Growing Up In The 40s – Pre-War Years in Ljubljana – WWII

 

Dear Readers,

After four years I’m finally coming back to this memoir. I’d like to finish it while memories are still floating in my mind. At times I’m overwhelmed by panic that there isn’t much time left. I’m 84.

I’m glad that Dad’s whole story in captivity is told in a short biography for Hadouch’s Lamsdorf-Lambinowice museum in Poland. In this new post I’ve added a few details.

You can read Part 9 here.

Part 10

Ljubljana  –  Pre-War Years

 

A few sketchy recollections of those pre-war years in Ljubljana remain etched in my mind. Oma was concerned about my skinny frame, so she would take me down to the coffee lounge (they lived in a big apartment above) to fatten me up. Christina, the cashier, was there with her white fluffy German spitz. I don’t know, though, whether her dog stayed in the coffee lounge all the time, but I can see her clearly sitting by the cash register with the fluffy white dog beside her.

For breakfast,  I was served a soft-boiled egg , a bread roll with butter, and a cup of white coffee. I was a very slow eater. Poor Oma! Although I didn’t have a sweet tooth as a child, I liked vanilla ice cream, particularly the aroma of vanilla. Vanilla and coffee aroma bring back  memories of Kavarna Evropa, on the corner of Slovenska and Gosposvetska Streets, and my Oma and Opa. My niece, who lives in Ljubljana, found this link on Google. I was thrilled to bits when she sent it to me. The whole building is known as Tavčarjeva palača,  and is best remembered for Kavarna Evropa on the ground floor when the popular coffee house was owned by my granddad Anton Tonejc from 1905 – 1948.

 

Opa loved taking me for a walk to Tivoli Park, a walking distance from Kavarna Evropa. At the kiosk he would buy some pine nuts for squirrels and a lollipop for me.

The squirrels would come right to me to eat the pine nuts out of my hand.

Veljko and Seka, my older cousins, would be there, too.

We were looked after by our respective nannies. Mima, a bespectacled Slovenian lass, was my cousins’ nanny, while my nanny was a refined lady, tall, blonde, with piercing blue eyes, who spoke to me in German. I called her Fräulein Fini. Her name was Finika. I knew German before I knew my mother tongue.

 

I remember Fräulein Fini very well. She was strict, but I don’t think she ever hit me. She used to visit when I grew up.

But I do not remember another Christina, my very first nanny, a Slovenian girl, the same age as my mother. Christina loved my mother, for my mother treated her as a friend. They corresponded until the end of their days.

Christina had sent these photos to my mother in Sydney. She made the Slovenian traditional dress herself and helped other members of the church choir group. With such a gentle face, I’m sure she was a very loving and tender nanny.

And I remember the magic of Christmas Eve in Ljubljana. The wait. The closed door. The door behind which Kriskindl was going to work his magic. Then the bells rang behind the closed door, the door opened and let the magic cast its spell on us children. The huge Christmas tree,  reaching up  to the ceiling, was aglow with little candles, sparkling with sparklers,  baubles and glittering streamers, with gifts in colourful boxes piled up beneath it, next to Mary, baby Jesus, Joseph, the three Wise Men, and the Shepherds with all the animals in tow. This Christmas fairyland, bathed in the scent of fresh pine mixed with the mellow scent of melting wax, remains a cherished memory of Oma and Opa and their luxurious apartment above their kavarna.

Orthodox Christmas was celebrated, too. The soldiers, ordered by my godfather General Orlović, who was also Oma’s and Opa’s  friend, would bring up to the apartment the badnjak, an oak branch, decorated with oranges and mandarins and Serbian flags, and they would place it next to the grandfather’s clock.  Which brings me to Opa sitting in his armchair nearby and dozing off. And I was looking down from the window next to the badnjak,  watching the military parade passing by. The year was 1940. I was 5 years old. It was a good year.

 

I like this photo of my “kum” (pronounce “koom”, meaning godfather). Kum Orle was my father’s friend,  that’s why he became my “kum”. He was also one of the King’s adjutants,  and when the war started in Yugoslavia in 1941, he went into exile. The dedication in this photo reads: ” To the esteemed Misses and Mister Tonejc”.

During the war, my mother and I were always invited to celebrate Christmas at our friends’ homes in Zagreb or in Bregana. But I missed my dad, Oma and Opa and my cousins and my Aunty Silva and Uncle Vladimir. I missed Ljubljana and Kavarna Evropa. My happy childhood was thrown into turmoil.

(To be continued)

©Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric. All rights reserved.

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Armistice Day, 11 November 2019 – My Book “Full Circle”

Today, on Armistice Day, my heart turns with grateful thoughts to my father and all the brave men and women of the First World War who put their lives on the line for our liberty. I wrote this book to honour  not only my father but all of them.

