Growing Up IN The 1940s – Life on the Farm – World War II

This year we are celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War Two. It was such a long time ago. I’m trying to remember what it was like for me in those turbulent years of War, and what it was like for my father as a POW in Germany. It will be part of our Family History. From time to time I might post an extract on my blog. It’s a work in progress. So here is Part 2.

You can read Part 1 here, if you wish, and Part 2 here.

Part 3 – Bregana

The only travelling my mother and I undertook in those days of war was to the farm in Bregana. Once, when we were on the bus, she suddenly put her hand over my eyes, saying nothing. It was too late – I saw bodies hanging from the trees, like limp scarecrows. Fear silently crept into my young soul.

In spite of the war and my father being absent, I was happy in Bregana.  My mother let me stay on the farm during school holidays. Aunty Zora was her good friend and the same age as my mother, and her daughter Nada was the same age as I. Nada’s little brother was four years younger. Their father, Uncle Pepi, was also an innkeeper and hunter. The whole household, with maids, cooks and farmhands, accepted me as one of their own. I was made to feel at home by so much kindness that I would come to consider their place as my second home.

And what a charming home it was with so many farm animals! Horses, cows, pigs, chickens, geese, ducks, pigeons, a goat and, of course, cats and dogs. You could never be bored, there was so much going on, so much to explore. We even had a go at milking a cow, but it proved too difficult for our small fingers. Still, a cup of fresh milk was ours to enjoy right there, when the maid finished milking. Collecting freshly laid eggs and feeding the chickens was a much easier task.

Our daily round of the farmyard provided a special thrill when there was a new-born calf on its wobbly legs or a foal in the stable, and in the pigsty a sow with tiny, pinkish, squealing piglets lined up along her belly, suckling eagerly, their mother uttering a soft grunt of satisfaction from time to time. Behind the pigsty was a mulberry tree, next to a stinky cesspool, but the mulberries were too yummy to be bypassed because of the stench. There were three orchards surrounding the farm house and the inn, and a garden with a bee house and a raspberry hedge which was regularly plundered by us. The cherry tree and the pear tree didn’t fare any better because climbing a tree was a cinch.

A very special place for us was in no man’s land: a crystal clear stream, Bregana, flowing under the bridge which to this day connects Slovenia with Croatia. Our summer paradise. We could spend hours there wading in ankle-deep water, collecting pebbles of all colours, building dams and pools, sailing paper boats or boats made of half a walnut shell, and even spear-fishing with a table fork.

P1000810 810 mod 2 emailmod3This bridge connects Slovenia with Croatia

In winter we wanted snow. Plenty of snow. There was no end to fun in the snow, from snowball fights and building a snowman, and a bunker since it was wartime, to skiing and sledding. We usually returned home half frozen and wet, but a change of clothes and a hearty meal revived us and we were ready to settle down near the fire for a game of cards or a board game. Not only did we have good clothing and plenty of delicious food, but we were also showered with love by everyone. No wonder Bregana is the place my old soul wanders to when it needs refreshment.

But I also remember poverty and cruelty. I remember poor peasant children in rags and barefoot. I remember the smell of fresh blood when the door of the slaughter house opened wide, revealing the carcass of the crucified animal. I remember the squealing pig being dragged into the execution chamber. I remember the little kittens were always drowned, although we never saw it done.

P1000800-001 ac

 On the farm with our mothers

The Germans occupied parts of the farm. Soldiers were milling around all the time. A few higher ranking officers, fortunately not the dreaded SS, lived in spare rooms in the family home and they would sometimes join us in the living room for a chat. Aunty Zora had a beautiful voice. She would sing Slovenian songs and German ones as well, and we would sing along. I remember well singing Lili Marlene. I didn’t know then that this song was popular with soldiers of both sides. Vera Lynn and Edith Piaf, both as popular as Marlene Dietrich, sang it in English. But I knew it only in German. It’s a love song.

