Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Growing up in Bischoffingen, Germany. Part 2.

My habit of doing things, without first asking if I could, brought me into trouble more times than I would like to remember. Owning a pocket knife was the ‘in’ thing for boys, so one day when I had sharpened mine, I decided to test its efficiency on a nearby tree that belonged to an old lady.   We had our own trees, but my better judgement told me that was not advisable. I cut neat long strips of bark off the lady’s tree. Then with the task completed, and convinced that the knife was sharp, I went home, convinced that nobody had seen me. 

A few days later to my surprise and dismay, my teacher knew about it. I was pulled in front of the class and asked if I was the culprit. There was no use denying it as two boys testified against me. After a good verbal chastisement, I received the verdict and sentence.I was: 1) ordered to go and put wax on the tree and bandage it up.  2) Told to go and see the old lady and tell her that I was very sorry for mutilating her tree. 3) If this were not done within six days, the teacher would report my ‘crime’ to my parents.  With one fell swoop, I was placed between a rock and a cement wall.  I agonized over, which was the better option, one, two or three, and I decided on option number two.  To make a long story short, it took several failed attempts before I had the courage to knock on the lady’s door.  As soon as I lifted my hand for the first knock I lost my nerve and went away for another “think”, but eventually I did it.  The lady did not reprimand me and was friendly, and I felt a big weight lift from my shoulders.
However, this episode taught me a valuable Lesson for Life. 
From that day on, every time I wanted to do or say something, I would first consider whether it would require an apology from me later.  Unfortunately, the teacher who taught me this valuable lesson was later killed on the Russian front, but I will certainly never forget him. It is a great pity that teachers today cannot exert such valuable influence on young people.
Most of my formative years were spent under a totalitarian form of government, the Nazis, but we kids were oblivious to politics.  However, there is no doubt that the Nazis were good forward planners and thinkers.  One of their first actions after gaining power was to set in motion the establishment of youth organizations, the “Jungvolk” (young folk) and the “Hitler Youth.”  The former was for the age groups from eight to fourteen, the latter from fourteen to eighteen.  The sexes were segregated  - in all there were four different groups. There was a national leader and regional leaders, down to the local level of group leaders.  To the outside world, it probably appeared to be nothing more than a boy-scouts or girl-scouts movement - which it was to some extent - but here the similarity ended.   The main objective was to define and to instill the Nazi doctrine into young people’s minds.   Young people loved to join this movement - there was no coercion to join, nor was it compulsory.  Non-involvement was an option not even to be considered - after all, what kid would want to be an outsider and miss out on the fun?   This was a new activity for them. The indoctrination of Nazi values and dogmas was done in a subtle way, and besides, the youngsters also had fun playing games. 

Bischoffingen  was a protestant community.  We had only two officially recognised religions in Germany, Roman Catholic and Protestant; the latter was called the “Evangelical Church”.  To be a priest or minister of religion, one had to have studied theology at the university and after they graduated they became public servants and were paid a salary by the Government. Of course, being a member of one of those two religions, meant one had to pay church tax, which was used to maintain churches and pay the salary to priests and ministers.  One could easily avoid those taxes, by leaving the church, but that was not done lightly if at all, as it put sort of a stigma on people, which they tried to avoid at all cost.  During the Nazi period, practising religion was not encouraged, but it was allowed with a kind of grudging tolerance.

Sunday was always a special day in our lives: a day of worship, rest and recreation, and there was always that special hot Sunday dinner at midday.  The real Sunday for us began at 10 a.m. when most people went to church. Whether or not you were religious was of no importance. It was just the custom and the right thing to do - a formality most villagers adhered to. 

Our church tower housed five bells, the biggest one weighing over half a ton.
The bells started to ring 15 minutes before the church service commenced and stopped when the priest, after making his entrance through the back door, walked along the aisles and arrived at the altar in the front section of the church. The bells, high up in the belfry, were affixed to a long rope and were activated by five bell ringers known as the ‘bellboys’.  The sixth boy gave the signal when to start and stop.   The big bell required two boys to start the swing, one to maintain it, and three to stop it by hanging on to the rope and having fun by going up and down two meters a few times like budding Tarzans. When a boy reached his last class at school, he was automatically entered on the ‘string puller ‘roster and with this task came a certain prestige and importance.

One single bell tolled during church service, while the pastor was reciting the Lord's prayer. The bells always tolled on special occasions such as funerals, weddings, etc., and during the war, every time word was received that a villager had been killed in action.  How appropriate was Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

When not on the bell ringing roster, there was another job we were rostered to in the church.  The church boasted a huge electric pipe organ, and as a backup for electricity failures, bellows in the attic had to be pumped.  Consequently, when I was on standby roster, I had to make sure I was at the church gallery sitting next to the loft door. It was quite possible to be a bell ringer one week and a bellows pumper the next.  It was a sad day in 1943 when the government requisitioned our church bells because the metal was required for the war effort, and possibly became part of a lethal weapon.

