I want to pay tribute to my father. He would be 118 years old today, He was a heathen, with Danish Viking blood. He taught me to read at 5 so he could have a debate partner for what was written in the newspaper. His biggest regret was not being able to go to secondary education. mathematics was his passion. He disliked the Christian religion in all its forms although he married a catholic girl from the coal mining area of Germany. He used to say "war makes for strange bedfellows." It took me a long time to understand that.
"Edel sei der Mensch, hilfreich und gut. **'Let man be noble, helpful and good,a quote from Johnann Wolfgand von Goethe whose birthday is also today.
My father played the mandolin in a mandolin group when he was a coal miner for Krups. His father was a fisherman. Ostfriesland, the area that borders the North sea, went through a terrible time of starvation before the war started. My father did not speak of his experiences, and I did not ask, but he spent the last two years of the war in a Russian POW camp.
He was a complex man. He taught me to mistrust con men, preachers, and liars. He encouraged me to honor teachers, craftsmen, and farmers. I tried to live up to his standards but must have been a disappointment when it came to choosing boyfriends and partners. Every year, on his birthday I think about what my life could have been without my father's influence in my life. I would not be a heathen, that's for sure.
You had a very special relationship with your father. I'll bet he was very proud of you even if you doubt it. My father was born on Sept. 23, 1903, so he would be 119 this year. I found a diary of his after he was gone that covered the years 1928-1936... how I wish I had read it while he was still alive. It made me realise my life has been a piece of cake compared to his He had some very hard years...his first son was born with a birth defect and only lived 6 days, his first wife died in an auto accident at 27, and he lost his job during the depression and made money helping farmers around the area and still had to raise his young daughter, although his parents did help. He never served in the military because he had polio as a child that left him with a very noticable limp.
I think he lost what little religious belief he had after his younger brother was killed in Germany during WW2.
Antje, your father sounds like someone my dad would have really liked.
@Spinliesel : Antje, my dear friend, have no fear of any hard feeling from me. In fact, my paternal Grandmother was born in Germany but came to the USA with her parents as an infant. I was only 3 when she passed away but I remember everyone saying she spoke better German than English. My son is 1/8 Cherokee, his mother's Grandmother was a full blood Cherokee. As far as my Uncle goes, and I suppose I should have clarified this in my other reply, died while celebrating the end of the war in 1945 when the jeep he was riding in with 3 other soldiers went off the road and over a mountain side. All 4 men died.
What a very lovely trubute to a father from a daughter who obviously inherited much of his character and intelligence. I see many similarities between your father and mine, especially the part about not getting the opportunity for secondary education…however I’m sure like my father, yours continued to self educate by reading. My father had an insatiable appetite for books and reading, something I inherited from him.
I can understand your father not wanting to speak about his wartime experiences, especially those as a prisoner of war, that is very common I find from family members and friends’ fathers who served during WW2, my own dad served in the RAF but was never captured, spending much of his overseas service in North Africa, some of which he did talk about.
In two days time it will be my parents wedding anniversary, they were married in 1937 so it is 85 years ago, and I was just thinking of them both earlier today. Dad was 27 and mum was 26 which today would make them 112 and 111. Both of them were Scottish, but my father was half Irish on his father’s side. Dad was handsome, clever, and musical too like your dad, he played the harmonica and sang with a fine tenor voice. He was a bit of a romantic and was far too compassionate and softhearted to be a shopkeeper (we had a grocery business), because he couldn’t turn anyone away and see them starving, My mother was the practical one …a true Scotswoman…nominally Presbyterian by birth, hardworking and creative, she was a great manager of resources and could make much out of very little. I will be eternally grateful to both of them, and my paternal grandfather Patrick, who left the Catholic Church in 1911 and became a freethinker and atheist, for raising me and my brother to read, and ask questions and find out about everything for ourselves and then make our own minds up…especially when it came to politics and religion.
A lot is made of the question….”nature or nurture”…I’ve always been a firm believer it’s a combination of both and I think you are a fine example of that truth.
