Remembering The Girl in the Tower (1940)

lilosophieDecember 10, 2011

This is a memory from way back, a mystery never solved or explained, make of it what you will, you may find it interesting

It was a casual, informal evening at Uncle Wenzel's place, the young-ones had been sent off to bed, I was expected to sit with all the "old folks" in the library and take my part in polite conversation. I enjoyed my status as the "young adult" partaking of after dinner liqueurs and being offered a cigarette, but this evening I was bored, I'd rather been in my room, reading in bed. It was summer of 1940 and all the talk was about a reception Wenzel was going to give for the Officer's of a unit there on maneuvers, there was speculation about the maneuvers, or was it the preliminaries for an invasion of the Soviet Union? Was that a good or a bad idea?

I excused myself and wandered off, wanting to visit Elisabeth, the crazy sister. I liked looking over her jewelry and hearing her stories about the roaring twenties in Paris among all the starving artists. But Elisabeth felt under the weather and was not receiving.

So I wandered around all the big rooms and came to the end of the hallway. The entry-door to the second tower was ajar, it surprised me, because it generally was locked, the staircase wasn't safe, we'd been told.

I entered anyway, wanting to see what the view from the top of the tower was like, worth taking a chance.

Round the first stairway landing was a switchboard, it startled me, a strange place to have a switchboard, I thought. Maybe it was something else? But I knew a switchboard when I saw one, I had just terminated my short one week career as switchboard operator at the sugar-beet refinery - the stench made me quit.

As I stood there, trying to make sense of the arrangement, a door on the landing opened and a young woman appeared, she was just as startled as I was. "What are you doing here?" she asked in good, but vaguely accented German, "no one is supposed to come here, please leave".

What could I do? I left, still wondering what that was all about.

When I mentioned the incident to my father, he got very serious and told me never to mention this again. No explanation was given.

Who was that girl? I knew that Uncle Wenzel was a womanizer and was said to sometimes entertain "hot babes" in secret, but that young woman sure did not fit the description of "hot babes".

Yet I was only 16 and naive, so what did I know? It's that switchboard that bothered me.

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mawheel

Lilo, that could be the beginning of a mystery novel or suspenseful movie; so many ideas pop into my mind. I can understand how you would/will always wonder what it was all about.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 6:27PM
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west_gardener

Oh yes, a mystery for sure. I'm with mwheel, so many ideas pop up in my mind.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 7:17PM
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gabriell_gw

I love mysteries. You should expand on that even if it would be just imagination.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 8:47PM
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shilty(6)

Lilosophie

I suspect this was one of the many many transitions for Jews to safety.

www.genealogy.com is a free site - with a message board community - if you provide the date, names, place, under the index for those names, you might get a response.

What a wonderful bit of mystry!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 1:24AM
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gandle(4 NE)

You or someone should take that as a premise for a novel. Intrigue and suspense.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 3:28PM
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lilosophie

Shilty, I don't think so - The social scene involved German Military and Party-members, not an environment for an underground set-up helping Jews escape, it was much more subtle than that.
Based on some things I found out much later and some happenings developing over time, I am sure the Switchboard was a communication device and that information was passed and it all was a very deep secret.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 5:23PM
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don_socal

I was walking down the hall with you.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 7:20PM
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west_gardener

Thinking aloud, perhaps the "The Girl in the Tower", was the switchboard operator?

I don't know what the situation was in Germany, in 1940, regarding communication devices. But I know that when the nazi's invaded Norway they went door to door and cconfiscated
every device with a receiver or a transponder. I wonder what your Uncle Wenzel managed to have a whole switchboard?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 8:02PM
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rob333

Totally totally cool! So did you and your sisters ever discuss it? Or did you do as your papa asked and never discuss it again? Very interesting. Your life is so different than so many of us, I love to hear of it.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 3:21PM
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Lisa_H(7)

You need to write a short story based on your memory. It would make a wonderful tale. You know how to tell a story!

Lisa

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 3:51PM
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shilty(6)

Yes, please do - I'm still getting over that our beloved
Julia Child was an American Spy.

It wasn't Julia, was it?

s

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 8:06PM
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lilosophie

It wasn't Julia :)
This was in 1940 - before the US ever got into the war, just before the Germans invaded Russia and, in many opinions, lost the war right then. Russia doesn't take kindly to invasions, Napoleon found that out and it is taught in war-colleges.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 11:40PM
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anneliese_32(6)

Talk about intriguing. As I found out years later, some things were done right under the nose of people and they never suspected.
Are you still in contact with people who live there? Maybe somebody has an explanation now, since it can't hurt anybody and they might know from their parents, household personnel comes to my mind.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 7:44PM
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lilosophie

No Anneliese, the Gut Arcugowo was taken over by the Polish Government and made into a recreational Center. The Owner, Wenzel (Count Rzewuski) had been arrested by the Russians and sent to a Gulag. He made an escape after war's end. My father had been sent to Graz and later surrendered to the Americans, he and Wenzel did establish contact, I have a picture of them together. Whatever was going on died with them.
My sister had some contacts and tried to find out, but nothing ever was documented.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 11:52PM
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west_gardener

The plot thickens. I'm glad that.Wenzel and your dad,established contact. I wonder how they did that?
Anyway, one of my heros , Dwight D. Eisenhower figured out the "big" picture and made it possible to be free to search for answers.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 8:38PM
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