Postscript. Twenty-three young men didn’t return to Bischoffingen at the war’s end. This left a big hole in the small village of Bischoffingen.  They sacrificed their lives and it begged the question – for what?

I was nine and a half years old when World War Two started.  The special proclamation was broadcast on the school radio. The announcement caused jubilation amongst the kids, a fact which we demonstrated in the street on the way home from school by yelling, “War, war”, and jumping up and down for joy - not realizing the seriousness of the situation or anticipating what was in store for us.

Raw-material-starved Germany was starting to feel the pinch, and true to the proverb, "Necessity is the mother of all inventions", the Government had to think of ways and means to help remedy those deficiencies. They had to produce petrol from shale, an expensive and difficult process, but it is amazing what governments can do in war. Nobody escaped being involved in some way or other in the war effort, which brings me to my next subject - silkworms.

Schools also became involved in the war effort, particularly those in rural areas.
The government asked them to put silkworm farming on their curriculum during summer. The food source of the silkworm is, of course, leaves from the mulberry bush and these were plentiful around the village as every backyard had one or two. The Government supplied additional plants to be planted in school and churchyards and wherever else there was a spare spot. The bushes produced a profusion of leaves whilst the silkworms were prolific eaters.

The silkworms were housed in boxes and were eating continually. Collecting leaves and feeding them gave us kids a welcome break from the tedious learning regimentation at school.  However, this project, besides being fun, also proved to be an edifying experience.
Read more about silkworms.  Click here and also here.
For example, we learned that the silkworm, in addition to eating mulberry leaves, also likes lettuce, but that silkworms fed on mulberry leaves produce the finest silk.
  It was interesting to observe how the cocoons grew bigger and bigger. Silkworms spin their cocoons from a single thread which, unwound, can measure about 800 metres.  An interesting little critter indeed, green material fed into the front and white material churned out of the back.  We had a few walnut trees,  and we also cultivated a yearly crop of poppies, solely for home consumption.  After the walnuts and poppy pods were harvested they were stored, and then on the long winter nights the whole family, and often neighbours or relatives, would come and all sit in a room and crack the nuts or open the seedpods of the poppy.  It was an excellent occasion to tell yarns.  Poppies, besides producing delicate, attractive flowers, also provided us with cooking oil, while the tiny round seeds were used to adorn our bread and cakes.  One acre produced enough seeds for our yearly oil and seed requirements. 

There are about 200 species of poppy around the world, their flowers ranging in colour from pure white to a bright scarlet. The species we cultivated had white flowers with small purple flecks, and a field of poppy in full bloom was a sight to behold. With the dominance of white it had the appearance of a snowfield in summer.

We harvested the pods when they started to change colour from green to brown and when you could hear the seeds rattle when they were waggled.  When the pods were cut off the plant, the short stem that remained resembled a baby’s rattle.  The pods were stored in the barn or attic until they had totally dried out, and were cut open on winter nights to retrieve the seed. The plant contains many alkaloids, including morphine and codeine, especially the milky sap of green plants - though we never produced them for that purpose.  During the war the Government required us to save the dry empty seedpods, for the extraction of the alkaloids.

The first of May always had a special significance in our village, and for that matter anywhere in Germany. 
  It depicted the beginning of summer and very often the cherry and peach trees were in bloom and people came from everywhere to enjoy this blossom extravaganza. On the night before the festival young people used to cut a birch tree and place it in a purpose-built hole at the village square. Then everybody worked feverishly until the early hours to have it adorned with all sorts of colourful decorations, so that it was ready for morning of the 1st of May.  Our May Day had no “Labor “significance in our village.  In the afternoon the whole village population was present, either to take an active part, or just to enjoy the carnival atmosphere and listen to the village brass band.

One of the most important features of the festivities was the tree-climbing contest that allowed young men to show off their vigour and climbing skill.  The tree branches had small keepsakes attached to them, and young people were challenged to get one of them down, for their girl, their mother or whoever.  However, in order to make the climb especially difficult and challenging, the tree trunk was de-barked so that it was smooth.  Every village or town in Germany had its central Village Square or market Square, which was perhaps the forerunner of today’s mall. It was used for entertainment, meetings, play, and markets. 

The river Rhine was and still is, an important waterway, and is the border between France and Germany. Both sides were heavily fortified with bunkers, with their gun openings pointing ominously towards each other.  The French were the first to build bunkers; the Germans then built them opposite and in the most strategic position.

