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When I still lived with my parents, I once prepared myself on a Saturday evening to go out. My parents had visitors and played cards. I went into the living room and said with a loud voice to my father, so that all could hear it: I want to go out now; would you be prepared to contribute to the resulting expenses?
My father put on an expression as if he felt guilty not having had the idea by himself to give his son some financial support.
He then put his hand into the trouser pocket and took out his purse.
Next he pulled a 20 Deutsche Mark note out and put it on the table.
I now stretched out my arm to seize the note.
But before I could get the note into my fingers, my father had snatched the note with a quick sweep of the hand and with the expression of full satisfaction he again put it into his purse and his purse into the trouser pocket.
I was fully satisfied with the outcome of our play and the reaction of my father.
And with a satisfied grin I said goodbye and went out.
The guests were probably astonished what had happened. My mother certainly not.
I never asked my parents to give me money. This play, which I plaid so successfully with my father, just served as demonstration of this situation that it was never necessary to ask my father or my mother for money. That we three took for granted.
I have never received pocket money from my parents. They gave me, when I was a child, accommodation and food and clothing everything what I needed. When I needed money, perhaps for things for the school, then I got that money. When I went to buy bread, then my mother gave me one Mark and the few Pfennig change I could keep, and save that money and then pay the hairdresser with it.
I had never difficulties handling money. I always had money in my pocket. I simply never spent more money than I took. A simple principle, but I then detected, that it is not at all simple for many people.
I now bring a description of a man, which is also well suitable for my father; it can entirely be that my father has known this man. The words "Dohna Schlobitten" I often heard at home.
An independent spirit who mistrusted Hitler early
The reasons for Heinrich Graf zu Dohna‘s resistance were of personal nature: He was just as independent as competent and strong to judge. Before court he even admitted more than he had to.
One of the most frequent prejudices about the co-conspirators of the 20th of July are, they were really earlier enthusiastic Nazis and only prepared to resistance when the war was already for all obviously lost.
This in any case does not apply to Heinrich Graf zu Dohna. Together with his wife Maria-Agnes he belonged from the beginning to the opponents of Hitler. For that reason he has also early – that was though a special feature in the circle of the resistance families – sharpened the judgement of his four children, who at any time realized, what their parents thought about the political events of the time. "They wanted to avoid that the children possibly fell for ‘German-Christian’ or National-Socialistic influences, and therefore thought it necessary to pull them fully into the own thought processes", will the son Lothar later write.
The pride about that, that the father always took them seriously like grown-ups, let them listen at the table talks, when Carl Goerdeler or other co-conspirators came to visit, informed them about the political assessment of the guests in the house, has helped them then very much in those days, when they themselves had to do with the Gestapo. Until today it shapes the memories of the father, who was executed on the 14th of September 1944 in Plötzensee, and of the mother, who first survived the family detention and then as prisoner number 84.485 of the KZ Ravensbrück.
When one looks for the reasons for the early opposition of this family towards Hitler and the NS regime, then one finds a whole number of biographic traces of reasons – but decisive is perhaps still a personality structure of the father, which already became visible very early: spiritual independence, ability to sober judgement, a high preparedness to let the community take one into duty – and personal modesty.
After his marriage 1920 with Maria-Agnes von Borcke - "he or no one", the self-confident young lady is supposed to have committed herself early – he changed into the civil occupation, became farmer and took over the administration of the estate Tolksdorf, which his wife inherited.
The start of National Socialists was from the beginning suspect to both Dohnas. "Already in the year 1930 we have warned acquaintances, who were for our taste far too careless and judged Hitler too harmlessly," writes the widow Maria-Agnes 1983.
"On the 30th of January 1933 we were just in Berlin and were a few days later with a friend of my husband invited for a meal. There the General Blomberg led me. He had just become minister under Hitler, and there I asked him: ‘How on earth can you become minister in this government?’ Whereupon he emphasized, he thinks the government to be good. Hitler would certainly do it very well. There I then only have just said in the end: ‘When this government remains or a new Nazi government comes, then there will be war in five years.’ But the generals have of course not listened to women!"
But the corresponding pre-shaping for the later engagement of Dohna took place in the time of the church struggle in East Prussia, for which also the term "resistance" is handed down. "That he belonged to the men of the 20th of July lay in the line of his life. He knew himself put there by the same Lord, who had called him to the testimony of the Confessional Church. Both were o n e way in his life. Both a way lost before men", wrote the theologian Hans-Joachim Iwand in the Protestant linguistic usage and preacher tone of his time.
