In 1957 I started at school. We still started school in April and all the children, who was born from the 1st April the year before until 31st March that year were called to start school. We have been checked by a doctor and a psychologist if we were ready for school. Some of the children had to visit a pre-school, because they were not, but not me. I also remember that I have got two girl friends when I started at school and prefered to be with them and not anymore with my brothers. At that time there were living a lot of refugees from the Eastern parts of Germany and Poland, maybe also the West of Russia in our area. The kids were starting with us at school – in the same classes. A lot of them had problems with the German language. The teacher in Writing and Reading were taking a lot of time to help them. I started well with the alphabet, but when we started reading I did not very well from the beginning. Also we read of course only the letters we have learned and that did we slowly because the pupils from the East. In maths it was the other way around. We had to draw 0 + 0 = 00, but I wrote 1 + 1 = 2. I was not allowed to do that and it took a while for me to accept it. There were one more unusual thing with me. When we were outside on the rest or had a kind of gymnastic lesson a teacher saw that I was still running and took the ladder like a four-year old – one foot behind the other and not the next foot further than the first one. From that moment I have got extra exercise to do it the right way.
I enjoyed this summer holiday with my new girl friends and was very happy. Sometimes during that summer my parents were going with us by tram to another suburb of Kassel, to look how our new residence, a townhouse was getting ready to move in. We could not really wait for it, but had to do it, of course. At the end of the summer we were moving in. The special thing with these houses was, that they only could be bought by men who have been soldiers during WWII and got hurt. A lot of them were without one or two legs, they usually had artificial legs, but one was using a wheelchair. The houses were not very big – around 100 square meters for living. For a family of six we had to share bedrooms. It was usual at that time. Anyway it was like heaven compared to the situation before. We had own gardens in front of and behind the house, although they were very small. There were also more families with four children. In 1957 there were only two rows of these houses, a year later there were two more rows. Me and my little brother had to share a room and in the first beginning my two oldest brothers shared the other little bedroom. Soon my grandmother Auguste was moving in and used one of the small bedrooms. Therefore my father build a room under the roof for two of my brothers. This grandmother was always living with one of her children. She had borne twelve or more, but some died very young (two, when the were only a few weeks old and another one or two when they were around one year old – both were twins). One of my aunts died 1943 together with my grandfather, when they tried to help people out from a cellar of a bombed house. An uncle did emigrate to Brazil during WWII and I have never seen him, but we have got coffee parcels every Christmas as long as he was doing well, that means until Christmas 1952 because in March 1953 there were the worst aridity ever seen so far in Brazil. Also my other grandfather died during WWII, but I do not know how, because my mother did not speak about him. Her mother was not living with him anymore when WWII started.
Because our family was moving during the summer holidays 1957, we children started at new schools in autumn that year. My eldest brother started already in class five and had got a place in a new opened school with mixed classes – that was totally unusual at that time from class five. Only the first four classes you have had your lessons together, both girls and boys. The school my eldest brother were visiting was also of another special kind, because the pupils went there for the whole day. In the morning they had the usual lessons, but always two lessons of the same subject in a row – called a “Block”, than a rest and the next. They had three such blocks everyday. Afterwards there were a long rest during which the children could eat a warm meal even the parents had to pay for it. In the afternoon the pupils had a “Block” for homework. The teachers were in the classes and the pupils had the possibility to ask for help if they had some problems with the homework. By the way there were opportunities, too, for learning during the long rest – after the meal, e. g. to learn to play the flute and other courses. Pupils could get shuttlecock rackets and balls and play outside etc. The school were in a very nice new building, easy to find the rooms and there were only two times six classrooms (class five to ten). That was the only school of this kind in our city for all the years I lived there.
My two-year older brother and me were starting at the nearest primary school. It was a hard time for us. My brother never fit in there. He did not feel well there and therefore he was flinging himself on the floor and screaming. Though my father was looking for another school for him and he found one after a while. My brother became very happy at the new place. It was very unusual at that time to visit a school not in your area. It has been a hard work for my father to get the allowance to let my brother go on this other school. For me it was a hell at the start, too. I really love to learn – I did at that time and I do now. So I kan say I loved to go to school, but some schools I loved more than others – and some teachers, of course, too. Our teacher was already 62, when I started. That was old at that time. She was friendly and the pupils loved her, but I had a hell in the beginning, because in that class all pupils already could write the whole alphabet. They wrote sentences and they did not use block capitals anymore, like I was used to. We still were using slate pen tablets in my first school. Here I was allowed to do so in the first beginning, but soon I had to do like the others and use books and pencils. I was very unhappy every time when we had to write dictates, that means our teacher dictated (were reading) a text and we had to write it down. All mistakes we made were shown and counted. In my case my teacher draw a line across my tablet because I could not write other than in block letters, what she did not accept. As I told you before, I could not write all the letters either. I have got the worst mark there was for weeks and I was crying in the classroom. I do not really remember, when that stopped, but I think my father were going to school and told the teacher about the other school. I remember that my father were helping me a lot with my homework, especially when we had to memorize religious texts. Anyway there were some subjects I loved like music, needle work and learning about the suburb, sometimes by excursions. The last-named were the best times at primary school.