The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

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Chapter 27 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part I

16

The Voyage

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Shakespeare

1024px-2005-08_Gießen_-_Theater

Giessen Theatre – Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org

Travel Preparations and a  Farewell Speech on a Vinyl Record

The day after Biene had returned home, Adolf took my sister Eka and me on a whirlwind tour to Berlin, where we saw for the last time Aunt Alma and her family. On the way back we dropped in at the apartment of our brother Karl in Braunschweig, where he had recently embarked on a banking career at a local bank. There in the beautiful apartment we spent a few days with our brother, his wife Ingrid and their little baby daughter Annekatrin.

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Adolf Standing in front of the Giessen Travel Agency

Back at home we directed our attention to the task of getting our belongings packed and ready. Our tickets for the voyage to Canada included the shipping charges for the wooden crates that contained all our personal effects. Almost too late we found out that we were responsible for moving them to the travel agency in Giessen. Almost instantly arose a heated argument among the hot-tempered siblings, myself included, as to whose fault it was for having overlooked such an obvious problem. Accusations were flying back and forth. It seemed that each one of us was on a faultfinding mission. Of course, no matter how hotly we debated the issue, the heat of the arguments would not move our big, heavy crates to Giessen.

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Problems Worked out over a Mug of Beer

Fortunately our cousin Jürgen arrived just at the right time and helped diffuse a potentially explosive situation. He suggested a cooling-off period for the enraged brothers. In Giessen we dropped in at the ‘Vienna Forest, a popular restaurant, where they served us grilled chicken and beer. Tension and lingering hostility abated quickly at the same rate as our stomachs filled with delicious food and copious amounts of beer. Now we were ready to tackle the shipping in a more amiable environment. Jürgen had just made the acquaintance of a fellow student, who would be willing to provide his old and dilapidated VW bus for the crates. After a few more drinks at a roadside fast food outlet we were going to announce the good news at home. However, the pub, ‘The New Homeland’, was still open in Watzenborn. We thought a few more beers would not hurt and would definitely clear away the last little bit of rancour, before going home. So we finally arrived in a fairly boisterous mood. Everybody had already gone to bed. But this did not prevent us from loudly announcing to Eka that we had found a solution to the shipping problem. We all withdrew into the furnace room, which with its excellent sound-proofed walls offered a modicum of protection against the noise. Befuddled by all that beer I played the guitar rather poorly often missing the correct fret, while Adolf sang the song merrily out of tune with the chords I was playing. In the meantime  Jürgen and Eka had an animated discussion on the poor timing of our nocturnal arrival. Not receiving the appreciative reception that we were expecting, we decided to spend the night at Jürgen’s place in Giessen and slept for want of something more accommodating all three in one bed, but not before having a taste from the bottle of whiskey that happened to be there for this crazy occasion. Next morning (or was it noon?) Adolf and I, feeling somewhat remorseful for our rambunctious behaviour the night before, drove home quite willing to accept any criticism with a repentant heart and to make amends by getting the crates ready for shipment.

Record

In the turmoil of the endless visits of well-meaning relatives and friends, who all came to say good-bye, I still managed to keep up the correspondence with Biene, although it was almost impossible to find a quiet corner in the house. I had  made a recording of a few simple classical guitar pieces that I felt were good enough for her to listen to. In addition, I recorded a farewell message on tape and mailed it together with the music to a company in France to have it pressed onto a vinyl record. A few days before our departure date the record arrived, which I embellished with some pretty labels and redirected it to Biene’s home address. It so happened that on the very day we boarded the Canada bound vessel, the ‘Ryndam’, she received my gift.

The recording sounds a bit scratchy. But what do you expect from a 50-year old vinyl record?

Elise Alma Klopp (1882-1975) – Part I

2

Alma, the Sixth Child of Friedrich and Emma Klopp

Foreword by Peter Klopp

Aunt Alma is the only person in the Klopp family, with whom I maintained a correspondence until her death in 1975. As a young man I paid two visits to Berlin-Köpenick, where she resided, the first before and the second after the building of the Berlin Wall. Her son-in-law Arthur Thieß, whom I called Uncle because of the huge age difference, continued the correspondence. Until his passing we  exchanged letters, documents and photos providing an invaluable source of data on my early childhood environment at Gutfelde (Zlotniki) near Dietfurt (today’s Znin in Poland).

Aunt Alma of Berlin

Aunt Alma from Berlin and Peter, Gutfelde 1942

Alma was born as the sixth child in the ‘Düppler’ mill of Olvenstedt near Magdeburg on December 6, 1882. At the age of 22 she got married in Berlin on January 14, 1905 to the farmer’s son Otto Scholz. He had his roots in Sosnitza-Steinksheim (today Polish Sosnica at the Lutynia river) about 10 km southwest of Pleszew, where he was born on November 27, 1880.

