Letting Go of the Past

Selling the Apartments

"Your family bond is for life."

Editor's Note: After Eugene's grandmother Johanna Muller's apartment in Hannover was lost to an Allied Air Raid in 1944, she had to spend the remainder of the war in a government-run shelter.  Once the war was over, she remained in Germany and rebuilt her apartment building. The property remained in the Kimling family until right before Eugene's death when his daughter Joanna finally convinced him to sell the apartments. 

In his memoir, Eugene reflected on his relationship with his grandmother:

“As I think back I am impressed by the quiet dignity and acceptance that my grandmother displayed… This was a rough time for anyone who had been directly affected by the war through either the death of a loved one or the loss of home and property… As result of that experience, I learned that there is no such thing as a free ride. Nobody takes care of you but yourself and your family. Your family bond is for life. Always try to hold the family together.”

In 2018, Joanna recalled:

"So I went with him to Germany and we looked at the apartments. Standing in front of them, you could look down the tree-lined street and see the Lutheran church and imagine him singing in the choir as a little boy.  He wanted to show the apartments to me because his grandmother told him to keep them so he would always have a home to return to. When Hannover was bombed, their apartment was destroyed, his family had no home and she always hated that. That they had no home. So she rebuilt the apartments for her boys even though they were in America and probably would not come back to live in Germany. 

We looked at the apartment and I met  the bankers, and the management company of the apartment building. They asked my dad if he wanted to sell the property.  He said, 'No, Joanna is going to take over when I am gone.' I am thinking, 'I don’t speak German and I don’t think this is going to work.'

We came back to the United States. I told Daddy you have to sell the apartments. It took three years after that to convince him it was ok to sell the German apartments. He ended up selling it to a family cousin in Germany.  So maybe it had some effects on him, growing up without a place to call home. You know, that was very important to him."