Monday, 14 November 2011

Aunt Beatrice's violin

My mother's family came from East Prussia. There were three aunts: Anna, Beatrice and Jetty. Anna was married to Charles Kuoss. They had one daughter who died of TB in her twenties, and Charles grew flowers in her memory.

Aunt Beatrice would come and visit us in Berlin and play her violin. I never met Aunt Jetty, but my cousin Ansalde did. Ansalde's mother Elli, died when Ansalde was very young, so she spent a lot of time with us in Gardelegen. Her father, Walter Fricke was an artist, and very difficult. He thought Ansalde had got to big for her boots staying with us, so he sent her to stay with Aunt Jetty in Berlin.

When the Russians came, Aunt Jetty wouldn't get on the last train. The Russians are nice to old people, she said. But they weren't very nice. In the end, everyone was dithering apart from Beatrice, who got on the train with just her violin. The journey from Berlin to Gardelegen took six days, and Mother met her from the train. But that night, Beatrice was taken ill as she had caught dysentery, and she died a day later in hospital. Mother kept her violin, but I don't know what happened to it after that.

The others missed the train. And we never heard from them again.

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