Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Title Page, Copyright, Frontispiece, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. i-iv

read more

Preface

Maria Wallisfurth

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. v-vi

Alexandrine is a beautiful name.

It was the name of my godmother, my father’s mother. As was the custom then in Catholic Rhineland, I should have been named after her. But my parents, Wilhelm and Maria, who were born deaf, found it difficult to say and lipread Alexandrine, and so my father gave me the same name as my mother.

My parents subscribed to a daily paper. Every morning, my father put me on his knee, and in his incomprehensible, but to me so familiar, voice...

read more

1

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-2

Near the young Ahr River, near the source, in the village of Freilingen, Maria Giefer was born on the fourth day of August in 1897. Freilingen, near Blankenheim, belonged to the district of Schleiden, the “poorhouse of Prussia.” The village is situated on a rise with a view all around of the forests and peaceful valleys of the Eifel mountain range with its extinct volcanoes the Hohe Acht, the Nürburg, the Aremberg, and the Michelsberg. The house she was born in is made from solid stone taken from the Freilingen Castle just across the road. The castle, an impressive structure with two...

read more

2

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 3-5

Hubert and Elisabeth Giefer work from early in the morning until late at night. They till the fields and care for the animals. How fortunate that Grandmother is there to care for the children. When little Maria has not seen her for a while, she goes on a search. Maria knows every corner of the house. It is divided down the middle; the part with the front door facing west belongs to Aunt Barbara, Hubert’s sister who, together with her husband Ernst, does a little farming and runs the only grocery and post office in Freilingen. Hubert and Elisabeth’s entrance faces east. A small passage...

read more

3

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 6-7

Summer is a good time.

Mother takes Maria by the hand, and in the other hand she holds a knotted scarf filled with slices of bread, along with a jug of coffee and the sickle. Mother is wearing a long dress reaching to her ankles, a large apron, black woolen stockings, and stout lace-up shoes. Her dark hair is covered by a white cloth tied in a knot at the back. Father walks beside her, the scythe over his shoulder. A hollow cow’s horn hangs from the leather strap around his waist. Within this sheath is the whetstone. He has clapped...

read more

4

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 8-11

Although Maria has grown quite a bit after a few years, all she can see when she looks through the living-room window is the snow on the barn roof. She would have to push a chair to one of the windows high up in the thick wall to see the snow-covered road. The sun is shining and the room is bright. Grandmother comes stamping through the door with snow still on her shoes, which quickly melts into little puddles. From her sturdy apron she tips oak and fir logs into the basket behind the big iron stove. Maria feels the floor, the bench, and the table shake. With a hook Grandmother...

read more

5

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 12-14

Village life is set by the seasons and by the weather. The children build snowmen and get frosty hands. Snow melts, then spring comes with fresh green. Summer smells of hay, and harvesting is hard work. Then apples, blackberries, and hazelnuts will ripen. And finally, snow falls once more. Everything has its set order. Everyone has to work in order to eat, and the earth and the beasts are there for the people.

Life carries on around Maria in its customary rhythm. She has no idea that everything has a name. She does not know that her village is called...

read more

6

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 15-17

In winter there are days when Mother stays in the house in the afternoons, knitting thick woolen socks. Somedays, Grandmother wraps herself in her heavy woolen shawl and goes around to Aunt Barbara’s side of the house. Willi and Klöss go tobogganing on the slopes opposite with the sled Father has made for them; Christina stays inside and sleeps on the bench. Maria kneels beside her and tucks her dress beneath her knees because the wooden floor is hard. She has four needles in her hand, but they seem to have a will of their own. Knitting is not so easy! Maria concentrates so...

read more

7

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 18-19

It is Shrove Sunday. Maria watches in amazement when Father puts on Grandmother’s skirt and blouse. He ties a scarf round his head and hides his face behind a black cloth with three holes he has cut out for his eyes and mouth. Father is unrecognizable. Maria follows him downstairs into the living room. Grandmother laughs when Father prances around disguised as a very fat woman.

