Nie wieder Krieg Chapter 5:
Reconstruction from ruins

 New beginning in Kiel

The 8th of May 1945 is a day of liberation, not only for the families Reble and Roensch, but also for millions of people in Europe. They are freed from terror and suppression, from war, hail of bombs and senseless destruction. And if something unites the people in this time, then the recognition: "Nie wieder Krieg!"- never again war, never again fascism!

At the same time the 8th of May is the day of the defeat: for the Nazis and their backers. for the generals and the blood judges of Hitler; for the Flicks and Krupps and the other bosses. They don't have cheap work slaves any longer, they lose a part of their robbed factories. A few sit in prison as military industrial leaders, human torturer and war criminals.

Until (nearly) all of them are back again like a skip-jack, because - in the western zones - they are needed for the reconstruction. "Sleeves up", is the slogan and "away with the rubble!" And there's a lot particularly in Kiel. Because during the war this city was strategically important as a military port and therefore with priority in the visor of the alliedbomber fleets.

That means a lot of work in the architect's office Rotzoll, where Heinrich Reble and Erika's brother Fritz Roensch found accommodation. On the 18th of June 1948, shortly before the currency reform, Hein and Erika marry. The wedding celebration is prepared from nothing, because the old paper money is worthless and in the last days before the currency reform all business is characterised by a gaping void.

Money makes the world go roundThree days later the picture changes. Abundance, where the eye can see. Over night the shop windows and shelves seem to overflow of the goods offered. With the currency reform in the 3 western zones  the course is also set for the national division of Germany, which 1949 is sealed with the establishment of two states, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic.

Per person there is a heading cash of 40 Deutschmarks in new currency in the west zones. With that you can't get far. At the same time all debts and assets devalue in the relation 10 RM = 1 DM. With passbooks the conversion ratio is even smaller, but those who could save their passbooks in the confusion of war, now receive an additional start capital.

Bruno Roensch, the former building contractor from Silesia, benefits from this arrangement, because he receives an additional help of 10.000 Deutschmark. In Kiel-Hassee a housing estate and building materials are bought by this cash. With a lot of self contribution and a small mortgage a little house for 2 families develops in the year 1950.

And on the 7th of January 1950 two Bruno's have their birthday: The grandfather his 62nd and the author of these lines, by seeing the light of the world. stork

Slowly things are going better. Erika earns DM 160, Hein DM 220, Bruno Roensch as a bricklayer somewhat more, while granny Bertha worries about small Bruno.

1953 Heinrich, Erika and little Bruno move to Duesseldorf. In the Rhine metropolis the economy is already booming and promises more favourable job opportunities; unfortunately not for Erika. Like many women, who had done their duty and sorted out the mess after 1945, she has to withdraw at home and is chained to the stove: 1954 Renate is born and 1956 Juergen.

The working-week lasts 6 days or 48 hours until 1956. But from then on it is shortened, not automatically, but with strong and united trade unions in the back, first to 45 hours, then to 40 hours in a 5-day-week. 1958 the Reble family return to their house in Kiel, which was rented to the half in the meantime.

Now the "Wirtschaftswunder" comes...

... with hasty steps and powerful growth rates. The incomes follow, not automatically, but often after tough labour disputes.

In the summer 1962, for the first time a vacation abroad can be afforded: at the COSTA BRAVA in Spain.

1963 Andreas is born.beetle

1964 the first car embellishes the garage: a Volkswagen Beetle. In the same year the grandparents can afford the first television.

The big bang The big bang comes in 1967. The colourful dreams of the golden age and of the prosperity for all burst like soap-bubbles. A ghost called "economic crisis" goes around and shakes the everyday life of the working people.

Over night Heinrich Reble loses the recently started job as a civil engineer at the municipality of Kiel. To keep the family above water opportunity jobs are taken: newspapers are delivered, folders distributed and the garage is rented.

Also the children must lend a helping hand. For the oldest son Bruno the alarm-clock rings in the morning at 5 o'clock to deliver newspapers. Afterwards off to school; not even a bed of roses. On the other hand such conditions can contribute to finding a way out the misery and to change the circumstances.

No higher nature will save us

Forwards There is unrest among the people - not only at the universities. At 18 years the author has the luck to be thrown just into the middle of that whirl. In autumn 1968 he is able to start studies in economics at the University of Kiel.

Year after year, decade after decade, often generation after generation the people are condemned to carry patiently their package which the fate has imposed to them.

And then suddenly there are these great moments in history, where the traditional is questioned and the people take their fate into their own hands, because they are no longer willing to be pushed around like chess figures.

