I was seven when my parents moved to Bonn the ancient capital of Germany. Bonn had been severely damaged through WW II and when we arrived in 1951 there were still a lot of traces of the war end.
Luckily we lived in a range of apartment houses which had been quickly built for the employees of the new Government. Although we had no central heating and the apartment was heated by a tiled stove in which my father put coal, he carried up from the basement, we, compared to others lived in luxury. All the people who lived there had lost their homes and sometimes even castles there was no social gap we were all sitting in the same boat. But this I only realized later when I learned that the father of one of my classmates was the daughter of Graf Stauffenberg. He had been shot after an attempt to kill Hitler. I only remember her mother and their apartment which looked exactly the same as ours.
As I had lived with my grandparents in the countryside I had never seen completely bombed out cities.
We were surrounded by houses still in ruins, with broken windows and empty. Often the owners lived in their basement in which they had stored their furniture and belongings. I found this very romantic when I went visiting my school friends living in a basement under their damaged houses. I had no idea why our city looked like that and to me it was completely normal.
We had a lot of fun with playing in the ruins, nobody cared, people had other things to do than paying attention to what their kids did after school. We had our own Disney Land, and all famous attraction parks for children, we had the best and it was free ! We climbed in the ruins, discovered basements where we sometimes found plates, cutlery and toys. There was one which was our favorite. It must have been a beautiful mansion with a huge garden around. The kitchen was still standing so we pretended to cook for our dolls. The basement was full of interesting stuff to play with and the now wild growing garden was the perfect playground. Nobody ever thought that it could be dangerous, we had such a lot of fun.
Bonn still looked a bit like in this collage when I arrived, except the rubble was gone and the city center had been restored. But a little outside there were still facades standing as shown in the picture above left. The street where we lived was not far away from the church in the picture below left. I recognized the street immediately when I saw it on Internet. Of course the street had been cleaned and repaired when we arrived.
We had such a lot to play with, we didn't need playgrounds, every day we had other adventures and were rather sad when they started to demolish ruins and built new houses. What a disappointment for a little child !
This is me at that time together with my mother and my paternal grandma. We never realized that our parents had a completely other view on this situation, we had not to struggle to get food on the table or providing clothes. My parents also were lucky to have my mother's sister who had married an American and sent us parcels with goodies and the most wonderful clothes for me ! I was always dressed like a princess which I of course took for granted. Other girls were not so lucky and had to run around in old self made clothes.
I really wonder why all these memories came into my mind only recently. When I was a young woman and heard old people always talking about their childhood memories, I found that rather boring. Now I do the same !
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