Ferdinand Withdraws from the Harsh Realities of Postwar Germany
Before the end of WWII, perhaps in 1944, Ferdinand purchased a larger house in Rhinow, Brandenburg, to secure it as a retirement home. The former hotel, which the now 65 year-old Ferdinand remodeled for private residential use, was located at Dorfstraße 58. Here the entire Ferdinand Klopp family experienced the end of war and a new beginning. The family at that time also included their daughters and sons-in-law, who had returned from the war and POW camps.
The invasion forces of the Red Army declared the building as a Soviet command post. Family documents and photos were permanently lost during the ‘liberation’. The Polish language skills of mother Rosalie, who had been speaking German for the past 50 years and is being described as kind-hearted, hospitable woman, kept her daughters out of harm’s way from the Soviet soldateska notorious for raping girls and women of all ages during and after the end of WWII.
When for property owners life became more and more unbearable in the GDR, embittered Ferdinand began to give away his furniture, farm animals and estates to the people in Rhinow. He transferred title of his house at Dorfstraße 58 to his daughter Margarete Rocke and her two children.
Given to cynicism, he withdrew from the harsh reality of life under the Communist regime and moved with his wife into a little cottage with a flower garden back into the village Strodehne near Rhinow. There he lived for another year, during which time he indulged in his angling passion at the River Havel. On July 17, 1952 his wife found him dead lying in her flower beds. At the age of 73 he had suffered a fatal heart attack.
In 1923 Ferdinand acquired the inn “At Recreation” (Zur Erholung) in Hainrode near Sangerhausen. Connected to and supporting operation of the inn was a small farm. Here mother Emma, often traveling from place to place, found a reliable stop-over and return station. She was very thankful to her son for support and encouragement. Ferdinand’s daughters had fond memories of the idyllic hours, when Grandma talked about the olden days and taught them how to dance.
Ferdinand sent the older daughters for their education to a boarding school in Magdeburg, while the youngest daughters Meta and Rosel to the Berlin Lette-House for their trade diploma. There Ferdinand’s sister Anna had already received her education around the turn of the century.
Ferdinand sold the inn in Hainrode in 1930 and acquired a private house in Bad Saarow-Pieskow at Lake Scharmützel. Perhaps in conjunction with his sister Jula’s auctioning off of her hotel, Ferdinand abandoned his property again in 1930. He moved with his wife Rosalie and his two daughters – the other 4 were already on their own – to St. Andreasberg in the Harz Mountains. There he managed for three years the “Hotel at the City Park” (Hotel zum Stadtpark). The property was destroyed in a bombing raid. Already in 1939 the family had moved to Nordhausen. The author of the Klopp Family Chronicles, my distant cousin Eberhard, reported that the daughters Meta and Rosel refused to answer questions as to how their father managed to pay for their upkeep and how he had spent the years during the Nazi era.
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.
On the basis of daughter Victoria Luise’s birth in 1910 at Kriewen (today Polish Krzwin about 15 km southeast of Koscian) one can safely assume that after two years Ferdinand managed to lease another dairy or mill. Never resting he finally succeeded in squeezing his eldest brother and family out of the house in Wolmirstedt. However, he did not use the property for himself, but rented it out, until he eventually sold it to the neighboring print shop Adolf Grenzau between 1912 and 1914. In 1914 the Ferdinand Klopp family dwelled in Elsterwerda, Brandenburg, where his fifth daughter Else Meta was born. It was rumored that Ferdinand bought agricultural property in that region.
At the beginning of WWI in 1914 Ferdinand was drafted into the army. With the rank of a sergeant he earned the Iron Cross. On a photograph of October 10, 1915 he is described as a pilot of the Third Company, Aviation Department 6 in Großenhain. Whether he was actually promoted to the rank of an officer could not be determined by the author of the Klopp family chronicles, Eberhard Klopp.
At the end of WWI Ferdinand was in possession of considerable amounts of money due to any of the following circumstances. Mother Emma was known for her financial generosity, the army may have provided funds as part of the decommissioning process, Ferdinand may have received compensation for his lost properties in West Prussia, which now had become part of Poland, last but not least the sale of his Wolmirstedt house may have added a significant amount to his bank account. A decisive factor in his systematic and hard-nosed isolation of his eldest brother Friedrich can be traced back to his insane penchant for revenge by the impulsive and irascible Ferdinand.
In Elbeu, where he – so it is said – acquired ‘estates’ in 1919, the sixth and last daughter, Rosel, was born on November 16, 1919. As a matter of fact, Ferdinand and his younger brother Wilhelm (1886-1937) got together on a joint business venture. Wilhelm, who likewise returned for his lost properties in the eastern provinces to Wolmirstedt and had bought a new house in Elbeu, arranged for the purchase of the inn ‘Brauner Hirsch’ (Brown Elk). The author of the Klopp Chronicles, which I am translating at least to a large part in this blog, stated that on his visit of the region in 1990 he viewed a derelict guesthouse run by the GDR trade organization (HO) on the road to Magdeburg. In 1932 the pub had become the scene of a ‘brotherly’ altercation, which resulted in a murder charge and will be the topic of next Thursday’s post.
In 1905 Ferdinand married in the St. Mary’s Church of Thorn (today Polish Torun) his mother’s Polish maid. Her name was Rosalie Gronga (1877-1953). She was from Sampohl near Groß Konarcyzn, West Prussia. Her father owned a small farm and was at the same time at the service of the forestry department of Prussia. Ferdinand and Rosalie worked together a parcel of land similar in size and kind as mother Emma’s land in the vicinity.
Their daughters Margarethe and Charlotte were born there in 1906 and 1907 respectively. Then the family moved to Gostyn in the area south of Posen (today Polish Posnan), where they took over a dairy. Since Ferdinand had some expertise in the dairy business, he seized on an opportunity to get rid of the less profitable settler’s parcel at Elsenau.
The establishment of hundreds of estate dairies is directly connected to the years, when the byproducts of the sugar refineries and distilleries were intensively reprocessed for feed in the burgeoning cattle industry. In addition to this innovation the use of artificial fertilizers and the production of bone meal for fertilizing the meadows resulted in increased milk production among the successful cattle ranchers. Daughter Gertrud was born here in 1908. At the same time brother-in-law August and sister Rosa lived in Gostyn. This is a definite indication that at least in part, family connections were the cause for the resettlement.
On a Special Mission to the United States of America
Klopp Family Tree (Chart I – II)
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.