Young Bogdan Stojic  was first conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian Army. Then he served as a volunteer in the Serbian Army until the end if 1915. From 1916 – 1918 he volunteered in the Imperial Russian Army.

He was awarded tw0 Russian St. George medals for bravery for giving assistance to wounded soldiers under fire.

The medals are proudly pinned to his shirt pocket.  And I am so proud of my father.

❤ Lest we forget ❤       ❤ Vjecnaja Pamjat ❤

The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

There’s also a link on my Author Page at:

https://www.amazon.com/author/irinadimitric

If you happen to purchase and read my book, and enjoy writing reviews, I would very much appreciate a short review. ❤

©Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric

 

 

 

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Blue

Blue is one of my favourite colours.

Today at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, Australia, I took this photo, which is only a small part of a huge mural.

And a friendly reminder :

Wishing you all good health! ❤

(C) Copyright Irina Dimitric 2019

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Blue

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Aloe Vera Blooms (haiku) – FOTD Challenge, 6 November 2019

Good day all !

Aloe Vera is thriving in my garden. Those cheerful blooms are beautifully created, and they cheer me up, so I think  they deserve a little poetic effort on my part.

A splash of orange

some yellow and a green tip

a perfect design

I found this  wonderful link for those of you who’d like to know all about some useful tips on growing Aloe Vera.

How To Care For Aloe Vera: A Plant With Purpose

Happy gardening! ❤

(C) Copyright  2019 Irina Dimitric

Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge

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Getting ready for Halloween! (haiku)

Getting ready for Halloween!

I was playing with “Effects” on my smartphone.

My castle in Grayscale and Light Streak.

My naughty Cocky in Negative is bound to send shivers down your spine!

 

And here’s a haiku for  Thursday, 31 October :

For supper tonight
A treat for me and my bird
Ghoulish tricks annulled

🙂 🙂 🙂

©Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric

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Orchid – Flower of the Day (FOTD) challenge

May this lovely orchid cheer up your day as it does mine. I got it from hubby when I was in hospital with a broken femur last year.

If you want to know more about orchids, here’s a link to one of my older posts:

https://irinadim.com/2016/10/31/orchid-rondel-prime/

(C) Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric

 

Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge

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Growing Up In The 1940s – Oma and Opa – WWII

~

Dear Readers,

After four years I’m finally coming back to this memoir. I’d like to finish it while memories are still floating in my mind. At times I’m overwhelmed by panic that there isn’t much time left. I’m 84.

I’m glad that Dad’s whole story in captivity is told in a short biography for Hadouch’s Lamsdorf-Lambinowice museum in Poland. In this new post I’ve added a few details.

You can read Part 8 here.

Part 9

Zagreb and Ljubljana

 

Pick it up!’

‘No!’

‘Pick it up!’

‘Noooo!’ She screamed so hard she turned scarlet in her little toddler’s face.

Two grown-ups, her nanny and her dad, were towering over her, insisting that she pick up a piece of bread she had just thrown on the floor. On the Persian carpet… in the living room in Zagreb…

That scene is still vivid in my mind. I can’t remember, though, who won that contest of wills. I remember it only as the first recollection of my existence. I remember I wore a pretty dress Oma bought me, but I don’t know if it was the pink one, the pale blue one or the pale green one. They were all so very pretty. Oma showered us grandkids with gifts.

My cousins Seka and Veljko and me with Oma, possibly the last time I saw my dear Oma and my cousins before the war separated us. We all look so serious! That was the photographic fashion of the day, I guess.

Oma and Opa lived in Ljubljana. The following is an excerpt I wrote for my mother’s 100th birthday:

My mother, Maruša, was born into privilige to parents who themselves were not born into privilege. Maruša’s mother, Terezija, was a beautiful and intelligent daughter of a well-to-do Slovenian farmer who had the guts to forbid the master of Mokrice Castle, Baron Gagern, to pass through his property. The same Baron, who was a writer, admired Terezija’s beauty, which he described in his story Die StrasseThe Road. (You can learn more about Baron Friedrich Gagern on Google if you know Slovenian!)

Terezija came to town where she met Toni, a handsome young man who started his career as a waiter to become a rich owner of the prestigious and the most famous Kavarna Evropa , a coffee house in the Viennese style, in the centre of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. He already owned a restaurant in Zidani Most and later bought the popular restaurant Jägerhorn (Lovački Rog) in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.

Beautiful Terezija and dashing Tony posing for their engagement photo. He reminds me a bit of Salvador Dali!

Toni and Terezija continued to educate themselves and became highly respected citizens of Ljubljana. They gave their 3 children, Joži, their only son, Silva and Maruša, the best education by also employing French and German speaking governesses and sending teenage Silva and Maruša to a convent school in Italy.

My mother is the little cutie with white ribbons.