800px-Düppler_Mühle

Aunt Alma from Berlin and Peter, Gutfelde 1942

Otto Scholz was employed as coachman by lamp manufacturer Wessel, who at that time the entire 25 ha peninsula Schwanenwerder/Havel (known as Sandwerder until 1902). Here the children Otto (1906), Else (1907), Charlotte (1908), and Willi (1910) were born. Otto Scholz participated in the battles of WWI and returned safe and sound from the war to his hometown. In the starvation year of 1917 their daughter Charlotte was sent to a children’s care facility in East Prussia, where she died after coming down with dysentery. Since Otto was noticed for the adroit handling of horses during the war years by an army veterinarian, he found employment in 1918 at the Berlin Veterinarian Institute (later taken over by the Humboldt University). During the production of serum Otto Scholz contracted blood poisoning and anthrax, of which he died on February 13, 1919.

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Schwanenwerder Peninsula Berlin – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Juliane Klopp (1877 – 1960) Part 2 (Chart I – II)

6

Young Artist and Hotel Owner Juliane Steuer (about 1900)

At the beach road at Scharmützel Lake leading up to Diensdorf Fritz Steuer and his wife Emma Juliane acquired in 1911 a brick manufacturing plant. It was located very close to today’s guesthouse “Café Glück Auf”. Around 1912/13 the couple built a villa there, which was connected to the machine shop of the brick factory. In the mid 1920’s Friedrich Steuer added yet another building, ‘Hotel Seehof”, which survived the GDR years as a vacation center by the name of “Franz-Kirsch-Heim”. In 2006 it was rescued from falling into disrepair, was completely modernized and turned into a 4-star hotel.

Former "Hotel Seehof" Renovated, Today's Wellness Center

Former “Hotel Seehof” Completely Renovated and Today’s Wellness Center

In 1923 Fritz employed the two Klopp brothers Ferdinand (1879-1952) and Hermann (1892-1937) in his Diensdorf work place. In response to inflation and decreasing demand for building materials the Steuers converted their villa into a hotel. They called it “Gasthof und Fremdenlogis Strandhotel” (Guesthouse and Beach Hotel ). It was here that Juliane’s sister Else Klopp (1895- 1934) got acquainted with her future husband, army defense officer Drusus Stier. The beach hotel was a favorite meeting place for officers of the garrison town of Fürstenwalde/Spree. Also brother Ernst Klopp, my father, came shortly before his wedding for a longer visit at his eldest sister.

Scharmützel Lake in the 1920's

Scharmützel Lake in close Proximity to ‘Hotel Seehof’ in the 1920’s

When her brother Hermann Klopp ran into financial difficulties on his estate Breitenberg/Pomerania in the early 1930’s, Jula helped him out with obtaining a mortgage by providing the required security. When Hermann was unable to make the payments, Jula lost a huge sum of money that she was never able to retrieve in spite of the fact that she won several court battles with the creditors after Hermann’s death in 1937. The specter of bankruptcy was looming on the horizon. Eventually the couple lost the factory, the two hotels and was forced to move to Berlin, where with the remnant of their liquid assets they were able to run a small pub at Feldstrasse 2. The childless couple separated, but refrained from formal divorce. Friedrich Steuer died in Berlin in 1934, suffering from lip cancer.

The now 57-year old Jula acquired a house in Köpenick, Am Spielplatz 13. In 1938 she spent some time at my father’s place at the Ernst-Flos-Hof estate in Belgard. During her stay she created an oil painting depicting a beach scene at the Baltic Sea.

Juliana's Painting of the Baltic Sea

Juliana’s Painting of the Baltic Sea

Jula survived as widow the Hitler years, World War II, and the early years of the German Democratic Republic almost up to the building of the Berlin Wall. To see an earlier post of my visit to Aunt Jula, click here.

Garden Region near the Spree

Recent Photo of the Garden Region, where Aunt Jula had her Cottage

After the war she gave up all her properties and retired in the picturesque garden section of Köpenick, where she lived in a modest cottage for the remaining years of her life getting by on a small pension, to which she was entitled from her late husband Friedrich Steuer, from whom she was never formally divorced. From this sad period there is a photo, which shows a friendly, kind, somewhat sad Klopp portrait of an old lady that had seen better days. On account of the photo session she dressed up with a pearl necklace and ermine fur. Completely impoverished she passed away on June 8, 1980 at the age of 83.