He not only had reason for personal gratitude as lecturer of the Confessional Church, who taught long in illegality. Dohna became a rock in the violent inner church disputes. In East Prussia the National Socialists had for the first time also transferred the leader principle to the church and installed a bishop, acceptable to them, of the NS affine, openly anti-Semitic German Christians. As reaction it came to the setting up of an own church list "Gospel and community", soon after that to the "East Prussian Brother Council", to which Dohna belonged as layman. A leaflet of his from November 1934 is preserved, which he sent to his large circle of acquaintances to promote the membership in the "community under the Gospel" and asking to donate to the own pastors, who stand "in the difficult fight for our church and our confession".
"We must put ourselves behind them. It is enough when they are prepared to sacrifice their position and office." It hardly surprises that there was already 1933 a house search in Tolksdorf. Intimidating effect did it obviously not have had. The Donas even invited to a lecture of Iwand.
How close to the heart of his Christian and political engagement all this was, is best comprehended in his address of March 1935 to the Confirmation of his oldest son Carl Albrecht von Dohna (born 1921, killed in action 1941). Here it is clear how very much a father seeks to prepare his children to a time of hard fights and difficult trials. "Parents see on such a day full of hope on the path of life, which their child is to go, but also full of worry. … Many children and youth, who today are still without judgement, are pulled over into the new paganism. There it is then said: Christianity is un-German; it makes inefficient in the fight, it makes soft, blood and race stand higher. … As religion we must reject both. Above both stands a creator will, which created them. The fight for the faith is tradition in our family. May God now get you ready that also you become a fighter."
Now I bring a report:
Pastor J. Kalff, Siegen, the 18.11.1948
The farmer Walter Preuß from Bad Salzdetfurth owned in my former church community Eckersdorf, District Mohrungen/East Prussia, a c. 45 ha farm. During my time in office (1931-1945) there, I have, since I myself grew up as farmer’s son on a farm, got to know Preuß as a professionally particularly efficient farmer.
Through his intensive agriculture and his fruit succession Preuß has achieved yields from his soil, which were far above average. Also in stock breeding he had good results thanks to his knowledge. But P. found attention and recognition far beyond the district, through his extraordinary successes in hoed crop farming and in pig-fattening. I still remember that P. had received the first prize of East Prussia with a competition of the professional association of agriculture about "pig-breeding and –fattening with regard to potato ensilage".
Also Mrs Preuß is a specialist well trained, experienced and exemplary farm woman. Until 1942 she was an acknowledged teaching woman for rural home economics apprentices. She ran an acknowledged brooding business and poultry-reproduction-farming with brooding egg for hatching supply business. Her fruit and vegetable garden supplied large yields and in home economics she was always exemplary.
P. was a loyal member of our church community and from the start of the Confessional Church its eager member. With regard to politics he never made a secret of his opposition against National Socialism and by this was exposed to many hostilities and difficulties.
Sgd.: Johannes Kalff, Pastor
My father first grew up as son of a master wheel-wright. Work with wood and with wagons and wheels was therefore his world. His father then bought an estate and now his world became farming, but farming the master wagon builder will probably have already run in addition as master craftsman.
As a young man I have been in France a couple of times. It was attractive to travel to that country, because Adenauer and de Gaulle had organized it so that there was financial support to help that the people in both countries learn to understand each other.
My father also wanted to go there when he was young, but him and his comrades the French did not want to let them go to Paris. It came to sizeable clash and this story got into history as the First World War.
When the First World War started my father was 16 years old. He knew exactly why the German troops did not get through to Paris. The reason was simply that they did not allow him to become a soldier, with the flimsy reason that he was too young.
In the first two years of the First World War my father worked with the Russian prisoners of war together on his father’s farm, lived with them and learned their language and was enthusiastic about what he heard about the gigantic empire Russia, and it became his aim in life.
When he then became a soldier and came to the front, he was told because he comes from a farm he should therefore go back and look after the horses. And my father was as a result quite indignant and told them that he has not come to that place to take care of horses, but to defeat the enemy.
They have calmed him down and told him he can stay in front.
