Tag Archives: foreparents

You: Man Leben – the first years


Wie kann man leben, wenn man nicht sterben will [1]

In the previous post you have told in a nutshell the history of your foreparents and parents – until the moment you came in their lives. No existing person has been model for one of the main characters. Their names could have been Allman and Everyman. Now you will continue with your first years of life:

“On the evening in March 1933 when I came into the life of my parents, they decided to leave Frankfurt am Main. They moved to Amsterdam with abandonment of many of their possessions. They have never told me, but I think I am conceived during that night within a cocoon of love, hope and consolation.

First a sketch of the time and area wherein I came to life. After the defeat in “A war like no other, a war as everyone”, Germany fell into a deep economic crisis with high unemployment. In 1923 due to the reparations, the hyperinflation of money – the confidence inspiring “object in the middle” – was so enormous that the salary earned at the end of the morning had to be converted in one bread, because in the course of the afternoon that money became worth only a few slices. At that time my grandparents have based a small capital in sound currency in Switzerland and the Netherlands.

[2]

My foreparents and parents have always been outliers in every society – also in Germany – with all consequences thereof. In the second half of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s Germany created an overwhelming dynamism, hope and wrath – icy wrath [3].  Motorways were built, industry flourished, an huge urge to life came into existence and the soldier’s boots were prepared for a mars forward. “Everything on the puff; who is going to pay”, said the grandmother of Hermann Simon in Heimat – Eine deutsche Chronik [4] after visiting her family in the Ruhr area. The future price was still unimaginable [5].

  [6]

In order to establish this mutual trust in the German society, a “person in the middle”, “objects in the middle”, “myths” and “rituals” [7] were necessary. Also a scapegoat in society was quickly found; my grandparents, parents with other descendants of my ancestors were identified as collective bearers of evil. By the sacrifice and removal of the scapegoat from the society, the German people thought to remove all evil from society. It started with destruction and small harassments and it continued with smoke offerings wherein Synagogues and books were burned in the Kristallnacht in 1938.

  [8]

When in March 1933 the other government in Germany had obtained all powers, my parents decided to leave: they didn’t want to be sacrificed. My grandparents remained.

I was born in Amsterdam in early January 1934. Also Amsterdam was in a financial crisis. With the small base capital deposited by my grandparents in the 1920’s, my parents could start anew in an district similar to the Rivierenbuurt [9]. My father went into trade. I grew up as a Dutch boy in Amsterdam.

In May 1940, the other government from Germany also engulfed the Netherlands. Some acquaintances of my parents committed suicide in despair, because they did not know another way out. My parents continued their lives. In September 1940 I went to elementary school. Except the “J with yellow star” on my clothes, life continued as usual until the end of 1941. On a night before I went to a sleepover at my aunt, my parents told me that I would stay away for a long time, but that eventually everything would be fine.

I stayed at my aunt for one night. Via several intermediate stops and a new first and family name I ended up on a farm in South – Limburg (The Netherlands). From that time my official name is Hermanus [10] Maria Jacobus [11] Leben; I was baptised Catholic. They called me Man – a name that against the wind carries far over the fields “, you say.

“I originate from South – Limburg. I recognized your first name “Man” right away. In South Limburg there are so many names that carry far over the fields. Mat of Matthew, Wiel of Wilhelmus, Sjraar of Gerard,  Sjang or Sjeng of John, Joep of Joseph, Pie of Peter, Nant of Ferdinand, Sjier, Sjoef. In all these names have faces for me”, I say.

“I also carry these names and faces with me”, you say.

“And your parents?”, I ask.

“I always carry my parents with me. In 1942 – nearly a year later, a sister was born named Carla [12]. That is the only thing I know about her. Still always if I see women of her age with some similarity in appearance with my family, I look if it is her. Once I read: “If there is even a hair’s breadth of difference, heaven and earth are clearly separated” [13]. There was also written: “The Supreme way is not difficult, it simply dislikes choosing”. Later more”, you say.

The next post is about your school time in South – Limburg.

– “Who are you – Part 1″ ready for download –

– Please, see page: “Who are you – Part 1”


[1] Translation: How can one live, when one doesn’t want to die.

[3] See also: ”Wrath, icy wrath that brought countless horrors” in the post of 31st of Augustus 2011: A war like no other – the leading players

[4] Source: Reitz, Edgar, Heimat – Eine deutsche Chronik. 1984 See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heimat_(Edgar_Reitz)

[5] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ List_of_wars_and_anthropogenic_disasters_by_death_toll and for the toll of the Spanish flu at the end of the Great War: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1918_flu_pandemic

[7] See former posts with the same titles.