All that morning and into the afternoon strangely dressed figures are dropping in, chasing the children and dancing around until Mother gives them little cakes baked in lard. Only then will they go off again. Father,...

read more

8

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 20-25

May starts off cool. The calendar in the living room reads May 8, 1905.

Maria is awakened by someone shaking her arm. Mother is standing in front of her bed holding a light in her hand and motioning her to get up. With a shiver, the girl crawls out of the warm straw bed. In her undershirt and barefooted, she follows Mother down the wooden stairs and hops across the cold stone floor into the living room. Grandmother has already lit the fire. A bowl of warm water is standing ready. Mother helps her daughter bathe. Fathers nods kindly to the child and puts on his heavy...

read more

9

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 26-34

Maria no longer knows how much time has passed since she first woke up in Aachen and found that Mother had gone. Suddenly she was so alone! So forsaken! She had cried and cried.

But, that was a long time ago.

Now it is summer, and every morning is lovely. Mrs. Bunden comes to wake the children. Their laced-up boots have been polished and Mrs. Bunden ties a clean starched pinafore around each child’s dress. Maria calls Mrs. Bunden “Mama.” The other girls call her Mama as well. Maria...

read more

10

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 35-41

Time flies. Now and then a faint smell of ripe grain wafts over the town. The summer holidays are here!

One afternoon Father is standing in the Bunden’s flat. What a surprise! For a moment Maria stares at him in astonishment, then she rushes to greet him. She is proud that her foster parents and the girls can see what a strong and confident man Father is. When he talks, Mama and Papa laugh so much that tears roll down Mama’s cheeks.

Maria stays close to Father. Snuggling up to him, she would not and cannot imagine that anyone...

read more

11

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 42-43

The trains traveling from Aachen to Düsseldorf or Holland have to go past the Institute for the Deaf. The railway embankment reaches halfway up the school building. Only the little schoolyard is in between. Whenever an engine passes the windows, pulling a lot of coaches behind it, the children can feel the school trembling. They look outside and watch the train.

Master Wennekamp has drawn a train on the blackboard. Thick clouds of smoke are puffing out of the funnel, a whole blackboard full. Next to the clouds, the teacher writes sh sh sh. He bends his arms as if they were...

read more

12

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 44-48

On Sunday mornings, when the weather is fine, Papa Bunden takes his three girls for a walk through the city. The children walk in front and wear starched ribbons in their hair. In the early spring, the sun’s rays can barely be felt, but the buds are swelling on the branches of the many trees lining the streets. In the parks, the smell of the earth promises new growth. Blackbirds hop over newly greening lawns.

The town is filled with ringing church bells on Sunday mornings. They peal from the towers, over the rooftops and through the streets. But the...

read more

13

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 49-52

In Aachen, Mama presents Maria with a black dress because of the death of her mother. Juliane does not stay much longer with the Bundens on Stromgasse. At Easter 1908, she graduates from school. Maria and Adelheid get a new little foster sister. Mama says, “Anna Dilesio comes from far away, from Italy.” Maria likes looking at her because she seems so strangely beautiful. With her dark eyes, her brown skin and black hair, she looks like a gypsy girl. Gypsies can often be seen in the town. The little one has brought dolls with her that can be wound up. They move their legs slowly and stiffly and...

read more

14

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 53-57

If Maria wants to go to the center of town from Stromgasse, she first turns right into Rosstrasse. Here, in the middle of the street, like an island, stands the little Roskapellchen (Ros Chapel). It is eight-sided, with a domed roof, and if you look through the front grille, you can see the Madonna and child inside. In the attached house there is a tiny shop where, once a week, Maria has a little bottle filled with schnapps for Papa. That costs thirty pennies. In the summer, when it is too hot for Mama to light the fire in the stove, Maria takes a jug, the bottom of which is already covered...

read more

15

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 58-64

Maria is sitting next to Father in the passenger train, traveling home for the long fall vacation. Twice already they have changed trains, and now the train stops at Nettersheim, 60 miles east of Freilingen. A thin woman gets into their compartment. They all shake hands. Father helps put the woman’s basket up on the luggage rack.

