Part 47: A New School Experience

The school building radiated a pleasant atmosphere. My class was furnished with three rows of folding benches and a locker, as was common. The large, multi-level blackboard covered the entire front wall.

To the side in front of it was a pedestal with the teacher’s desk. The morning sun shone through large, bright windows, spreading a pleasant warmth. Like me, my classmates came from the surrounding villages. Most were refugee children and children of day laborers. The girls, however, all lived in the city. In their pretty dresses and with their bows in their hair, they looked like exotics among us boys.

It turned out that all the students, except the girls, were housed in a dormitory for the entire week. The distance from their villages to the school was too great. However, my daily ten-kilometer walk was not enough for a boarding school place. So I was the only wanderer in my class, but there were more of them at school.

On the first day of school, everything was well organized. A timetable was ready for each student, crammed with all kinds of subjects: Russian, English, Latin, mathematics and, and, and. Six hours of classes daily, seven on Thursdays and only five on Sundays – how merciful. Classes began at 7:30 a.m. throughout.

A slender woman entered the room and introduced herself as Ms. Opitz. She became our class teacher and taught German and English. An excellent pedagogue, as it turned out later. Meticulous, she did not tolerate the slightest mistake. In case of weaknesses, she meticulously dealt with each individual student until he understood. She enjoyed our full respect and possessed a natural authority.

Fรคsschen was our Latin teacher. With a gray crew cut, a pince-nez, a bow tie, and a gold watch chain in front of his little belly, he taught us Latin in the Prussian-German manner. The Russian teacher, who had long since retired, was no longer up to the task. She always seemed tired and did not challenge us. We took pity on the old lady and were talented students.

The math teacher, a man in his prime, had half his lower jaw torn off by a shell splinter during the war. Because of his wound, he spoke somewhat croakily and therefore often used the blackboard. A good teacher, always living the concept matter of fact, never loud or unfair.

The music teacher was an excellent choir director and taught drawing, too. In the later painting competitions he organized, one of my pictures always made it to a public place of honor in the school corridor.

Pit, our geography and biology teacher, was a friendly, always joking full-blooded geologist and had already climbed volcanoes in Central and South America. He would have been a good lecturer in a mining institute. The excursions with him, the long-handled geologist’s hammer always on his wrist, were exciting and very instructive.

I can’t remember the other teachers, but for that time the school had a very experienced, good teaching staff. In all my later life, I have never learned and had to learn so much in a relatively short time as I did in this school. ๐“ฃ๐“ธ ๐“‘๐“ฎ ๐“’๐“ธ๐“ท๐“ฝ๐“ฒ๐“ท๐“พ๐“ฎ๐“ญโ€ฆ

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