OUR LIFE IN GERMANY IN THE 30s
by Trudi Thannhauser Beyer
Our father, Siegfried J. Thannhauser, was a Professor of Medicine in the university system which was controlled by the government. He had to move to another city every time he was promoted, and we moved from Munich to Heidelburg to Dusseldorf. Here we are in Dusseldorf in 1930 before moving, from left to right, Trudi, Gretchen, and Stasi.
We kept changing schools, which made for unsettled days. Finally with the move to Freiburg in 1930, there came some stability (Stasi was 10, I was 8, and Gretchen was 6). In Germany, most children went to the “Volksschule” before the parents’ economic situation dictated the child’s entire future. Stasi and I had gone to a private school in Dusseldorf due to the lack of availability of a Volksschule. When we arrived in Freiburg, I had to finish 4th grade and Gretchen 1st grade. Stasi in 6th grade continued with higher education which carried tuition. Father would have liked Stasi to go to the Humanistishe Gymnasium which by 1930 took girls, but Stasi would have to go back a year because she had not had Latin. She put up quite a fuss so was put into the “Sixta” of the Real Gymnasium for Girls which offered the 13 years and requirements for matriculation in the Abitur that was necessary for entrance to University. Gretchen and I started in the Volksschule (obligatory and free to every child).
By this time our governess “Dada” had become a power player in our world. She was hired in Munich, a spinster who had passed the teacher’s exam, spoke French, was able to teach piano and became trusted by our mother (Franziska Reiner Thannhauser) and father. Dada had fallen in love with the year old baby in 1924, the first baby ever in her care. She absolutely adored Gretchen, barely tolerated me because I was Gretchen’s favorite playmate and disliked Stasi because she received a great deal of attention as the oldest (a feeling she voiced to Stasi).
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