In those days we had no washing machines and in summer on a nice day the whole village went to the river for a kind of working picnic. The women folk did all their washing, and everyone had a good time, swimming in the Rhine and eating and playing games. We kids always looked forward with eager anticipation to these one-day picnics, which happened at least three to four times in summer. The kids often taunted the French border guards with their coloured stripes on either side of their trousers, by hurling sarcastic remarks over the water. It just shows that the kids then were no different from today - taunting is still a popular pastime.
When Germany built the bunkers it provided work for a lot of people in the area: they worked 7 days, and in shifts around the clock. 
The government seemed to be in a hurry to finish these modern concrete fortresses. The fortified German border was known as the West Wall  (the word Wall, in German, means bulwark.)  My father was engaged with horse and wagon on a shift-work basis, and for light during the night; carbide lamps with their characteristic set up were used. The lamps had two compartments, one for water, and the other for carbide. The water made the volatile carbide sizzle and produced gas for the light. 

We kids had great fun with carbide. We filled tins and sealed them with the lid, punched two little holes in it, one to let water in and one for a ‘fuse’, (which could be a rag or paper.) Then we lit it, to make it explode.  However, some time later I got hold of a recipe on how to make another medium for our explosive devices - a kind of gunpowder. It consisted of charcoal powder, sulphur and saltpetre (nitrite), which had to be mixed in the right proportions to make it work.   A lot of experimenting went into obtaining the right formula. Charcoal and sulphur was easy to come by.  We used wood for heating and cooking and sulphur in the wine industry.  Saltpetre, which was added to meat to retain its fresh red colour, had to be bought from the grocery shop. So a few mates and I pooled our meagre supply of pocket money to buy saltpetre, and when mum sent me to the shop to get a few things, I always bought a little more saltpetre with her money.  When questioned about the extra change I should have brought home, I told her that I had bought some lollies.

Everything went well in our gunpowder venture, until one day the lady from the grocery shop asked my mother casually, “You must conserve a lot of meat?”  “No, why?” my mother queried surprised.   “Well,” the shopkeeper said, “young Werner has been buying all these quantities of saltpetre for some time”.  As soon as mum got hold of me I was questioned about the saltpetre business.   I had to own up about what I had been up to, and that was the end of our gunpowder business.

When the invasion of France was imminent, all women and children living within eight kilometres of the border were evacuated.
My brother and I were sent to our aunt.  She and her husband had a grocery shop in Schiltach, a little town deep in the Black Forest just a few kilometres away from the renowned Junghans watch factory.  My mother, who was pregnant, had been sent to a hospital in Pfullendorf not far from Lake Constance, which borders on three countries: Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  After a few days, my aunt informed me that I now had a sister. This was a bit of a shock to my system, and came like a bolt out of the blue.  Not even a whisper of a hint was ever given, nor did my mother's extended tummy indicate anything to me.  I imagined the good old stork had fulfilled its duty again.  Three weeks later all of us were back in Bischoffingen.  See story, “My sister Helga” 
In the very beginning of the war, the French artillery harassed us a bit, and had some “pot-shots” at us.  They may have been practicing or just wanting to scare us, but they never scored a direct hit in our village. Either they were bad shots or the hills were in their way. 

One incident I remember well was when the French artillery succeeded in scaring the living daylights out of a couple of schoolmates and me in the middle of the night.
  In those days kids had to be off the streets and at home at night, but sometimes we sneaked out of the house just as a dare, and of course without mum's knowledge.  Blackouts were strictly enforced at night: to show a light brought a fine. We decided to make an excursion into the hills and 'spy' across to France. There they were also kept in ‘the dark’. When one of my mates lost his pocket knife, we committed a cardinal sin by using the torch to find it.  Someone across the border saw the light and the French artillery opened up with about five rounds.  When we heard the first shot go off, followed by the familiar whistle of the projectile, we left the scene in a panic-stricken hurry (and that is an understatement).  With record-breaking speed, probably in excess of 200 km an hour, we ran downhill into the village never daring to risk even a backward glance.  The next day everybody in the village was talking and wondering what could have prompted the artillery salvo, but our lips were sealed. We had very good reason for not wanting to brag about it.

Continuation in Part 3. I hope you find this interesting, and if you do, tell me. - Werner

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Growing up in Bischoffingen, Germany.

This is my story of my early years. It starts from growing up in the rural village of Bischoffingen, on the picturesque Kaiserstuhl in South-western Germany, to going through the Second World War and then migrating to Australia. To read more about the Kaiserstuhl click here  and here

This story is a condensed account of growing up in Bischoffingen; it shows what it was like in those days and what kids did in their spare time, without having any of the mod cons the kids have today.  In writing this I had to consider the size of the document and dwelled only on some aspects of my growing up period. To enlarge pictures: Click on them.

This story of twenty odd pages encompasses my young life up to the end of the war. Some more of my activities as a youngster can be read in “Anecdotes from a German Childhood” and more of my life stories can be found on this website. www.tintota.com - there click on the “Blog” tag and put my name into the search box. I will publish this version in sections over several weeks. I hope that you will find it interesting. - Werner
Werner’s Memoirs, condensed version.
There will always be a place in my heart as long as I live, for the rural village of Bischoffingen, nestled in the hills of the picturesque Kaiserstuhl in south western Germany, and surrounded by a panorama of vineyards as far as the eye could see.  It is the place where I spent the first 23 years of my life, went to school, experienced the horrors of the Second World War, where I met and married my wife Karola, and where our eldest daughter Sonja was born.  I was the eldest son of an old & well established fruit and wine growing family.  My brother Horst and sister Helga are still living in Germany.  Family picture: My parents, brother Horst, sister Helga and myself in the background – photo taken in 1944.

