|Martha, Paul, my sister and Gertrud|
This woman was the life of the party, a true happy and life-loving soul. The young generation loved her as much as her peers did.
She and her husband Fritz owned a small grocery store in Berlin. During WWII my grandfather was enlisted as a soldier and Gertrud had to stay behind with two children (my mother was 11 and her little brother just a toddler). Fritz would write many letters to his love from the front and as the war escalated, he suggested that she leave Berlin for the countryside and stay with his sister in Zechlin, where it would be safer. She closed the store, packed up her kids and took the train and bus to the little village north-west of Berlin, where she stayed until the end of the war. Zechlin was not far from the Polish border and my mother recalls how she and the kids would count the enemy airplanes flying overhead towards Berlin to drop off bombs on the city. They seemed safe, but the Russian solders marched through this area towards Berlin, and unfortunately stopped in Zechlin.
An officer entered their home and asked who was living there. 3 women and 3 children. (my grandmother, her mother-in-law and her sister-in-law). He asked if they could cook and sew and was
satisfied to have found such a good-running household. He set up camp in their living room and ran
his headquarters out of their home. Although the women had to cook for him and mend uniforms for his men, they were so lucky to have the officer on site. They were the only house that was not ransacked and the only women not molested by any soldiers.
The story further goes that Gertrud wanted to check on their home in Berlin, so she took whatever transportation she could find for approx 114 Km (71 miles), and did not give up when she reached a broken bridge, but crawled over a gas-pipeline instead to get to the other side of the river bank. She found the building of their apartment intact, with the exception of their front door having been blown out of its hinges by a blast of a bomb. That generation was so courageous and strong.
|The family grocery store|
Everyone in her family luckily survived the war and Gertrud and Fritz settled back in their home in Berlin and opened their grocery store once again. But Fritz passed away in 1963 of a sudden heart attack. They were soulmates and my grandmother never remarried. She also lost her son when he was in his early 30s. So much heart ache, but she would never show it and always had a positive outlook on life.
She traveled to Iran to visit us.
She went on vacation every year to the Garda Lake. She sold the grocery store and got employed at a large grocery chain in her late 50s where she worked until retirement. And then she had to support us when we moved in with her. Here is to you "Oma Laden".