Maertens married into Neuhof on the Baltic Sea island Poel
in 1936. After WWII the hamlet was disseized and the family must flee.
Erika Maertens lived as a farmer in West Germany in the following years
and reared six children. The wall then smashed her hopes of returning
to Neuhof and she emigrated with her husband and their two youngest
children to Brazil, where they ran a small farm. Erika Maertens' husband
died as she was 76. After the German reunification her son-in-law repurchased
parts of the old settlement. 81 year old Erika Maertens now returns
00 00 Photos
0 00 00 Comment
0 00 44 Title:
0 02 01 Flat
0 02 03 Grandma Maertens (Off):
Then I had the..I was more acquainted with plants, my spouse knew more
about birds and here I watch and try to find out what sorts I see. That
is a guaba, it's been gnawed at, hasn't it? I think it has. Guaba is
a marvellous fruit but it is always full of critters ; as we say in
Germany "there is no thornless rose" Brazilians say "there
is no gaba without bichas", that is, without the little critters
in it, I mean the worm, that's what we call'em, worm. Then come the
birds, some birds eat the bichas and some eat the guaba, each gets what
And were you afraid of going away?
0 02 59 Grandma Maertens :
0 03 00 Frage :
0 03 02 Grandma Maertens :
I wasn't afraid of going to Brazil but going back here was out of the
question as we'd certainly never have arrived alive. Who would have
allowed us back, we'd been deported.
Some of the children were here, some there.
0 04 27 Field
0 04 27 Grandma Maertens :
…and we were with the youngest kids, after we had been torn apart
we did not come together again as we were here on Neuhof, then we went
over with the two, the others had already married here for a part, the
first and the others were still at school and that's how we got apart
and so are we today still, some remain there, some stayed here and I
shall live and stay here again and will certainly not move over again.
0 07 10 Grandma Maertens :
There is always something on earth you haven't seen, even on Poel island.
0 07 49 Question:
Sorry, what was it like, I mean how long did you live here and when
did you go away?
0 07 54 Grandma Maertens:
I came here in 1931 and we had to leave in 1945 at the end of october,
then they chased us along with all the others who were living on the
big farms. We started managing a farm in West Germany that had previously
been a tree nursery and when the wall was built my husband said "so,
he said, it now looks like we can give up any hopes of finding some
means to get home." So over we went as far away as we could so
that we wouldn't have to keep stuck in it and everything would remind
us of it all the time. That's why we…, I lived over there for
26 years, such a long, long time.
0 08 58 the fields and the sea
0 09 13 Grandma Maertens:
Look, there is a bobeleta, a butterfly, a cabbage white. They ain't
much good, go into cabbage. There used to be or still is cabbage at
Poel tastes so good as they say, Poel girls and Poel cabbage are just
as good, that's what they used to say. Of course people will tell all
sorts of stories but this is such good soil that cabbage grew that large,
0 10 25 Wolff-Jürgen:
0 10 26 Grandma Maertens:
Is it facelia?
0 10 28 Wolff-Jürgen :
Over here, is it?
0 10 30 Grandma Maertens :
Never seen it.
0 10 32 Wolff-Jürgen :
No, it is a novelty, undersown crops.
0 10 35 Grandma Maertens :
Undersown crops, do they plow'em in?
0 10 37 Wolff-Jürgen :
Yes, tis chaffed before it sows, you know.
0 10 39 Grandma Maertens :
Bevor es aussamt noch? Mmh.
Before it even sows? Hugh
0 10 45 Wolff-Jürgen:
That is for the set-aside land lest...
0 10 48 Grandma Maertens :
Awright, Ina needs it for the bees, don't she?
0 10 52 Wolff-Jürgen:
Yes, the bees like it, then colza is ready then this comes, that's good
for the bees.
0 10 56 Grandma Maertens :
Aha, till now I had only heard the name of it, facelia they say, undersown
crops, yeah and then it gets plowed in, nice as it is, it's a pity,
isn't it? But if they have to do so… So I know at last what that
0 11 55 Garden
0 11 56 Grandma Maertens:
Wonder what our indoor riding hall will look like when tis completed,
There'll be a big celebration, I take it. The whole island'll celebrate.
Awright. But I 'm staying here now, I don't wanna go over again. Praps
I'll get homesick and I'll stay over there, who knows? Anything may
happen, who knows. But here if I can keep in good touch with the kids
over there and with them it'll be fine, they can give a ring, they can
give a ring.
0 12 50 Sea
0 12 53 Grandma Maertens :
As I was here in winter, there always were a couple of swans came each
afternoon and when I was here they sailed up here without haste, you
can't hear'em when they come gliding and then they come ashore over
that quite shallow bank.