But first, a lesson in geography.
  Bischoffingen is on the western side of the Kaiserstuhl, about three Kilometres from the upper Rhine, which is also the French/German border. See picture above.  The Kaiserstuhl is a fertile hilly outcrop between the Black Forest to the east and the Vogue Mountains of France to the west. It has about 800 inhabitants, predominantly engaged in agriculture and viticulture.

When I left there, farmers were totally self-reliant.  They had their cows for milk, and made their own butter and cheese; they grew grain for flour and baked their own bread; and they killed their own pigs and calves for the year-round supply of meat and sausages.  Money was not plentiful, but we had everything we needed, and we learned not to waste anything – not even water.  Of course people had to manage with the limited resources available.  The needs were different then, from the needs of today.  For a start we didn’t have TV, washing machines, or fridges, to name a few, but life went on regardless, and when I look back, it was probably a case of: what you don’t know or have, you don’t miss.

Interestingly, I can vividly recall every moment in my life from when I was 4 and a half years old, but anything before that time is a total blank.  It was the time when my mother came home from hospital with my brother Horst, and I was taken to the hospital with appendicitis.

And, it was there where I started to have an insatiable craving for bananas, which stayed with me for 25 years, and this desire for this fruit was finally cured after working six months on a banana farm in Australia.  Read about it in Tintota blog.

Life in Bischoffingen evolved mainly within its boundaries.
  Travelling, as we know it today, was non-existent, and the means of travel were horse and buggy or wagon and by train.  Freiburg, the city where I was born, was visited when we needed something from a department store or had to go to the hospital.  Although Freiburg was only about 25 kilometres away by road, a train trip to there took the best part of two hours and involved one stop and a train change.  It was only when I was 18 years old and had a motorbike that I travelled for the first time beyond Freiburg.  In those days the doctor made house calls, with horse and buggy, but only if it was something mothers couldn’t treat with one of their many home remedies.  Interestingly there weren’t as many sick people as we have today.  That number only started to escalate after the war.

This could most likely be ascribed to the introduction of the motorcar, the tractor and using poison sprays to kill pests.  During the war all sorts of plant pests were airdropped into Germany by the allied countries to destroy our food crops.  Poison had to be used to combat those pests, which unfortunately not only killed natural enemies of those pests, but also, the poison got in our food chain.  The rest is history.  Ever since, poison had to be used, resulting in a tremendous increase in sick people.  One particularly bad pest comes to mind - the Colorado potato beetle, which suddenly surfaced in 1942 in our potato crops, and was never known before in Germany. This bug was somewhat the size of a pea, of yellowish colour and marked with black spots and with ten longitudinal stripes on its hard front wings.  The pretty and colourful appearance of this little blighter belied its capacity to destroy potato crops - indirectly.
The beetle itself didn’t do any damage and was merely a prolific and remarkable egg-laying machine, capable of laying thousands of eggs per day underneath the potato leaves. The millions of larvae hatching from the eggs after a very short gestation period caused the destructive damage.  With their ferocious appetite, they could denude and annihilate an entire potato crop within a couple of days.  There is no doubt that they are the beetle world’s counterparts of piranha fish.

 When this particular pest was first discovered, the schools set one day aside per week, and all the pupils had to walk through the potato paddocks with bottles to pick up the beetles - a bounty of ten cents was offered per beetle. At the start of this beetle picking campaign, I found only two beetles all day, and the others weren’t any more successful, so any thought of getting rich quick by picking Colorado beetles, quickly diminished.

However, all of a sudden, and within a very short time there were so many Colorado beetles around that at first the bounty was set back to one cent, and then abandoned altogether, as manual picking couldn’t cope with the sheer numbers anymore.  We suspected that they had been bred somewhere and airdropped.  We now had to fight them with chemicals, and I can still recall how awful the potato tasted, as the terrible smell of the chemicals went right into them.

Besides the doctor, the watchmaker also made house calls and used to come once a month to Bischoffingen and the other villages.  If one had problems with watches or clocks, he would collect them and take them to his shop and repair them, then bring them back.  However, he would also repair big clocks on the spot, if it were at all possible.  I recall vividly one particular house call; of course, I had to be present, just in case I could learn something or at least to see the “innards” of the clock. 

On this particular occasion I learned something of practical value.  The watchmaker undid a few screws and made a few adjustments, but then he had difficulties starting off a very short screw with his fingers, which had to go in a difficult place inside the clock movement.  After several failed attempts to start the screw, he took a matchstick and shaped it with his pocket knife to a flat screwdriver-end like shape and pushed it into the slot of the screw, and started the screw with ease. I have never forgotten this useful trick to this day, and applied it many, many times throughout my life.

