Part 43: Unexpectedly Facing The Entrance Exam

I had left school behind me. There was no lack of work but finding an apprenticeship in a car repair shop according to my secret wishes was virtually hopeless. There were not enough cars in the vicinity and consequently no workshops.

I could have learned to be a blacksmith, a carpenter, or a joiner. But I did not want that. Early summer came, and the cherries ripened in the plantation. So, I became a seasonal worker again, picking sweet cherries by the hour and morello cherries by the piecework. In the middle of the work, I got an unexpected visit. My sister stood at the bottom of the ladder and told me to come home immediately. She added that I should not presume to throw Mother’s instruction to the wind.

Our mother was kind-hearted, but she did not tolerate contradiction from her children and had a very, very loose hand when it came to disobedience. Grumbling, I got off the ladder, signed out, and trotted home with my sister. Here I was told that I had to appear in the afternoon in the district town for the entrance examination to the secondary school.

I was to report to the auditorium of the former high school, and ‘God have mercy on you!’ interposed Mother, should I fail the examination. With a few blank sheets of writing paper, a pencil, and freshly washed and combed, I walked toward my fate with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

The auditorium was full of children, some even accompanied by their parents. In the front, a group of teachers had taken their seats. After welcoming us, the principal told us that the young people gathered here had been delegated by their elementary schools for admission to the newly founded socialist high school. The written examination that would now follow would decide on the admission of everyone.

After that, the staff distributed writing sheets with different tasks that we were to solve in the next two hours. There were tasks and questions about knowledge in Russian, English and Latin – I don’t know! Tasks in arithmetic, algebra, and geometry – there was a lot to solve. But the fact that you could calculate with letters was completely new to me. Writing a good half-page essay on a given topic – no problem. A few general questions in biology, geography, and German – were easily solved. I wrote my name and address on the sheets and waited for the things to come.

All the young people were sent away and were to meet again in two hours for the evaluation of the exam results. Every student who had passed was called by name and congratulated on being accepted into the high school. My name was not mentioned. ‘O, God have mercy on you!’ But then the principal rose again, and in a short speech he announced that all the students not named would be admitted to a ninth special class.

The excessive educational disparities caused by the effects of the war would have led the teaching staff to this decision. The dies were cast. I no longer needed a teaching position, which was very much in line with my parents’ wishes. From September of the same year, a new phase in my life began, which I looked forward to with curiosity, but calmly. 𝓣𝓸 𝓑𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓽𝓲𝓷𝓾𝓮𝓭

💡 Do you have a Linkedin account? Then you can subscribe to my newsletter „The Bright Side of the Doom“ ✔︎