A time witness report written by Mr. Heiner Matthes (Germany)


The author - born in 1939 - was sent to school when the schools in Chemnitz were reopened after the Second World War in autumn 1945. He was 6 years old.

He can perfectly well remember the difficult situation at the end of the Second World War in his hometown, including many obscurities in relation to the reopening of the schools.

He very emotionally describes his „admission celebration to primary school" as well as the obligatory school cone.

The author tells about his young 17 to 18 year- old, often untrained "newbie teachers". They had to learn in special courses in the afternoon for teaching on the next day. Most of them were young women because many men did not return home from the war. Many of them loved their profession and the children and worked hard every day.

The author remembers the simple school books, workbooks and writing instruments that were used in the first school years. So he used a pen and a slate board for writing at first.


He mentions that the pupils in the second class had to write in copy books with a pen that was dipped into an inkwell. The paper of the exercise books was very rough. The author even recalls rhymes and children's songs, which he had learned in the first school years.

There was great hunger in many families after the war. The author talks for example about the first daily hot meal in the schools.

This was a dark bread roll that was baked from dark flour blend and the pupils have got a warm drink like a small cup of milk or tea to alleviate the hunger.

He also describes the struggle of the mothers for the production of clothing for the youngest, as well as for the procurement of vital things.

He also remembers precisely the small ceremonial highlights, which were organized by teachers and parents with great effort for the pupils.

The author gives an overview about the games and toys of the post-war children which they played outdoors on the streets, gardens or at home, but also about the common working of the school children on the fields of the farmers for example the „potato beetle gathering".

At the end of the report, the author describes very emotionally how these first years of school have shaped his further life.