His stories of the First World War were highly interesting and one could imagine vividly the stabilized warfare and the trench warfare. Of the Second World War my father spoke less. One story from the Second World War was that he only fired one shot, and that was to shoot a horse, to provide Russian prisoners of war with something to eat.
In the Second World War he was battalion weapon master und thought that a German machine gun only then worked properly when it was quite clean, and when a Russian one had laid long in the dirt, one could pick it up and shoot with it immediately.
When my father once came home on leave from the western front in the First World War, he first went to the chicken-coop and there he drank 32 eggs. They therefore already then wanted to conquer the world but could not even feed their own soldiers.
After the First World War my father’s urge towards the East, to Russia had vanished; he could well get along without Lenin.
His stories about the First World War could become quite bloodthirsty and once my mother interrupted him and told him, not to tell such stories to the children. There of course we memorized that story particularly, because it indeed had to be important, because otherwise our mother would not have intervened. My father then put on a very satisfied expression, because he had succeeded to bring my mother out of her shell. It was extremely rare that my parents corrected each other in the presence of the children.
We children were also not corrected by our parents in the presence of other people. Partly we made the most out of it, and then romped about when we had visitors, or were out of house.
To tell other family members what they are supposed to do and what they are not supposed to do, is always so a thing. I once was a guest with a Berlin family, for coffee and cake, and we sat at the table and the mother came from the kitchen and shouted at the children: You are not to speak in Berlin dialect. And the children immediately changed to the best High German. But it did not last long and they were again speaking Berlin dialect. The father did not care about it. Then the mother came again from the kitchen and the daughter said to her in best High German: Mum, Mr Preuß has taken t h r e e spoons of sugar. Now the mother shouted a second time: Shut up.
Bloodthirsty stories may perhaps not be very pleasant, but they are reality and life, and whether one should not tell something like that to children is quite questionable. The Bible is full of such stories, and the Bible should be taught to children. What one should not tell children are lies and untruth, like the stories about Father Christmas and the Easter bunny and the stork. Also the telling of fairy tales does not bring anything. Such time one can spend much better to read aloud to children stories out of the Bible or from the works of Jakob Lorber and Bertha Dudde.
My father worked as administrator of large farms and one story which he told was that of the lady of the house, who with her wide-sleeved dress handed out food at the table and where the lower end of the sleeve dipped into the gravy and distribute it over the table.
The psychological side of such stories was always interesting to me. Why is my father telling us something like this? What does he think about the fashion of women?
When my father told from his time as estate administrator, then the word Dambitzen was mentioned. This estate can be seen on the map "Umgebung von Elbing"" (Surrounding area of Elbing), east of Elbing.
The West became his aim and he lived two years in America. And from that time there were plenty of stories, which I can remember.
The psychological side of life was the interesting one. In the family tree there were the Werners. My great-grandmother was a Werner by birth. And Werners also lived in Bad Salzdetfurth, were therefore also relatives of ours. Peter Werner I knew best; he probably studied Law later and became a judge. He and his father were great skat and chess players and Peter Werner wanted to teach me chess-playing. I was therefore taught by him, but then told him, that I would give it up. Already playing skat bored me often, and I tried to read something on the side, but something like that is not really acceptable to the other players. But with the playing of skat the psychological aspect is still there, even more so perhaps with the playing of poker, but with the playing of chess that seemed to me moving too much into the background, and I probably worried to still get more bored with chess-playing than with playing skat. Also the intellect seemed to me to stand too much in the foreground and the heart more in the background.
I then completely gave up skat playing. I did not want to spend my time with unnecessary things. Life on this earth is very short and there one should completely make use of it for meaningful things, to the further development of the soul. I also think that playing is something for children, when a grownup is still playing than that is a sign that he is actually not grown up. This also applies to sport.
I now bring extracts from webpages.
It follows an extract from "Have Dominion" from the book "The Man-Made Church" by Frank L. Preuß.
