Fighter Pilot and Hereditary Estate Farmer
Friedrich and Emma’s eleventh child, Hermann was the first one to be born in the recently acquired house on 30 August 1892. In 1903 the eleven-year-old boy moved with his mother Emma and his six younger siblings to the farmstead at the village of Elsenau near Schönsee (now Polish: Kowalewo Pomorski) in West Prussia. Hermann completed an agricultural apprenticeship in that area and found before 1916 an administrative post of the Prussian state property Wtelno near Gogolinke, county of Bromberg (now Polish: Witelno near Gogolinek, about 20 km northwest of Bydgoszcz). The agricultural area of the domain was 385 ha.
In 1916 Hermann became a soldier and participated in World War I. He enlisted at the newly established air force unit just as his brother Ferdinand, who had served from 1915 on at the airstrip Großenhain. In August 1917, according to an army postcard, he became a fighter pilot trained at the “Flieger-Ersatz-Abteilung I”.
From March 21 to November 10, 1918, the day of the unit’s closure, Hermann Klopp belonged as a lieutenant and fighter pilot to the Airforce Unit I, which was headed by Manfred von Richthofen (1892 – 1918). Hermann was on active duty when his leader was fatally shot down on 21 April 1918 between Bray and Corbie (France).
Since the end of March 1918 the headquarters of the famous unit JG I was moved forward to the airport Léchelle as part of the German March offensive. After Richthofen’s death, First Lieutenant Reinhard became Herman’s new leader. On 6 July 1918 Captain Hermann Göring (1893 – 1946) was installed as the last commanding officer of the Imperial Airforce.
Under Göring’s leadership, the distinguished and audacious unit suffered heavy losses in the summer and fall of 1918. During the course of these air battles, during which Lieutenant Hermann Klopp flew the fighter plane Fokker D VII, his flying machine was shot down in the vicinity of Léchelle/Cappy. Seriously wounded he was transported to the nearest field hospital. It was found that he received a non-operable lung shot, from which he suffered for the rest of his life.
To the inner circle of the flying aces which Hermann had to leave behind belonged among others Lieutenant Ernst Udet (1896 -1941), who had also joined the Richthofen fighter unit, and the artillery reconnaissance pilot and later writer Carl Zuckmayer (1896 – 1977).
Hermann received the Iron Cross for his brave aerial assignments, He did not take part in the last battle of his unit on 5 November 1918, nor the humiliating order to demobilize on 8 November 1918. Two days later Commodore Hermann Göring reluctantly announced the disbandment of the airforce.
In 1919 Hermann, halfway restored, took on an agricultural administrative post near Lobsenz, County of Wirsitz (today Polish: Luchowo near Lobznica). The area suitable for agricultural use amounted to about 2398 ha. Hermann’s workplace was reportedly on the adjacent Prussian state property. In 1920, the County of Wirsitz, as dictated by the Versailles Separation Treaty, became part of Poland. The now German-Polish state boundary was running barely four km west of Loblenz. The property was transferred over to the Polish authorities.
In August or September of the same year, Hermann, now forced into a new line of work turned to his 22-year-old sister Meta (1898 – 1984). She lived at the time on the Julia Steuer property “Neu Rosow, Post Colbitzow, County of Stettin.” The pond with no more than six little houses lies only about 300 m east of the new border with Poland since 1945. Sister Julia Steuer offered to the awesome former flying ace a preliminary rescue anchor. In 1922/23 he met with his brother Ferdinand, who found himself in a similar predicament, in the brick and mortar factory of Diensdorf at the Scharmützel Lake. Here both were able to find temporary employment and income.
In 1923 Hermann Klopp married Marianne (née Michael), who grew up in Lauten, County of Guhrau, Silisia). In Kupfermühle near Meseritz (border town Posen – West Prussia, today Polish: Kuznik near Miedzyrzecz) he had taken an administrative position advertised by the German Settlers’ Society (deutsche Sieldlungsgesellschaft).
The little village Kupfermühle including the mill estate and the forestry workers’ house Heidemühle is located on the southeast road from Meseritz at the Panwitz Creek, which flows out of the Lake Bauchwitz. Both mills, Copper and Heidemühle, existed long before 1500 and played an important role in the Meseritzian cloth-making industry as fulling mills.
The administration building into which Hermann and his wife had moved is located at the mill or copper pond, which was partially filled in the 1920s. The author (Eberhard Klopp) found almost unchanged the remnants of the canal’s lock and the still good-looking half-timbered house. About in the middle of 1923, Hermann Klopp began his job as an administrator. The old-time residents and new settlers having been displaced from the expropriated and now Polish regions began with the help of the government labour services to turn the swampy area into arable land. The initiatives of this kind were based on the agro-political programmes of various government agencies of the Weimar Republic within the framework “Eastern Assistance Action” (“Osthilfeaktion”). According to the census of 16 June 1925, there were 147 German only inhabitants. The official total area comprised of 910 ha. Johann Schaare functioned as the community foreman.