Aunt Juliane (late 1950's)

Aunt Juliane (photo taken in the late 1950’s)

Chapter XIV of the P. and G. Klopp Story – Part 5

1

School Visit of the Berlin Wall (1961)

Our High School in Wesel built in 1912 - Now Court House Building

Our Former High School in Wesel built in 1912 – Now Court House Building

It is not surprising that the Wesel High School amongst many other schools in North Rhine-Westphalia organized, one year before our graduation, a field trip to the capital of Germany to provide the students with first-hand experience of the wall that was going to separate Germans from Germans for almost 30 years. The day after our class had participated in a guided tour of a small section of the wall, the teacher in charge of our group granted me permission to go see my relatives in East Berlin. Mr. Zorn with the Latin nickname Ira was personally responsible for our safety. I often wondered how he could have allowed me to cross the border on my own with all the horror stories circulating in the daily newspapers about harassments, arrests, even disappearances of people from West Germany. At the checkpoint I had to list all my personal belongings. I had nothing to declare except my cheap DM 20.00 camera.

Boat Ride in Berlin

Boat Ride in Berlin – Peter on the Second Last Bench on the Far Left

Again I enjoyed a most pleasant visit with Aunt Alma and her family. I cannot recall having announced my coming, but I must have sent them a card, because the whole family had assembled in the living room, when I arrived at their door. Uncle Artur with his biting sarcasm softened only by a disarming sense of humor was again, as on my previous visit, at his best poking fun at the political system in general, but especially at the wall very much to the chagrin of his party-loyal sons-in-law. He asked whether I knew why there were so many round holes in the wall. When I shook my head, he answered the question for me, “To let off the cabbage steam.” Now this riddle makes only sense in English if one knows that cabbage steam (Kohldampf) was a euphemism for ravenous hunger.

Peter Klopp at Age 19

Peter Klopp at Age 19

Now the sons-in-law had their turn to inform me from their perspective the raison d’être for the wall. It was built, so they insisted, to protect the citizens of the GDR from the attacks of the Western imperialists. Surely I must have seen the tank traps and the barbed wire in front of the wall facing west. They would serve as the first line of defense. If they were intended to keep people from leaving their socialist country, they would have been set up behind the wall. I remained unimpressed. Their fervor for the system showed me that they had pulled blindfolds over their eyes. They believed what they wanted to believe on the principle that you do not slap the hand that feeds you. With Uncle Artur`s help the family finally steered away from the political hogwash and focused on their guest.

Berlin Wall - Photo Credit: hstrclgrl.blogspot.ca

Berlin Wall – Photo Credit: hstrclgrl.blogspot.ca

When I told them about my trips to Spain and Yugoslavia I indirectly conveyed to them the kind of freedom I enjoyed on the other side of the Wall. Also I enthusiastically talked about my career plans, namely to study high frequency technology. Uncle Artur, a leading scientist in a related field, a son-in-law already involved with electronics in the NVA (National People’s Army), Anje, the second youngest daughter also planning to become an electronics engineer, we all warmed up to this refreshingly apolitical topic with Aunt Alma cheerfully chiming in, “Wouldn’t it be nice, if Peter and Anje could study together in the exciting world of electronics!” With this comment Aunt Alma more concerned about good family relations than about politics made a profound statement about the tragedy of a divided Germany.

Juliane Klopp (1877 – 1960) Part 1

5

The Viennese ‘Artist’ and Hotel Owner at Scharmützel Lake (Chart I – II)

Scharmützel Lake Southeast of Berlin - Photo Credit:mittelalterkleidung.science

Scharmützel See Southeast of Berlin – Credit:mittelalterkleidung.science

Condensed and translated from the Klopp Family History (Ein Brief an die Nachfahren der Familie Klopp) with kind permission by the author Eberhard Klopp

To see the Klopp Family Tree click here.

On June 15 I concluded the story of Friedrich Klopp, the eldest child of my grandparents Peter and Emma Klopp. Now it is time to turn our attention to my aunt Jula (Juliane). She was born on February 2, 1877 in Elbeu. Her father P.F.W. Klopp at the time was still a miller’s apprentice in the neighboring town of Jersfelde. As a young girl she went for her education to Vienna and spent her teenage years in the home of her aunt Luise Necker née Bauer. Due to her long stay the good-looking Klopp daughter was known as Miss Necker.She maintained close ties with the arts and theater circles centered around the “Carl Theater” in Vienna.

The Carl Theatre where Artists and Performers met around 1900 - Photo Credit: aeiou.at

The Carl Theatre around 1900 – Photo Credit: aeiou.at

Around the turn of the century Jula Klopp became acquainted with Friedrich Steuer, son of a the mining magnate. The Steuers like Jula’s foster parent Max Necker had made a fortune by owning and profitably operating a coal mine in the Harz Mountains near Blankenburg.