Toni was a gregarious man and loved taking his two daughters on holidays to Vienna and Italy. He was also very generous, giving poor students a free meal in his establishments.

Terezija was austere and a shrewd businesswoman. She used to quip in German: ‘Beim lustigen Toni alles um sonst!’ (At merry Toni’s everything is for free!). And yet, she too was happy to provide three free meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, for 14 – 20 poor students every day.

The family set up a second residence in Zagreb when they had bought Jägerhorn for their son Joži. Maruša and Silva loved their life of luxury in Zagreb. They both married Zagreb gentlemen whom they met at Jägerhorn. Silva married Vladimir Varičak, a young lawyer, the son of the renowned mathematician by the same name, dean of the Zagreb University and Einstein’s friend. Maruša married Bogdan, a young doctor, 18 years her senior.  Bogdan’s salary was modest and Oma loved to buy him elegant suits. At the outbreak of WWII Silva and her family, (she had 2 children by then), went to Ljubljana while Maruša stayed with me in Zagreb, by herself – Bogdan was Hitler’s guest, as he liked to put it, from 1941-1945 in a POW camp.

(To be continued)

©Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric. All rights reserved.

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Looking Up and Looking Down (haiku)

Birds and soft breeze sing
Looking up and looking down
Blue skies, ground bright green

What a joy to be alive on a day like this! Had cataract surgery last Thursday, all good! Feeling blessed and grateful.

Wishing you all a very happy week! 🙂

©Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric

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Growing Up In The 1940s – In Captivity – Punishment – WWII

 

Dear Readers,

After four years I’m finally coming back to this memoir. I’d like to finish it while memories are still floating in my mind. At times I’m overwhelmed by panic that there isn’t much time left. I’m 84.

I’m glad that Dad’s whole story in captivity is told in a short biography for Hadouch’s Lamsdorf-Lambinowice museum in Poland. In this new post I’ve added a few details

You can read Part 7 here.

Part 8

Hammersdorf – Punishment

 

Dad continues his story:

‘The Russian camp at Hammersford, south of Sagan, was like a death camp… There were about one thousand Russians in the camp. Fifty were admitted to the hospital every day, and fifty died every day. The Germans knew about this. So every day they came with two big wagons, loaded them with the corpses, throwing them onto the wagon like logs of wood. Then they took the corpses to the cemetery of the camp to be buried. The Russians told me there were gallows at the cemetery, ready for quick executions. The Germans treated the Russians very badly. But a German doctor told me that they do look after them, that they give them vitamins. And I asked him: “What do you give them?” “Well, every day we give them 5 grams of cottage cheese,” he replied. He was quite serious… My food was better, so I shared it with the poor wretches.’

‘The Nazis were very anti-Slavic,’ I remarked. ‘The Slavic race was considered subhuman. And the Russians, particularly, were also hated for their Bolshevism.’

‘Yes. But these prisoners were not all Bolsheviks. They were called up like the rest of the men in this war. I’ll tell you something I found quite disturbing. Among the sick Russians, the most unfortunate ones were those in the diarrhea barracks. They were the first to die. Dysentery finished them off in two to three weeks. One of them, a former speaker on Radio Moscow, was aware of the terrible state he and his mates were in, yet he was more afraid of what would happen to him on his return to Russia. A lot of them feared the NKVD, the Soviet Secret Police.’

‘I read somewhere that Stalin did not respect soldiers who let themselves be captured. As if they had a choice,’ I added.

‘Yes, you’re right,’ Dad said.

‘Well, as soon as I arrived, the head cook, a sergeant, paid me a visit. He used to do business in Yugoslavia before the war. He was very kind to me. For lunch I would get a litre of soup with plenty of meat. I would invite a Russian engineer to lunch. For the six months of my stay at this hospital I shared my food with him and two other Russians.

Close to the camp was an abattoir and a bakery where the Russians worked. Every day they brought me fresh bread and meat. They would cut up the meat into thin strips and hid their gift under their shirts. I always gave the lot to the Russian cooks, asking them to give it to the prisoners who were the sickest.

The Gestapo probably hoped I would die here, catch dysentery and die. But I survived. After six months, thanks to my knowledge of foreign languages, I was transferred to Cosel at Lamsdorf and appointed chief surgeon. This hospital had just been established, built with a view to impress the Geneva International Red Cross, whose representative came to inspect it every three months.’

*

More about the Russian camp: https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Stalag_VIII-C

To be continued

©Copyright 2019 Irina Dimitric. All rights reserved.

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Eucalyptus Sapling (haiku) – Doing our bit for the Environment

Mother Earth cries out

Plant a sapling in your patch

Clean air for all life

Recently, Mosman Council planted eucalypts all along our street. I’m glad to announce that only one sapling died, all the others are doing very well. ❤

What do you do for the environment?

 

©2019 Irina Dimitric

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