The first quarter of the year will soon be over - isn't that unbelievable? Also unbelievable is the fact that my Mum has not yet posted on here in 2013. Let me make up for that today by publishing another guest post by my Mum (her previous one is here, in case you missed it or wish to re-read).
My Onkel Otto
The other night, I had a dream about my Onkel (uncle) Otto, though I
hadn't thought of him in a long time. That made up my mind to write this hommage to him:
When I was a little girl, my family lived all together in a
small town house. Today, you would call it a "multi-generation-house":
Grandfather, grandmother, uncle (my father's brother), my parents, my
brother (5 years older than I) and myself. I enjoyed this very much as a child, because
there was always an adult who had time for me and my "problems".
My Uncle Otto was very special: He was crippled,
but only physically. As a baby, born in 1915 during World War I,
he had caught a bone-disease which was incurable in those days.
His mind was extraordinary, his intelligence great. He spoke several languages and worked at an office as an accountant.
Then along came Hitler and the Nazis, and it was like a miracle that he was
not deported, even though his father (my grandfather, the painter) lost his
job because he was against Hitler, not a member of the party, and didn't make a secret of his
opinion. Another uncle on my mother's side (who was quite involved with the regime) apparently managed to protect Onkel Otto, so that he survived those horrible years.
|Mum's first school day, Easter 1950|
I was born in 1944, so I cannot remember anything of this, only through my parents telling me.
|My Mum as a toddler, ca. 1946-47|
I adored Onkel Otto: When I was ill, he always had something for me to make it better; when I was hurt, he had the necessary dressing materials, and always good advice for me. He taught me chess and playing cards, helped with my maths and any other school task
I needed help with. He knew everything about animals and botanics. He introduced me to literature; he was member of a book club and lent me
always the best novels of world literature. He listened to the shortwave radio amateurs,
sent and received post cards from all over the world, and I followed and
found it very interesting. He had a big fat old smelly tomcat with
only one ear, named Peter, and they loved each other very much. When I
married and left home, I think it was a bit sad for him.
When we came visiting my parents (my
grandparents had passed away in the mean time), I always went upstairs
to Onkel Otto first thing. My daughters loved him as well. I don't know
if they remember much of him; he died in 1971 and they were very
|A proud teenager in the late 1950s with her first pair of jeans - usually, girls wore skirts; jeans were considered rebellious!|
You have always been there for me, and I thank you forever, my dear Onkel Otto!
- - - End of guest post - - -
When my Mum sent me her draft for this guest post, I had tears in my eyes after reading.
Yes, I do remember Onkel Otto. I was only three years old when he died, but I have a vague memory of a very kind and quiet presence; I connect it with the scent of (pipe?) tobacco and old books, and the taste of rock sugar, which he probably used in his tea and gave us, his great-nieces, a piece to suck on when we came visiting. There was an ancient typewriter in his room, which he - if I remember correctly - showed my sister (who was four when he died) how to "use" (it probably was more playing than really using it, since she had not yet mastered the art of reading).
|Otto as a student. The cap was the typical mark of a university student back then.|
I was too little to get to know him well, but I wonder how different his life would have been nowadays. As a bachelor, he most likely would not have lived with his ageing parents, his brother and his brother's family. Maybe there would have been a cure for his crippling disease, which left him with a hunchback and - as far as I know - unable to cope with much strenuous physical activity.
He could have been a blogger! It seems like something he would have done. "Onkel Otto's Blog" has a nice ring to it, I think.
|Otto and Peter, his beloved tomcat.|