“Nice in Aachen?” the woman asks Maria.

“Yes—but much more so in Freilingen!” Then Maria says to Father, “I recognize girl. Lives on road to Lommersdorf, behind chapel. What name?”...

read more

16

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 65-67

The fresh snow has thawed. Only on the sheltered slopes does it still glisten in the late December moonlight and falling frost. When Maria got out of the train at the lonely station of Blankenheim-Wald, she was freezing. But after the brisk walk, her body has warmed again and the north wind blowing frosty dust along the Ahr road does not bother her. Only a few people got off the train with her and Father; the others went to Blankenheimerdorf and the larger town of Blankenheim. Now, she and Father are walking past the dense fir forests that reach down from the hills to the...

read more

17

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 68-70

In October 1908, while Maria was at school, Father married Helene. Now she works everywhere in the house. Father tells Maria to call Helene “Mother,” and although it is hard for her at first, she does what Father wants. Mother Helene barely says a word to Maria; she has no time for that, anyway.

The first afternoon that Maria is home, Grandmother tells her about the terrible thing that happened to Christina and little Setta. An early frost came suddenly in November. Christina and Setta ran indoors to warm their hands at the stove, but the stove wasn’t throwing out enough...

read more

18

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 71-74

After Christmas, in the middle of the school year, the little Italian girl departs with her parents for a faraway country. A new foster sister comes, a small, quiet child. She is called Gertrud. After Easter the jolly Adelheid is no longer with the Bundens either, because she has graduated from school. Maria is sad. To whom is she going to pass the fried sausage she doesn’t like, under the table? Who will make her laugh now, until tears run down her cheeks?

There was one place the girls were particularly fond of—a landing with a window on the stairs leading up to the attic. From here, they could look...

read more

19

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 75-80

In school, Maria learns how to construct clear, short sentences. By using the past, present, and future tenses correctly, one sentence can be made into three different ones. But she does not learn the simple past tense: “He fetched the pot”; instead, she learns the perfect tense: “He has fetched the pot.” This is because “has fetched” is much easier to lipread than “fetched.” Nor does she learn “I travel tomorrow,” but instead, “I will travel tomorrow,” since that is also easier to lipread.

Maria gets used to thinking in sentences. There are articles and their inflections, singular and plural affixes, ordinal numbers, infinitives and...

read more

20

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 81-84

There are poems in Maria’s reader. When she reads the lines, she can sense a rhythm to the verses. One of them is,

The Emperor is a kindly man,
in Berlin does he stay,
and were it not so far from here,
I’d travel there today.

Next to the poem is a picture of German Emperor and King of Prussia, Wilhelm II, with his wife, Empress Auguste Viktoria. The emperor looks...

read more

21

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 85-87

Winter comes late to Aachen. Not until February does it bring snow and frost. March 17, 1912, the day when Maria will take her first Holy Communion, is coming closer. She is now fourteen years old. With the preparations for Holy Communion, which are additional to schoolwork, the weeks fly by. She takes pains to make herself worthy. The teacher and the chaplain help her to understand the miracle. Two days before the celebration, she writes in her composition book, “We were a bit anxious,” and she puts a stress mark over every syllable that should be...

read more

22

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 88-91

Each time Maria is home on holidays, people marvel at her. She is that smart girl who owns a coat for winter, who wears slim laced-up shoes, and who so often goes by train to the big town to attend school. Many of the adults in Freilingen have never even seen such a town. When the villagers talk to Maria, they have to speak High German; with anyone else they would speak the Eifel dialect. After the first day back, of course, Maria belongs fully to Freilingen again, but she is still seen as being different. The warmhearted kindness she is shown by everyone also contains respect...

read more

23

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 92-95

Mama Bunden is crying. Maria stands there feeling ashamed of herself because she feels no sorrow for Mama’s tears. Mama keeps wiping her eyes.

