Born in 1932, I came into a German world that had not yet decided definitively whether Hitler was better than the first young and unfamiliar democracy. In that ‘Tohuwabohu’, no one really knows the ropes between the Right, the Left, the left Right, the right Left, the Liberals and the clerics. They all could not cope with unemployment.

Some people quietly wished for a German emperor again.

In 1933 Hitler showed up. He was more trusted, and he was (but this came to light much later) decidedly more compromissless in the choice of his means on the way up than the descendants of the Frankfurt Paulskirche.

Of course, I had no idea about all this when I was born on August 18th as a lion in a chisel, assisted by Dr. Böker and Mrs. Jung, who helped all five children of Kathrinchen and Franz into the world. At home, of course. Willi 1927, Cäcilie 1929, then Me 1932: the three of us were born with their help upstairs in Linden near Michaelis, where we lived at that time. Helene was born at Rathausstraße 4 in 1934 in and Gerda came to light with her help in 1942 at Wilhelm-Gustloff-Straße 53 c (that was the name of the former Rathausstraße and today's Fronhofstraße at that time) the house of the Johnen's, built in 1938.

Of my first time with Michaelis, I naturally have no reminders. Later I was often there with my father. Michaelis had a huge garden and were evangelical. However, this did not detract from the friendship between the two families, although religious affiliation still played a major role in my youth. Michaelis had a large, beautiful veranda facing the garden with a large fly-bar for food, which was always very attractive to me. They also had a then very rare tiled stove, which gave off a wonderful warmth in winter.

Mr Michaelis died early, I did not know him really. He was a beekeeper, like my father. Half of the large beehive was brought to Linden by my father during house construction in 1938. This beehive will be mentioned more often in this booklet. It had finally to give way when Lene and Martin Kuck built there in 1971.

Ms. Michaelis was always good to me. I always got something to eat. Michaelis had four children: Grete, Hans, Else and Hilde. All were blond except for Hilde, who was the only one who had her mother's black hair and who was jokingly called the gypsy child.

When we went to Michalis, we went from us to the Pützgracht, past the Ackersweiher and through the hollow path. Halfway towards Euchen came a turn to the left through the fields. This pure dirt road came out just above the brickworks of Kappertz, next to the houses, which were then called "die neu Böj". These houses had been built by the municipality to accommodate socially disadvantaged families, families who mostly had ""enne janze Rammel Pute""A lot of children".

Helene was born on the 1st floor at Rathausstraße 4. Downstairs, the Leonhard Maaßen family lived with Margarethe, Tinni and Josef, with whom we got along well. The house was the former House of the Mayor.

The house next to it was the mayor's office of Broich-Linden. Now it was the police station with Anton Dörsch and Franz Mandelartz. In the house lived Dörsch, Kather and the old woman Scherberich. In the basement was the "kittchen".

Egon Dörsch was my first playmate as a neighbor's child. He was only a little older than me, but much stronger. He was also a class above me at school because he was born just before and I after the deadline of the school year. Once he got at a couple of boxing gloves for Christmas, with which he knocked me quite neatly. That's why I still don’t like boxing.

Kather were also with many children like us. Mr Kather was a driver at Kronenbrot and had a long but narrow garden next to the house of Amberg/Heinrichs (today Kronenbrot), which bordered on the house meadow of Wilhelm Beckers, which is now fully built up. The carrots from this garden tasted better than those from ours.

Founded in 1865 as bakery in Linden-Neusen, Kronenbrot developed during the 20. century to an indistrial bakery delivering daily fresh bread into a wide neighbourhood. The family-enterprise Kronenbrot (Family Mainz) closed in July 2019 releasing 530 employees in Linden-Neusen.

From home to school it was only a few steps. I do not remember the school enrolment anymore. Bit I remember our first teacher, Miss Wolf, who almost always sucked peppermint or violet pastilles. For me six-year-old she was the most beautiful woman in the world, and I would have gone through fire and water for her.

The house we lived in had a large stairwell with a thick, steep railing on which you could quickly slide down, but that was unfortunately forbidden. On the external staircase of this house I was photographed for the first time in my life, together with Cecilia, Lene and Gisela Böker.

