|I love History and especially my family's history which I would like to share with you all. I hope you enjoy my family's story or at least a small part of it.
This was my dad when he was in the USAF. He Flew in the Berlin Airlift.
Dad again and his training Plane
My Mom in Germany after World War Two
And MOM and DAD in Germany before they were married
Recently I had a conversation with another member about Hard times. We spoke of how good we have it compared to our parents generation. That made me think of the stories my mom told me of her experience of living through Nazi Germany and World War Two. You have seen a picture of her in my welcome area. Now I will Introduce you to my Onkel Willie. He was sent to Russia and never returned. He was one of the 8 in my mother's family who did not survive the war. I had an American Uncle who was in the North Dakota National Guard he died also. Never think it cannot happen again. "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." Thomas Jefferson.
I believe Onkel Willie had two sons, I remember my mother telling me about Hugo and Richard who were her cousins. She told me they both were in the Kriegsmarine and did not return from the war. I located Hugo Cusminus on the lists of sunken Submarines during WW II But have not yet found evidence of Richard, the younger. There are many many instances of people who disappeared and the records of their life no longer exist. I'm sure many of those who perished in mass bombings burnt up along with any record of them ever having lived at all. But to read about the Submarine that became the grave to Cousin Hugo click the link below and to view Hugos name scroll down to the sixth name on the list.
U Boat Crews
A diagram of the type of Das Boot (the boat) that Hugo was lost in is from Heiszwolf.com and Kohn and Neistle
This Was Julius Cusminus, my Grandfather, or in German, "Opa". I remember my mother telling about him and how it was when she was young. She recounted how wonderful she thought he was. He was an artist and had been a musician. He had worked as a carpenter and did fantastic inlay work on boxes and miniature furniture for doll houses. He had built a doll house for me when I was very little and sent it from Germany. I still have some of his pieces. He had injured one hand in a sawing accident and as such was not draftable for the military, but even so he was conscripted into the Organization Todt. Organization Todt was a Forced labor group that conscripted 1.75 Million Germans between 1938 and 1940. The story my mother told me was because he refused to give the SS building monitor the Hitler salute (Opa had been SDP before Hitler outlawed the Socialist party in 1933), that the man turned my grandfather in to the Gestapo and his punishment was to be sent to the Atlantic wall building fortifications on the North Sea. Workers in Organization Todt were treated as slaves and many did not survive.
Click the link to read more about organization Todt
Here is a picture taken in 1938 of Opa in Tirol. Tirol is an area of Austria,Germany and Northern Italy that is known for its Romansch Language and in antiquity for being the land of the Rhaetics, or worshippers of the Goddess Rhaetia. Settlers in the Area go back to the time of the Etruscans and Celts. My mother often told me of the Roman influence on the family name Cusminus, because like the Roman names Agustus, Maximus, etc. Cusminus also ended in the roman suffix "us" Opa had it in both of his names Julius Cusminus.
Tirol and the area of Southern Germany known as Bavaria is known for its Forests, the Schwartzwald, and mountains. It is also known for its music and Dancing, and its traditional costumes. I used to have lederhosen as well as derndels when I was young. It is too expensive to buy one for casual wear now. To experience a taste of Southern German culture click the video link below. Turn on your volume (but not too loud) and pour yourself a Pilsener.
everybody sings and dances in Bavaria and Tirol
Even AUSSIES LOL
My Great Grandfather says "BROST" to you!
Saved the best for last. To see Baveria and Tirol click the link.
My Mother's hometown is a city in Southwestern Germany named Kaiserslautern. If you have been in the US Military you may know it as K Town. The name Kaiserslautern translates to Cesar's river. Settlement in the area there goes back 2500 years based on old Celtic tombs found in the area. Kind of makes our cities seem brand new. I have often wondered how coming from a place where your anscestors have lived for millenia might change ones outlook on all kinds of things. During World War II more than 60% of the city was destroyed by allied bombing. Over half of the homes there were obliterated. On my first visit to my mom's hometown, she took me to see the place where she had grown up. It was now a street intersection. Her home had been bombed too. This next illustration is a drawing of the medieval town from the greeting card that elders recieve on their birthdays.
If you wish to learn more about Kaiserslautern, click the link
The Coat of Arms of the city depicts the fish that Kaiser Barbarossa liked to catch in the Lautern.
My mom and Her Brother Julius were born around 10 years apart. She was born in 1925. Around 1939/1940 she was sent to school at the cloisters located at Waldfischbach. I remember her telling me she was always in trouble with the Nuns.
She once told me about one of the sisters who had accused her of eating the tomatoes that was supposed to be gathering. Either she was innocent or thought that the best defense was a good offense and pulled the Sister's Habit off of her head. Mom was punished by three days solitude (obviously to contemplate her crime) locked in the bell tower. Evidently there was no such thing as child abuse in those days.
In 43 or 44 my Mother was drafted into the military. I remember her telling me that they came to her school (with the Nuns) and took the better students. She said that the soldiers told her she had three choices, Army, Airforce (luftwaffe) or the Navy (kreigsmarine) and because her cousins were in the Navy that is what she chose. She had had training as a draftsman and so she was sent to a Radar Station on the North Sea Coast plotting directions of incoming Allied bombers on a huge glass map. This was done to alert the cities extrapolated to be in the path of the airplanes so they could set off the air raid sirens and the people could take cover in the bomb shelters. I remember her telling me about the time when the base she was at was bombed. She had just traded places with a friend, another young girl, and went to the board and her friend took her place at the rear of the room by the bomb blast doors. The doors were several inches thick steel. The bomb hit just outside the door and blew it in. Her friend was killed immediately. My mother missed death by minutes.
