Carl Fredrick Heinrich Von Dietrich


Is it environmental or genetic?  Either way, I’m hoping that some of my 2 Greats Grandpa Carl is now a part of me.  Though the details are a little sketchy, his life seems so incredible that I wouldn’t dare make up fiction like this.  If I did, my critics would call the story too far fetched, to be believable.  But since it’s a true story, I feel the obligation to tell the story.  As I have studied his life, I have envied his strong character.  His strong will to stay true to his personal convictions and beliefs regardless of consequences.  Just as I hope that part of Carl is in me, I hope he’s in my children too.

In the Prussia of 1813, five year old Carl was placed in a Cloister to be raised as a Monk.  I can only speculate two possible reasons for his parents to send their small boy away like that, never to see him again.  Perhaps it was considered a great honor and opportunity for their son to become a Monk.  Or maybe family circumstances were dire, and it was a matter of survival.

What ever the reason for being there, Carl was now living with and taught by the monks of this Prussian Cloister.  Undoubtedly, his growing years were spent doing the many remedial tasks of living life in the early 1800’s.  But besides the cooking and cleaning, along with gardening and tending flocks, came the tutoring and teaching.  Carl likely learned to read and write in more than his native German tongue as he was taught the doctrines of the church from their Latin documents.  Carl was artistic, and this talent was likely nurtured in his early years.  

Problem was, somewhere along the way, as Carl was taught the church doctrine, he found conflict inside with what he was being taught.  Ultimately, he did not believe the teachings.  Because of how he felt, he chose not to become a monk, and he tried to leave the Cloister.  But the Monks would not let him leave.

Carl then lived for many years in this Cloister as a prisoner and slave.  Because he now refused to go against his conscience, he was now relegated strictly to a role of servitude.  No more teaching and training in Latin.  Gone were the opportunities to further develop his artistic and other talents.  Now life consisted of doing the heaviest and dirtiest labor of the monastery. 

Carl exchanged his imprisoned thoughts for physical chains around his hands and feet.  Carl felt it was a good trade.  For many years, he continued in this condition.  His mind and integrity were free as the birds which thoughtlessly flew over the high stone wall of the monastery.  But he body was physically chained down as a retaliation from his captors for not believing as they did.  If they couldn’t blind his mind, they’d at least bind his body.

Now it wasn’t that Carl didn’t believe in God.  On the contrary, he was very religious.  Today, I don’t view the religious denomination that held Carl prisoner, bad or evil.  I’ve seen enough ungodly behavior from people in my own denomination.  So I know not to blame the church what the people in the church are doing wrong. 

Carl was in this Cloister/Monastery for about 37 years before he finally managed to escape.  He later told of hearing the bullets flying past him as he ran.  He then made his way to Berlin just when there was a revolt against the Kaiser.  Carl now suddenly found himself facing another choice.  Should he follow his conscience and help the Kaiser, or would he think of his own personal safety first.  Carl immediately did what he felt was right, placing himself in great danger once again.  He was in the right place at the right time to help the Kaiser escape the mob.  So in this way, Carl met William I, the Emperor of Germany. 

Showing gratitude for his help, William made him the artist to the Imperial Palace.  So in a matter of a few days or weeks, Carl went from the life of a dungeon slave to a revered hero living in the palace and mixing and mingling with royalty.  Here in the palace, Carl painted many of the royal family portraits.  He was also present for the many state and social events.  Back then, the royal artist would have been present to record all such things with his brush and paint. 

It was in this environment where Carl found love.  Caroline Gustone Friedericke Ludwige Lisette Junnius De Junge was a baroness.  She was 39 years younger than him.  They were married and had 5 children.  But this part of Carl’s life didn’t begin until he was in his old age.  His children were all still small when he became ill.  He was now 75 years old.  My Great Grandmother, Freida, was 7 years old.  She remembers how sick he was and the sadness when he called his two girls to him to tell them goodbye before he died.                 

            So as I have researched Carl’s life, as I learn of the political climate he was thrust into soon after he found his freedom from the monastery, I wonder what I would have done in the same situation.  Would I have helped save the Kiser from the mob?  Or would I go along with the crowd just because that’s what the crowd was doing?  And what of the first half of his life living as a prisoner only because he wasn’t afraid to disagree with the establishment?  The man had integrity.  In face of all most certain annihilation he stuck to his guns. 

Like I said, I hope a piece of Carl came though to me.  I hope that regardless of what the establishment believes, I can think for myself.  I hope that even if my personal safety were threatened, I would follow my conscience and do the right thing.  I hope these same things for my children.  So I don’t know if it would be environmental or genetics, but I hope a little bit of Carl is in us. 

13 thoughts on “Carl”

  1. I can’t wait to read the next segment of your story, i am really enjoying this, i wish i knew hald this much about my ancestors. Maybe i would then know where my stubborness comes from hehe!
    Hope you have a great weekend and i will be back next week to read more as you post.

