Beate Caspari-Rosen, MD
(1910 - 1995)
My Grandfather Louis Arnswalder
My mother's father came to live with us after the First World War.
He must have been a man in his late sixties at this time. His wife
had died when my mother was a young girl and she had kept house for
him until she married and moved to Berlin. They had lived in a small
town and my grandfather retired from his business as a wood merchant
and moved to his older daughter in East Prussia. When, at the end of
the war, in the peace Treaty of Versailles, in 1918, East Prussia
became part of Poland, my grandfather moved to us [in Berlin] and became
a part of my close family. He was a very quiet man, but liked to have
people around him. He had a slight tremor of his hands, which became
greatly activated when he did not likw the meal he was eating and the
soup would land on the table cloth. Otherwise, he was an active man
and in no way handicapped, and until the end of his life when
he was in his eighties, he would walk every day back and forth to the
synagogue about a half a mile from our apartment. He observed the Jewish
laws religiously. For example, a religious Jew is not allowed to turn
on the lights when the Sabbath begins on Friday evening, when
the sun sets. He also cannot give orders to anybody else to break the
laws. Therefore, he would call the maid and tell her that it was dark
in the room; she understood, and turned on the electrical switch.
he was a very liberal thinking man and read the liberal newspaper
in Berlin, which was somewhat like The New York Times. He did
not interfere in any way with my lifestyle, though he may have
occasionally disapproved of it. However, when my I parents went out
in the evening, he probably felt that my morals, had to be supervised
and at ten o'clock sharp my grandfather would knock on the door of
my room when I had a male friend visiting. He would pull out his golden
pocket watch and wind it ostentatiously, indicating that it was time
for the young man to leave. Only a very patient young man like George,
my future husband would out wait him, until
grandfather would reluctantly wish him a good night, retiring
to his room, but leaving the door wide open.
He spoke very little and
never talked of his past. I was not curious enough to ask questions.
What I know about him from I learned from stories my mother told me.
I am still sorry that I just accepted his presence in our household
and did not form a close relationship with him.
When he died shortly before I left
for America in 1935, I realized how much he had been a part of my youth
and how much I missed him. He was truly an honest and honorable person.
After having written this short story about him, I spoke to my only cousin
left of this branch of my family, and she told me that grandfather
lost his parents early in life and was brought up by an aunt and uncle,
who gave him a home, but no love. He had three brothers. Two of whom
emmigrated to England where they became missionaries. Since they
must have converted to a Christian religion--Jews do not carry out missionary
work--my grandfather said the prayers of the dead over them and after
that never mentioned their names again. The third brother went to America,
where a branch of Arnswalder exists but no contact between the families
was maintained, to my knowledge.