A Somewhat Rocky Start
for Ferdinand Klopp
Klopp Family Tree
Chart I – II
Magdeburg – Photo Ctedit: wikipedia.org
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.
Church at Jersleben – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org
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”).
Arial Photo of Wolmirstedt – Photo Credit: wolmirstedt.de
The Last 5 Years of Friedrich’s Life (1941 -1946)
In the summer of 1941 Friedrich Klopp’s eldest son, Friedrich (1905 – 1988), the father of the author Eberhard Klopp, paid the only visit to his family in Gardelegen. During World War 2 family members exchanged a few postcards, which have been preserved and indicate that to a minimal extent some important information, such as deaths, was being passed around in spite of the prevailing family feud.
At one point Friedrich mentioned in his correspondence Emma Klopp, but did not know about her death in 1941, a clear indication that forty years after the deplorable events in Wolmirstedt his sister Anna von Waldenfels (1885 – 1967) had maintained her distance to her brother Friedrich.
Children Being Fed 1945 – Photo Credit: digada.de
The tragic death of his 9-year grandson Hermann badly shook him up. In the summer after the war Hermann and several of his friends had carelessly played with an anti-aircraft shell, which they had found lying around from old German army stocks. The shell went off with devastating effects. Hermann and several of his playmates were killed. (Chapter XIII of the P. and G. Klopp Story will also deal with the danger of playing with WWII ammunition, which still posed a threat to life and limb in the forests, where battles were fought near the end of war).
In Search of Food and Shelter 1945 – Photo Credit: kiel.de
Grandfather Friedrich died in Gardelegen on November 3, 1946. In the cold and wintry postwar period his eldest son Friedrich succeeded in making the perilous trip from Naumburg to the funeral in Gardelegen. On his way he had to run the gauntlet of all kinds of armed guards of the Soviet Occupied Zone and also of the Russian military police. They were aggressively searching for former soldiers and ‘other fascists’, black market dealers and smugglers, people crossing the border and those fit to be deported into labor camps. All these men and perhaps women too were the preferred targets in the overcrowded, filthy and unheated trains of those days, Under such conditions in the former Soviet Zone Friedrich undertook the journey of almost two days in a life threatening experience. A special permit of the Leuna Works in Merseburg rescued Friedrich Klopp out of quite a few unpleasant situations. Two brothers and two sisters saw each other for the last time at their father’s grave site.
Here ends the story of Peter and Emma’s eldest child and my uncle Friedrich Klopp.
Dear reader, if you wish to refresh your memory on my uncle Friedrich Klopp (1875 – 1946), the oldest child of Peter and Emma Klopp, go to the Klopp Family page and click on the Klopp tree. There you will find all the previous posts on Friedrich in chronological order.
Friedrich’s Second Marriage with Auguste Berlin
Translated and Adapted from Eberhard Klopp’s Family Chronicle
Shortly before Auguste Louise Klopp’s early death the family of the mason Friedrich Klopp moved to Hemstedt, about 6 km south of Algenstedt. The commotion and upheaval surrounding the relocation to yet another residence were taxing Auguste’s energies to the very limits of what she could bear. She suddenly and unexpectedly passed away in Hemstedt on August 9, 1924. This came as a severe blow for the family, especially for her husband who had so far depended on her income.
Church at Hemstedt – Photo Credit: margherita.alaio.it.rand.stad.com
At the local cemetery you can see still today (1990) the lebensbaum trees, which her then 16-year old son Hermann had planted at her grave site. At the most recent residence widower Friedrich Klopp continued to live for a while with his two youngest children Liesbeth (born 1907) and Hermann (born 1908).
Gardelegen – Photo Credit: gardelegen.de
On December 22, 1927 Friedrich married the well-to-do widow Auguste Berlin (née Müller) in Gardelegen. The marriage remained childless. Occupationally and privately, things from this point on were looking up. In 1928 the couple acquired in Gardelegen the house at Alte Heerstraße 14 (now Street of the Victims of Fascism). The recently remodeled and pleasant house is still standing today.
Old Fortress at Gardelegen – Photo Credit: koblenzer-bildungsverein.de
In the masonry line of business Friedrich Klopp quickly gained recognition for his workmanship and advanced to become an experienced construction project manager. In the 1930’s he maintained a financially sound and profitable enterprise. He built several residential houses not to mention a bakery complete with a sales outlet, which turned out to be the largest commercial bakery in town.
