My visitors today

Thursday 6 November 2014

More about Germany…

Tower of London, September 2014
… Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Rumania

I began blogging again last week, after a long break. I was encouraged to begin writing again mainly because one of my much valued readers wrote me a wonderful motivational letter. That reader is Emma McDowell. Today I received a comment from her prompted by reading my blog about the wonderful series that BBC Radio 4 is currently running about Germany – 

Instead of publishing it on that blog posting as a comment I have decided to give it a more prominent position as a blog in its own right.

This not only reaches more readers it also gives me a good excuse to post some of my photographs! 

Thank you very much Emma.  

Dear Susie,

I enjoyed your blog in the Conductive Post about the radio programme. With the Armistice Day celebrations coming up - and everybody walking about with poppies in their buttonholes – I finally also feel myself to be British enough to wear it. Not everybody does in N.Ireland, this is another contentious issue here. Andrew S. should know all about it, since he and Chas were here at one of the biggest atrocities in 1987 when an IRA bomb went off at a war memorial in Enniskillen, killing 11 people on Armistice Day. (Andrew and Chas were our main speakers at the R.A.C.E. Northern Ireland Conference at that time.)

As for the forced evacuees after the war, I lived in Hungary during the “big amnesia” of so called “Socialism” when neither Hungarian nor German soldiers, who perished in the World Wars,  were officially remembered, nor were the many thousands captured  or rounded up (civilians, too) and transported to Russia into slave labour. If they were lucky enough to survive they were ordered not to talk about it. Neither could the so called “Benes Decree” be mentioned which forced thousands of Hungarian civilians (as well as ethnic Germans) out of their homes and into exile at the end of the 2nd World War in the newly re-annexed (ex-Hungarian) territories in Czechoslovakia. The lucky ones went to Austria, but – as refugees – into poverty.  The “issue” is still not solved, no compensation has been agreed on. The present (by hostile foreign press much abused) Hungarian government keeps the matter on the agenda… 

There were many ethnic Germans, enjoying Hungarian nationality for generations, who also had to flee the land they regarded as home, from the Southern part of Hungary, known as the Banat. When it was annexed to Yugoslavia, then to Rumania, at the end of the 1st World War, the majority of these people were taken in by (the territorially much reduced), Hungary, my mother’s father, and many friends and relatives, amongst them. It was still a fairly civilized affair, even pension rights of civil servants were guaranteed. The ones who stayed behind had a much harsher destiny at the end of the 2nd World War: they had to flee for their lives, leaving everything behind. 

Again, many of Mother’s close relatives were amongst them – their crime being that they were regarded as “German sympathisers”. Mother’s cousins ended up in Graz (Austria) and they were able to build up their lives again. Some of the older relatives who couldn’t move died in abject poverty in the geographic area where they had been brought up and which they had helped to make prosperous in times of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. It wasn’t until 1958 that my mother was able to visit her Aunt in her native village, which lay at a distance of about 40 km from Szeged (where we lived), but on the other side of the border with “friendly” Rumania.

Monday 3 November 2014

Keeping in touch

Sinnwell Tower, Nürnberg, December 2014

BBC Radio 4 has come up tops again!

This time it is not because of keeping me in touch with my home, but by helping me to understand better my adopted home. In Germany: Memories of a Nation I have been listening to Neil MacGregor, British art historian and museum director, describing historical aspects of Germany that make Germany what it is. Things that sometimes go past unnoticed as part of my day to day living but some things that are definitely a part of it.

I have learnt more about the German car industry, the engineering, about Bauhaus, porcelain, Albrecht Dürer (whose house is just out of sight from my front door), about the concentration camp Buchenwald in Weimar, and more.

Today I am listening to Germans Expelled, that began with a description of a Bollerwagon, ( that certainly is part of anyone’s life who works with children, but the programme soon went on to  discuss the forced movement of over 12 million people after 1945, many of who had their lives packed up on a Bollerwagen. One very close member of my German family was one of these people forced to move. Before joining the Merchant Navy when war broke out he had lived in Sudentenland –

He returned home, when peace came, to see his mother but he was urged to leave again immediately. His story goes that after two days with his family he ‘borrowed’ a bike and just started riding into Bavaria, so no Bollerwagen and no life packed up and taken with him, just a blanket roll and a bike. After several days and the loss of the bike which meant long walks, he landed in a rural area just east of Nürnberg where he subsequently met his wife, and where he remained until his death in 2008.

Just a few years after his marriage he was reunited with his mother, who became a regular visitor at the couple’s new home in Nürnberg.

This personal story is one of 12 million similar tales and listening today I was reminded of it. I also heard some more about this history and learnt a few of the bits in between too, something about the political decisions made at the time, and about the desolation of these millions of displaced people, something that perhaps understandably I personally had never been told about.

I hope that I will find time before 25th January 2015 to take a look at the exhibition at the British Museum of the same name –  Germany: Memories of a Nation, 600-year old history in objects –

If you get a chance do listen to the BBC Radio 4 programmes which is broadcast three times a day 00.30, 9.45 and 20.45 –


I have the day off and after listening to the German programme I left the radio on. Now I have another treat, British nurses off to Mauritius in the 1920s, this is also of personal interest as it is where my Great Uncle John worked for the government after his Army services with the Gurkhas in the Second World War.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Edward Taub and the Dalai Lama

Home - late summer 2014
 A Sunday Morning read

I arrived at the above article having first read the one below that I got from the blog Dean’s Stroke Musings –

On Dean’s Stroke Musings I also read about Dean’s own Rocky Horror Picture Show stroke rehab which reminded me of a Tina Turner concert with Laddo. We were up in the gods and Laddo insisted on standing up with the rest of the crowd. It was in the Köln Arena which is incredibly steep. I had images of us both toppling down and down and down on to the stage, but I hung on to his belt and the back of my chair and just hoped that we would both remain vertical and balanced!


Dean’s Stroke Musings

Saturday 1 November 2014

All Saints’ Day – Hallowmas

I love it when a Red Letter day falls on a Saturday. The atmosphere is so nice. Busy trams and busy railway station, but it is a slow busyness. Today it is a family day, solemn, but at the same time joyful as families get together to remember loved ones. Hands are full of bouquets of flowers or the traditional arrangements that adorn the graves in cemeteries all over the country.


A walk amongst the majestic trees in the city's southern cemetery 

After a sitting and pondering a bit after bringing flowers for Boss, Anna and my Mum I wandered in the long shadows and the shafts of bright sunshine.

I watched the red squirrels zooming down vertical trunks to snap up an acorn from the ground and stand, as if suddenly turned to stone, amongst the people visiting the graves of loved ones, before vanishing into thin air.  

I smiled as a great tit bathed beside me as I sat on my usual bench for pondering. His flittering back and forth was almost impossible to catch on camera.

Instead I photographed the light playing in the leaves, the blue sky cut in half by fluffy vapour trails, and the toadstools so well camouflaged amongst the fallen leaves that I almost missed seeing them.

Thinking ahead to Christmas

Finally I collected some of the long larch branches that had fallen to the ground in recent storms; I chose those with cones attached, they will decorate my Christmas parcels.

It is difficult to plan for Christmas while walking in the warm sunshine just as it is difficult to plan for spring or summer when the snow is falling. But as I have more than thirty years behind me of planning crafty activities I always have the next project in mind.

Although there are only a four weeks until the first weekend of Advent, bringing with it the opening of our famous Christmas Market, we are still enjoying the fresh air without our winter gloves and scarves and still sitting in the sun at pavement cafes for coffee and cakes!