We also had a large balcony, which was often used at that time, because there was no street noise for some reasons. Firstly, the road was unpaved, secondly - with the exception of Dr. Böker - there were no cars in the street, and thirdly there were no cars at all. The entrance and exit from Kronenbrot were to the main street, right next to the old school alley. On "our" road there were horse-drawn carriages, cattle, handcarts … and the car of Dr. Böker.

In nice weather Dad went for a walk with me on Sundays - sometimes Lene was with us. Mostly towards Broicher Wald / Broicher Weiher / Broicher Mühle. The first option was to walk through the Pützgracht to Broich, past Gottfried Kellenter's " Broicher Häuschen ", then following the creek at the "Rollmopsfabrik" and past "Schunke Kisskull". In front of the pond came a swamp area with swamp otter flowers, a lot of meadow foam herb and several springs, of which some still exist there today. A second path led over the Osterfeld along the Ley settlement and the edge settlement to the Blumenrater Mountain, from there along the "Schlammweiher" and the "right pond” to the mill.

The longest path was through the Pützgracht and across the Feldchen until just before Euchen, then right off, past meadows and across the Broicher Straße through the fields to the oak with the cross, down the hollow path to the mill. Whatever path was taken, there was always a break and a glass of "Frischgeist" (that's what we called a lemonade at that times), either at Mertens in the mill or at Kellenter in Broich. If Father was in a particularly good mood, then I was allowed to pull a chocolate-coated nougatraute for a penny from a lathe. May be this is the reason why I still love to eat nougat today.

But from nougat back to the swamp meadow. If it had rained heavily, this way to the Broich mill was a right adventure, because one had to go over a board bridge, which was lacking some boards, so that one not only heard the water under it, but also saw it gurgling and foaming into the lower pond. The pond area consisted of three ponds: the Mühlenweiher, which was relatively clean, an intermediate pond for regulation and the actual mud pond in front of the edge settlement, which served to clarify the coal sludge slurry which stemmed from the Mariadorfer "Kull""coal mine" via a pipeline along the Blumenrather Street. This pond was sometimes drained and the soil, a charcoal, fatty sludge, was mined and sold as cheap heating material. We used this mud until about 1951. It was mainly used as a "cover", a slow-burning cover of the coke or coal layer of the heating during the night.

The pond was the natural drainage of its surroundings; to the north surrounded by a sandy chain of hills, which seemed to me at that time very high. In the direction of Ofden stood at the top of this hill a dense spruce forest, which, like the mines, belonged to the Eschweiler mining association EBV and supplied "the Kull" with wood, especially with face wood for the trades underground. Therefore, such forests did not grow old, and after the war this forest had disappeared within a very short time in the Kull.

Rather in the middle of the pond landscape, a ginster-covered, steep path went up to the plateau. There was - quite free - a jaw, climbing up to lowest branch fork you could see our house. The last time I saw this tree was in 1953, I climbed up again. Then it was gone.

As I said, we were always on the road on Sundays in fine weather. Sometimes we went to Uncle Johann in Neusen, where we met Uncle Klaus and Uncle Gustav. Here, in the street, father and his 12 siblings were born. Father's parents had been dead for some time. On Sundays after the high office we went to their graves, which were a little apart, because Peter-Josef Johnen died already in 1919 and his wife Lena in 1922. The place of these graves in the old cemetery here I still know today.

Sometimes we went to Uncle Josef in Weiden, to the Eifelblick. Then I was dressed "well", because Aunt Agnes paid great attention to, what Mother knew exactly. We also visited the "Tant Bäbb""A tant is an aunt. Bäbb is a name." (Steinbusch), a sister of father's mother, sometimes. She lived in the "Graat", the last piece of Broicher Straße in front of the Neusener junction. Tant Bäbb was a lively little person with a face like a squishy apple and always in a good mood. Often, I got a juicy delicious pear from her. She was known throughout the family for these pears.

The most beautiful walks were and remained for me, however, those that went through fields and meadows into the Broich forest and to the Broich pond.

Please, observe the copyright of Albert Johnen
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