von Klein was a happy girl. She was eighteen and her parents gave
her everything she wanted.
The parents made a fortune in business
and their only daughter was their pride and joy.
The Von Klein
family lived in a big house in a quiet area of Berlin.
They had a
big garden, a lot of personell and Liesl had a nanny, a cook and a
It was 1889 and Germany was not thinking about the
two World Wars which would come in some decades.
Liesl had an easy live. She got up late, a nanny would get her
dressed after a hot bath and then she had breakfast alone. She never
did any labour in her short life and everybody did what she said.
But she was a nice girl. She loved the people around her and she
treated them right.
In the morning a private teachter told her all about poetry, foreign
languages and history. In the afternoom she would play the piano
with her long delicate fingers or she would read a book at the fire.
Liesl new she would inherit her parents fortune in the future and
when she would be 21, she would get a bank account with a lot of
money and she could do her own things. She couldn't wait until she
got 21. Only three years left. Until that time her parents told her
what to do and she hated that.
One day in april her nanny came in, looking worried.
'What's going on?' Liesl asked. 'Are my parents already back from
their trip? Do they have a present for me?'
'Please come down.' The nanny said.
Downstairs in the big livingroom two men in suits where sitting on
the enormous couch.
She recognized one as a good friend of her
'Liesl, please sit down.' He said. 'Something terrible happened.'
Liesl was very worried now and she sat down.
'I just got the message the coach your parents were in, drove
of the track into a river, because
the horses got scared by
something. Your parents didn't survive.'
Liesl didn't hear anything. She broke down in tears and she didn't
know what to do or what to say.
The following couple of days were very strange.
People and flowers
came in, press wanted to talk to her, there was a funeral, but it
all went by in a flash.
Some days later the man was back with two people. A poor looking man
and his wife.
They looked like the pour farmers in a book she once
'Liesl. This is your uncle Hermann and your aunt Gretchen.'
Liesl knew her father had one brother, but they were in some sort of
argument and they never spoke to each other.
The man continued his story:
'You're the only heir of the money of your parents, but you can't
get it until your 21 years old.
Until that time it's in hands of
your uncle and aunt.
They decide what to do with you and the money,
the next three years.'
Liesl didn't liked the looks of her uncle and aunt, but she had to
The next couple of days were terrible. Hermann and Gretschen weren't
nice to her.
They fired all the staff, including the private teacher
and Liesl´s nanny and Liesl cried for days.
Buyers came for the house
and Hermann asked Liesl down for a talk.
'Liesl. For the next three years we are your parents and we tell you
what to do.
The money will be yours in some years, but we want you
to live like us. You have to work like us.
Next day they were all on a train to some small village in the black
woods. Liels really didn't like her family.
They were poor farmers
in poor clothes and they smelled bad.
Liesl was dressed in shiny
black boots and a nice silk dress.
They had a long walk to the farm and Liesl complained a bit.
Her high heeled shiny black boots weren't made for walking a lot and normally
she would get driven by coach if she went anywhere. And her boots
got all muddy.
She hated that, but she would polish them as soon as
they reached the farm house.
After an hour they reached the house. Well, it was more like barn
made of wood with grass on the roof and some small windows. Outside
it was muddy and some pigs, chickens and a cow were walking round.
Inside the house was damp and cold and there was another girl.
'Liesl, this is your cousin Eva.'
Liesl wanted to shake her hand, but Eva wasn't used to that.
looked like some begging poor children she once saw in the streets.
Eva wore an old brown dress and she was barefoot. Liesl looked at
her filthy bare feet. She had very delicate, thin white feat with
long toes, but this girl had wide, very muscular feet with black
soles of walking outside the whole day.
Hermann took her to a small room with two bed. Well, beds?
more like some wooden planks with some straw and a smelling and tiny
Liesl wanted to cry and she hated the situation, but she
wanted to be stong like her father always told her to be.
'You can't wear these clothes at the farm, Liesl. Here's an old
dress of your aunt. I'll leave you hear, put it on.'
Liesl looked at the rags he called a dress. She was disgusted but
she put it on. For a moment she had to laugh because of the rags she
wore above the expensive black muddy boots.
Hermann came in.
'That looks better' He smiled. 'Put off your boots and socks.'
'This is the poor countryside of Germany. Farmer girls are barefoot
'You're making a joke, uncle Hermann!' Liesl said
but then she
thought of the black muddy bare feet of her cousin Eva some minutes
There she was. Barefoot. She looked at her long white feet and her
She had never been barefoot before. Only when taking a
Even in bed she had nice white socks to keep her warm.
She walked over the cold stone floor to the main room on her toes,
trying not to get cold feet.
Aunt was cooking and it smelled bad.
She took a seat on the floor besides her cousin Eva.
'Hi Eva, well, I guess we're sisters now, so I hope we get along
But please tell me: Where are our shoes?'
'What are shoes?' Eva asked?
'You know, the things you wear at your feet?'
'It's spring now. In spring, summer and fall I always work
In winter when it's freezing and snowing we have those
'What are socks?' Eva replied.
Liesl looked at her own fragile white feet and the big muscular
black feet of her cousin.
She had very wide gaps between her
toes and one could see she had never worn shoes.
'Uncle Herman. Eva is used to go barefoot and I am not. Please get
me some shoes.
Of course I'll pay back when I have my money in three
'I already said: A country girl is always barefoot. Stop complaining
or I'll punish you!'