The loosening of the ties with the antisemitic Zielitz family of his late wife was like an inner liberation for Friedrich. But being at heart friendly and good-natured, he did not completely sever his contacts. Due to age and declining health he gave up his business in 1937. His son Hermann did not have what it takes to run his father’s construction enterprise.
To be continued …
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 Widening Gulf within the Klopp Family
Chart I – II
In 1903 or at the latest in early 1904 Emma Klopp had relocated in distant West Prussia. One is tempted to interpret the move as flight from unpleasant family relations regarding the ownership of the house in Wolmirstedt. Then in June 1905 her third son Ferdinand unexpectedly showed up in town. He had just returned from the United States. His brother Friedrich passed on the property to him presumably on the basis of unclear and unresolved inheritance issues. He retreated to the neighboring village of Loitsche. It appears, however, that within the year rope maker Ferdinand must have ceded ownership back to his disgruntled brother. He followed his mother Emma to West Prussia.
Under almost unbearable chaotic conditions Friedrich managed to bridge the short time gap in Loitsche through masonry work. It provided adequate income during the building boom period at that particular time. In the fall of 1905 the Friedrich Klopp family returned to the Wolmirstedt house. A few months before on July 15, 1905 his son Friedrich was born in Loitsche. It appears his father Friedrich had finally won the battle for the house and the rope making factory. In reality it was a Pyrrhic victory. Malice and viciousness from family members accompanied Friedrich’s private attempts to disentangle the often chaotic financial and inheritance problems that he was facing. Without any legally binding papers he had to put up with the never ending claims made on the property in Wolmirstedt. Thus, under such fruitless prospects he took over his father’s business. The cost of his return to the rope making business was high. It led to the irreparable break-up with nearly all his siblings and his mother Emma.
To be continued …
Adding Oil to the Fire
Friedrich Klopp and His Mother-in-law (Chart I – I & II)
Translated and Adapted from Eberhard Klopp’s Family Chronicle
Crest of Loitsche – Photo Credit: Wikipedi.org
Out of the marriage between Friedrich Klopp and Marie-Louise Weihe came two sons and two daughters. The first child Frieda was born on June 7, 1900 in the Wolmirstedt house, also Liesbeth on June 5, 1907 and Hermann on September 16, 1908. But their eldest son was not born here, but in 1905 in Loitsche about 20 km north of Magdeburg, so to speak as a consequence of mother-in-law’s meddlesome behavior. Behind the interruption of the birth sequence in Wolmirstedt we may see Friedrich’s attempt to escape from the scene of a now poisoned family atmosphere.
Today’s Loitsche – Photo Credit: tokiohotel.myblog.de
Acting on his wife’s prompting Friedrich tried to establish a new economic base in another trade. A determining factor may also have been the return of his brother Ferdinand from the United States, who failed to realize his economic plans there. Suddenly his younger brother was making inheritance claims on business and property, which Friedrich obviously did not recognize as valid. Considering the additional fact the economic picture of the land was not exactly rosy, it is not hard to understand that the flour and feed business was slow and did not prosper in Wolmirstedt.
Unnerving were also the events, which their brother Hermann recalled 90 years later. Grandmother Louise Weihe of Zielitz without any commercial experience interfered in all matters pertaining to the purchase and sale of goods. To add insult to injury, she circulated all kinds of rumors about her son-in-law and family with harmful effects on the business. To make matters worse, her sister started also to pour oil on the fire.
One particular rumor was making the rounds among family members. The insidious claim was that Emma’s daughter Anna Auguste Louise (1885-1967) had an illegitimate child, whose father was supposed to have been the ‘Polish Jew Grasmück’. Actually the story was quite different, as will be explained in another post on my Aunt Anna at a later date. The nonsense, completely made up of thin air, broke the camel’s back.
All these events cast some light on the chasm-deep hateful feelings, which the mother-in-law from Zielitz dumped without any compunction on the Klopp family. On the other hand, the Emma Klopp side in turn did not hesitate to make Friedrich worry a lot about his inheritance, Insults and cantankerousness dominated from now on the scene of the warring parties.
To be continued …