Book presentation – Heidermühlenhanna

The book I am going to introduce now is the life story of a strong woman, who lived at the beginning of the 20th century which was a very bad and confusing political period not only for Austria and Germany but for the whole world. Austria´s interior troubles with some of the peoples of the big imperium, the association of the successor to the throne 1914 in Sarajevo, the immediate declaration of war to Serbia led to the first World War.

Afterwards big regressions everywhere, bank crashes, poverty, hunger, masses of jobless people and last and worst Adolf Hitler.

This was the time in which the protagonist of the story was born, 1888. The story in the book starts1902. Hanna, by everybody known as Heidermühlenhanna was the daughter of the very wealthy sawmill, mansion owner and major of an idyllic municipality in the county of Salzburg, Maximilian Heider. When she was 14 she was sent to a school for so called privileged daughters, where she should learn everything she would need to become the competent head of a big madison house hold, Hanna hated the school because she had preferred to become a teacher. But that time girls had no choice. They had to obey.

With 16 Hanna married the 14 years older k&k -forester. It was a good harmonic partnership. The family lived in rhe forrester`s house and their seven children grew up very freely and happily.

Then came the first hard blow Hanna had to suffer. Her mother died because of an accident and her Father married a woman, nearly Hanna`s age. This woman managed it to persuade the old man to make a donation of all his property to her credit. When the first World War started, Hanna`s husband joined the army voluntarily, like many others. They all were enthusiastic to defend Kaiser and Fatherland.

Then happened the second hard blow. I have translated the short part when Hanna got the horrible information of her husband`s death at one of the first Isonzo battles,

The last evening in June, when Hanna and her children were on their knees in front of the porcelain statue of Holy Mary, praying  to protect their father and let him return healthily, someone knocked  at the door. “Continue the prayer children. I am just going to see, what is so urgent, that somebody asks for entrance, that late in the evening.” Cautious Hanna opened the door.

“Don`t be frightened!”, Mrs. Forrester. It was the voice of one of the town´s policemen.

“Which important news do you bring, that you have to visit me so late in the evening.”, Hanna wanted to know “ It actually is a very important telegram with the order to deliver it immediately. He held the telegram towards her. “Thank you,” Hanna took the piece of paper “Don`t you want to sit down and have a cup of coffee? I got the coffee today on the cut of the food ration card. It is pure coffee not malt?”

Very friendly of you, Mrs. Forrester, but I am in a hurry. Nice evening to you!”, he said and left the house like a bat out  of the hell. While Hanna stepped back to her praying children, she opened the telegram. A penetrating scream echoed through the silent of the evening. The children stopped, the prayer and stared scared at their mother. Such a scream they never had heard before Dorle, Wilma and Hildegard started crying and even baby Christine, who had sweetly slept in her cradle, woke up and joined her sisters in crying. Maxi Johanna and Lia held their hands tight to their ears. Hanna stepped like under hypnosis towards the porcelain statue, gripped it  and smashed it to the ground that it slivered to 1000 pieces. Hanna now was a widow with 7 children. She had to leave the forester’s house. Her home was lost, because of her father’s second wife, and she had not enough money for the upbringing of her children, The social fond for widows and orphants helped her to get places for her children in a boarding school, in the city of Salzburg, where she found work in the inn of her father`s sister.

She fell in love with a very handsome, actually a picture of a man.  His profession was stage architect, but without any responsibility. He was violent bet Hanna and the five children they had together, He spent all his money with ballet girls and threatened Hanna to leave her, if she would not support him financially. But Hanna was determined by love to Heinrich, that she even followed him to Vienna. With the help of a motherly friend and the grown up children she found the power to end the chapter with Heinrich.

She died a few weeks before the second World War began,

Thank you for your attention.

This historic family history is an interesting picture of the first third of the 20th century. but unfortunately you only can get it in German at

AndreBuchVerlag oder

Article: Gertrud Erbler

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