The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

Reflections on Life, Family and Community

Tag Archives: Marie-Louise Weihe

A Salute to Marie-Louise Klopp, a Courageous and Fiercely Independent Woman

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Midwife Marie-Louise Klopp (1880 – 1924)

Adapted from Eberhard Klopp’s Family Chronicle – Chart I – II

In response to her mother’s endless disturbing attacks, Marie-Louise told her with an oath, “I am going to move with my family so far away that you cannot visit and bother me any more.” She resolutely converted this intention into reality. The former seamstress took up nurses’ training at the Wolmirstedt hospital to become a qualified midwife. Even against this career choice her mother voiced her opposition, although Marie-Louise after 12 years of marriage has been out of her parental home for such a long time. According to her mother’s distorted and overheated fantasies, Marie-Louise was entering a field that somehow was connected to the world of the ‘wise women’ and ‘witches’ of the Middle Ages. Indeed, according to her opinion, this was an evil consequence of her daughter marrying into the Jewish Klopp clan. From this point on, the few remaining family connections broke off all together.

Gardelegen - Photo Credit: scrapbookpages.com

Gardelegen – Photo Credit: scrapbookpages.com

Marie-Louise started her work as midwife in 1912 in Algenstedt, north of Gardelegen, where the family had acquired a house at the outskirts of the village. Friedrich found employment as mason or rather as laborer here and in the neighboring towns and villages. Marie-Louise, by having chosen the profession of midwifery, displayed in this male-dominated world a high degree of personal independence. Her work proved to be highly useful in the following years, especially during World War I. While her husband Friedrich was fighting in the war, she became the major bread earner of the family of four children. Fortunately Friedrich returned unharmed from the war. In 1921/22 he got together with his brother-in-law August Diesing (1875-1939) to prepare for a construction business. The plan was to acquire an older, unused school building close to Gommern by putting in a bid for that property. The devaluation of money and the collapse of the German economy put a quick end to their dream.

Gommern - Photo Credit: wasserburg-zu-gommern.de

Gommern – Photo Credit: wasserburg-zu-gommern.de

On the other hand, from 1912 and 1924, his wife Marie-Louise built up an excellent reputation for being a competent and reliable midwife in the towns, villages and farms north of Gardelegen. Unheard of at a time, when men dominated the work place, she was the one in the Klopp family, who put bread and butter on the table. Her son Friedrich together with his siblings Liesbeth and Hermann attended the tiny one-room school at Algenstedt. The eldest sister Frieda took care of the younger siblings and general household duties during the frequent absences of their mother.

Jacob - Photo Credit: thefreequark.com

Jacob – Photo Credit: thefreequark.com

They all remembered the tame crow ‘Jacob’, which rain or shine sat on the bike’s mudguard of Mother Klopp and traveled along. In-between it would disappear in the long treed boulevards and waited there for her return. Hours later it would travel back with her to Algenstedt. One day a neighbor shot the poor crow, because it had pulled  the clothes pins off the wash line.

Night shifts, hardships, a weak physical constitution, last but not least, constantly recurring trouble with her mother brought about her premature death at the young age of 44. From the Zielitz family nobody showed up for the funeral of their ‘Jewish-affiliated’ daughter.

The Rise and Fall of the F. Klopp Rope Making Enterprise

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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.

Windmill

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 ….

Ferdinand’s Return from America and Challenges to Friedrich’s Inheritance

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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 …

The Klopp Grandparents VIII

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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

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.

Loitsche Today

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 …

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