Flight and Expulsion Stories and Pictures
Opa and Oma were both born in Kreis Schlochau. They lived on a farm, about 60 hectres, just across the lake from Prechlau. They raised cows, chickens, pigs, geese, and sheep. They also kept horses and goats. The crops that they raised where potatoes, rye, sugar beets, wheat and oats. They had 7 children, all born in Prechlau. The oldest was born in 1932 and the youngest in 1944. Opa was a heavy machine operator for the army and also manned a look out tower to watch for enemy airplanes.
Sometime in late February 1945 Oma and the children where visiting her mother in Förstenau. While they were there they heard on the radio that the Russians had broken through German lines and were advancing their way. They hurried home on the sled and Opa began preparing the wagon for them to leave. He put up a roof and filled the wagon with straw, along with some necessities and personal belongings. He then sent Oma and the children off to the Baltic Sea where they would try to could catch a boat to the west. He stayed on in Prechlau waiting for his orders.
Oma and a couple, traveling with them, (Probably one of Opa's brothers and his wife), drove mostly by night, because the planes would shoot at the wagons and people on the roads. They hid in abandoned houses by day. During this time a soldier looking for food or money stole a suitcase off the the wagon containing their personal papers. They pressed on and were able to get close enough to the Baltic Sea to hear the waves when the Russian over took them and sent them back to the farm. Later they were told that they were lucky to have not made it to the ships as most were bombed and many sank.
During this time Opa had left Prechlau and was captured and placed in an English prison camp. He was a prisoner for up to a year and a half and during that time Oma did not know were he was.
Oma then returned to the farm and stayed there until the Russians gave the farm to Poland and the polish people. During that time, before they left the farm for a second time, Oma was raped by a Russian soldier in the presence of the children. She became pregnant and later would have a baby girl.
After the farm was taken from her, she and the children moved into the town of Prechlau for a period of 3 - 4 months. During this time she was able to sell a few possessions and buy train tickets for the family to the west. Sometime during all this Oma's mother was accused of supplying the Germans with guns and was taken to prison. She was then shot by a firing squad.
Oma was able to get a train out of Prechlau. The people were put in cattle cars with little food, and water which came from the trains boilers. Many people became sick from the water. The cattle cars were packed so tight with people that all you could do was sit or stand. The soldiers would walk on the people to go through the car. Buckets were used as toilets. The train first took them to Stettin and after 4 or 5 days they got back on and went on to Berlin.
They stayed in Berlin for about a week in a school house with other refugees who were also trying to go to the west. While they were in Berlin they had little or no food and Oma's 5 year old daughter ran off to find bread. She wandered around and found a bakery but they shooed her on. A lady found her and brought her to a children's home where they tried to make her take a bath. She ran off and back onto the street where another lady found her and asked her where she was going. She explained to her about the school house and so the lady brought her there, but everyone had already gone. Oma had waited till the very last train but could not wait any longer, so had left the school house. The lady then took her to the train station where she was able to find her Oma and reunite her.
From Berlin the train took them to Wismar and then on to Krassow were Oma gave birth to the youngest in the family, a baby girl. From Krassow they were taken to a holding station called Durchgango-Lager. Everyone was made to shower and powdered for lice. Then they boarded the train again and were taken to Poeppendorf and on to Eckernfoerder. There they were taken off the trains and to busses waiting for them. There were also local people who had been told to take a family to house and feed in return for their work. Oma picked a wagon and the family was taken to Hoffnungstahl farm. It was a large farm that was owned by a man named Emil Lange. While they were there they became sick with Typhoid Fever and the whole family was taken in to the hospital.
During that time Opa was searching for his family and because they were in the hospital the Red Cross was able to reunite them. They worked for Emil for 2 years, he paid them with eggs, milk, potatoes and a bit of money. They also received ration cards which they could exchange for food and clothing. After the two years Oma and Opa went on to Rendsburger-Lager (camp) where they lived for 10 years.
- Contributed Anonymously
Leaving Baldenburg - Ilse's War Story
We had not noticed much of the war until then although it had
already lasted five and a half years. We trembled because we only
lived a few kilometers off the polish border. Only if one thought
of it, many women and mothers received harrowing news daily, did one
become suddenly conscious that there was a war on. Or if one heard
that Russian troops advanced on and on, then one became suddenly
fearful. What had the East Prussian refugees said, who we had
accommodated in the city some days before? "Just don't think about it!"
The Sunday morning about which I want to tell was calm. The sun
glittered on the snow, everything was peaceful. I wanted to leave
the house with ice skates.(1) Suddenly I became cruelly aware that
there was no time for it, that there was a war on. A phone call
came. A call? Something must be happening! Soon, I learned that
Russian point tanks had broken through in the night and could be
stopped only 60 miles from Friedland.(2) Panic prevailed in the
city. In the afternoon we received permission from the school to go
home. I was at a boarding school. The suitcases were quickly packed
and brought to the railway station. All day and night we remained
at the railway station without succeeding to push our way into a
train. If only we could get away.