The Town of Blankenburg near the Harz Mountains - Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Town of Blankenburg (Harz Mountains) – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

A chance encounter during vacation time at that tourist center developed into a serious relationship. At the wedding of the 23 year old Jula with Fritz Steuer, called the Moose, there was talk about a dowry in the amount of 80,000 gold marks. The wedding took place at the upper class hotel “White Elk” in Dresden. Friedrich and Jula Steuer lived during the first years of their marriage in Berlin-Karlshorst.

Berlin-Karlshorst (Old Postcard) - Photo Credit: akpool.de

Berlin-Karlshorst (Old Postcard) – Photo Credit: akpool.de

Continues next week …

To read about my visit to Aunt Jula in 1959 on a previous post, click here.

Chapter XIV of the P. and G. Klopp Story – Part 2

2
koepenick 1

Berlin-Köpenick, Dahmeufer, Altstadt, Panorama – Photo Credit: Andreas Steinhoff

Visiting Relatives in East Berlin 1959

Chart I – II of the Klopp Family Tree

A few days after the sightseeing tour with Peter I went to see Aunt Alma in Berlin-Köpenick. In contrast to Aunt Meta’s tranquil life in Freiburg, the apartment in Köpenik was a beehive of activity of more than ten family members bustling about. The spacious living room could hardly accommodate the large family. On the one hand I felt like a guest of honor, being the youngest son of Alma’s youngest brother (my father). But I also had the impression that they all had come together to gawk at this rare specimen from West Germany. At age 77 Aunt Alma was still strong in spirit and body to run the household of her daughter Else and son-in-law Artur Thiess and their four daughters. Two were already married with children at the time of my visit.

Rathaus 1961 - Photo Credit: koepenick.net

City Hall (Rathaus) 1961 – Photo Credit: koepenick.net

Uncle Artur was actually my cousin. But I called him uncle, because he was almost forty years older than I. He was engineer. He had published a book on low frequency communication technology and was giving lectures at the Humboldt University as a specialist in the field of electronics. I took an instant liking to him, not because of my hobby akin to his academic work, but rather because of the fact that he was one cut above the rest of those adult family members, who had chauvinistically embraced the communist-socialist ideology. He impressed me with his sharp wit and disarming humor, with which he distanced himself from the political narrow-mindedness of his sons-in-law. Perhaps more importantly, he was for me a father figure radiating kindness and affection. No wonder I maintained contact by corresponding with him until his death in 1992. Apart from the one-sided political talk about the advantages of their peace-loving society versus the corrupt war-mongering system of western capitalism, to which I had nothing to add, confirm or oppose, it was a very enjoyable time spent in a family so wonderfully knit together. One thing of great interest to me was the stereoscopic viewer, in which Uncle Artur had inserted glass plates each containing two b/w images that he had taken with his special 3d camera. The quality of these images was absolutely stunning. For the first time in my life I got a glimpse of the land, where I was born. Artur had taken many pictures on his various visits to Father and Mother’s place at Gutfelde (Zlotniki). When I looked at them, it was like traveling back to a time, when my parents were happy and managed together the three large estates entrusted to them.

View of the Altstadt - Photo Credit: koepenick.net

View of the Altstadt – Photo Credit: koepenick.net

In the afternoon Aunt Alma took me to the cottage of her elder sister in the garden district of Berlin-Köpenick. Aunt Jula was born as the second child to Friedrich and Emma Klopp in 1877. She had lived a colorful life spending her teenage and early adult years in Vienna as student and artist. She struck it rich by marrying a wealthy mining director. Later on she became the proud owner and manager of a hotel, but lost it all again during the turbulent inflation years after WWI. In a deal that went bad she took out a mortgage on her property to help out her brother Hermann, a classical rags-to-riches story in reverse.

Schlossplatz - Photo Credit: koepenick.net

Castle Square (Schlossplatz) – Photo Credit: koepenick.net

This feisty old lady must have absorbed the whole gamut of communist ideology and firmly believed in it. For she presented her distorted views with so much passion that only unwavering conviction can deliver. In her strident tirades against capitalism she did not spare the West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, a Nazi in disguise in her strong opinion, who was planning to wage a revisionist war against her peace-loving republic.

Altköpenick Sparkasse (Credit Union) - Photo Credit: koepenick.net

Credit Union (Altköpenick Sparkasse)  – Photo Credit: koepenick.net

She served stale coffee and moldy cake that someone may have brought to her humble abode a few weeks earlier. Aunt Alma signaled to me not to eat it and drop it quietly under the table. To my great relief she soon announced to her sister that it was time for her to leave and prepare supper for her folks at home. I was a bit disappointed with the visit to Father’s eldest living sister. However, I did not feel personally attacked by my aunt. Being an apolitical teenager, I had already forgotten this unpleasant episode upon my return to West Berlin.

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