IamA 92 year old woman from Stuttgart, Germany, and experienced Nazi Germany as a civilian. AMAA!
I'm a friend of /u/samuirai, who did this AMAA with his grandmother 3 weeks ago. Now I want to give you all the opportunity to ask questions to my grandmother. I think it is interesting to read different experiences. Their careers are similar to each other, that is just a coincidence though.
I'm sitting here with my 92 year old german grandmother. Proof with old pictures of her and her family.
She was a very active woman but her health condition worsened dramatically a few months ago. Now life is really hard for her, since she has to lie on her sofa the whole day. Before her memories get lost, I wanted to document them in an AMAA. She has already told me a lot of stories of the past, but I think there is much more to get to know. Her experience is very valuable to me and I want to share her knowledge with you.
She was born in September 1922 in Stuttgart, Germany, is now 92 years old and lived her whole life in Stuttgart. She went to basic school called 'Hauptschule' back then from 6-14y/o and went to a sort of business school afterwards called 'Handelsschule', where she learned stenography (shorthand) and typing with a typewriter fluently. Education was very expensive, her school cost about 100 ‘Reichsmark‘ per month. Her parents were farmers like most of the people back then, and had to work really hard to enable her to attend that school. She was only allowed because her marks were the best in 'Hauptschule'. Most of her classmates had to work in a nearby shoe factory or in the fields at the age of 15.
At this time she was first in the Jungmädelbund and then in the Bund deutscher Mädchen (BDM). She remembers everything as if it was yesterday. They sang folk songs, went hiking every Sunday, dressed well and corporate feeling was strong. They were also raised well-mannered. She said it was a great time, probably the best time of her life.
She turned 17, 3 days after war began in September 1939. She was committed to military service in an office of a factory of ‚Bosch‘ with huge typewriters. She had to type non-stop and her fingers hurt even though she wore protectors. She had to calculate and type bills of soldiers for items the soldiers bought during war. Her colleague had to go to war in 1941 and she had to learn how to use huge calculating machines within a few days as well. Later, she had to bandage wounds of soldiers from the front line in the same factory.
Later on, Stuttgart got bombed many times by the Allied forces. Lots of people she knew were killed. Our house got hit by a 2-tons-phosphorus canister, enough to blow up the whole house and surrounding houses easily. Luckily, it didn’t detonate, but the pressure of the impact was so huge that it pushed everyone hiding in the cellar to the other wall. You had to open up the cellar on both sides, so that the pressure of the impacts doesn’t tear up your lungs. The bomb hit our house right in the moment her grandpa finished making the second hole. (Yes, our house survived the war.)
Her parents were not in the NSDAP, she knows that for sure, she thinks they were social democrats. Members of the NSDAP had many advantages and her family did not have them. Her dad had to go to war and survived. Her younger brother did not have to go to war, because he had chronic rheumatism. He died at the age of 35 due to his rheumatism, which caused a heart attack. She married a former SS soldier in November 1957. He fought in the Battle of Monte Cassino and in the Normandy, where he was the only survivor of his battle unit by chance because he got stuck in a little crevice. He was in war captivity under the Englishmen, then shipped to New York (both cruel treatment), then transferred to Canada (very good treatment).
My grandma worked for the city of Stuttgart as a secretary until she retired at the age of 56 and helped a lot of people with their finances. She had a dead birth in 1958, then gave birth to a daughter 3 years later. Her husband died half a year before I was born in an immense misfortune. He was a painter and so sportive, that he could still walk up or down stairs on his hands at the age of 60.
Please be respectful and feel free to ask questions.
edit 05:52pm GMT +2: Thank you guys for all your questions and responses, we try to answer as many questions as possible, but it is very exhausting for her. I let her sleep for half an hour now. "I'll be back." :D
edit 10 minutes later: Wow, she is already back in business. We will answer some more questions now. She enjoys answering your questions. :)
edit 07:16pm GMT +2: Sorry guys, she had to go to bed, she is very exhausted. Her health condition is not the best and she does not hear well since I can remember, so asking her questions was a hard job. I have to leave Stuttgart today to study. We will answer some upvoted questions next weekend. Thank you all very much for your interest.
edit 09:24pm GMT +2: It's GMT +2, not +1. I answered some more questions I could answer myself. I know lots of stories of my grandma and just reproduced them.
edit next day: I've gone through a lot of comments lately and noticed that lots of people accuse germans back then for not noticing what the fate of those poor Jews was. Please remember that they had no televisions, internet, telephones whatsoever. Their only sources of media were newspapers and radio, which both were heavily controlled by propaganda. Nowadays, brain-washing people gets harder and harder due to the Internet, but back then it was easy. Remember that only 25 years before WW II started, people went cheering into WW I, thinking that they will be back home victoriously by Christmas. You should reconsider your accusations and think of what it must have been like to live at this time. Many gave their lifes and tried to kill Hitler and bring war to an end, but they all failed. If it had been so easy, why would none of them have succeed? It is easy to accuse others while grabbing some popcorn and going to bed without fear.