July - September 1945 - Schwerin

"Schwerin! Well, you know life there. It is surely not easy with the aunts. But I have been through hell, and so living here is like paradise. […] For three days, we all live at Aunt Annas, until Uncle Friedrich falls out with her, and with his wife he goes to stay at a friends place. It is better this way. I sleep in the lounge with Aunt Anna and the children. You can imagine how mad it all looks. Aunt Anna has her bed from the bedroom, I have an ancient one from the attic, Gerlinde sleeps in a wash basket, and Ingelein has Frau Kowaleski’s cradle. I’m in bed for a week, and a doctor visits. […] "

In the morning, we leave quite early, and dedicate the first part of the day to exploring where her family came from. After spending some moments contemplating the station and the platforms up close, and thinking about how joyful her arrival here must have been, we walk to her aunts house. It is about a 10 minute walk behind the station, away from the lake.
26th July - Schwerin
"The food shortage is great. Aunt Anni and I take it in turns to wait each day. 3-4 times a week, at 6am. […]Schwerin is also filled with refugees. But I’m not even seen as a refugee now, and so I get monthly food tokens, and an extra ticket because I am breastfeeding. For now we do quite well. The British tokens are also still valid."
"[…] A month passes. My father finally knows that I am in Schwerin. An Englishman took the post for us. – Aunt Anna goes to the bank. The lady is overjoyed that I am back, but she’s not authorised to pay anything out to me. In the Russian-occupied territories, all bank balances are written off as used for the war. […] The question of food becomes more and more serious. The children only have semi-skimmed milk. There is no white bread, only slimy Schwarzbrot, and not even one of those a week. We only get nutrients rarely now, fat seems to have run out completely, and during my 3 months stay we only get meat twice, having waited for five hours! […]"
Approaching the road, the house feels a lot like how I pictured it – a terraced house on a long and generous street, with about three floors of flats. People seem to be moving out, and there are builders directly opposite, so we decide to come back later and get to know the area immediately around.

We walk on around the back of the row, to see as much as possible. From here we can see the back terraces behind the buildings, and the rows of small gardens behind each house. The trees here are enormous, must have been here for a good century or two.

Behind this, we find pointy, equal rows of houses, which swing round in a modest crescent. The gardens here are bigger.
"Suddenly a Herr Godeman arrives from Hamburg, and reports that Papa has already tried to cross the border three times to come and get me. He never managed. This time Herr Godeman, who wants to get his wife and daughter, had to travel alone, because Mama is very very ill. And of course this time he manages to cross. In Braunschweig he manages the crossing. He tells me that Frau Neumann has been in Hamburg for ages, and that she went with them twice to get me. She needed help from two men to cross through water, and in the end she arrived with just her two children and the clothes they were wearing. "
We make a few loops and come back to the front of the house again, from the other side, and there are now less people, so I feel happier to stand and draw for a moment. It’s odd to visit a place that belonged to family members you never met. I couldn’t even search for their names on the door, as I don’t know their surnames. I don’t feel that much here, but there is a satisfaction in finding that my imagination came really close to the real place.

I must, though, do more research into the records of this road, to find out when these buildings were built, and if they are really the same ones as then.
Thinking about being in Schwerin beforehand, I had pictured spending lots of time exploring the many lakes here. After a longer walk around, we head for the second biggest one, not far from where we sat yesterday, and find it less interesting than we hoped. We decide instead to give our day to the old-town.
We come to Schweriner Schloss – Schwerin Castle – which is large and elaborately decorated. The gardens surrounding it are also free and fully open to the public, so we spend a long afternoon walking and gazing.

Afterwards, tired, we have a slow pleasant evening in the city – meandering, finding food, then landing in the hotel.
"Herr Godemann travels on to Stralsund to collect his wife and daughter, and one evening I also find myself at the station, with my pram and a rucksack on my back. The train is so full, that I count myself lucky to get into a goods carriage squashed in with just enough space to stand. I’m not able to say goodbye to the Schweriner lot, I can’t even see them. […] I regret coming. […] Am I strong enough to get through? Will I really get home, or am I risking my children’s lives unnecessarily?"
"The train doesn’t leave until the middle of the night. I am still wrestling with my conscience. A gentleman has taken Gerlinde for me. […] Everything is dark. The train leaves. Gerlinde falls asleep in my lap. I am shaking with the cold. It is the end of September now. Soon we get to Wittenberge. The train sits in a tunnel until the morning comes, because the station won’t let any more refugees in. […] "