This is a photo taken in the city of Mainz, Germany in 1949. The medievil towers stand behind a Bridge that was bombed out. Even years after the war rubble remained in many places because of the sheer volume of bombs dropped by British and American bombers. In total the allies dropped 3.4 MILLION TONS of bombs
Of the 3.4 million tons of bombs 2.7 million of them were dropped on Germany.
I can remember my grandmother and my mom at the kitchen table, my mom translating, telling about my grandmother's sister and her children who were killed in Hamburg(possibly frankfurt, I am not sure of my memory) in just such a bombing raid. Even as late as the 1980's when I first visited my mothers family in Europe there were still buildings that had not been repaired from the bombings.
Notice in this picture that the interior walls are still visible where the house was left partially standing. This is on the street that my grandmother lived when I visited her in the early eighties. The scars upon the land take a long time to heal as well as the scars left on people who are the victims of war. If one truely thinks on how few people it takes to start war, with little regard for the consequences and how many innocent or uninformed people suffer the effects of war, the fact that wars still are even considered is astounding to me. I think if those who incite or justify war were the ones who would lose all, even their lives, then wars would indeed end.
Marilyn, the Tag member who inspired this blog page is a fan of Recipes. We talked about how our parents survived through the bad time and managed to keep body and soul together. Some of the things I remember momma telling me was what her papa had to do to try to feed the family. One of the things that they would do was to go to the countryside and trade anything they had for potato peelings. Not potatoes but just the peelings. Apparently this was a wide spread practice as we found this WWII recipe for Potato peelings:
Cooking time a few minutes
potato peelings and pieces
a handful of flour
salt and pepper
For more War time recipes check out this link:
I remember mom telling me how they surprisingly had meat one day. It was some kind of mystery meat stew. Later she noticed the neighbors dog was missing. Coincidence?..... Perhaps. Opa did raise pidgeons on the roof. I guess they also had squab.
Cooking time 25/30 minutes
Quantity One per person
Ingredients Some lard or margarine
Chopped herbs (such as rosemary or thyme)
People did literally starve to death during and after World War Two. The "Morgenthau" plan was a plan by the Allies to literally starve the Germans out of existence. It was thought that by doing this they would never be able to make war. Luckily better minds prevailed and the Morgenthau plan was replaced with the Marshall plan. This change of heart away from Genocide saved the lives of tens of millions of People and the reputation of the West. Read about the Morgenthau Plan at this link:
The tales of starvation and making do with almost nothing are not unusuall. I found another site were the lady had emigrated to the USA like my mom. She writes of her experience after the War: "What Ingrid and Edwin did talk about, though, was getting by. How Germans saved every potato peeling. How they traded linens that had survived the bombings for those potatoes." To read about Ingrid click this link:
The Marshall Plan saved the lives of millions of people in Europe. Many people mistakenly think it was only for Germany but actually provided reconstruction and supply aid for the allied countries more than Germany. Germany recieved much less that the other states. For more information on the Marshall plan click this link: LINK
During the years of the Marshall Plan a special need arose in Berlin, then in the Russian sector. The Capital city had been partitioned among the allies under the "Four Powers Agreement" essentially into two cities, East Berlin ( the russian sector) and West Berlin. The fact that the entire city was deep in what had become the Russian controlled territory made travel to the city by road and rail impossible once the Russians blockaded the routes into the city. This prompted President Truman to begin the Berlin Airlift, or as it was called "Operation Vittles" LINK to thwart the Soviets from taking over the entire city. My dad was part of this great effort to supply the citizens of West Berlin and halt the spread of Soviet communism to the entire city. Here is a photo where he describes loading an engine for repair during operation vittles.
And his notation on the back of the photo
Germany remained a divided state. The western partition known as the FDR, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the East known as the German Democratic Republic ( Ironic name for a communist totalitarian state, never take the Names for a political entity as being a true description of what it stands for). IN 1961 the GDR under supervision of the soviets built the Berlin Wall, effectivly partitioning the city. This was not to keep people out as historically city walls were built but to keep people under communist rule inside... This wall symbolised the oppression of communism to the western minds more than any other thing. President Kennedy gave one of his most famous speeches about this wall. To LISTEN to his words click this link:
Kennedy set the stage for the West's response to communism with his words"Ich Bin Ein Berliner". President Reagan had the highlight of his presidency when in his speech to the USSR he called upon Gorbachev to "Tear down this Wall"
Later events including the U.S. involvement in resisting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and its subsequent result of helping to cause the disintegration of the USSR into its independent parts as well as the Reunification of Germany and the Removal of the Berlin wall in 1989 all had its roots on the partition and blockade of Berlin in 1948/49 in which my father played his small part. LINK
Resistence to opression, no matter how small, no matter how long, will eventually triumph. The will to freedom IS the human spirit and can only be repressed, NEVER extinguished. Watch how people can change history by their sheer will and bravery. BERLIN 1989LINK
CHINA TIANANMEN SQUARE 1989 LINK
Myanmar 2007/8 LINK
Vietnam 1963 LINK
USA 1960 civil rights LINK
USA Anti Vietnam war 1960/70 LINKLINK
Womens sufferage UK USA 1850-1920
LINK also LINK And IN IRAQ 2007
So remember those who risk and sacrifice everything for their and others freedom. It goes on all over the world. All around you. People who give up the comforts of home and family, food shelter even their lives to secure freedom and liberty. Never forget, never allow freedoms once won to slip away. Eternal vigiliance is necessary from all of us.
The most amazing thing has occurred because of TAG and this blog. The husband of Cousin Richards Daughter has found Me and my part of the Cusminus family through THIS page on the internet. How fortunate to have reunited the children of the people who I have written about. The internet is truly an amazing thing. I now have a NEW set of relatives to meet. WOW!