I imagine you and your dad singing together. Thoughts like that bring me great joy. I used to sing with my Aunt Kate and my mother, rounds, and harmonies, especially the old folk songs. And to my mother's great joy, I was made to sing in the church choir, as partial payment for the weekly lute instructions I received from Frau Schwarting. All those things were possible because there was no television in the house or anywhere in the neighborhood.
Obviously his fruit did not fall very far from the tree. I think you would have been a heathen even without his influence because you had his genes to create a good brain.
I really enjoyed your loving tribute and like many others, I wish I could have known him.
Thank you, Lorraine. My father was no angel. There was a girl in our village who could have been my twin. Her mom was a war widow and ran a large dairy farm.
I am sure the rumors were correct., but we never talked about it. My mother would become so angry.
@Spinliesel my father was no angel either but I adored him. There is a girl that was born when I was 18 that I know is my father's child because when she turned about 20 she found out and her mother called me to tell me first. I would love to have a relationship with her but she's not interested. I tried a couple of times and I guess she just doesn't want to have anything to do with my family. She was adopted and raised as an only child but her adopted family offered her any cousins. I think we kind of look alike.
That is such an oustanding post! The biggest thanks for putting that on here. And to your father, Happy Birthday. I was brought up a biggoted Protestant- and back a long time ago my special lady was from the south of Holland, the Catholic area. Neither of us had two seconds for religion when we met.
Sounds like he was an honest man who thought for himself and for good, and he tried to impart that for you - teaching you to read, and who and what to trust in life. Many men from the war didn't like to talk about it, but he did marry a woman who wasn't of his non-spiritual persuasion, finding what he thought was good about her. You found what was good about him and took after him. He deserves your tribute and I'm glad to read about it. Also, I've never met a mandolin player I didn't like, so he lived up to that too. Very touching.
Albert, somewhere here is a photo of the Mandolin group my father belonged to. All the men were coal miners for Krups in Essen. I will post it for you.
So VERY sorry I never got to meet him! (All that and he played mandolin, too???)
Your dad sounds like an interesting guy.
Thanks for sharing. I think I would have enjoyed ignoring him.
How did he become a pow?
Towards the end of the war, he was in Brest Litowsk ( Belarus today) where my father was taking apart downed airplanes. (that's what he was doing for most of the war.) Everybody was driven to a POW camp and kept there. After 2 years, he returned to Germany via Bavaria where he met up with my mother.
That's all he would tell me.
@Spinliesel & Bigwavedave--So--- facing the hard facts--- he did support Hitler and the NAZI crowd!
Maybe you should read a bit about Sophie Scholl and the White Rose movement- about the Germans that gave up their lives to see the end of Hitler!!!
BIG apology to Bigwavedave-- "Ignoring" this is too kind!
In the RCAF Andrew Mynarski was a member of a Lancaster crew. He got the VIctoria Cross posthumously. What he did; the aircraft was hit and going down; the rear gun turret was jammed and the gunner could not get out. He tried to help; when he jumped out, his chute was on fire; he died. The aircraft "drifted" to the ground, and the gunner servived to tell the tale! After the war, Mynarski did not "play the mandolin" or do anything else enjoyable with his young life.
@Diogenes yes, just like a multitude of people on this earth now support their own dictators. The choice was to enter the Nazi party and live or not. My mother was drafted at 18. If either had actively opposed Hitler and the party, I would not be here to write this to you now.
On behalf of my home country, I apologize for the death of your uncle who was killed on German soil, in the war. I know it is not my fault, but we all carry a little bit of guilt for the people killed in the war. and I carry the guilt for some other German who is not here to apologize. That is what my generation did. Some of my school friends went to Israel to work in a kibbutz for a while. Most of us felt the need to work off the guilt we know our parents owed the world.
And still, with the reaction I get here in America, I know it can never be enough.
Do you feel that way when you meet a Native American? A person from Hirosihima or Nagasaki? Somebody from Korea or Vietnam? Or is everything forgiven as long as we are all here, in the land of the free?
You can tell, I think a lot about these themes of permanent guilt and forgiveness.
Love you all.