The silent, speechless work of packing up is like a reproach. The clothing, underwear, and toys of the child Mama has cared for like her own for seven years are being packed into a cardboard box.

Maria is glad that the headmaster has arranged a new foster home for her and that she will get to know something new. She is tired of always having to go to the same room, always having to look at and do the same...

read more

24

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 96-98

Sometimes Maria wishes young Mrs. Salzburg could be her mother. Maria is really fond of her, so she always behaves obediently and is never unfriendly. At least she tries not to be.

They are sitting at the table for the midday meal. Maria is really hungry. Mrs. Salzburg sets down dishes of steaming lentil soup. Maria looks horrified at the dark brown liquid. There are flat round things glistening under blobs of fat. No! She is not going to eat that! She has never seen anything like that before and certainly never eaten it, neither in Freilingen...

read more

25

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 99-107

Maria walks beside the strange elderly lady up Hubertusstrasse to a square bathed in the warm October sunlight. Here stand the ruins of a tower that was built from massive, rough stone. The remains of the town wall can be seen. A wide street runs alongside the square exactly where the ditch outside the town wall used to be. The street is called Boxgraben. It comes from the Schanz, one of the highest spots in the town, where the Westgate used to stand. The square with the remnants of the tower and the chestnut trees is called Am Lavenstein. Out of the old walls that are...

read more

26

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 108-112

The month of April is really only there to prepare the house for the first Sunday in May, which is the outdoor festival of Kermis (May fair)! Father has ordered a general cleaning of the house. He hires their neighbor Johann Neu to come paint the house. All of the rooms upstairs are emptied one after the other so Johann Neu can whitewash the ceilings with chalk-white paint. Then, he paints the walls different colors—blue, green, or pink. But that is far from being all! He has also brought stencils with him. Maria helps him to put them up on the wall. He holds several of them up, one...

read more

27

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 113-118

At last, spring arrives. The swallows appear overnight. Speedily they flit across the yard, into the barn and stables where they build their nests in the beams. They breed, and soon, gaping little beaks poke out over the edge of the nest. The swallow parents are kept busy catching enough food for their little ones.

In the barnyard, the mother hen struts with her fluffy chicks over the steaming manure heap. The cat lies on the warm wall and pretends to be bored.

Father has been out mowing grass since three o’clock that morning. Grass is easier to cut when it is still...

read more

28

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 119-124

There are people in the village who have so many bedlinens that they only need to do the washing twice a year. On the Giefer farm, too, they let the dirty linen pile up for six months until the women do a big wash.

It is spring. In the open shed, a big wooden tub is set up. The dirty linen is put into it. Mother stretches a worn sheet across it and scatters white wood ash on top. The ash has been collected from the stove. In the kitchen, the Grandmother and Mother boil water in large pots on the stove. Mother finds it hard to work because she is expecting another...

read more

29

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 125-128

“Have you got an exercise book for me?” Klöss asks his big sister. “I have to write a composition.” With a heavy heart Maria gives him one of her exercise books from the cardboard box; it still has some empty pages in it. Father will not buy a new exercise book, the slate does well enough for the eight years of school in his opinion.

“When you finished, please give me exercise book back. I want to keep it to remember my school” she begs Klöss. He promises. But, she still has to be careful that it does not get lost. Sometimes she looks in the boys’...

read more

30

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 129-130

Klöss has obviously been up to something. Maria comes into the front room and sees him getting a beating from Father, who is enraged. Father has unbuckled his belt, taken hold of the boy by the scruff of his neck, and is lashing him with the belt on the seat of Klöss’s pants. The younger children are sitting nervously on the bench and in the corners, watching. Maria shrinks back. She can see that Klöss is yelling. His face is contorted. He is kicking his legs about. But, Father, who is infuriated, holds him firmly. He shakes him back and forth a few more times and then lets him...

read more

31

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 131-137

For Maria, the year 1916 does not start well at all.

