May 1945 in Teplitz (Teplice)

"The next day the lady herself brings me to the train, after she has clothed me, head to foot, in new clothes. With Gerlinde on my lap, I now sit in the crowded train to Teplitz. People even sit on the outside bumpers. It becomes immediately apparent that I will never reach Hamburg in my condition. "

The distance between the two places is too long to walk, and so we take a taxi part way, to allow us to walk and to give us enough time to see.

15 km of walking - mountains, forests, train tracks.

We think a lot about the uncertainty that must have been there for Inge on these first few days of journeying - pregnant still, and not knowing where she was going or what lay ahead.

What also become clear to us while we were here was how well networked she was - she knew several people she could go to, and who helped her enourmously.

"In Teplitz, the misery begins. Poor people sitting around in their thousands – waiting waiting waiting. […] I leave the station […] and find family Bockl. They stayed, and Inge herself arrived only hours ago. […] Inge makes the bed in the small room, and soon I am allowed to sleep in peace and safety, finally."
"[…] I go with Inge to the international Red Cross. The lead doctor is a childhood friend of Inge’s. We couldn’t have wished for more. I am given residency permit, until I am fit to travel. […] I live with the Bockls. […] We have hardly any food, but Bockls are wonderful people, and they manage to get through with collective efforts. […] Inge and I are only allowed onto the street in the mornings. It is still dangerous for young women. […] "
"[…]about 2 weeks after my arrival, on Sunday […] in the evening Frau Bockl takes me across town to Dr. Wifshaupt. I don’t feel anything yet. I just feel so odd. Bockls are being careful. No one is allowed out at night, and so I must go to the clinic. We say our goodbyes laughing. A phone call? No need! With Gerlinde it took three days!

At midnight I call the sister, at 2am the little girl is already here, and Ingo must now become Ingeborg. Seeing the child, I am soothed. Such a sweet thing with long black hair. […] "
"Unrest begins in the streets of Teplitz. There is shooting. All Germans must leave now, immediately! […] Herr Bockl comes to get me from the clinic. […] Bockls part of town is still quiet. We stay together for three more days. […]

At the last minute, Inge manages to find a pram for me. […] In the morning Inge takes me and a neighbour to the station. I am the only one who is allowed onto a train. Everyone else, even Inge’s grandparents, have to walk to the border. They have no relatives in the Reich and they don’t know where to go, they were born and raised here. […]"
"[…] Inge begs the conductor in Czech to put me in the luggage compartment. With a few of Herr Bockl’s cigarettes, she succeeds. […] The train starts up. Inge, the always composed Inge Bockl, has tears in her eyes. And so I know that the impossible lies ahead of me."
Interesting history. We have both been learning so much about how this area was so strongly connected to Germany and Germans. Being here means we are able to slowly unpick more and more why she was here, how she was here. What her intentions could have been.

It's also a walking-through-history, time travelling of some sort, to understand events through place.

We arrive into Teplice and find ourselves in an old German restaurant, quite by chance, which has been done up to celebrate the history of these interlinked German-czech pasts, and to romanticise some of these memories in a nostalgic way.
Moving towards a place slowly, getting to know it form afar and slowly up close.

Going to the train station in the afternoon is an indescribable moment. We spend a long time here. The past stands still in this station. The station is crumbling - looks derelict, and first we think it is closed. But then we see it is still fully functioning, left in disrepair, but still used. So then these are the same bricks she saw.

Walking in the past.
Walking through the past.

Feeling in ways that can’t be read, or told – understanding place through body, through felt sense of geography, through own memory and association.
Walking allows for less thinking, more moving.

For more of a felt sense of space, of place
11th July - Litomerice to Teplice
Again the surprise – it is so different than expected.

Like a film set.

The town feels like peace, there is a gentleness to it. A sweetness.