Thursday, 30 May 2013

Misty Payne

So - what landed ME on Tempelhof?? (Part 1)

Born and raised in Germany's northernmost region (Schleswig-Holstein to be exact) I always felt a strong affection for the sea and all things nautical.

So after leaving school in 1935 I applied for the Nautical College in Kiel - only to learn the nazis won't let women study there anymore.

Also they told me it would be hard for me to get any other university place, because I have never been member of the BDM (Bund Deutscher Mädel) or the NS-Frauenschaft (official organization for women in the Third Reich). Drat!!

I decided to go on a hiatus from further education, took the ferry boat to Tempelhof for working as a waitress at the casino and restaurant they had on the island,  this building later became the "Kommandantur" (headquarters) for the party and navy staff when they took over the island about one year after my arrival.

At first I only planned to stay during summer - thinking things over and trying to figure out what to do for a living in a country that dooms women to a live as obedient wives and mothers only.

What can I say - I just fell in love with the island instantly. The rough weather, the cliffs and the sea - and last not least the odd folks living there. Most not very talkative, but good-natured.
Unruly and edgy. And - if they come to like you: awesome friends!

Among them - very few nazis but some pretty interesting artists: Painters, singers or writers, who decided to flee the turbulent mainland and it's ongoing drift into inhumanity and totalitarianism.
Islands tend to be kind of a melting pot for people that won't fit in properly otherwise.

The genuine islanders are the decendants of whalers, fischermen and farmers, now mostly living on the tourists that used to overcrowd Tempelhof during summer season.

Tourism came to a standstill, after Berlin declared Tempelhof to become a naval base (Minesweepers and U-boats).
The casino had to close - so I lost my job there and started to help out as a chambermaid in the Hotel Esplanade (now mostly inhabited by naval officers) - and I became friend with the lighthouse keeper and moved in to help with the huge lantern and stuff.

Oh! And I met and fell in love with Stabsfeldwebel (StFz=first sergeant) Wertmüller! Rumours have it he actually was a "Unterscharführer" in ... you know where, but got disbanded for being ... err ...
unruly and not enough in line with the ideology. They "exiled" him to godforsaken Tempelhof, where they thought he could cause less havoc.
His job in the beginning was to care for the radio equipment and some ... uhm ... experimental stuff, I'm most certainly not allowed to talk about.

With the beginning of the war times became tough. No daily ferry boat anymore, so we were dependent on the few navy tenders und the incoming U-boats. No way for any of us to leave the island anymore, very little contact to the mainland and our folks at home.

All foreigners on Tempelhof got stuck here also (Ms. Lighthouse already wrote about it: "Maiden in the Tower") - the officials first tried to incarcerate them in the cells of the various basements ...
then just telling them not to leave their homes, which soon became rather impractial also, so they were mostly left alone, but under more or less strict surveillance. 
In contrast to the party-bastards we never bore them any ill will - actually most became good friends over the years ... So we saw no point in making their life more miserable than it was for all of us anyway.

As a matter of fact all of the pretty international bunch we have here live pretty much as us Germans do.
They work, they sing, dance or care for their business. We like it just that way!


In a couple of days I will carry on with my story, offering answers to some still open questions:
• How comes a German girl is called "Misty"?
• What landed a waitress and dancer on the sail of a Typ-VII-C??
• Why does she seems to be in charge of the V-1 launching ramp??
• Why does that point to the EAST anyway??
• What is her business at the radion station in the ravaged NSDAP-offices??

I will tell, what I MAY tell!
Thank you for reading!

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