There is always a very clever woman behind a long marriage…….Ephraim Kishon
That is what the German sign says on the Featured Photo. Today, we are a meeting a couple, in their home in Warnemunde, that belong to a group of elderly folks, who are trying to keep their German Heritage in the forefront. They reproduce the old costumes and share their knowledge of days gone by. I love it when I get to meet with the folks! So, let’s walk to their cottage right along the water. You can see from this photo that these cottages have a bit more ground and trees in the front. Previously, we have visited the local History Museum that offered a look into their lives way, way back, but now we are visiting a couple, who were just starting out as a young married couple, during the time of the GDR. After WWII, the Soviets, organized troops that specialized in “trophy battalions.” These troops moved 1.28 million tons of materials (basically anything they wanted) and 3.8 million tons of equipment and large quantities of agricultural produce from Eastern Germany as part of their war reparations. The East Germans were left with very little. East Germany’s political and economic system operated as part of the Eastern Bloc of Soviet-Allied Communist Countries and the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) operated the economy for 41 years, until East and West Germany were unified on October 3rd, 1990.
Let’s see how they are doing today……….
Here is the cottage! The sign says “For Sale,” and lists different kinds of knives and tools.
This is our hostess, who lives in this cottage with her husband. She is dressed in a traditional costume for this area. She speaks a little English, but we need our guide to translate most of our conversation.
This is the narrow passage way, that leads to her backyard, between her cottage and the next one.
Here is the man of the house!
The back of the cottage looks like this…………
Everything in this house and garden has been put back, layer by layer, stone by stone. From what I gathered the years of GDR reign in Northern Germany were very hard. There were shortages of everything and nothing to buy and no money to buy it with. These folks scoured junk piles, to find anything that might be used again. They also searched yard sales for items. Her husband was very good at repairing and she was good at making-do.
They had a very nice garden……..
where we met this little guy!
and sat under the awning for a tea and coffee party………..
This was their songbird cage! The birds were singing their little hearts out !
and there were other little shed-like rooms in the back garden too.
Waste not, want not…….they re-purposed everything………..
There are about ten of us, who chose this excursion. Five of us went into the cottage, while five toured the Knife and Tool shop in the back. Then we switched. I asked about this stove……it heats the cottage. After the war, when everything was torn up, damaged, or confiscated, the folks scoured all the piles for anything that could be salvaged. This was a stove that was brought home. Various pieces were found here and there. They worked on it, and pieced it together for their cottage.
The dining room………everything is made for function.
The bottom photo is a painting of her husband at work in the tool shed. I gathered that the husband’s family had been fishermen. In his younger days, her husband worked on a cargo ship………
This is the kitchen…..neat and tidy, with only what you need…….
and the kitchen sink……..
The coffee grinder…..
The hand made cabinet……
The vinyl floor……
The bathroom and laundry room……all the rooms were small, making it easier to re-furbish from bits and pieces……….They didn’t need too much of any one thing…….
I am glad she had photos of the cottage over the years. There was bombing here, during the war, because there was a a large Hinkel manufacturing company right across the water. There was also a concentration camp there, that brought in workers for the factory. I didn’t understand why the cottage looked better in 1956 than it did in 1970. The cottage was in much better shape after the war (their cottage wasn’t bombed) But, look at the photos by 1970…… The GDR didn’t like resisters……..Everything had been taken that was any use to the Communists and the cottage was left to ruin. There were no new materials to make repairs with. She talked about how it took them years to recover from the soviets.
Stairs to the basement….we didn’t go there…..
But, we did go upstairs, she wanted us to have a good look……..
The landing to the main bedroom…….there is only one.
She sews the costumes and makes the hats here in the bedroom area, where she gets good light, coming through the window.
The view from the bedroom window……..
and a view from the back window of the garden and back yard………….
Now, for a look at the tool shed…..There was a lot of machinery in here…….and he knew how to use it all……. That piece of machinery was LOUD and looked like it would be easy to cut your arm off!
There was really big, make-do, stove/heater in the corner of the shed!
And, here is a look at the different knives and tools he sells and works on………people in the neighborhood were coming and going, to pick up their sharped knives….
I also think the bigger room at the front of the house (which we did not see) is now rented out to guests. It was a beautiful cottage and a reminder of what one can do, when you really need to! I am glad I met them!
About the author of the German quote on the sign: Ephraim Kishon, was born Ferenc Hoffmann, into a middle-class Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary on August 23, 1924. Due to the racial laws, applied in Hungary during WWII, he was not allowed to continue his studies as a writer at the university. And it wasn’t long before he and his family were imprisoned in a concentration camp. He was a good chess player and played chess with the guards. The guards would line the prisoners up and count off to ten, killing whoever happened to be number ten. When he found himself in the tenth spot, the guards would pass him by (because they wanted to continue to play chess with him) and kill the next man in the line. Later in his book, Scapegoat, he wrote, “They made a mistake – they left one satirist alive.” While being transferred to the Sobibor extermination camp in Nazi Occupied Poland, he escaped and hid the remainder of the war disguised as “Stanko Andras,” a Slovakian laborer. One of the things, to his benefit, was he had never learned Hebrew or Yiddish.
After the war, he returned to Budapest and discovered many of his family members had died in Auschwitz. He changed his name from Hoffmann to Kishont and returned to studying art and writing. He completed his studies in 1948 and began publishing humorous articles under the name Franz Kishunt. In 1949, he immigrated to Israel. He became a popular Israeli satirist and writer, but eventually received negative reviews for his conservative Right Wing politics. At this time he created funny puns, while mastering the Hebrew language and word games that could not be translated. When his work was criticized, he started writing in German, creating new puns such as “Mein Kamm,” for “My Comb,” a play on the words, “Mein Kampf.” Soon afterwards feeling stifled by his own people, he left Israel and moved to Switzerland, where he died in 2005.
I think it was a good thing that our cottage dwellers kept this sign in their home. Both were German dissidents…..
We”ll see you next in Copenhagen!