I often think back with nostalgia to the colourful four seasons, the first blooms of the various fruit trees in spring; it was a sight to behold and life started to stir again after the long winter recess.  Trees and grapevines had to be pruned and it was time to plant seed to grow crops to feed us, as well as our animals.  Summer was the time when nature was wearing its best green dress. 

Then came autumn and everything was changing to brown and yellow, the days became shorter and the hard work during summer came to an end with the grape harvest.  Then came the long winter and a dress change to white and everybody took life easier and enjoyed the long nights, which were also an opportunity for the community to communicate and entertain each other. 

There was a brass band; a men's and ladies' choir who occasionally, during the long winter nights entertained the villagers in the big hall above one of the pubs, supplemented with plays performed by the locals.  Various festivals were held during the summer months.  In my teenage years I joined the men's choir, and we used to travel to other places in the immediate area to take part in singing competitions, and I have often told people in Australia the fib, that when the conductor found out that it was me who sang constantly out of tune, I was sent to Australia.

I have to admit I was a very inquisitive kid.   Some of this curiosity fell on the learning side and some on the  “sticky beak ” (nosy) side of human nature.  This inquisitive trait has stayed with me throughout my life; always eager to learn, to find out why and how.  Needless to say, this characteristic brought me trouble as a child, precisely because I was so determined about finding out why and how things worked. I was already wise enough to know how to avoid a negative answer: I just went ahead and did things without first asking whether I could. (See Tintota “Anecdotes of German Childhood.)

I attended the Kindergarten in Bischoffingen, along with all the local kids between the ages of four to seven.  This gave parents some respite from their kids, who, especially in the summertime, were busy on the farm.  I have pleasant memories from my time in the kindergarten, with one exception - and this left a bad taste in my mouth, both metaphorically and literally - cod-liver oil.  Once a month I was subjected to the dreadful procedure of being administered with a dose of this vile source of vitamin A and D for my own good?    “Open your mouth!”  I was requested - and a merciless Sister shoved in a spoonful of this horrible, smelly and supposedly good-for-you stuff, which stayed in my mouth only because of the sharp and watchful eye of the Sister.   I still cringe when I think of it.

I endured this infringement and abuse of "human rights" only once or twice, and then I decided to find out when this liquid goodness was prepared for dispensing, and swore never again to swallow one single drop of this repulsive oily medicine.   On the chosen morning, my mother bade me goodbye and kept me in her sight as I walked in the direction of the kindergarten, until I went around the corner of the first block. Children in those days were in no danger walking on the road - no motor vehicles, only horse and buggy transport.  Out of sight of my mother, I found somewhere to hide.  As soon as I could see the sister leaving the kindergarten carrying the “good oil”, I went in to join the other kids, armed with a totally credible excuse for my tardiness, which was proffered to the kindergarten supervisor.

I recall a particular sunny summer’s day.  It was a cod liver oil day.  My parents had gone for the day to make hay in a paddock about eight kilometres away from home.   Not being in the right frame of mind for “oil”, I set off walking to my parents.  After walking a short distance, a neighbour pulled up beside me with his horse and wagon and wanted to know where the heck I was going, then offered me a lift to our paddock.  My unexpected surprise visit left mum and dad speechless, but not for long.   However, my honesty in admitting the real reasons for giving the kindergarten a wide berth probably saved me from severe admonishment - and I got away with a ‘caution.’ 

I remember clearly my first day at school in 1937.  A young girl, (Alma Klaus) was sitting in the front bench with two other girls.  The teacher asked her what she thought about going to school.  She didn’t give an answer, but expressed her feelings in her own distinctive and expressive way.  She burst out crying, followed by a long stream of ‘water’ making its way towards the teacher - which should have indicated to him quite distinctly what Alma Klaus thought about school. 

Corporal punishment was part of the “curriculum” and the punishable body parts were the ears, posterior and hit with a stick on the open hand.  School hours were from 8 o’clock in the morning to 1 o’clock in the afternoon, Monday to Saturday, and after that rural youngsters were often required to help on the farm.  In summer the days were very long: from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Young people used the street or the market-place in the village as a meeting place, where they played all sorts of games, discussed the latest news about the war, and of course debated the favourite subject of boys - you guessed it - girls. 

Oh yes, I mustn’t forget.   My life in Bischoffingen was in a non-permissive society; we had all the urges and passions of the human race since the dawn of man, but those were sacrosanct and not for display. 

It was the time when my grandmother’s under¬garments were bloomers; my mother was already a bit more progressive in that department and her knickers had been shortened considerably to well above the knee.  How did I know? I spied. Even my father was very reluctant to remove his shirt in summertime and walk around 'topless'. I recall one hot August day just after the war when we were harvesting wheat and a neighbour's daughter then about 18, who was helping with harvesting in the nearby paddock, was wearing a full-length swimsuit.  Schmidlin Oma (God bless her soul) was so disgusted with this openly scandalous display of human flesh that she wanted her arrested for indecent exposure.  Yes, those were different times.  Sex was a taboo subject, never discussed openly.

