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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dreadful Times (not only for Europe)


The Western Allies intensified their air strikes. Numerous German Cities were bombed to rubble and ashes.
The greatest loss in my opinion was the near total destruction of Dresden on February 13, 1945. Just THREE months before the end of the war in Europe.

Dubbed "The Elbflorenz" (Florence on the Elbe) and esteemed as "Europe's Capital of the Arts", the city is located east of Berlin in Saxony and was home to countless works of art and antiquities, housed in famed and ancient museums, cathedrals, schools and institutions. Hundreds of planes bombed the city for 3 days and the resutling firestorm leveled 15 square miles. The death toll has been variously estimated between 25 and 100 thousand civilians.
Yes, yes, many people say the Germans had it coming. I agree - but Dresden represented nothing but art, churches, cathedrals and museums. For these to go up in flames was soooo senseless.

Telling you the truth:

Growing up I surely did not feel comfortable about being German. As a child I thought I had to be "ashamed" to be German. I was totally consumed by this collective "sense of guilt" and was not able to shake this feeling far into my 40s.

While visiting foreign countries I always tried HARD to hide that I am German. (But no, not anymore!)
Why? I'm not sure. Maybe because I saw so much of the hardship that Nazi Germany had caused. We always had people and refugees around who lost everything. Father constantly plundered Mother's closets and cabinets for bed linens, towels, clothes, blankets even tooth brushes. And she complained and scolded him but he just laughed. That was just so my Father.
As for me, personally, my Father molded me. Today, I wish I had only half of what I have given away over my life.

Dresden later was part of the Soviet zone, thus, we were not able to visit. The East German Government (DDR) did little or nothing to reconstruct the once bustling and gorgeous city.
I visited in 1990, a year after the Berlin Wall came down, and was literally in tears. I was overwhelmed by seeing what an abundance of beauty and art has been destroyed there. Irreplaceable treasures... paintings, buildings, bridges, art, art, and more art. Dresden was, and still is, being rebuilt after Germany's reunification - for the most part using the original stones or what was left of them.
Today, I'd send everybody who wants to see "Germany" to... no, NOT Heidelberg! Dresden it is!! Dresden is a must see for every visitor.

 -> on the right: The reconstructed world famous "Frauenkirche" (Church Of Our Lady)

Then, just think of the incredible Semperoper (Semper Opera). It too was reduced to rubble. See picture -->

The East German Government restored it though. It was a matter of prestige.

OK, enough distraction for now - the above was my heartfelt info / opinion about this incredible City of Dresden.

The Allies landed on the Normandy shores. Germany lost on all war fronts. An end of WWII was in sight.

For some reasons that are unknown to me, Father managed to stay away from the Nazi Party. And for some more mysterious reasons he knew from the very beginning that this Party would become deadly. He KNEW it was bad. And he always said 'it will not last'. Whenever possible he would hide or work even on Sundays to have excuses not to attend Party meetings. He hated the whole "mishegas" (Yiddish for insanity or craziness).

Father had not been drafted because his factory produced military-related necessities. Alas, his employees were wives of soldiers bleeding out in Siberia or elsewhere on war fronts. They were mad and bugged him about why he was still at home.
One day they had him worn down - he jumped on a train and left for Berlin to go to the war front. His train was underway for maybe 2 hours when my Mother found out.
Now SHE jumped! Into a car, that is, and raced to catch the train. Yes, she caught up, found him, dragged him out and drove back home.

The 'Deutsche Reich' (yuk, how this sounds to me)  surrendered unconditionally on May 7, 1945. In August of that same year, the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Japan and forced them to surrender. Germany was living off food stamps, stamps for ONE egg, for milk, and potatoes. We ate them even when they had sprouted; nobody suffered food poisoning.
The Koziol company survived with no damage to the facilities.

AND then the Americans came. (We were lucky not to be "sold" to the Russians.)
Father "took them on". He made them help, you better believe that.

Hunger reigned and droves of refugees appeared everywhere. The Nuremberg Trials started in Bavaria late November of 1945. Koziol provided work for many war refugees - they were all displaced and coming from the East. Most of the women wore head scarfs and long, wide skirts. (You are wondering now who they were? Well, about 90% were Catholics). They had their scarfs tied under their chin.

I remember Gypsies too. A lot of them. They came in their wagons "parked" on the side of roads and lived there. We had none close to our family though and we children feared them like the devil because we were told horror stories about them. Sad, huh?
 Tell you what - my Oma (grandmother) wore those wide skirts too. She got MAD when we stole an apple from the trees in our own garden. She had counted them all (seriously)! But one day she stood there and peed on the ground. We kids screamed and giggled - she just laughed. These wide long skirts were pretty convenient... you get my drift  ?

Oh my Lord, so much history, so many memories in my head, all told by my Father.


Please don't forget to hug your kids (I never received one)
 ... to be continued.
Thank you JS Geare for correcting my sometimes "very personal English" ;)
In the meantime, please leave a message? Click on +1 ...?? I'd be grateful. Thank you!

And this is what I am doing now, trying to pay my bills:

And I am selling part of my jewelry HERE

Johanna (YooHUNNa)

1 comment:

  1. (Nice) comments are very welcome ;)
    And others too :-o