My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX At the University

WHEN my parents first moved to Berlin in 1892 they rented a house in Charlottenburg. A few steps from the house was a field where cows grazed and one could buy a glass of milk fresh from the cow for ten pfennigs (about fourpence). Today the Zoological Gardens occupies that erstwhile rural site.

As soon as he could afford it my father built himself a little villa outside Berlin at Schlachtensee, which has long since been incorporated in the capital. From there he went by train every morning to the Potsdamer Platz and thence to the corner of Friedrichstrasse where his insurance office was situated. He named his villa in Schlachtensee "Villa Equitable" after the Company. I still remember the flagstaff in front of the house with the American Stars and Stripes. Since he had acquired American citizenship while in New York, and at bottom was very liberalminded, he took great pleasure in this little demonstration.

Here I spent the Easter holidays in 1895 and discussed with my parents and Eddy what career I should take up. My mother would have liked to see me go in for theology, but I had little inclination for that subject.

Eddy, in his fifth year as a medical student, persuaded me to follow in his footsteps. I was not altogether convinced that it was really my line but decided to have a shot at it. Thereupon my mother abandoned her objections; perhaps she realized that it was useless to force a person to take up a career that fails to attract him.

During the three years I had lived on my own in Hamburg (up to the time I left school) I had grown independent. The severe upbringing at the Johanneum had had something to do with it. My father was quite pleased. He made me a modest monthly allowance, and unlike many fathers, did not attempt to interfere with my plans for the future. Later, too, when I frequently changed from one faculty to another and tackled subjects that seemed to lie poles apart, he invariably displayed great understanding and let me go my own way. He was now a middle-aged man, less painfully thin than in earlier years. His suits were of English cloth, his turnedup moustache was neatly trimmed, and he wore a pince-nez which he later replaced by spectacles.

-62-

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