Even explicit pictures of the male or female anatomy, then only found in the so-called “doctor” books, were hidden from the prying eyes of the children and we were warned that looking at such pictures would render us blind.  My parents possessed such a “doctor” book, and hid it deep inside the linen cupboard, buried under stacks of bed linen and blankets.  When my parents were in the vineyards or fields; my inquisitive nature sent me exploring and one day I discovered a wonderful book with its detailed, full colour pictures of every part of the human anatomy, male and female.  Despite the risk of blindness, I went back to the cupboard many times to peruse and 'study'.  My parents never knew that I secretly educated myself in their absence, and after every learning session I put the book back exactly as it was in its 'safe' hiding place. In due course, I started to give 'lectures' to my friends, sharing with them my newly acquired knowledge and soon they too wanted to know more about this interesting and fascinating subject and insisted that I lead them to the source of my knowledge.  Unlike school, learning suddenly wasn't drudgery anymore.  Why we asked ourselves, don't they teach subjects at school like the one found in the linen cupboard?

After the grape harvest in October, the first frosts usually started to greet us in the morning: winter was at our door.  A very quiet three to four months of very low farm activity stood before us: A time that everybody eagerly anticipated the whole year.   In normal times this used to be the period in which to relax and rejoice, but the war put a damper on things. During those long winter nights visiting friends or relatives was always on the agenda.  This was on a reciprocal basis and the time just slipped away with talking and playing board and card games. 

Already as a youngster, I had a love for making things from wood, and a fret saw tool kit was on my wish list.  I had to promise to be a good boy and behave myself and to do certain chores, and eventually I was rewarded, either for my birthday or Christmas, with a tool kit. It was my most treasured possession. I used to make all sorts of things, such as lampshades, wall hangers depicting animals etc, copied from a large selection of intricate patterns, which were often exchanged amongst us boys.  I often reminisce with nostalgia those times when people had more time to communicate with each other, and the love of talking to people is a trait I have retained to this day.

Christmas had a completely different meaning then. It wasn’t commercialised as it is today, but it was however, then as today, a gift- giving time.  We didn’t have Santa Claus though; we had the “Christkind” as the “gift deliverer”.  The Christkind was an imaginary girl angel. (A kind of a cherub.)  And the Christkind, was used by the parents as a kind of blackmailing tool: “If you are a good boy or girl, help with chores, behave, do your homework etc, Christkind will bring you a present!”  This would have been the most common utterance heard in every household. 

The Christmas gifts were opened on Christmas Eve, and it was the night when we were allowed to stay up longer to enjoy the gifts.  If you read about some of my ‘adventures’ or “Anecdotes from a German Childhood,” you might wonder perhaps, why I ever got any Christmas presents. 
Another pastime in the long cold winter nights was making warm and comfortable
house shoes. I became the 'in-house' shoemaker, a skill I learnt from my grandfather. See picture.

When we removed the protective sheaths from the dry corncobs,  we saved a certain quantity and plaited them into long length of rope, approximately fifteen mm in diameter. I spent hours and hours doing this, then when I had a good supply, one of the many sizes of wood in the exact form of a foot was selected.  A sock was put on this and the start of the plait was attached to the sole of the wooden foot with two nails. With a special long needle and special string the plait was sewn around and around, with the string going through the sock, and finishing off with the tongue of the shoe.  Then the process was repeated for the second shoe.  A piece of used bicycle tyre was sewn on to become the rubber sole, and the finished shoes (ideal for any gift occasion) kept the feet warm and were always appreciated.

One of my favourite spare-time occupations was, and still is, reading, but way back then it was mostly adventure novels about the German colonies in Africa, or other exotic far-away places.  As I formed pictures in my mind of what I was reading, further mental pictures were produced, conjuring up all sorts of hypothetical situations, followed by an inevitable yearning to go to those far-away places one day.  Australia never came into consideration as I had only come across it in geography lessons.  Apart from observing that it was a far, far away island continent, I knew nothing else about it, and what's more, it looked desolate and unattractive.

For young people Sunday afternoon was a time when we boys might decide on the spur of the moment to do something to kill time. We might decide to go on an excursion around the countryside, go to the forest and play "cops and robbers" etc.  Sport as we know it today was unheard of. Soccer was the main sport practiced then, and that only in big towns and larger rural communities.   But, I cannot think of any time of ever being bored - I was always occupied with something or other. One day we discovered a couple of trees on the edge of a steep slope with vines dangling from them.  At first it was a challenge to test everyone’s courage to imitate Tarzan and swing out over the precipice. (Read story,”I wasn’t intimidated by bigger boys.”  In Tintota.
I Hope that you enjoy reading this. Life is certainly a steep learning curve, it certainly was for me. I'll publish the next section in about a week or so. Enjoy Life, Werner

Monday, January 4, 2016

Magnesium, the way to good health.

