Heating turned off Bonn couple freezes for peace

Bonn · Bonn residents Karin and Rolf Becker have deliberately turned off their heating to send a signal against the war in Ukraine. Rolf Becker still remembers fleeing from the bombed city of Bonn during the Second World War.

 Bonn residents Karin and Rolf Becker have deliberately turned off their heating and will dress more warmly instead.

Bonn residents Karin and Rolf Becker have deliberately turned off their heating and will dress more warmly instead.

Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

Outside, the warm rays of sunshine give a foretaste of the approaching spring; inside, the thermometer registers just under 16 degrees. A temperature that Karin and Rolf Becker have become accustomed to. The heating system in their house on the Venusberg hill is completely switched off, which the 81-year-old did by pressing a single button.  "We’d rather freeze than use gas from Russia. Putin won't get a cent from us," the pensioner says militantly. Of course, he knows that the gas they are getting right now is from the Netherlands. But it is above all a symbolic message. In order to be independent against the background of the changeover from L-gas to H-gas, he wants to convert the heating system in his house and install a heat pump.

In the meantime, the couple have got used to the temperature. "When it gets uncomfortable, we just put on another pullover," says Karin Becker, 79. There has been no heating on in their house since 24 February. "That was the day Putin went crazy," says Rolf Becker, not afraid to say what he thinks.

Both of them have always taken a stand and been politically active. When they were young, they were at the big peace demonstrations in Bonn, and last week they took part in a solidarity rally for Ukraine on the market square. "Peace and democracy are the most important things," says Karin Becker. From their own experience, they know all too well what it means to be in a war. "My father was killed in the Second World War, and my mother had to raise four children on her own," she recalls. Rolf Becker, born in 1940, also still has in his mind the pictures of his escape with his mother and grandmother from the bombs falling on Bonn. "I remember that after our evacuation we walked through wet grass for a long time until we finally had a place to stay," he recounts. The return to the Rhineland was not easy either. For days, the family had tried to get a ticket to travel by goods train to Bonn. "It was only on the seventh attempt that it finally worked out," says Rolf Becker.

"We both learned early on to get by with very little. That's why it doesn't bother us so much that we do without our heating now," Karin Becker emphasises. However, if it does get icy cold, they will probably move their daily routine into the room with a fireplace. "But we think that we can manage without," says the Kessenicher, because the first days of their personal "gas boycott" at the end of February were already very icy. At night, temperatures often dropped well below freezing. "But even that didn't wear us down," says the 81-year-old.

One reason is certainly that they always spent their working lives in cold environments. For many years they ran a delicatessen with dairy products and a butcher's shop on the corner of Hans-Riegel-Straße and Kessenicher Straße. "We always had to have lower temperatures in our shop," Karin Becker reports. Early in the morning at four o'clock they were already out delivering fresh milk. "I always said that the milk tours were my honeymoon," laughs the 79-year-old. Before that, as a young woman, she had been an apprentice at "Seidenhaus Schmitz" in Bonn City. "One of our customers was the wife of the Russian ambassador, who came to us to choose the silk fabrics for her clothing. I can still clearly remember the diplomat's strange hairstyle," laughs Karin Becker. Since as a young woman she was so to speak sitting at the source, she chose suitable fabric in the silk house to sew her wedding dress.

The dress design lasted, and so has her marriage. "It’s our diamond wedding anniversary next year,” she says, already looking forward to the celebration with her two sons, daughters-in-law and five grandchildren. "To keep fit until then, we go for a walk every morning. After all, together we’re 160 years old," she smiles.

They will transfer the money they save by voluntarily boycotting gas to the "Ukraine" special campaign of the GA Christmas Light. "We have always supported the work of Christmas Light. Helping the refugees who arrive here in the region is very important to us," says Karin Becker.

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