In Kupfermühle as well as at the Meseritz hospital Obrawalde (today Polish: Obrzyce) the daughter Jutta (1924 – 1958) and Bärbel (1925) were born. Then followed the sons Joachim (1926) and Hans-Hermann (1929 – 1939).
Around 1926 Hermann prepared the move of his brother-in-law Ludwig von Waldenfels and his sister Anna to Panwitz located about 10 km from Kupfermühle. The leasable estate Panwitz from the property of the castle baroness Lagowitz was available, as Hermann might have found out. With his advice and mediation, he may have decidedly contributed to the improvement of income and living conditions of the von Waldenfels family. In addition, more assistance from the German Settlers Agency could be depended upon in a similar fashion as he had made use of in West Prussia. The take-over of Estate Panwitz by Ludwig von Waldenfels took place in 1927.
In 1929 Hermann left his administrative post and tried to become independent. To this end, he leased 25 km southeast in Großdammer (today Polish: Dambrowka Wielkopolska) the agricultural domain of castle owner Baron von Britzke.
If you stood in front of the completely preserved castle, you would see the affiliated estate manor with the slightly altered building on the right at the same level as the castle. The manor has been given a new roof and serves now as the administrative headquarters of the state-owned power company. During the years in Großdammer, son Dietrich Klopp was born in June 1930 at the hospital of Schwiebus (Swiebodzin).
In the early 1930s, the castle owner on account of his gambling addiction lost his entire property. The beneficiary and new owner was supposed to have been a Jewish merchant. Hermann was directly affected by this unfortunate change in ownership. In 1932 the house and the estate had to be leased again to the new owner by the name of Vempner.
Forced by this turn of events, Hermann acquired a new property in Breitenburg, Pomerania (today Polish: Gologora) in the county of Schlawe (Schlawno). The village is located on the right of the highway from Bublitz (Bobolice) to Sydow (Zydowo) between Lake Kamin and Lake Papenzin. It was built on a hill and can be reached today by turning right from the highway on a paved road. At the village entrance, one can view the antenna arrays of a radio station. For a certain segment of the lake, Hermann obtained fishing privileges. Here son Ulrich Klopp was born in July 1933. The estate Breitenberg lies immediately behind the village entrance on the left behind the first houses, which surround a large village pond. On the east bank stands today the building, which is still being used as a school.
In Breitenberg, Hermann continued to depend on Vempner’s lease payments in Großdammer. Since the latter failed to honour his financial obligations, Hermann was soon hampered by financial difficulties. He took out a loan, which he could not pay off on its due date because just then in the summer of 1935 his entire crop in his barns was consumed by fire.
Finding himself in this financial emergency, Hermann turned to his sister Jula Steuer who as a guarantor helped him to procure a mortgage. However, all rescue efforts proved to be in vain, since Breitenberg was auctioned off by the order of the bank. Jula Steuer’s claim to the money dragged on till the 1950s and was verified and enforced by court proceedings only on behalf of the heirs of Hermann Klopp. It goes without saying that over this issue the harmony between the Lake Scharmützel family branch and Stechau fell apart. When the son Joachim Klopp (born 1926) consulted his Aunt Alma (née Klopp, 1882 – 1975) on this matter, the relationship between Jala Steuer and the Scholz/Thieß family in Berlin also had reached rock bottom in the end.
On 16 October 1935 Hermann Klopp bought with remaining funds a so-called ‘knight’s estate’ (Rittergut), which covered an area of 30.2 ha land. It was located in Stechau on the farthest eastern border of Saxony-Anhalt and Mark Brandenburg. Since the conditions of the NS Inheritance Law had been met, Hermann from now called himself an inheritance farmer. In Stechau the last son Manfred was born in May 1936. For the improvement projects of the estate, Hermann successfully tapped into the NS “Help East Fund”. The Klopp inheritance farm promised to fare better than all the previous enterprises.
The wound from the aviation disaster in WW1 had bothered Hermann for the rest of his life. The lung shot migrated passing his hips down to his upper thigh causing bone tuberculosis and blood poisoning. Only two years after he became an inheritance farmer, he died on the operating table in the Berlin hospital “Charité” at the age of only 43 years. He was buried at the Stechau cemetery located only 70 m from his sheep farm. Then 81-yer old mother Emma, who had travelled from Panwitz near Meseritz, attended the funeral.
Peter’s note: My brother Karl mentioned in a footnote added to the book that he and our parents were also present at the funeral.