“Written as a poem in 1915, during World War I, it was published under the title “Das Lied eines jungen Soldaten auf der Wacht” (German for “The Song of a Young Soldier on Watch”) in 1937 and was first recorded by Lale Andersen in 1939 under the title “Das Mädchen unter der Laterne” (“The Girl under the Lantern”).” Wikipedia

Here it is for your enjoyment. You can sing along, if you wish, and if you don’t know German, you can hum!

Or you can sing along with Vera Lynn, who sings like a nightingale. This song will warm your heart as it warmed the hearts of soldiers far away from home.

*

Towards the end of the war, both my mother and Aunty Zora were helping the partisans. The Germans didn’t know, of course. One officer, however, did know. But he obviously wasn’t a Nazi because he offered to escort them to the flour mill where they would leave a parcel with medications in a special spot for the partisans to pick up during the night. Without his protection they would not have been able to accomplish these dangerous tasks – German soldiers were everywhere. I wonder why he had put his own life on the line. Did he hate Hitler’s Third Reich right from the start? Was he sick of war? Was he in love with Aunty Zora? The lucky thing was that no one among the Germans had found out about his clandestine activities. Lucky for him and lucky for our brave mothers! After the war, the kind officer, Jul Wanemacher, naturally, was always a welcome guest in Bregana.

*

© Copyright 2015 Irina Dimitric

 

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About irinadim

Kookaburra sweet, you neither chirp nor tweet. Your laughter is much like mine, my cackle is much like thine. We are two sister souls, one clad in feathers, the other in clothes. ~ Irina ~ I’m a budding blogger. Poetry and photography are my newest passions, living in perfect harmony inspiring each other. I like both free verse and form poetry and am quite proud to let you know that I am the creator of a new form named ‘tercetonine’. Blog Name: Irina's Poetry Corner Blog URL: http://irinadim.com
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37 Responses to Growing Up IN The 1940s – Life on the Farm – World War II

  1. loricarlson66 says:

    What a beautiful, vivid memory and retelling. I can see why you loved it there so much! It sounds fabulous! I am off to read the first two since I missed those 🙂

  2. Marion Farmer says:

    It sounds like a piece of paradise, Irina. Thank you. I am enjoying collecting your story so much!

  3. Almost Iowa says:

    I find it hard to express how much I enjoy these memoirs.

    • irinadim says:

      And I find it hard to express how much I appreciate such a lovely comment from a talented writer like yourself. Thank you so much, Greg.

  4. Swetank says:

    Thank you for sharing your lovely memories with me and else! Loved reading it! 🙂

    Swetank.
    Be Bettr, Stay Bettr! 🙂

  5. milliethom says:

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading this, Irina, despite the constant lump in my throat. You have told your story about Bregana so beautifully, bringing all your happy memories to life. No wonder you loved it there, it sounds quite idyllic. I was born just after the war, so I don’t have first-hand memories of it, so thank you so much for sharing yours. 🙂

    • irinadim says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Millie. My laptop has been out of order since May 5. I have limited access to my husband’s big computer and no access to my files, so I can’t do much blogging at the moment. So you’re a baby boomer. 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        Hello again, Irina. I know how you feel about your laptop being out of action. I hate using a big computer anyway, mostly because I don’t like being confined to a desk when I write. I downloaded your book, by the way, and will review it as soon as I get time. Lovely to hear from you. 🙂

      • irinadim says:

        Thank you, Millie. I appreciate your support. My laptop is still playing up.

      • milliethom says:

        Have you tried kicking it! lol Just kidding. But I know how frustrating it must be, especially when you desperately want to work. 🙂

      • irinadim says:

        Millie, I’m still stuck. Working on my husband’s computer. Please remind of the title of your book, I can’t remember whether I ordered it or not. 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        Hello Irina. Sorry to hear you’re still without your laptop. I can imagine you’re almost tearing your hair out by now. My books are historical fiction, set in the 9th century, and are about Alfred the Great and the Danes (Vikings). The first book is ‘Shadow of the Raven’. I’m trying to get on with Book 3 at the moment, and seem to be going nowhere.
        I really like your poems, and will get a review written as soon as I have a free moment! I wish you every bit of luck in getting your laptop sorted out. 🙂

