Part 31: Country Life

Our road climbed steeply up to the forest and was also not paved.

On the right and on the left only tiny huts where cottagers and poachers lived, that’s why this part of the road was also called ‘Neue Not.’ In the upper village only farms and between them the power-driven circular saw, where everyone could cut the thick tree trunks to fit the length of the stove for a fee. The logs were chopped at home. Firing with coals was absolutely unknown.

The two village bakers also heated their ovens with meter-long logs, which is why you would occasionally find a piece of charcoal burned into the rind of the large round loaves of bread that were baked here. Also, the cake trays were round, which the women carried very skillfully on their heads to the bakehouse.

There was no doctor in the village, not even a veterinarian, no community nurse, and no police. The locals settled disputes among themselves in their own way. This was not particularly difficult. A walk through the cemetery revealed that the entire community was related by blood and marriage. With a few exceptions, for decades the gravestones bore the names of six or eight families, distinguished only by their first names and the dates of their births and deaths. It was high time for fresh blood. This was unintentionally and painfully ensured by the new sociopolitical conditions that had arisen.

More and more new streams of refugees flooded the place. The former community of four hundred souls doubled in size within a few weeks. Every room, no matter how small, was occupied. Dilapidated huts that had stood empty for years were made makeshift and crammed with refugee families. The locals angrily scolded the ‘foreign stuff’ with the words: ‘They, the foreign stuff, should go back to where they came from.’ We, too, belonged to the foreigners, but without the attribute ‘stuff,’ because the respected big farmer had brought us into the village, where father was employed as a farmhand.

The villagers were not interested in the enormous political changes in the country, which brutally drove people out of their homes with only what they wore on their bodies. The political horizon of the locals ended at the top of the village hill. It was hardly noticed that Germany now ended at the Oder and Neisse rivers and that the ridge of the Ore Mountains was German-Czech border territory. The division of the capital Berlin into four Allied sectors went unnoticed, as did the accompanying expansion of the Soviet occupation zone. At the end of the war, no U.S. soldiers and now no Red Army soldiers had strayed into the village. So why bother with such political problems? 𝓣𝓸 𝓑𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓽𝓲𝓷𝓾𝓮𝓭

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