Vol. 11


The Precious Plum

c. 1942–1943; Berlin and rural Germany"The Precious Plum" illustration: A young girl pushes an old-style baby carriage . . . with a plum in the carriage!

This story is about my oma Ursula Schultz during World War II. (“Oma” means “grandmother” in German.) Oma is describing her journey from bombed Berlin to the rural countryside of Germany. She was eight years old at the time.


After the end of the bombing in Berlin, my mother Anna, my three-year-old sister Marianne, and I lived with my maternal grandparents in the basement of their destroyed apartment building in a makeshift shelter. I would play in all the rubble, and there was only a little food.

My father, Karl, had been taken captive by the Russian army. We had no knowledge whether he was still alive.

After some months the German government decided to send mothers with young children to parts of Germany that had not been destroyed during the war. My mother, little sister, and I were packed on buses to go to the north coast of Germany. Then we were gathered in a gymnasium, and the local families could pick whom they wanted to share their home with. My mother and my little sister were taken by a farmer to live on his farm. My mother had to work very hard helping to harvest the crop on that farm.

I was very sad to see my mother leave. I was scared to be separated from her and my little sister. But I was fortunate to be taken in by an elderly childless couple. They were very generous and cared a lot for me. For the first time in my life, I had a pretty room to myself. The room had an old grandfather clock that showed the movement of the sun and the moon. All my life since then, I have longed to own such a clock.

After a year passed, a man showed up at our house. He had short hair and was very thin and tall. I called the elderly couple, saying, “There is a stranger at the door!”

I had not recognized my father, who had returned safe from imprisonment in Russia. He had come to reunite our little family, and he moved us all to live with his great-uncle Joseph in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Joseph was a priest and had a big parish. He also had a big garden with a fruit orchard. In the middle of the orchard was a gorgeous plum tree. The plums were as big as eggs. I had never seen such delicious fruit in my life.

I had a little doll pram. One day I put a precious plum under the cushions to keep it safe.

After some time, the plum rotted! I had not eaten it, because it was so special to me!


After I heard this story for the first time from my oma, I have never looked at a plum, or eaten one again, the same way. I am sad for my oma — that she had to go through such hard times — but I am glad that I can learn from her experience.

Author and illustrator: Sophia Rose Kinninger; Missouri, USA



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story and/or illustration in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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