I now return to my grandfather Carl Friedrichs (4) and his wife, Nanny Heiberg (5). Carl was an attractive man; he was a good storyteller. Nanny, however, was not outgoing. She very much demanded proper behavior of us children. Only when she was ninety and I twenty-eight years old, could I talk to her freely.
As the owner of a bookstore in Kiel, Carl was at first very successful. Most professors at the university frequented his store. In particular, if anyone needed a special rarely used, book, Carl could locate it. He became a personal friend of several of the professors, in particular of Nöldeke, a famous specialist for old Oriental languages. Some of the professors had the habit of walking in the afternoon to a certain garden restaurant at the seashore in order to chat there. Carl always went with them and left a salesman to handle the store. After a number of years, other bookstores sold cheap novels or something like paperbacks. Carl, however, would not do that. He considered that below his dignity as a scholarly book dealer. That caused trouble. My father, Karl, told me that, when he was 17-18 years old, he had to act as a salesman in the store. A few years later (1888) the bookstore went bankrupt.
Carl took a job as an accountant and bookkeeper at a printing firm in Breslau, run by a former apprentice of his. Carl’s wife, Nanny, stayed in Kiel and established a boarding house, which she ran on a very high level with the help of her daughter Anna. The boarders were mostly what now would be called post-doctoral visitors at the university. They were from Finland, Turkey, Japan, American, and other countries. Some of them I have met on one of my many travels.
In the course of years, Nanny and Carl met on occasion, but did not live together any more.
Carl and Nanny Friedrichs had three children, Karl, Ernst, and Anna. Anna first attended her Aunt Hermine's trade school for women and later on helped her mother in her boarding house. She was severely hard of hearing. Still she was very active and quite enterprising; in particular she was active as something like a vice-president of the organization in Germany for those that are hard of hearing. She could communicate very well by asking questions. That way she could extract any information she wanted. She died when she was 97 years old.*
*Being hard of hearing was, and to a certain degree, is a family trait. My father, Karl, and his father, Carl suffered from this failing in later years. Carl's sister Marie suffered strongly. Their mother, Minna (9), also was hard of hearing. I myself became hard of hearing when I was about 60 years old.
The younger son of Carl and Nanny, Ernst, did not finish the gymnasium and went into agriculture. He was a very effective charmer of the girls. Supposedly, he had fathered two illegitimate daughters; but I have not been able to find out about them. He went to South-West- Africa, then a German Colony, to be a farmer. This worked well for some years, up to the uprising of the Herero tribe, 1903. To Protect himself he fled, with others, to a minister's house. A group of Hereros demanded of the minister to surrender Ernst. They claimed that Ernst had done something wrong to them “ what, I do not know". They threatened that otherwise everybody would be killed. Reluctantly, the minister surrendered Ernst who then was shot dead. This was a great shock to the family.
My father, Karl,(photo with siblings-MNF) went to various universities to study law and Oriental languages. The latter was the wish of his father, Carl, who was very enthusiastic about the rise of the German Empire, and, in particular, about the fact that Germany now had colonies, just as other countries. He wanted my father to be a consul in one of the colonies or in a foreign country, but, my father was totally unsuited for such a position. In fact he soon gave up the study of Oriental languages.
Actually, my father was born to be a German university professor with all the trimmings; too bad that the circumstances prevented achieving that.
My father was in his second year of study when his father went bankrupt. My father’s grandmother, Asta, then supported him as a student. Still he had a hard time getting by. He told me that he always bought a last year’s herring instead of meat and, when he was invited for a meal, he got severe stomach troubles since he was not used to heavy good food. Apparently, this poverty situation improved over the years.
My father got his degrees at the University of Breslau in Silesia. There he lived together with his father. My grandfather had become a friend of the manufacturer of the ink that was used by the printing shop for which my grandfather worked. On several occasions my father met a grandniece of this friend, Elisabeth Entel, and soon they got engaged and married.
The couple traveled together to Kiel where my father was to settle down as a practicing lawyer. When they arrived in Kiel, they were confronted by three elderly ladies, all looking nearly alike. My father asked his wife to point out which one was her mother-in-law. Sure, my father should not have done that; he often did peculiar things, not realizing their effect. But my mother had a very good instinct; she approached the right one, Nanny. My mother was not only accepted but even very much loved by her husband’s family.
Before talking about Karl and Elisabeth’s life I shall describe Elisabeth’s family.