First Years at Landshut: My Parents

I was born at Landshut on April 4, 1941. Landshut was (and still is) the capital of Lower Bavaria, but nevertheless a small city of about 50 thousand inhabitants. 

My mother’s roots were in in the Lower Saxony in northern Germany. At the end of the 18th century Hans Heinrich Schlumbohm lived in Bispingen in the Lüneburg Heath. His grand-grandson was Wilhelm Schlumbohm, who in 1912 married Margarethe Brandt in the old Hanseatic City of Stade. My grandfather Wilhelm had an eventful professional career all over Germany from the South to the North with intermediate stations at Nürnberg and Ergolding, near Landshut, before he finally became general manager of the Celler Presswerke , a company manufacturing plastic articles at Celle, in his native region.


The Schlumbohm family had three children, two sons and a daughter, my mother Elisabeth. Elisabeth was born in Stade in 1915. My uncle Richard, born in 1918, died in the battle of Stalingrad. In his letter to my parents some days after Christmas 1942, only some weeks before the capitulation of the 6th army, he describes how he celebrated Christmas with his comrades and how they were longing for peace. The other son died shortly after birth.


As already  described  my father’s ancestors  came from  the Ruhr district. In 1906 Rudolf was born in Heilbronn where his father Edmund was for some years responsible for the coffee-roasting activity of the Tengelmann company.  Rudolf had a commercial education and from 1935 on was  employee of the Biscuit and Chocolate Factory in Landshut, where he finally was promoted managing director of the Technical Departments.  My mother was working in the drugstore Muggenthaler in the Zweibrückenstrasse. My father became one of Muggenthaler’s  best customers and finally married my mother in October 1938.


Landshut is a historical medieval city, known by the Landshut Wedding one of the largest historical pageants in the world. It commemorates the wedding between Hedwig Jagiellon, the Polish King's daughter, and George the Rich, the son of the Duke of Bavaria-Landshut from the House of Wittelsbach in the 15th century. The scenery of the pageant are the two broad magnificent streets Altstadt and Neustadt, which are entirely preserved with their gothic style houses and their typical crow-stepped gables. During the first years of my childhood we used to live in a house in Stetheimer street at the periphery of Landshut. I still remember my first friends, when we moved right into the historical center of Landshut, the Altstadt.  There my parents opened a rather big grocery store in the so called Grasbergerhaus, Altstadt 300, “unter  den Bögen”, which means “under the arcades”,as one line of the Altstadt houses had arcades towards the side of the street. The Grasbergerhaus was built in 1453 and in 1475  became the home  of the polish bride Hedwig. It was a marvelous home. While the shop was on the ground floor, our home was on the first floor. Eight large rooms arranged around a hallway which, to my estimate, was 30 m long. At least it was long enough for me to do roller skating . Four families used to live in this flat. We had the chance to have 4 rooms for us. One of them was divided in a kitchen and a bathroom. At the end of the hallway there was one toilet for all the families.


The rooms were about 3 m high. So in winter they were difficult to get warm. Central heating did not yet exist, so the living room was heated by a coal stove and the sleeping rooms were not heated at all. As insulating double pane windows did not yet exist, we had had beautiful ice flowers covering the windows in winter, but the bed coverings had to be very thick to keep us warm.


Most of my spare time I met with my friends in the courtyard or in the streets. The Altstadt and the narrow streets , called “die Gassen” in German, which linked the Altstadt with the Neustadt  were an ideal playground. In bad weather the spacious hallway of our home offered special playing opportunities, roller skating for example, not always appreciated  by the other families. I had a younger brother Peter: He was born in 1945 and the age difference was possibly one of the reasons  that we rarely played together. But the main reason was that we were very different in character. While I was somewhat a loner despite my friends , my brother was much more social joining the boy scout movement at very early age. He stayed active with them for a long time. And he was not particularly interested in sports, which was my passion. So we developed very differently and the fact that I left Landshut after my studies was the reason why we had only little contact. Peter stayed at Landshut and made a successful career as headmaster of the primary school in Vilsbiburg.