[8] Photo of the fire in the Synagogue in the Börnestraße in Frankfurt am Main during the Kristallnacht on 9th of  November 1938. Source of image: http://www.frankfurt.frblog.de/ostend-industrieviertel-mit-juedischen-wurzeln

[9] Description of the history of refugees from Germany in Amsterdam during the Second World War: http://www.zuidelijkewandelweg.nl/tijdtijn/razzia%27s.htm

[10] The name Hermanus consists of “Herr” and “Man”. Possible the German word “Herr” is connected to the verb root “√hṛ” meaning “to offer, sacrifice” and “take, take away” in Sanskrit. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta. See also the first Chorus in the Cantate 131 of Johann Sebastian Bach: ”Aus der Tiefe rufe ich, Herr, zu dir. Herr, höre meine Stimme, lass deine Ohren merken auf die Stimme meines Flehens!“. Translation: “From the deep, Lord [3], I cry to you. Lord, hear my voice, let your ears hear the voice of my doubt!”.  “Man” “man” means “think/consider/observe”.

[11] Probably this name is closely linked to the verb root “√śak” meaning “be able/capable” in Sanskrit.

[12] The name Carla is composed of “car” meaning “to move, to wander” in Sanskrit and “la” meaning “undertake or give”.

[13] Bron: Wick, Gerry Shishin, The Book of Equanimity – Illuminating Classic Zen Koans. Somerville MA: Wisdom Publications, 2005 – case 17, p. 54.

Advertisements

You: Man Leben – your foreparents


Shrivelled face

Autumn leaves on the ground

Furrows of life

The first part of the description of your life is about your foreparents and parents before you came in their lives. You tell about you foreparents:

“About 4500 years ago my foreparents entered our history. Before this period they have lived an immeasurable time on earth. A coherent history of this first period is missing. During excavations, in wall paintings, in the landscape, in habits, in behaviours and in words we still see fragments of their lives. The last part of the history of my foreparents is described in the book Wanderings – The History of the Jews [1] by Chaim Potok. As far as I am aware, around 2500 BC my foreparents moved from Mesopotamia to their “Promised Land”. After a brief period in Egypt, they turned back to Jerusalem. Around 600 BC, the Babylonian King ordered to destroy Jerusalem. My foreparents were exiled as prisoners of war to Babylon – the world city with the hanging gardens, where they were treated surprisingly well. A part of my family remained in that city, but around 500 BC my foreparents moved back to Jerusalem – after the destruction Jerusalem was a place where the sheep grazed. Until recently, these old family ties with Babylon continued to exist: we have helped and advised each other through the ages.

[2]

[3]

After the fall and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans around 70 AD – only the Western Wall of the temple remained – my ancestors moved away to Europe.

[4]

Probably until the Crusades they were involved in international trade. At the beginning of the Crusades they have established themselves in Islamic Cordoba. Around the year 1000 AD, Cordoba was a city with more than half a million inhabitants. It was an important financial, commercial and cultural centre of the world and its library contained 400,000 books [5]. They probably were writers and bookkeepers.

In 1236 AD the Spanish King took possession of Cordoba: this was a downturn for my forefathers. They tried to escape persecution by converting themselves to the Catholic faith. This was to no avail, because the persecution was severe against converted Catholics – former Jews and Muslims – who secretly practised their traditional faith.

Finally, around 1500 AD my ancestors moved to the Baltic region in Northern Germany, Poland and Lithuania. They became traders.

A few years after the retreat of Napoleon from Russia, my ancestors moved to the centre of Germany. My mother’s family established themselves in Frankfurt am Main. The family of my father lived in several German cities. In 1927, my mother met my father when he studied at the University in Frankfurt am Main. Erich Fromm [6] was a distant acquaintance from the university. We will encounter his books [6] on our Odyssey. In the beginning of 1933 my parents married. In that same year another regime was established in Germany: Erich Fromm first left to Geneva and afterwards to the United States, and my parents moved to Amsterdam”, you say.

“Little is known of the history of my foreparents”, I say.

“That may be a blessing; many stories end with the words – and they lived happily ever after”, you say.

In the following post we continue with a description of the beginning of your life.


[1] Potok, Chaim, Omzwervingen – De Geschiedenis van het Joodse Volk. ‘s-Gravenhage: BZZTôH 1999

[4] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Wall

[5] Sources: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%B3rdoba_(Spanje) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordoba,_Andalusia

[6] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Fromm

[7] Fromm, Erich, Escape from Freedom. New York: Rinehart & Co, 1941

Fromm, Erich, The Forgotten Language. New York: Rinehart & Co, 1951

Fromm, Erich, The Sane Society (1955)

Fromm, Erich, The Art of Loving (1956)


– “Who are you – Part 1″ ready for download –

– Please, see page: “Who are you – Part 1”