In Vietnam a courageous people resist successfully the attacks of the world's biggest military machinery, in Paris road barricades are established in May 68 and at the German universities students fight against the "muff of thousand of years ". With demonstrations, "teach-ins" and "sit-ins" the politics are shifted from inner circles to the street.

The old authorities are shaken to their foundations. Successes adjust. Everything seems feasible, if we are only unit and hold together.

A whole generation of "68er" is shaped by this process, which continues into the middle of the seventies. At that time studying is still possible and payable - owing to national scholarships. Because the showdown between the social systems is cumulating. The Federal Republic of Germany has a key position. As a display of the "free world" it must be arranged as attractive as possible, to carry off the victory in the fight for the brains of the people.

Therefore the ruling class is ready for concessions: Increase of the purchasing power of the population, formation promotion for the poor, improvements in the social security, extension of vacation time, etc. But despite of all these "favours" one thing is as important as today: MOBILITY

1969 - in the same year as first man lands on the moon - the Reble family has to pack their suit-cases and to leave their home again. The moving van drives back to the Rhine, where a new job in the municipality of Bonn promises new hope ... until the retirement in 1978.
Old-age residence of Hein & Erika Reble
Heinrich and Erika move afterwards to their old-age residence in the middle of Schleswig- Holstein (see photo), while the younger sons Jürgen and Andreas remain in Bonn.

Jürgen is a free artist in the kinematics and married to Christel, who works as a nurse; two sons: Paul (born 1987) and Knut (born 1990).

Andreas is a mechanical engineer at the public utilities. He is married to Kerstin, by occupation educator; one daughter: Amelie (born 1990).

Renate is a school teacher for mathematics and geography at a professional training school. She lives in the former parents' house in Kiel-Hassee and is married to Frank, who is engineer and owns a small company for hard- and software developments; two children: Raja (born 1986) and Max (born 1993).

In 1975, after terminating his studies, Bruno tries to settle down in Bonn and has to earn his bread and butter as a travelling salesman in insurance. 1979 he has the chance to change over to Duesseldorf to the direction of that insurance company. He marries in December 1980, a few month after a certain Prince Charles from Grand Bretagne. But contrary to the proms Bruno's bride elect is no bored princess, but the lively Ulrike Schmidt, who has better chances to work as a language correspondent in Duesseldorf than in the green woods of native Black Forest. dove of peace

At the beginning of the eighties there is a storm brewing in the political arena. Phrases are intoned, which arouse curiosity. The arms race between the systems is additionally heated up and floated on new record marks. The Federal Republic of Germany - already a powder keg with the highest nuclear weapon density of the world - shall be extended to a launching platform for new nuclear missiles.

The peace movement as a broad alliance holds against it emphasizing with powerful actions our will of survival. We take part.

Toward the end of the eighties the first consequences of the arms race is coming up. The weaker economic system runs out of breath. In October 1989 the Berlin wall falls. A fundamental shift of the political balance of power is rung in.

The nineties are firstly characterised by a reunification boom, then increasingly under the dictation of national economies and a threateningly increasing mass unemployment. Without annoying competition in the back the capitalism can drop its social mask and show its true face. The society is more and more polarised. A third of the population is forced to live on the edge of the poverty, while on the other hand the fortunes of the rich and superrich are bursting at the seams.

In April 1983 Jan is born; in May 1986 Janina and in November 1989 Janosch. All three seem to develop in such a way we wished in the notice of birth:

You shall grow up in peace, be happy and waked up. For this we will stand up!“

Sometimes children are exerting and requiring. Their education costs strength and patience, above all also cash. But their intention for changes will recompense all the troubles. A society without children is a society of mummies, without sap, without vigour, without future.

What will be, when we will not be any longer?

What will be with our children? Will they get work, which is meaningful and corresponding to their abilities? Will they live in peace? Whereby peace doesn't only mean the absence of war, but also the possibility to walk the streets fearlessly in broad daylight.

Picasso: woman on armchairWill they be free and able to determine their life self responsible and co-operating with others. Or will the freedom be limited to gaping, zapping and jetting restlessly around the world, between spots and sponsors, metropolises and markets.

Will this chronicle be continued one day and extended with positive words? Or will the last copy land on the garbage, accompanied by the words: "Away with the rubbish!"

Life is a brutal instructor. Who is not able to learn from past errors is condemned to repeat these errors in painful ways. And there's only one difference between the fools and the wise: The fools are making the same mistakes again and again, whereby the wise are making new mistakes now and again.