Munich – “Glosscheamviertel” – this is how people in old Munich blaspheme about parts of the city with wooden hostels, unkempt tenements, noisy backyards and boazn, dirt, stench and – hence the derisive name – shards of beer bottles or broken windows.
Even popular strollers such as Sigi Sommer or the forgotten Karl Spengler could not get away from such questionable descriptions. Degenerate? No, just a residential area of the little people. The Au, Haidhausen, Giesing, the Glockenbachviertel and parts of the Lehel were temporarily affected. The area between Lindwurmstrasse and Isar, between the Südbahnhof, which was closed in 1985, and the Altes Südfriedhof, officially Isarvorstadt, has not been buried since World War II.
Quarter of artisans, workers and immigrants
It wasn’t degenerate. It was just a residential area of the common people: the artisans, workers, small traders – and countless immigrants. One of those early migrants was my grandfather. In 1911, at the age of 42, Franz Vogl immigrated from the Upper Austrian district of Vöcklabruck with his wife and three-year-old Elsa, my mother, after “completing his duty in the Landsturm!” The steamer had trampled the farrier’s livelihood.
Munich, however, “shone”, as the immigrant Thomas Mann wrote in 1901. Its 600,000 inhabitants were well provided for. The community workers even had a union that was the first to fight for collective agreements.
Grandpa became warehouse manager for the new city tram, the man called “Electric”. The new center of his life was Tumblingerstraße, which was laid out as a 650-meter-long main road right through the “broken glass district”. The namesake is guild master Michael Tumblinger, who, by the way, is the inventor of the butcher’s jump.
House number 11 was – and still is certain today – a typical suburban domicile. There were many, but very narrow, rooms squeezed on each floor. In addition to my grandparents, their six children live there alternately. My divorced mother and I put them in the windowless room; the younger siblings were taken to the urban children’s asylum.
Round trip with 12 tram
Grandpa had meanwhile risen to the position of warehouse foreman. He loved his “tram”; he avoided the word tram. He was happy to invite me to a tour with the Zwölfer, which stopped at Kapuzinerplatz and served the Südring. He proudly showed me that Hitler had barely broke ground in May 1937, the great subway construction site on Goetheplatz.
The roar of the steam hammers and the smoke wafted all over the neighborhood. Mixed with other sounds and smells. Mainly the deliciously malty scent from the large brewery, the flank between Kapuzinerstraße and Maistraße, with the dark hall and garden and street tavern, where I regularly had to pick up my grandpa in the beer mug.
The bleating of the calves, which were continuously transported in trucks to the open slaughterhouse and cattle yard, and the rather unpleasant fumes from the large stables behind the Kapuzinerplatz mixed in with the symphony of the former slaughterhouse district.
I found peace and education in the St. Anton monastery church, where a beautiful nativity scene was to be admired, in the old southern cemetery, where grandpa introduced me to historic Munich, and in the elementary school across the street, where I quickly learned the suburban dialect.
Nobody in the family can suffer the Nazis die. Except one
The immigrant Franz Vogl insisted on his idiosyncratic vocabulary. He just called me Heinzi, as I was never called. The Nazis, whose leaders had also immigrated from Upper Austria, he only disparagingly referred to as “the Hitlerites”. Nobody in our extended family could suffer the death of Hitler. Except for Uncle Franz, who liked to strut around in a brown SA uniform and waddle me when he didn’t notice the required short haircut. Then Grandpa paid me the hairdresser.
Again and again Grandpa gave me a few tens or even a Markl as well as good advice. Later I read in the book of another “Austrian” who had ended up in the Reich, Traunstein, the beautiful sentence: “The grandfathers are the teachers, the real philosophers of every person.” As far as Thomas Bernhard’s grandfather, who even blasts a bridge (theoretically), mine didn’t go. I was already looking forward to the Fuchsgerl that he had jumped for the Oktoberfest in 1938. It was the last Oktoberfest until 1946. The underground tunnel was air raid shelter, later filled in, then dug up again. The beer, food for the Vogl family, became thinner.
Petty-bourgeois life had changed only insignificantly when I moved back to Tumblingerstrasse 11 immediately after the liberation from the Hitlerites – after staying in homes and pre-military camps. It became emptier. Aunt Berta had already lost her husband in Poland, and I looked after her boy a little. Uncle Franz made his uniform disappear.
Uncle Willi’s daughter Helga emigrated to North America with her Bill, my sister Irmgart to Mexico with her Demetrio. Munich no longer shines. In my little room I hoarded the remnants of the ten bottles of Arrak that I captured during the great pillage of the people of Munich on May 1, 1945.
Arrak half to get through the winter
The high-proof exotic half of my nun’s 75-year-old grandfather to endure the pitiful cold of the winter of 1946/47. The “Gebrüder Thomas Bierbrauerei” only had provisional operation. (It was rebuilt by 1950 and fully incorporated into the Paulaner Group in 1999).
Grandpa was satisfied. From the slaughterhouse over there, the rickety man fetched fresh meat broth in a tin mug almost every morning, into which he broke an old bread roll; the nasal drip was often added. It is enough for my grandma if she could stir an egg into the beer. She preferred to cook on the old antediluvian stove, I dragged the coals from the cellar.
She mistrusted the gas; Mann tells of accidents, Sigi Sommer reported of numerous suicides. After Grandpa’s death, the old woman, who came from a farm, was relocated to an even tighter apartment with a shared toilet, where she always had a five-mark piece in the box for my children. So it was, the life of the little people in our little suburb.
See the books “A Youth in Munich” and “Munich Milestones”.