed in Sudenburg-St. Ambrosius and also got married as a protestant groom on October 29, 1843 in the same place.
At the turn of the 20th century antisemitism was already a malignant phenomenon and spread like an epidemic throughout Germany. So far Friedrich’s mother-in-law had only hinted at her antisemitic sentiments against the Klopp family. But now she went too far with her unconcealed, racially driven diatribes, which she shamelessly showered on Emma and the rest of the ‘children of Cain’. The result was that even the young wife, her very own daughter, could not take it any more. She was by nature and temperament a resolute and energetic woman. In the end she too distanced herself from all connections to her parental home in Zielitz.
Her father Friedrich Weihe (1854-1944) suffered a great deal from his wife’s convoluted thoughts and attacks against the Klopp clan. But he was unable or unwilling to do anything about it except to contemptuously break wind on each step of the staircase he climbed to withdraw himself from the incessant and repetitive tirades in the living room below. This was in a sense his running commentary on his wife’s annoying and irksome prattle, which seemed to have no end.
To be continued …
Friedrich Klopp and the Demise of the Rope Making Business
Part I – Chart I – I & II
Adapted from Eberhard Klopp’s Family Chronicle
On March 16, 1900 the eldest son Friedrich Klopp (1875 – 1946) married in Wolmirstedt the 20-year old seamstress Auguste Louise Weihe (1880 – 1924) from Zielitz. Two months after the wedding his father, Peter F. Klopp died.
The house at Magdeburg Street 16 (today Friedenstr.), which his father had acquired around 1890 did not fulfill the hopes for a prosperous middle class existence of the two family branches. It appears that Friedrich had already set up shop in this house in 1898 right after his military service. For his sister Meta Emma (1898 – 1984) was not born here, but in Jersleben. Already before the sale of the water-mill, Friedrich Klopp had built in 1902 an addition to the backside of the house.
The new construction contained two floors. The kitchen and the living room plus two small bedrooms were located on the ground floor. A hallway and a stairway led to the upper floor with two more bedrooms and two additional rooms. The largest room was only 15 sq m in size. The new addition had a height of 5.6 m and a slanting roof. Seven or eight people could be accommodated here. The outhouse stood in the yard at the fence close to the neighbor’s garden.
Friedrich had intended the addition to be used by his mother Emma and her children, while he reserved the much larger house at the front for his rope manufacturing plant and his own small family of three. Looking at this rather unfair living arrangement, we may see the root cause of the ensuing family feud. Being treated in such an undignified manner, Emma stayed at most 18 months with her eldest son in Wolmirstedt.
Printing Business Grenzau to the left of the Klopp House in Wolmirstedt
When Friedrich and his pregnant wife took over the house in 1900 at the latest, mother Emma’s plans and her very basis for a comfortable existence within the family were severely shattered. The acquisition of the water-mill turned out for her to be merely an emergency solution, which was for a while financially sustainable. For Emma worrisome years followed. While Ferdinand, one of Friedrich’s younger brothers, was in the United States more or less successfully exploring efficient flour production methods, widow Emma suddenly saw herself confronted with unexpected hostilities.
To be continued …