I will tell you about my first music lesson. One day when I was still very young my father went to town and took me with him. As we two were walking down a street, I having my hand securely in my father's hand, we heard music. Now at home the hearing of music was rather a rare thing and so this music got me really interested. Then we saw a group of boys turning into the street we were in. They were not on the sidewalk as we were but in the middle of the street. They were marching and were in a military formation and they all were wearing uniforms. The boys in front were carrying musical instruments and were playing them. So this was quite something for me to observe and to see and hear the combination of movement and sound, boys older than my age moving in uniform dress and style and producing highly interesting sounds. My father was obviously very much aware of my reaction. His reaction to his son's reaction was that he opened his mouth and prophesied. He said, "You will never belong to them." And this was not just said as one normally says something. It was an utterance full of power and intent. It was an act full of volition. It was a prophecy and it was a command and it was full of determined purpose. My father's reaction was an explanation to me and caused me to see and understand things in context. My father was in this world but he was not of this world, especially not of the world of this political power system to which these boys belonged. It was a system of dictatorship, evil, negative dominance and brutality. It was a system that caused us and many people all over the world harm and suffering. And it was a system that was, at that time of me experiencing its outwards manifestations, all powerful and controlling nearly every aspect of public life. This youth movement these boys belonged to was for example the only organisation young people were allowed to join and was allowed to exist. My father's statement simply made this situation clear to me because he was a man who had no reservations making his aversion to this system clear. So I was confronted with a situation where the eyes and the ears, the seeing and the hearing, especially the hearing, the two ears, were exposed to some really exiting sense inputs, on one side, and on the other side it was made clear to me that the background of it all was evil and undesirable. So I got my first music lesson. Not the things that the senses obtain and acquire and report to the mind are what counts but what the purpose and intention and aim of it all is. Hearing music can be quite a neutral thing. So can be seeing a person, or smelling some fragrance, or tasting some food, or feeling some bodily touch. But what is the background of it all? What can this experience of the senses create in our life? Are we attached to such an experience or are we practising detachment? Is this experience running our life and determining our responses and reactions and are we attached to it or do we have the ability to be above it and are we free to react as we really would if we were to use our long experience and our learning and our required wisdom?
When we carry on looking at hearing, especially at hearing music, then this might be military marches that cause us to be led astray into a life of war and conquest and killing; it might be combined with a sales slogan that causes us to spend money on things that harm us.
And it might be sentimental music combined with songs that direct us to a life of so-called love and romance. And this is a huge industry. Millions of people seem to be caught up in this. It deals with the attachment to another person, especially to the body of another person. We have dealt with this aspect of life extensively. Recently I have come across an answer to the question if a person should get married - or not - and I found this answer so to the point and short and expressive that I want to repeat it here. It is Sai Baba speaking to a young American man, Howard Levin, a follower of his: "Don't do marriage," Sai Baba told him, "No mental freedom; no physical freedom." I think this expresses the essence of our subject very well and shows us, that the input from above, from the spiritual side, should always be present when the input from the senses are active.
Have mastery over the senses.
If I feel a bodily sensation what is then my reaction? Is my first reaction that I am going to say that I will have a heart attack? Is my first reaction to say that the flu is coming? Is my body going to decide what is going to happen next? Am I attached to what happens in my body and to my body? Am I my evanescent body or am I my indestructible spirit. Am I obeying what my body tells me or have I made my body obey my will?
Am I making my body my god and my idol and am I bowing down to it and is it controlling me or am I in charge? Have I trained my body to strictly obey my commands?
My father is a prophet and he is a true prophet because what he prophesied came to pass. I never joint that crowd. He determined what would happen to me. He was my father and therefore he was responsible for me and for my body as long as I was not grown up. At that moment it did not look like I had a chance to avoid becoming a member of that organisation. Sometime later I lived in a city and in that city was a jail and there was the last top representative of that organisation sitting. He and his outfit had come to a speedy end.
An extract from "Book of Life " from the book "The Man-Made Church" by Frank L. Preuß.
My father was a soldier and the war came to an end and his unit was supposed to be handed over to the victorious side. The day before the handover my father went to the office and asked to be discharged from the army and the response was utter indignation at such a request and it was refused. So my father went out of the office, organized some civilian clothes and started on his way to find his family. So he refused to obey the orders to hand himself over to the other side. Now some years later he met a man from that unit who told him what happened to them. They all were handed over to the victors, an army of a democracy, who in turn handed them over to the army of another country, which was a dictatorship, an army that they had really fought against, and there they received a treatment that resulted in years of serfdom and much suffering and the death of most of them. Only very few survived, one of them was this man my father met. Now the system that caused this suffering was an absolutely evil system, a dictatorship that suppressed all its people and in addition tried to conquer the rest of the world in order to treat them as badly or worse as their own people. And the system that forced my father to be a soldier was in the same range, but it was now defeated and had come to an end. So my father listened to his inner man and did what was naturally for him to survive and disobeyed instructions from an evil organisation. Now such a thing of course required courage, people who lacked this took the road that seemed at that moment the easiest, but they actually chose a road of suffering and death. Some people have no courage to run their own life; they are so used to obey the commands of a totalitarian regime that they become slaves and lose their own will. Even after that system had been defeated and actually did not exist anymore, people were still hypnotized by it and by its representatives. It is also a question of recognizing an evil system and of making a conscious decision to resist it - of not becoming part of its thought system. And when this has been achieved then the next step is to use the whole situation to practise overcoming - to move through challenging events. Overcoming fears, building stamina, building character, confidence.