  2. The history of Your grandpa Carl is so fantastic that I thought I were watching the film.
    Integrity is in everyone,but because of the influence by the environment,it is going away as time goes by,I think.
    In fact,there are a lot of good qualities on Carl such as persistance,eagering for free,etc.
    It is nature of people,but sometimes we lose them.
    At last,wishing you happy^^

  3. so is it environment or genetics?…hmmm…or do we have a spirit that is either weak or strong…persistant or defeatable… how much of who we are is experience…physical tendency…or attributes of the individual spirit…which leads me to ask another question…If we are spiritual entities do those spirits have environmental or genetic factors and if so what does that say about the father of spirits?…  I got an email today from a friend who had twins…they are now ten months old and looking at these two little kids you can see such a difference in them…being the parent of identical triplets I have watched my girls as their individuality became paramount…at about month three…the differences are huge considering the environment is pretty much the same and the genetics is well….the same…what is it that makes them so very different?..such individuals with their own intensity, their own fears, their own attractions and likes…why do they all like different foods, different colors, different music?…why are they each religiously more inclined or less inclined than the other two?…  why?… is one funny, the other artistic, one loves sports, another is analytical, one more emotional, another affectionate, another ultra social, one more protective…   what is it that determines who we are?…our physical existance or are we individuals determined by the spirit, the essense of what is us… ?

    I suspect that you come by your goodness from many sources, Ron. Genetics seems a little too passive to me, though.
    Character is a very active, participatory thing: it requires intention and motivation, choice and participation in outcomes.
    If your children possess intergity, compassion, kindness…any of those things…it must be because they have witnessed it at home, in the way they have been treated by those who love them best in the world.
    In the same way, you must have seen those things in your own upbringing. You cannot give something which you do not already possess. You appreciate the courage and integrity of your ancestors; you’re open to the possibility of that influence on your life today.
    It all works.
    I celebrate the goodness in you, the compassion, the character and the creativity. And I am very happy that our paths have crossed.
    Peace and love, always…

  5. Wow, what a story.. and what a remarkable life.. I tend to think that both genetics and the environment play a small part of what makes us tick.. and one may out weigh the other at times.. its a good question.. but I doubt one will ever really find the answer..
    and does it really matter ? we are who we are.. because we have a drive to become better as time passess.. life is a learning experience.. what may drive one and not the other while both experience the same thing at the same time.. depends on the strength of their spirit within..
    Carl was taught to strengthen his spirit.. at a very young age.. and no doubt that was the down fall for the monks.. "smile" St.John of the Cross was treated horried by his own monks.. they locked him in the basement .. chained him.. starved him.. and left him for dead.. but because of his faith and the strength of his spirit he broke free, and became one of the great teachers of the church..
    I believe we all have that capability that Carl and St. John had… its just a matter of allowing our spirits to be free.. for I tend to think that we are our own prisoners.. chained by our own miss givings.. and self doubt.. 
    again beautiful story… I love to read about your family.. you do your family proud.. hope I said that right.. "smile"
    soft hugs ~Hope

    Hello Ron,
    Thanks for coming by… I really happy when I saw a comment from you. I said "Wow, Ron spent his time for my all photos this time." Yes, I am thinking as you. The family or a person’s whole life photos telling so many things. I took whole my life photos, because they are telling whole my story. As you see, my English doesn’t well for a writer. But I am trying to improve it whenever I have time.
    Have a nice week Ron, to you and to your family,

  7. Hi Ron,
    What a great story. If only more of us knew more about our parents and grandparents lives. I see now with my kids that they view us just as their boring parents who couldn’t possibly have meaning in our lives beyond being their parents,haha.
    Yes, the party food was perfect for me… I love all the appetizer things, skipped the main course and went straight to dessert!!
    The weather here is just great now but I don’t think you’ll be all that envious when we dip down to -30’s. I’ll let you know,lol.

  8. I have been going a bit crazy around here, when it rainsit pours, hehe. I now have a few minutes to visit and wanted to stop in to say hello . Hope your week is going great, maybe you will get some time this week to enjoy the grandbabies, also congrats on your daughters engagement, i bet you are just thrilled.
    Take Care

    Hello Ron,
    I leaved a comment for you to my space. But I don’t like to do it and going on here…
    I believe that you don’t need to learn the body language, because I guess you know it already and you can realize so many things. Because you are a good writer. I felt it. When I read some of your sentences, I said that it is my writer. For examble in this post: "Just as I hope that part of Carl is in me, I hope he’s in my children too…"
    I believe that a true writer have to a different true life story. You have. And I think so do I. Thanks about your sayings my English. You know I am trying for it. English is one world language now and forever I think. So, you don’t need to learn an other language. Maybe you have to use your time only your literature. Because you can reach to everybody with this language. You know all that.
    Have a nice week, to you and to your family.

    Hi Ron, I am glad that you liked my memory. Really you remember some memories from your first five?.. I wonder now, what was your bad memories. I have some traumatic memories for the first five years. I will write them in my blog.
    I really wonder this post, but as you see, the translation business is a little bit handicap for me. I need more time for it. And also I have some eye troubles buddy. Now I am working on my story about an old Istanbul woman whenever I have time. I am sure you will like it. Wait a little bit. I am trying hard.
    I think we are 6 or 7 hours ahead from you. So, I am telling you good evening now.
    Take care,

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