      • irinadim says:

        I like historical fiction. Will go to Amazon to get the first book. Today I’m having an appointment for my laptop. Thanks for your support, Millie. 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        Hope your laptop is soon up and running. Thank you for your support, too! 🙂

    • irinadim says:

      Millie, finally, finally, it seems my laptop is in good working order again. I had problems accessing my Amazon account too but today that was sorted out by Amazon by phone and I immediately downloaded your book “Shadow of the Raven”. Interesting period in history, so distant yet familiar regarding human relationships. I’ve only read a few pages and I like it. 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        I’m so pleased that Sir Laptop is back in play. It’s been a long wait for you. Thank you very much for downloading Shadow, too! As for human relationships, I don’t suppose they ever really change, despite all the equality/inequality issues that pervail through the different periods.
        I’m almost ready to post my review for your book. I was away in Wales all last week, which put me back a bit, but I’ve drafted out a review now. I’ve never reviewed a poetry book before, so I had to really think of what to say. Anyway, when I put it up, it will be under my own name (Patricia Bunting) not my pen name of Millie Thom (which were my mum and dad’s names. I just ‘borrowed them!)
        It was lovely to hear all is well on the computer front. Now you can resume full speed ahead. 🙂

      • irinadim says:

        I read your most recent post first and then this one. I wondered who Patricia Bunting was but assumed it was you, Millie Thom. How lovely to take your mum and dad’s name as your pen name. The review is fabulous and I’m very appreciative indeed. You mentioned so many examples from my book which are important to me. Thank you so much, Millie, and I’m really glad you like my poetry.
        I’m not sure I’ll go full speed ahead on the computer. This imposed holiday, away from Sir Laptop, has broken the addiction to see everything there is in cyberspace. But it’s nice to be back. 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        Nice to have you back, too. I’ll look out
        for your future posts. Yes, my real name just sounded rather boring, so I decided to do the pen name thing. It’s a little more catchy than plain Pat Bunting!
        I love your poetr, Irina. The reminiscences are particularly wonderful. Let’s hope Sir laptop behaves himself from now on. 😀

      • irinadim says:

        Have a great week, Millie. 🙂

  6. How interesting to learn more about farm life through your post, Irina. I also appreciate your honesty with the part about poverty too, and the way in which you described the topic so gently. You have a caring heart and it shines through in your writing! I know you wanted me to update you on my book and the second one has now published. I explain about it at my newest Poetic Parfait post. Many hugs to you! ❤

    • irinadim says:

      Thank you, Christy, for your lovely comment. I haven’t been blogging much since May 5 when my laptop crashed. I’m writing this on my husband’s computer. I hope my laptop might be functioning by the end of his week. Then I’ll look up your new book. I look forward to it.Congratulations! Hugs ❤

  7. Robin says:

    What a beautiful story – sometimes sad, sometimes happy, and a bit of courage, too. Lovely 🙂

  8. Aquileana says:

    “A very special place for us was in no man’s land: a crystal clear stream, Bregana, flowing under the bridge which to this day connects Slovenia with Croatia. Our summer paradise. We could spend hours there wading in ankle-deep water, collecting pebbles of all colours, building dams and pools, sailing paper boats or boats made of half a walnut shell, and even spear-fishing with a table fork”~ [I D dixit].

    This is such a touching excerpt… You write beautiful prose, my friend … Your post is so deep and heartfelt … I thank you for sharing and I send you many hugs! Aquileana ⭐

    • irinadim says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment, dear Aquileana. Your opinion means a lot to me. That particular stream features in my poem The Silver Stream in my book on page 29. Hugs ❤

  9. jmsabbagh says:

    An exceptional 2 parts ,memories reflecting living then during WWII,Beautiful sentiment even when there is sadness.Looking forward to read more.Warm regards.

  10. Seafarrwide says:

    lovely and the old photos fabulous 🙂

  11. Thank you for the beautiful sharing of everyday life…I remember the song, “Lili Marlene”—though I was born in 1950, I remember hearing the song.

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