I went to school from 1936 to ’42 in the City of Cottbus (Germany), the school was Bismarck elementary school. My first encounter with the cane (we called it rohrstock) was in my second year at the age of eight. The teacher discovered ink and fat spots in my essay book and it was not clean. He called me to his desk, unbuttoned my trousers and pulled them down, laid me over his lap and spanked my rear ten or twelve times, and then reached for the cane and gave me four with that.
But that was just the beginning. I forget how many more times I got the cane, but it was probably in the twenties. It was never ‘touch your toes’, always elbows on your knee and stick your bottom out. Most of the time it was two or three strokes.
The worst caning I received was from the Principal and I will never forget it.
Around the age of twelve, I was accused of stealing a bike and two days later my teacher told me Principal Hansen wanted to see me. That was always bad news but I was confident I would get away with a reprimand after I explained to him that I had no intention of stealing the bike and that I just took it for a ride.
Arriving in his office, he greeted me with: “I understand you go around stealing bikes.”
I said no and that my parents would not allow me to bring a strange bike home.
“But it was reported stolen and you were seen with it,” he countered.
It went back and forth for a few minutes and finally he said: “Forget about stealing, did you take property that did not belong to you, yes or no?” He repeated ‘yes or no’.
I finally said yes and that sealed my fate. He looked for his keys, went to the wall unit and when he turned around he had a long yellow cane in his hand.
He asked me if I ever had the Cane and I said: “Yes.”
“Well you’re going to get it again, I am afraid.”
Then he said that for stealing he would usually hand out six but that in my case he would give me the benefit of the doubt and I would get five.
He went on to say that he would let me keep my trousers on. Hearing all this, I suddenly had the urge to relieve myself and so I asked him if I could use the toilet. He let me, but when I came back and knocked on his door he let me in and locked the door.
I noticed that he had the curtains drawn. His office was on the lower level and anyone could peek in otherwise.
I told him: “I promise I will never do it again.”
He put his arms around my shoulder and marched me to the side of his desk. There he stood behind me and groped both of my cheeks like a massage and said it was to make sure I hadn’t stuffed anything into my underpants like paper towels as protection.
He told me to pull my shirt out of my trousers, which I did with difficulty as I wore braces. I had to slip them off my shoulders. Then I had to stand very close to the desk and he told me to lay over it and keep my legs apart. I could feel that he lifted my shirt up and I could see that he picked up the cane.
He moved to my left and with his left hand he pulled my trousers tight so that they were like a second skin over my buttocks. He said he wanted no jumping up and down and that I should hold still until told to get up.
I said: “Please, not so hard,” and then came a hissing sound and the first stroke reached its target. It took my breath away and I could not make a sound. The strokes came in about five seconds apart. After the third I kicked my legs and started screaming so loud they could hear it in the hallway. After the fifth I remember I kicked both legs up at the same time.
Then it was quiet, except for my sobbing. He put the cane away and told me to put my shirt back down and go to my class. The initial pain went away after a while but my buttocks felt like a hundred little flames were burning and it lasted for hours. Well this guy was a pro.
Did he enjoy it? I don’t think so, but I’m sure other teachers did.