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Monday, December 19, 2011

USA to the Rescue


1945 - 1948

Following the defeat of Germany after the World War, the country was divided into two states: The Federal Republic of Germany (BRD, West Germany) was founded on democratic institutions, and the German Democratic Republic (DDR, East Germany) a totalitarian Stalinist Dictatorship which became a client of the Soviet Union.
Berlin, located in East Germany, was also sub-divided into four sectors. The ostensible purpose was both administrative and diplomatic. On one hand, the Potsdam Agreement among the allies implemented the post war German borders and areas of allied control, while the Morgenthau Plan laid the foundation for a new economy, stripped of military and industrial capacity. On the other hand, Potsdam and Morgenthau placated the Soviets, who were determined to completely swallow up as much of Germany as possible.

The eventual outcome was a reborn West Germany which rapidly became the most productive and richest economy in Europe, and an impoverished East Germany where living conditions and industrial production were a sad reflection of a failing Soviet economy.

However, in the years immediately following the end of hostilities, misery intensified by magnitudes in ALL of Germany's occupied zones and among all its people. West Berlin in particular was at high risk. Completely blocked and encapsulated by the Russians on the ground, the only access to West Berlin was by air. Care packages of food, coal, medicine and other necessities were brought in by a massive, round the clock airlift, an "air bridge" whose planes became affectionately nick-named "Rosinenbomber." "Rosinenbomber" translates to "Raisin Bombers" and that's exactly what they were, especially for Berlin. In addition to the tonnage of raw materials, the planes dropped candies, treats, and yes, raisins, launched from the open cargo doors and cockpit windows of the "Sky Train" which was Berlin's only life line in those days. Many of these confections were actually attached to their own little parachutes.
"Raisins" sailed from the skies.
The Allies saved thousands and thousands of lives.

Additon - I personally JUST learned today:
There is a cute story to the "Rosinenbomber", perhaps apocryphal, about how the whole raisin bombardment thingy started. Evidently, it was an individual pilot in the airlift who tossed some candies out one day, but the idea caught on and was eventually supplied by donations from US citizens. The military supported the effort completely, because, in addition to the nutritional value, it helped Germans understand that Americans were not monsters or oppressors, and it helped US citizens understand that the German PEOPLE were not their enemy.

As I mentioned before, we were lucky not to fall in Russian hands. US soldiers and officers confiscated parts of Father's company facilities. Not without a fight though - the officers demanded too much space and Father stood up and sternly said "no".
'We need space to continue working and space for refugees too.'
He got his way; the officers wisely agreed and we worked together.

Even so, the American officers also came to our home and took (or "borrowed?") a lot of our silver (meaning our flatware - silverware).
In time, the American officers, enlisted men and my family all got along pretty well. (Although we did not get our "silver" back.)
The officers watched my Father carefully and he watched them.
At one point Father's observations of the American's cooking and eating habits drove him up the wall. 'These guys are THROWING stuff and FAT and OIL away!!' he exclaimed. 
He was outraged.
So, he finally confronted them
'Hey guys, you are throwing fat and oil to the ground and my people are starving to death!'

He mainly communicated in gestures, with his hands and feet, because of the language barrier. And in truth, from then on, he received everything that was left over; sugar, flour and of course the infamous fat they didn't want.

 Production at Father's factory, controlled by the Morgenthau Plan, turned to consumer products like combs, buttons and especially those buttons for "Lederhosen Hosentr√§ger" (buttons for the renowned suspenders of Bavarian leather pants).

MANY, many years later it dawned on me what Father witnessed and was talking about back then, when he confronted the American officers about food waste. It was the grease from cooked bacon that is thrown away by the tons to this very day! Yeah, sad.
Father collected every little left over crumb and gave it to the women whose husbands still didn't come home and who had to feed an entire family, including all Omas (Grandmother), Opas (Grandfather) and Enkel (Grandkids); and many aunts and uncles, too.

MY Oma though, my Father's Mother, was a tough cookie in her own right. She went into the forests, collected mushrooms, the fruits of beech trees ("Buchegger" is a kind of a nut), blueberries, hazelnuts and brought them home. She gathered "factory second" Koziol-made buttons and combs, took them to the farmers and exchanged them for eggs or even a chicken now and then!!

My Oma! She DID have a strong mind of her own!
When my Father married his wife, Oma was mightily upset that the bride did not bring a sewing machine into the marriage! Yup! Customs were more rigid back then.
By the way, this Oma was the very one who wore wide skirts so she could pee directly on the ground - and she was my Godmother! We shared the same first and last name. And I am VERY proud of it. (Although she didn't like me too much... I think!) She always preferred my cousin
Ute, [R.I.P., my dear and best Friend] the daughter of HER daughter Lucie.
This Oma, though, had a wicked sense of humor of which, sadly, my Father had only a slim inheritance.
At one point, "unsere Amis - our Americans" how Father called them, drove my Mother and her big belly in a Jeep to the hospital to have her third child. They were excited to no end. "Frau hat baby", which translates to "Woman has baby, woman has baby!!" they shouted in their broken German. Well, this baby happened to be me and "our soldiers" helped bring me into this world. Mother had problems and they HELPED, literally. Yup, there was a doctor too among them. They also gave soap and powdered milk to my Mother who in return donated it all to the hospital.

That is one incident among many that made me feel very fond of America and all things American. Who would have thought that I would even end up living there one day?

Nuh, surely not I.
The only thing I always "had" was this "wanderlust". I wanted to see the world. I NEEDED to learn about different cultures and today I feel like I have lived MANY lives before. Indian, Japanese, Chinese, American, African but mostly and strongly Asian, actually. Is this possible? I believe so.

You know who was my very first "love" - music-wise? No, not the Beatles or Rolling Stones or any band like that.
It was Harry Belafonte, Fats Domino and the like and their music, lyrics and style. The ONLY live concerts I have ever been to in my life (besides classicals, of course) was to see Harry Belafonte - twice in Germany!
Crazy yeah.

But, well, I am getting ahead of myself now again. I am, after all, still a baby at this point in my story.

PLEASE, don't forget to hug your kids and tell them - they are doing GREAT!

MUCH more to come.

This is my birth town, Michelstadt, dubbed "The Pearl of Odenwald". Enjoy my little Video presentation ;)

Thank you JS Geare for correcting my sometimes very "personal" English ;)
In the meantime, Please, sign up, become a "fan"? 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)

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