16. July 1945

liberec-villa-berta

64 years, 2 months and 19 days after my father’s family was evicted from the ground floor of this building in Liberec, Czech Republic under a Russian influence, I took a chance and paid a visit to the house, the city and the (beautiful) surroundings. It now accommodates a Kindergarten and still has the same green colour it obtained when it was built in 1938.

My aunt informed me the other day that my grandfather had plans of buying this house, but later on dismissed them as he got transfered to another place & the war came in-between, but still – isn’t it interesting to know where your ancestors lived before and what they did for a living?

The irony and my reason for blogging this is: you can travel the world and fall in love with many places, but in the end you become engaged to someone whose family actually hails from the same small town that your family is from. Both their houses where just 400m away.

64 years, 2 months and 19 days later on, it’s just an ironic little detail that deserves a blogpost, I think.

2 comments » Write a comment

  1. Wow, you went there? Cool! :-)

    I can really feel myself what it must have been like for you, to see your family’s old house. In a way, it is part of your own history, and looking at it now is like opening a window to the past.
    If I were you, I would take something from there; perhaps a stone from the garden, or a plant. Something you can keep in your new home, as a reminder. — I love collecting souvenirs myself… ;-)

    My dad’s family also used to have some property in a suburb of former East Berlin. The Nazis took it away from them. After the war, the communists refused to give it back – it was now “peoples own property” (Volkseigentum), which meant it was owned and used by some powerful party-member. After the re-unification, we didn’t get it back anymore, because my dad’s family had “voluntarily” sold it, therefore had no more claims on it.

    Well, we can’t get it back, it is now gone forever. But I have also been there, photographed it through the fence, and had a good look at it.
    I could imagine my kid-father in his ninety-thirties outfit, playing in that garden (which was funny)
    and
    I could imagine military trucks passing along the road, Swastika-flags everywhere and hate-speeches/music blaring from loudspeakes all around (which was scary)

    I had never seen that house before the fall of the iron curtain, my dad never spoke about it, and nothing connected me to it. Forget the financial loss – write it off as collateral damage from the war. I don’t want that house back.

    But it left an impression on me. As does the paving stone (Pflasterstein) that I took out of the old driveway, which is now lying at home in my glass cabinet next to my grandfather’s only photograph and his pocket watch. That stone has seen it all, and it is now telling its stories to me, whenever I look at it closely and listen.

  2. Right on. I do have a golden watch from my grandfather who himself inherited it from his father and which was later on traded in for food (!) in 1946-47 during the expulsion and somehow found its way back into our hands some years later on.

    Good idea with the stone, should have done that as well. Well, maybe next time. Liberec is a nice place, wd love to return and buy some property there or maybe somewhere in the area. The interesting part of course isn’t the lost property (yeah, fuck it..), but the history behind it.

    I also find it fascinating how much ppl sttruggled after the war in order to just survive.