Harry did a lot. Most recently he was on the assembly line at Daimler. But no night shifts, even if he would have earned more. It was enough for him, his wife, the daughter and the two-room apartment with a small garden. Before that, Harry was a long-distance driver. He was on the slopes for days, he really could hold out. Once he took his daughter with him. They ate canned shark fin soup, slept in the truck bunk. It was fun, she remembers. Even if her father didn’t do nonsense as usual, but paid attention to the road quietly and concentrated. He was also a surveyor for the Neukölln district for a short time. He had learned to be a car mechanic; that was right after the war.
And Harry was famous. A little at least. Adenauer shook his hand and an English Prime Minister whose name hardly anyone knows today. Newspapers reported about Harry, sometimes photographers ambushed him. When he got married, there was a photo of him and his wife in the newspaper. Harry was also a boxer. Hardly a fight he lost. Little Harry. Friendly. Modest. mercury. Nimble. Tactically smart. fair and honest. That’s how the reporters described him. The worker from Neukölln who boxed himself up, silver medal at the Olympics, three times German champion, 1953, 1954 and 1956.
He was only 1.64 meters tall. But the fact that this really had to be said and written over and over again got on his nerves at some point. Otherwise, boxing was his life for 17 years. It all started in 1947. Harry always wanted to exercise. He danced, he swam, he did somersaults from the diving board into the water, and he did gymnastics with the “Neuköllner Sportsfreunde”. When the Allies allowed boxing again, a trainer asked him if he couldn’t imagine it, and Harry could. During the day he screwed around on cars, in the evenings he trained, on the weekends he fought.
And he conquered and conquered. Hundreds came to see him fight. His opponents were usually taller, stronger, older than him. Harry made up for it with what one reporter called his “pendulum style.” He always swung back and forth with his upper body and thus dodged the punches at lightning speed. In the first two rounds he always let his opponents do their thing. Dodge, plugged in. Meanwhile, study their strengths and weaknesses. Waited for them to exhaust themselves. Then he attacked, quick and clever. people loved him. The underdog who always won.
His father was a leftist, had to go into hiding during the Nazi era, and later he emigrated to the GDR. He never had any contact with Harry. His mother raised him alone. Kreuzberg, Gneisenaustrasse, that’s where they lived. Again and again she had to stay in the hospital for months because of her tuberculosis. Harry has been passed around, visited relatives and the children’s home. A hard time. He didn’t like school because the teachers didn’t take a joke. It was always a beating because of a joke. He just loved math. Harry saw himself as his mother’s protector. He was the one who organized everything, who went on a hamster trip so that there was food in the house.
Harry never smoked, drank very seldom, big sprees were not his. He went to dance school, tap dance, Fred Astaire fascinated him. On Friday evenings he threw himself into his suit and off he went to the “Neue Welt” on Hasenheide, where a real band played and Harry asked the girls to dance.
Marianne was eight years younger. And didn’t want anything from him. But he danced a waltz with her and that harmonized quite well. Harry apparently fell in love with her right away. He wanted to see her again. He wanted to take her home. But she didn’t want to. So he just ran after her at a distance of five meters to make sure that she got home. Again and again they saw each other in the “New World”, again and again he challenged them. He was polite, gallant and persistent. Eventually she softened. In 1960 they married. In 1966 the daughter was born. Marianne shouldn’t go to work, Harry would take care of her.
He always had an opinion, which he spoke out, and an idea of how something should be. If something suits him: “Yes”, if not: “Nope”. And he didn’t go away from there. You had to deal with that, but your daughter could also grow from it. If she wanted something, she had to take responsibility for it.
But first he told her stories he had made up himself, singing her one song after the other when the way home was too long. He was proud of her for doing so well in school, although he never asked her to. For them, he climbed over the fence to the duck pond and got tadpoles, which they then raised. Together they watched the old comedies on TV and laughed their heads off. Harry then performed one slapstick act after another himself. When she wanted to go to the disco, he only allowed her to come home on the last bus. He then stood at the bus stop and escorted her home.
Harry continued to jog his daily laps. At the age of 70 he jumped the double somersault from a threesome. Went to the trotting track with Marianne. Otherwise he took care of his very narrow garden. The lawn wasn’t as neat as the neighbors’, and there were hardly any flowers. Because Harry loved trees, he wanted to have as many as possible. A small forest grew on the few square meters. When the neighbors complained about the lack of sun, he grumbled, climbed up, clipped a few peaks, and then it was quiet again.
And he loved birds. Had books, she recognized by the voices, gave them food and water. A thrush came every day, landed on his hand, did little tricks and, it seemed, talked to him.
Even a Harry gets old. First dementia, then kidney cancer. The order was good, so he forgot he was sick and actually in pain. He never wanted a care bed, eventually one came, one night he lay in it, the next day he died.