As a keen organic gardener I know exactly what magnesium deficiency does to plants. They look sickly yellow, they are devoid of “energy” and are subject to disease, and they get attacked by parasites. Then growers spray them with pesticides, which make their way into our food. These pesticides would be the equivalent of Chemotherapy that gets pumped into sick humans.

Are you still wondering why we have so much sickness?
  It seems to be a growth industry. Diseases do not discriminate between old and young, and one only has to go to oncology wards in hospitals to see that all age groups are affected by cancer. It wouldn’t need an Einstein to figure out that magnesium deficiency is doing the same to the human body, as it does to plants. Below is an interesting article which might help you to good health. You will also read that fluoridated water binds to magnesium, making it unavailable to the body.  Source: “The Underground Reporter Newsletter.”  Also, see which foods are high in magnesium. Click Here. - Werner
Experts Say 80% of us are Deficient…
And they are WRONG. Why 99% of Us Are Deficient in Our Most Important Mineral - And How Major Industries Inflate Chronic-Conditions, Heart Disease & Cancer Rates… This affects us ALL. This may just be the simplest, most elegant solution to our most common issues… low energy, broken focus, reduced memory comprehension, sleep problems, high blood pressure, anxiety, migraines, joint pain and MORE…

Magnesium deficiency may be the most common nutritional problem in the industrialized world today, yet it is the single MOST IMPORTANT MINERAL for maintaining electrical balance and metabolism in our cells. It is responsible for over 350 life-providing reactions in our body. From immune response, metabolizing fats, carbs, amino acids, nervous & muscular support, proper cardiac & brain function, blood sugar, blood pressure, energy & protein synthesis, the formation of strong bones & teeth... cellular health....And the list goes on and on... and on. Yet, nearly every one of us is chronically deficient, some of us - severely. 

So how could this be. You’re probably aware that for quite some time — approximately 80% of us are deficient in life’s most critical mineral - Magnesium. You’re probably also aware of some importance of Magnesium and it’s correlated scientific reference as “The Master Mineral”. But what you likely aren’t aware of, is the underlying fact ALL OF US are Magnesium deficient. (*opposed to just 80% of us.) So you’re probably wondering how that may be?

Well, most of us, once we reach our 40’s or 50’s, become “symptomatic”… from low energy, to compromised sleep, joint pain, muscle cramps, anxiety, migraines, high blood pressure, diabetes, inability to cope with stress, osteoporosis, cancer and so on…But what many don’t realize, is that once you’ve become symptomatic, your body is likely already in a stage-3, or STAGE 4 deficiency! 80% of us are. The other 20% are walking around with quiet stage 1 or stage 2 deficiencies… So what the heck can cause such an epidemic of deficiency?

It Begins With Our Water and Food…
Even though magnesium was once abundantly available in our food, produce and water. Today it’s almost completely stripped — due to things like fluoridated water that binds to magnesium, making it unavailable - to large pesticide dumps with synthetic potassium, that massively blocks and depletes magnesium in crops — to refined grains and foods, where magnesium is lost — to “magnesium eliminators” like sugar and caffeine, that cause us to lose excrete magnesium in urine - to the incredible toxic load our bodies juggle on a daily basis…

Since Magnesium is a key protection against these poisons, and alternatively is depleted in the presence of their toxicity - found in all of us.…  Which is why — a deficiency in Magnesium also leads to things like further deposits of metals in our brains - leading to Alzheimer's, MS, Parkinson's, and other neurological diseases — that none of us want to be victim of, or have our loved ones deal with.

“Calcification”-The Real Danger:
Food and water are preventing us from replenishing our necessary Magnesium - but they aren’t the largest culprit behind our deficiency as an industrialized species…The real culprit kicking this problem into OVERDRIVE, is “calcification” — which takes place in our bodies from too much CALCIUM. Calcium is in nearly EVERYTHING. The dairy industry alone spends over $300 million per year marketing Calcium. And it won’t matter if you drink milk or not… it’s fortified in synthetic forms in all of our foods and even shows up in “nut, coconut and soy” milks! When you consume too much Calcium, your body becomes “calcified”. Your bones, your muscles, your tissues, your arteries (contributing to heart disease) — even your individual cells.In fact, this is where things get hairy…

Every cell in our bodies has a “sodium-potassium pump”.
This pump regulates minerals inside and outside of our cells for balance. When too much Calcium is present, the ratios get out of balance, and too much Calcium gets INSIDE our cells.  When too little Magnesium is present, this allows EVEN MORE Calcium to get inside our cells — literally turning us to stone. (Ever hear of someone’s bones breaking too easily?   And, they’re told they need MORE Calcium?) Magnesium deficiency impairs the sodium-potassium pump from working correctly. Within every cell in the body, a proper balance of mineral content must be maintained. When Magnesium isn’t sufficient enough to counter-act Calcium, “calcification” begins to take place over time… Too much Calcium accumulates in your cells, leading to cell-dysfunctions and death.