Liesl kept her mouth shut and she tried to eat the bad smelling
vegeatable soup her aunt made. She cried silently.
That evening Liesl slept very bad because of the cold.
The next morning Liesl thought everything was a dream, but when her
bare feet hit the cold floor
she knew it wasn't. It was only
six o'clock in the morning. Hours before she usually got op.
She and Eva put on their ragged dress and they walked out barefoot.
It wasn't cold, but it had rained the previous day, so
everything was muddy.
Liesl tried to avoid the puddles but soon she discoverd
is just wasn't possible.
Within minutes her poor bare feet were
covered in mud. She and Eva worked
on the fields the whole day,
kneeling with their toes in the mud. She hated the feeling and she
was very cold.
She tried to convince Eva about shoes, but Eva asked
her back what was wrong with being barefoot.
After some hours they stopped to eat some bad bread and
watery soup again. Liesl's feet were as dirty as her cousin's now.
She saw her unclue watching her feet and smile, which she hated.
After the short break, the uncle broke the silence.
'We're going to
the mill this afternoon'. Liesl noticed Eva stopped smiling.
Liesl followed Eva and her uncle, not avoiding the mud puddles
Her feat were as dirty as can be. After half an
hour walking they arrived at quite a big brick
Uncle unlocked the door and inside Liesl saw a big wooden
Some sort of big wheel. It was a treadmill, Liesl
With a sad face Eva put off her dress.
'Your long dress makes it
difficult to move on the treadmill, said uncle. So undress.
Liesl was very ashamed.
Underneath the brown dress, she and Eva
only wore a short undershirt with holes in it.
They had to hold
a long iron bar above them and they started walking on the mill.
After some minutes Liesl was exhausted. She wanted to stop. Her
muscles and feet hurt.
Uncle shouted at her and hit her. 'Come on!'
Hours went and Liesl felt like she was dead, before they could stop.
their dresses and barefoot they walked home, where
asleep very fast after some watery soup and bad bread.
The weeks which followed were just as bad.
Liesl and Eva were always
barefoot, uncle was hitting them and they had to work very hard.
Liesl hated to be barefoot and she hated her dirty feet. Her feet
were always muddy now, but also a lot tougher.
She had really
muscular feet now, like her cousin. She walked on all
kinds of surfaces.
Rocks, sand, mud, gras and of course the
wooden steps of the treadmill. Of course she had no mirror, but when
she looked in the water of a lake once she saw a tired dirty version
of the old Liesl.
Months went on and on. Liesl was now very dirty, muscular and she
was almost numb doing all the hard work.
In winter she was allowed
to put her bare feet in wooden shoes, but in spring,
summer and fall
she was always barefoot.
She almost couldn't remember how it was to
Uncle kept on hitting her. Liesl didn't anything about
the day of the week, the week or month,
but she saw the seasons
changing and after a while it was three years later.
Almost time for
Liesl to become 21, inherit the money of her parents and going back
to her luxury life again. She asked her uncle and he said the people
of the bank would be there within two months on her birthday. Liesl
tried to count the time, but she wasn't exactly sure.
One day her uncle came to her and he said: 'It's almost your
birthday, time for nice fresh haircut.
Liesl was delighted, but
before she knew it, uncle shaved off all her hair!
embarressed again, like the time she was barefoot for the first
Suddenly she was hit on her head and she became
Some hours later Liesl woke up. Her head was aching.
Where was she?
Her arms and legs were roped, she had something in her mouth, so
could't scream and she was very tightly bound to a bed, so she could't
make any noice.
The only thing she could see worried her: She could
peep through a hole in the wall. She saw her uncle,
washed and in a
suit. She saw her aunt. Also washed and in a nice dress.
another girl she didn't recognized at first, but in a shock she new:
It was her cousin Eva.
Eva looked very nice, freshly cleaned, her
hair nicely done, a beautiful dress, and it was the first time
saw Eva in shoes and socks. Without the filthy face and hair Eva
reminded her a lot of herself.
She was her cousin in the end.
She tried to listen. Two men in suits were talking to Eva, but they
called her Liesl!
Immediately she knew: Her uncle and aunt tried to
get the money, her money, by pretending Eva being Liesl!
She tried to get loose of he ropes, but they where tied to good. She
cried without a sound.
After some hours she was untied and very angry, but her uncle hit
her hard again.
Eva was still in her pretty clothes but barefoot
again, cos she wan't used to shoes.
The whole family laughed at the crying Liesl. 'Thanks for working for us and making us rich!' Uncle
We killed your parents and we always held
Eva as a secret, so nobody knows we have a daughter!
daughter is now Liesl and you are a spoiled, stinking nobody!
That night they dropped a tied Liesl off at a monestary.
They knocked on the door, but they all were away when a nun opened.
Only a dirty, bald Liesl was there, barefoot and clothed in rags.
Nobody believed she was Liesl von Klein. They thought she was some
The rest of her life Liesl spent shut up in the
monestary working hard in the basement laundry, and
in the fields.
She never wore shoes again, and every month her head was shaved
her first day as a mad woman
Sometimes years later a big car drove by.
In the back sat a beautiful
woman in an expensive dress and shiny boots.
It was Eva.
she looked towards the monestary, she could see about twenty baldheaded women
clad in worn dirty shifts.
They were chained together with leg irons, and were working hard in the field
under the surveillance of a nun carring a heavy whip.
They were incurably mad women taken care of by the monestary.
One of them