Can one learn something from the life of a man, as it was lived by my father?
The easiest way one can learn something is when one observes mistakes, the own ones or those of other people.
My father was an extraordinary man. We had a look at that. But I want to point out things, which can help us to avoid certain things.
My father strove for worldly possessions. That is particularly understandable for a farmer. A farmer without farm is not the real thing. He wanted to have a farm in America. It is not right to strive for physical things, we strive for spiritual things. When we seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness first, then all these things will be given to us as well.
To strive for material things is wrong, and what is still worse, is to acquire them by running up debts. In America my father went to his bank and the director of the bank told him, there is no financial reason not giving you credit, but when you want to farm, then you must be married, without wife something like this does not work.
In America my father had a much greater chance to meet spiritual awakened people and therefore get himself born again, than in Germany. He was in an age where a man starts to turn to the questions of life and to research the meaning of life. He was free and independent and could have devoted himself to the real tasks of life on this earth.
When one wants to find the real direction of his life, one should turn to God, turn to one’s inside and search inside; on no account one should get advice from a man in the bank, particularly also not in financial matters and even very much less in things like marriage.
I have dealt with the question of marriage, thoroughly. I recommend Getting Married?.
He wanted to marry a German woman, but found one who already had a farm, and now did not need to incur debts. With his American knowledge of farming he had competition advantages and expected even more success in Germany than in America. Then there is also the fact that 1929, when he left America, economic problems started there, which basically lasted until the beginning of the Second World War.
But the marriage brought two constrains, for one thing he was no longer a free man; he had entered an official contract to make his body available to another person, and that means much, among other things, loss of freedom of movement, without permission of the partner one cannot change location.
And the second constrain was that the wife had debts. To take over the business, she had to enter into commitments towards the other heirs. And these debts now also became his debts.
But all this seems to be quite normal life experience of many people and one can perhaps see nothing unusual there.
But three years later he found himself in a dictatorship.
If he would have been free, he could have quietly prepared himself for his departure; he would have perhaps not find so good economic conditions in America as at his first arrival, but he would have been a free man again.
The only problem that I see here, is that I would have had a problem to find parents, who had such a high degree of sincerity and uprightness.
This business with the choosing of parents is here still particularly dealt with on this website. The nature of the soul has a say before the embodyment and chooses for itself men for its engendering into the flesh, see B.D. NR. 4618.
There exists another reason why the incurring of debts is so negative. When one incurs debts, then one does it to acquire material things with it or to put the money into a business to make profit. One strives for material possessions. And that is the background why one does not receive it, the material possessions, or when one receives it, it does not make one happy. Because only then will God give us material possession when we have given up the striving for it, and have started striving for spiritual wealth.
And that is the reason, why spiritual striving people, despite them not striving for material goods, are sufficiently supplied with everything; and that in fullness, by God, and are happy and content with it.
1 Journeyman of Master Blacksmith Meier, in Bad Salzdetfurth, Unterstraße
2 Walter Preuß
3 Waldmeister ?
There exists an experience, which happened so about the time, when this photo was taken. We all were at work. I was still a child. Suddenly one man complained and said that he has done himself an injury while lifting something. Here my father treated this man. My father placed himself behind this man and stood on something, so that he stood higher than the man. The man lifted his arms and my father put his own arms around the chest of the man and held on to his arms with his hands and told the man, he is to lower his arms again and also hold on to them. Then my father lifted the man up and dropped him, but before the feet of the man reached the ground, my father caught the man and in this way stretched the body of the man with a jerk. After that, working continued, and the man no longer complained about something. This experience led to me thinking the work of a chiropractor as something quite natural.
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