A body insufficient in magnesium is a threat of serious magnitude. Here are some specific consequences of Magnesium deficiency:
▪    Our Arteries become “calcified” - as plaque hardens your arteries, contributing to heart disease and attacks.
▪    Calcium gets trapped inside muscles and joints, stiffening your body and causing joint pain and muscle cramps.
▪    Calcium accumulates in your cells — leading to cell dysfunction and even cell death. 
▪    Potassium deficiency - due to malfunction of the “sodium-potassium pump.”
▪    Conduction of nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and heart rhythms.
▪    Blood clotting - Magnesium helps alleviate calcium promotion of blood clotting. — (*this is why half of heart attack patients receive magnesium chloride injections)
▪    Low energy - Magnesium is required to produce ATP energy in your cells.
▪    Sleep sabotage - Lack of magnesium affects REM sleep, eventually propetuating chronic insomnia.
▪    Osteoporosis - Calcium is displaced to tissues, starving bones — due to lack of magnesium.
▪    Cellular toxicity - a dysfunctional sodium-potassium pump cannot properly detox cellular waste.

These are just a dozen, of hundreds of potential problems one faces, from one simple deficiency. Remember, magnesium is responsible for over 350 life-providing reactions in your body! You simply won’t ever obtain optimal well-being or homeostasis without maximum magnesium repletion.

What about Supplemental Solutions for Magnesium?
Supplement solutions introduced in last 15 years, since deficiency solutions came out — are only serving as temporary band-aids. They aren’t sufficiently restoring your body to complete-repletion, even if you are taking them on a consistent basis. Most run through your kidneys, causing stress, and are quickly purged from the body — due to incompatible and unnatural form. Another major issue is typical oral-magnesium supplements are not only very poorly absorbed, but they overly stress the kidneys, in addition to many times causing unpleasant side-effects — such as digestive ailments. In fact, numerous studies show that Magnesium is not easily absorbed through the digestive tract… Our diets, prescription medicines, particular medical ailments, and concentration of stomach acid, warp the bioavailability of magnesium in pill or powder form.

Also many popular magnesium supplements on the market are watered down with fillers and impurities and contain a very low concentration of actual magnesium - which is usually in a synthetic form, which can be beneficial for emergency use, but not actual repletion of magnesium and evergreen homeostasis. These aren’t real solutions for true health. To get magnesium in substantial repleting quantity, your best option is through your skin, or “transdermally”. Your skin is your largest organ, and allows you to replete at a much greater level - without any of the side effects, since it absorbs directly into your blood and tissues. (This can also be the only option for anyone with impaired kidney function.) While there are transdermal magnesium choices on the market - most of these are subpar quality and form - often containing things like rock-minerals, which also contain an array of other components - other than Magnesium, such as heavy metals and/or other harmful contaminants.

Also, most transdermals are standard magnesium chloride. Which can be a decent option, but not all MC’s are the same. Nor are they “naturally pre-digested” so to speak, for optimal absorption and assimilation .For a REAL long-term solution, you need Magnesium’s most absorbable, assimilate-able, natural form. This is only found in one form, which is natural sea water — not mineral rocks or mined beds, or synthetics.

“i-MCH” — The Most Absorbable Magnesium
Your Body Can Use. MCH, or a specific form of magnesium chloride, referred to as “hexahydrate” - is magnesium chloride hexahydrate, or “MCH” for short. However, “MCH” by itself, in raw form, will serve you, but not nearly enough to combat decades of missing-magnesium, especially when you throw in the Calcium overload injected into our food supply. Well, a friend and colleague of ours - named Ian Clark, made discovery about 7 years ago — of an actual MCH solution to deficiency, called “i-MCH” (or intelligent-MCH) - which leverages natural “implosion & imprint technology” to prep the MCH for maximum absorption and assimilation - dramatically increasing use-ability. Not only does it not stress our systems — and not only is it 100% compatible with the human operating system… but it’s the most absorbable, natural form of magnesium your body can get. In fact, it maintains the exact same composition as the water that fills over 70% of your body!

He talks about it HERE .Mr. Clark covers:  What i-MCH is exactly and why it’s the most absorbable magnesium your body can get — to restore your system back to REPLETE — bringing your body and health into complete equilibrium. How to utilize it to ramp up your energy, cultivate much better sleep, avoid disease and equalize your health as a whole. His company is also launching a brand new product this week, which is this same max-absorb MCH.

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this e-mail are based upon the research and opinions of the publisher or advertiser, unless otherwise noted.  The information in this e-mail is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.  It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the publisher or advertiser.  You are encouraged to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in this e-mail is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
My thought for today. – Werner
Health is not valued till sickness comes. Thomas Fuller