Posted by: tabliope | September 25, 2008

Fatherland

Meklenburg Vorpommern isn't the most northerly Bundesland in Germany but it feels like the most northerly with its long stretch of coastline facing the Baltic Sea and its border with Poland. It's a flat land with many small towns and villages that seem to exist only because some soul once settled there because their legs were too tired to move any further.  Imagine Norfolk bombed out after the war and then having over 30 years of Soviet rule and this gives you a view of  Meklenburg Vorpommern.  The coast of this Bundesland is beautiful and since the fall of the wall it's available to all of us to spend a few weeks there in the summer.  It's a wonderful coastline with light that reminds me of Scotland and with sand that is the colour of broken eggshells.  The sea is cold enough to make you gasp but when there's sun you'll warm through quick enough.  It's the seaside I imagine was my childhood  with bandstands that still have bands and the screeching of children competing with the gulls. 

But I wasn't at the coast these last few days, instead I went to Boizenburg, the birthplace of my dad; my papa, as Frau Pommer insisted on calling him.  Boizenburg is a grim little town lying directly on the Elbe and is home to boat builders and tile manufacturing. 

The railway station promises nothing more than decay and dereliction so it's a pleasant surprise to arrive in the neat and orderly market square with the old Rathaus dominating.

 

The town and railway station are separated by a green belt of farmland with an hourly bus running between.  As far as I could understand the only taxi in town is operated by the travel agency.  After missing my return bus to the station I found the taxi, it's a one-taxi town, and then had to wait while the lady in the agency found someone to mind the shop whilst she drove me to the station.  

Frau Pommer has a small office on the first floor of the Rathaus and it felt even smaller because a couple of her colleagues from neighbouring offices were drinking their after-lunch coffee with her.  They waited while Frau Pommer fetched the original red ledger in which the Standesbeamt had inscribed the details of my father's birth. He was number 11 in the ledger and my aunt, born one year later, was number 23 in the same book.  Registration of my father's birth was done by the midwife who attended my grandmother , my Oma, and my aunt's birth was registered by a man with a Russian/Polish name; a name that I don't recognise from anything else but Frau Pommer indicated that he lived in the same house as my grandmother.

A few minutes walk from the Rathaus still in the old part of town, within the walls is the old redbrick house where my father was born.  It would seem to be divided into two apartments and I don't know when that took place.  It doesn't look like a house where particularly wealthy people would have lived but neither does it look poor.  It's just an ordinary house in an ordinary street.  

Walking back to the bus stop I noticed the town museum which only opens on Friday and Saturday but there is  an office  next door with information about the town so I thought I'd pop in and see what I could find out.    When I explained the reason for my visit the lady in the office opened the museum for me and then went to find her boss, the archivist, to see if she could help answer any of my questions.  She wasn't able to help but she did suggest that I contact the archivist in Ludwigslust to see if they have the einwohner registers from the 1920s.  I really want to find out when my Grandmother arrived in and then  left Germany and I think the only way that I can find this out is from the residency records.

I don't know why I this interests me so much because it won't change me in any way ā€“ I am what I am regardless of  how Anlinia, my grandmother arrived in Boizenburg ā€“ but, nevertheless I'm very interested in what brought  a Polish woman to a German town shortly after the 1st world war.  It's not a town you come to by accident and there must have been a reason for her arriving here.  It's close to the coast but not, I imagine, close enough to have settled if she'd come by boat to Rostock.  After the war transport was expensive and scarce and the journey that I did in a couple of hours would have taken a long time then.  There had to have been a reason for her to come to Boizenburg and I can only imagine that that reason was my Grandfather.  But what happened to him?  Why no record of him?  Frau Pommer explained that normally if parents aren't married but the father is known then notes are made in the margin but there are no margin notes.  I need to think about where to go next.

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Responses

  1. [this is good] Is it worth trying to trace what happened to your aunt?

  2. [this is good] This is fascinating. I love your description of the town – the people sound great.

  3. [das ist gut] I love the way you write about a place I’ve never been.

  4. [this is good] Oh, the cold, gray ocean and the white sugar-sand!  Beautiful!
    And this is such a lovely description – like taking a quiet walk through the town.

  5. Actually, Mecklenburg (Wulfshagen?) is I think where my great, great grandparents left in 1871 for a new life in Wisconsin.

  6. Yes, Gamba – there’s somewhere with that name very near to Rostock.Jando – I’m working out how to approach Polish registrars.  Sadly, I don’t have a word of the language.thanks ladies.

  7. Maybe our ancestors knew each other!

  8. Is it possible you have some Jewish ancestory? I saw the ‘Who do you think you are’ programme about David Suchet the other week and I think some of his family are from near the area you describe. It’s still available on iPlayer here.  The programme may give you some hints and tips of how to go about things, there maybe a similar story.

  9. yes, for all sorts of reasons I wonder if there is some Jewish ancestory – thanks for the link to the programme but the bloody beeb won’t let you use the iplayer in continental Yurp.

  10. Hmmm. *puts techno thinking cap on*. If the worst come to the worst, have you still got a video player?

  11. Chaotic – a video player is our high-tech thing in this house!  Yes, we have one and we’re jolly proud of it – even if the science museum does want it back!


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