She has a toothache. She feels a gnawing and piercing and hammering in her lower jaw. With a disgruntled face she does her work. She has put a scarf over her head as she thinks the warmth might drive out the pain and cure the sick tooth. At night, too, she wraps her head up well, but she still can’t sleep. It gets worse and worse each day. Sometimes she cries quietly. She feels absolutely miserable with the pain and the lack of sleep. Her left cheek swells up, bulges more and more, and is taut...

read more

32

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 138-143

The people in the village are shaking their heads. Maria is surprised, too. A man came to the farm and brought twenty sheep with him. Father drives them out to the chicken run where he has built a pen out of slats. Twenty sheep. But just look at them! Nothing but old ewes, naked, without a single curl of wool and with rotting teeth. When Maria asks Father why he bought the sheep, Father only answers, “Cheap, cheap.”

It has been many years since anyone in the village has owned sheep. In the past, everyone used to have two or three. In the morning, the community...

read more

33

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 144-146

The first straw from a newly cleared, cultivated field is as fine as grass. Threshed with the flail and tied into small bundles, it is used to thatch many of the roofs in Freilingen.

Straw is scarce in the high Eifel. The fields are meager and stony. Spring comes late and winter early. The stalks of the sparse grain do not grow very tall. The farmers need straw in winter to mix with the cattle fodder. For the stables, they use gorse and heather. To thatch the roofs, they buy long rye straw from the fertile Jülich region—“the lowlands,” as the people of...

read more

34

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 147-150

Late summer is drawing to an end. The swallows have flown away and gossamer glistens in the golden September sun. In the evening, long shadows cast the Giefers’ house across the yard and into the street. Maria goes to fetch water from the well. Suddenly, she sees horses and carts full of German soldiers streaming into the village, then more of them, and still more. The soldiers are haggard and weary. The horses look even more wretched. Their ribs stand out in a curve under their thin hides. The soldiers stop when they get to the chapel. Their boots are worn out, their...

read more

35

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 151-154

“You to Neuwied, to sew!” Father says to Maria.

“Where Neuwied?” She is very surprised.

“On the Rhine.”

Maria later learns from Aunt Barbara that one of the soldiers who guarded the Russian prisoners was from Neuwied. This soldier’s wife is a master dressmaker. Father has received a letter from her saying that Maria can work there. Maria is glad. She tells everyone she knows. She packs her clothes and waits. Shortly after Christmas, Father and Maria take the train...

read more

36

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 155-158

Father must be a clever man. In spite of the hard times, he owns two farm horses. The older boys clean and groom the horses. Their coats have to shine, their manes are combed and trimmed, and the tails, too, are clean and trim. It is a pleasure to look at them. Every morning before the horses are harnessed, they stand at the front door of the stable and wait. Then Mother or Maria gives them a slice of bread. Maria likes doing that. She likes the feel of the horses’ soft, warm lips on the palm of her flat hand. Her brothers often ride the horses out to the fields. They are very proud;...

read more

37

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. 159

Maria asks Father to hang green window boxes for flowers in front of the windows of the Giefer house. Father shakes his head: “Not necessary!” What is that, “necessary?” Maria thinks about the word. She is sad that she can’t make the house pretty. It looks so nice and friendly when red flowers bloom in green boxes against the whitewashed walls. “Not necessary.” What is necessary?

Late one evening Maria sees Klöss and Willi secretly climbing out of the window and down a ladder into the dark green, strong smelling nettles behind the house. She sees them going off with other boys from the village....

read more

38

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 160-161

In summer and autumn, barn and cellar fill up. Dry potatoes lie sorted out beneath the dark vaults; there they cannot sprout. The heaps of grain in the attic get smaller and smaller. The new grain won’t be threshed until winter. The Eifel winter is hard and cold. The bedroom windows frost over.

Gaps and holes in the stables are stuffed with sacks and straw. Snow starts at the end of November. How good it is to have electric light in winter. Electricity did not come to Lommersdorf and Freilingen until the summer of 1921, only after long resistance by the farmers because the country...

read more

39

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 162-164

At the end of January 1923, Grandmother dies.

