Und meine Mutter schwieg Und meine Mutter schwieg discussion


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Life in a Black Forest homestead

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Satis Shroff A true story of a family from the Waldach Valley where I spent three weeks of digital detoxing, forest bathing, enjoying the beauty of the Schwarzwald and ' Reha-Anwendungen.' Elfriede Nappa is a sympathetic author who made a novel out of her family history.

Review by Satis Shroff: ‘And My Mom Kept her Secret ‘ a biography novel by Elfriede Nappa

Elfriede Nappa was born in 1947 in Gässle (Haiterbach). „Und meine Mutter schwieg“ is the title of her personal, moving book in the original German version. A paperback with 260 pages, 12, 80 euros, ISBN: 9783741270604. She’s looking for the authenticity and traces of her family like a sleuth.

She decided to write this book when she set out alone for two months to North Spain across 900 km via Santiago to Finisterre and Muxia to reach the Atlantic. In this journey she argued with herself and finally decided to pen the family history.

‘I fought with myself for a long time, as to whether I should write the story as it really was,’ says Elfriede Nappa. The book is a biography written in the form of a novel and a story based on truth, although a part of it had to be written to express how it must have been in the pre- and post-war periods.

Elfriede Nappa says she had to do a long, specific research on this book. Life is hard as depicted in this book and also a beautiful love relationship.

This is the story of Georg and Kati. He had sheep and Kati was pregnant and unfortunately bled to death.

Georh was suddenly alone with six children. He was 38 years old and Kati was also 38. The author Elfriede Nappa said her mother told her a lot of things but also kept certain things secret. Since Kati was dead, Georg had to do something because he could not look after the children and run the Schwarzwald homestead alone. He needed a woman, a strong female hand, with all those kids.

‘But who wants to marry a farmer with a pack of kids?’ thought George. When he looked at himself on the mirror he thought there’s no time looking for a bride.’ Or Brautschau as it is called in German.

Suddenly he had an idea. He put it on paper and drank a couple of corn Schnaps. He felt strong after that. He combed his hair, put on clean and drove in a coach.

Where was Georg going?

He drove to Cresbach and tied his horse at the approach and entered the village priest’s house (Pfarrhaus). The priest saw him coming and said, ‘Come in, Georg.’

Georg gave the priest a piece of good, lean meat as a present, packed in a clean white cloth.

‘Nun, Georg, how are you and your children? A farm-house without a wife. It must have been a great loss for you,’ said the priest.

‘Lot of work in high summer,’ said Georg, became fidgety and dragged his feet here and there.

Finally, Georg brought up the courage to say, ‘Dear priest, Sir, I need your help.’

Priest: ‘I understand your disposition. You need a woman.’

Georg: ‘Yes, I need a woman.’

They waited in silence.

The Seelsorgeman, the one who cares about the souls of the church community said: ‘You need a partner. I know a young woman in Weiler. She has a 7-year old son and I’m sure she’ll agree.’

So Georg went to the mayor to ask him if he could help him get in touch with the woman called Christine.

So they made their way to the farmers Barbara and her husband. The two were astonished to see the mayor turn up wearing a fine suit. He asked Barbara whether Christine was at home.

Barbara went to Christine and told her, ‘The mayor wants to speak with you, Christine.’

‘Oh, I must wear a good dress. O jeh, Jemini!’ she said and became red when she was told about the matter.

Chritine demanded three-days to think it over. In German we call it ‘Bedenkzeit.’

There had been a big dowry in the case of Kati’s marriage but in Christine’s case there was nothing. It had to be negotiated fast.

Christine never shirked when it came to work and she was very engaged but she had to have patience.

How was she to get the household going? She had managed it well when she was engaged as a Magd in her brother’s place.

Christine wore a genuine silk dress at the wedding. Only four elder children came to the Hochzeit. It was cold in February and Georg’s parents couldn’t come due to the cold winter and their rheumatic problems. The wedding took place at Cressbacher church.

O,jeh! Why do the people look at the couple as though they were royalty? Many people had come. Christine looked proud and upright. Even Hans-Jorg was there. He’d fancied Christine once and made a comment that Georg was buying a cat in a sack.

Georg, on the other hand, smiled for he had a steadfast woman as his wife. ‘Ein strammes Weibsbild’ as we say in German.

* * *

After Katharina and Johannes died within three months of ‘Schleimfieber’, typhus, her four year old daughter Barbara was bought to Schietingen to the family of her father. When she was 27 years old she met the shepherd Heinrich from Kirchheim-Notzingen and fell in love with him. Her daughter Christine was born on August 9, 1870. Her relatives were against Barbara’s marriage with a shepherd. She married in her birthplace in the Schwarzwald.

Small Christine grew up without her mother in Schietingen. As an illegitimate child, without dowry, and her own illegitimate child, Christine married at the age of 28 in Waldach Valley with a widow who had six children. After ten years of marriage, she gave birth to three children—and her husband died. Life was hard and she carried on living and ran the homestead with her nine children.

As a widow it was the beginning of a fateful and beautiful relationship with a man.

Frieda, who was the fruit of this new love, suffered a lot in her life because of her origin and kept the secret to herself. Frieda died in the hospital in Freudenstadt on January 10, 1996. She had to spend the last years of her life in silence due to a throat operation in which the surgeons removed her voice-box.

Glossary:
Magd: maid for the household
Hochzeit: wedding


Satis Shroff Eine schicksalhafte wahre Familiengeschichte aus der Gegend um Waldachtal, Nord Schwarzwald.
www.elfriede-nappa.de


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