With her go love and warmth; a person who was good to Maria, who talked to her. Gone forever. Maria is very sad and quiet. Why do people die? Where do they go?

A few days later, Maria helps a cousin sew a dress. When she gets home in the evening, Father says: “You have got a letter!” Maria tries to grasp what he has said.

She repeats Father’s words: You have got a letter.—“Letter? For me? I don’t believe!” she exclaims. Father points to the window bench. The letter...

read more

40

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 165-170

Hasselholz is up on the edge of town, near the Aachen Woods. Hasselholz Weg, with its splendid houses with carved wooden gables and balcony balustrades, oriel windows, and well-tended front gardens branches off the main road that leads to Liège. Old trees spread above laburnums, lilacs, and roses. It is a quiet street, ending in a path into the woods. Professor Heumann lives in one of these stately houses. He teaches at the University of Technology in Aachen. In spite of complaints about his bad stomach, he is a friendly man. Maria rarely sees him. The professor’s wife dresses...

read more

41

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 171-176

Maria meets a girl named Finchen at the club. She lives near Hasselholz. The two girls become friends. On Sundays, Maria, Finchen, Christina, and Josef Sistermann all go for a walk together. Maria realizes again and again that she has forgotten the sign language they used at school. Often she cannot follow what they are talking about. She has to learn again how to sign with deaf people. So, usually she walks silently beside them and is simply happy. When other people approach, Josef stops signing. He says to the girls, “Not talk when people pass by. People always stare, I don’t...

read more

42

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 177-186

In the days between Sunday and Sunday, when Maria will see Wilhelm again, Maria is surprised at herself. She flies through her work; it is as if she has not done it at all. She rolls out noodle dough, makes the beds, cleans the shoes in the yard, dusts, sweeps the garden path—all the while, her thoughts are only with Wilhelm. She longs for him. She wants to be with him, close to him, wants to stroke his face, hold his hand, or just be beside him and look at him. It is so wonderful, to no longer feel alone.

How is it possible that Wilhelm could have existed for so long without her knowing him? That she knew...

read more

43

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 187-193

Spring is twice as enchanting when one is in love! The reawakening of nature, the unfolding of new life all around corresponds exactly with Maria’s feelings of being alive and in love. They are like the expression of her new emotions. It is wonderful to sit with Wilhelm and drink coffee at the Rögerts’ house on Sundays. It is as if she has invited him to her own house. She serves him coffee, passes him milk and sugar, puts a piece of fruit flan on his plate, and enjoys him watching her clean up afterwards. When there is a spring shower, they place their chairs next to the window...

read more

44

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 194-196

“I go to Tilsit! For a few weeks,” Mrs. Heumann says to Maria. It is the beginning of summer. Maria is dismayed.

“I must stay here alone?”

“Yes, you have learned, you are hardworking, you can manage alone.”

Maria starts to cry: “No, no, no! I can’t manage alone. I can’t. I can’t work out the money when I go shopping. I don’t understand money because inflation. Please not leave me alone!” Professor Heumann assures her that he will not cause any problems, and he will be satisfied...

read more

45

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 197-204

The chimneys of the iron and steel works in Rothe Erde on the east side of Aachen no longer emit smoke. Due to a lack of iron ore from Luxemburg, the plant has become unprofitable. The high, lifeless chimneys loom in the sky. Just behind them lies the countryside of Eilendorf.

Wilhelm swings his cane smartly in the air with every step. Maria walks happily beside him. He has not linked arms with her, as he usually does. They pass the church, a splendid building surrounded by meadows. Cows rest beneath an old pear tree that later will bear hard Münster...

read more

46

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 205-208

The day after Mrs. Heumann’s scolding, Maria is ready to take her holiday. Mrs. Heumann urged her to do so in the previous weeks, but Maria did not want to leave. Now, she cannot stand Mrs. Heumann anymore. If Mrs. Heumann disapproves of Wilhelm so much, how can she stay with her any longer? Mrs. Heumann suggests that she take three weeks now, at the beginning of summer, and three weeks in autumn. On Sunday, she talks it over with Wilhelm. She is a little afraid of the journey. The trains run irregularly. Most of the trains are run by the Belgian occupiers; a “respectable...

read more

47

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 209-218

Mrs. Heumann is alarmed when she sees Maria. The girl has lost weight, her face has become stern and care-worn. Even though Maria knows that Mrs. Heumann cannot understand her love for Wilhelm, she tells her of her misery, and suddenly she feels she can cry. It is the first time since Wilhelm’s letter of farewell. Now, she can’t stop crying; it is as if she had been damming up a sea of tears. Mrs. Heumann tries to console her, telling her there are so many decent and industrious men in the world, and some of them deaf. Why should she run after the very one who does not...

read more

48

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 219-221

In Aachen, things are much different than in Freilingen. At midnight on 20–21 October 1923, the armed Separatists declare the creation of the Rhineland Republic in the Imperial Room of the Aachen town hall. But the populace is outraged, and the local police and fire brigade retake the town hall and attempt to drive out the Separatists.

On November 2nd Wilhelm walks from Eilendorf to Aachen because no trams are running. His father has told him that there is fighting in Aachen, and Wilhelm wants to see it for himself. When he reaches Adalbertstrasse,...

read more

49

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 222-226

A wonderful summer is drawing to an end. Maria is perfectly happy. All her free time has been spent preparing for her future household. On Sundays, she has sewn bedlinens on Luise’s sewing machine in Eilendorf. She has made sheets, pillowcases, and quilt covers and trimmed them with lace she crocheted herself. She has sewn loops on towels and tea towels. Maria buys a thick notebook and writes down in it all the recipes she has learned from Mrs. Heumann and Mrs. Kau. With the money she has earned, she buys cooking pots and other kitchen utensils. She can hardly wait to be a...

read more

50

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 227-239

One clothespin and one more clothespin, and the last pair of trousers is hanging on the line. Two pairs of painter’s trousers and two painter’s jackets are nice and white and clean again. Maria has boiled the clothes twice on the kitchen stove and rubbed them on the washboard. There are hardly any more paint stains to be seen, and now a neat patch sits on the knee of one pair of trousers.

The early morning sun is shining on the garden and the wash on the line. It will bleach it even whiter. The old tree nearby casts its shadow...

read more

51

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 240-244

The days become gray, cold, and damp. The glow from the flickering fire in the stove filters through the little gaps of the cooking rings, throwing dancing darts of light on the kitchen ceiling. The water in the kettle is softly humming. In the cellar, the jars are full and the potatoes are stored. Vegetables in the stoneware pots are covered with a cloth, a plate of wood, and a heavy stone. Carrots are bedded in sand, and the coal sludge glistens below the cellar window; winter can come!

Maria sits at the window watching the gray world sink into dusk. In Mrs. Woopen’s garden across the road, black, bare branches stand stiffly. Lights...

read more

52

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 245-250

The year 1927 has begun. Wilhelm has repainted and wallpapered the two rooms of the flat. A crib with soft pillows is standing ready. Maria is still carrying her baby. They are very close, although they do not know each other yet.

On 13 February, a Sunday morning, Maria gives birth to a daughter in the bedroom. With a pounding heart, Wilhelm gazes in wonder at the freshly bathed, naked child that Dr. Antoine places right in the middle of the kitchen table. As the weeks go by, Maria feels healthy...

read more

53

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 251-258

When Wilhelm’s parents die in quick succession, the loss does not affect Wilhelm too painfully. Maria gives him so much emotional and practical support that he feels completely at home and secure. His siblings Lisa, Luise, and Josef marry deaf spouses, and the spacious house has enough room for them all. Maria and Wilhelm move down from the attic to the middle floor. It is a sunny flat, with three nice rooms. The kitchen and living area has a large window facing the street. Here, they can stay for good. Here, their little girl will grow up and learn sign language, the language...