Once a soldier hid us in a boxcar, however, another threw us out
again to our luck, the train was destined for the front. After 30
hours of despair waiting we towed our suitcases downheartedly five
kilometers back into the city. On the street drove refugee wagons
one behind the other. We heard that many children were frostbitten
on the escape. How will we get home now? Should we go on foot? The
school would not allow it. It was very cold, the snow lay high, and
the way was 70 kilometers (35 miles). Also, one could not telephone
Finally, two days later, the father of my friend, also from
Baldenburg, picked us up with his car.(3) He was a doctor and had
given a certificate to the driver that he must pick up these sick
children. Private cars were only allowed to run in particular
cases. Often the car was inspected, but they allowed us to drive
home unhindered. Baldenburg belonged to Dangerzone 1, and received
the next day, Pack-orders. A few days later evacuation orders were
given. One did not have the time to say farewell to their friends.
Quickly, the most necessary things were packed in and loaded into
wagons. We drove with my aunt and the whole village. It was
hopeless to take a train.
1. Ilse says she skated a little every day.
2. Ilse went to school in Preussich Friedland, 30 miles from Baldenburg.
3. Not many people had cars. All cars were confiscated for the war.
The doctor sent the driver to pick up his own 3 children and Ilse.
So our escape began on the 29th of January at noon. Up to the
evening, we had only put 13 km back and reached the next village (Porst).
There were often standstills, because the wagons drove so crowded.
Often, the horses could not go forward In the high snow. They
probably never had to pull so heavy a load.
The people threw more and more off their wagons into the ditch;
radios, crates with canned goods, suitcases with wash, and other
heavy things. The most important was the feed for the horses. That
they had to keep. My mother drove a big sleigh full of grain for
our horses. My aunt drove a wagon, and the foreign workers drove
the remaining wagons.(4) I had to go with the dog on the side,
First I was pulled on my toboggan from a wagon, but I had soon given
it to a servant, who was exhausted. I would rather run anyway. One
didn't freeze so very much. It was cold and we sensed it even though
we were all wrapped in long underwear and fur coats. It snowed
continually. I tramped along with the dog through the snow beside
the wagon and it annoyed me that we were not progressing more quickly.
In the evening we came into a village where we could hardly cross
the street. The wagons stood densely packed and people ran around
and looked for housing for themselves and their horses. Children
looked crying for their family members. I also wanted most of all
to cry. My feet were sore, and I wanted to be sleeping on a bed.
But first, we had to provide for the horses. Finally we found a
place for them in a barn outside the village and housing for us in
one area where already six persons laid on the floor: two servants,
two children and two old people. The children couldn't sleep on the
hard ground and cried. The old people wailed because they didn't
know if they should progress on the next day.
Only the two exhausted boys slept soundly on the hard cold earth.
They had put back 60 km daily to escape the Russians in the
Warthegau.(5) It continued the next morning. The flurry had become
even stronger, and we advanced only ten kilometers forward the whole
day. Towards evening we reached a property where one had already
prepared their departure. The next day brought clear winter weather,
and we progressed more quickly.
As a goal for the day we decided to go to a big village. Not far
from it, a jeep passed us going to this village and it took me. I
hoped that the caravan would soon follow. In the village, I was
first given something to eat in the refugee kitchen. The whole place
was full of refugees. Finally some old people took me with them. In
the morning there was still nothing to see of our group. Everyone
said to me that I would not find my group in this chaos, and that I
should only see that I made progress. However, I put myself down at
a window and observed the street.
I looked for some hours before I saw my mother with our Ukrainian
woman pass by searching for me. I learned that everyone was very
worried about me. Our group had stopped in a village and taken up
quarters last night. We were forced to remain there for a few
days. The country roads should be kept free for the military and
should not be allowed to become clogged with refugees. We lived day
to day only on radio news. We were relieved to hear that the
Russian troops had been brought to a standstill.
4. Ilse fled with her mother, aunt, and a polish prisoner (a music
student), a Ukrainian woman, and 3 wagons. 5. Warthegau was the
region around the city of Poznan. It was one of the administrative
districts of Poland annexed by the Reich in 1939. The distance
between Poznan and Baldenburg was right around 100 miles.
Finally, my aunt sent the two Poles and a wagon, back home so that
they could keep an eye on the livestock. It was only 70km back from
there. I too went to Baldenburg in order to see how it would look
with all the population gone. Many military men were there because
the city formed an important knot-point in the Eastern Front.
Through a misunderstanding, the Poles left me behind in Baldenburg,
and on the next day drove back to the trek group. I lived alone a
week long, until the whole trek came back worried about my fate.
One hoped the German front would come to a standstill. Also they
asked again and again, "Where shall we go?" if Germany loses the war
and become wholly occupied. And they longed for a home again after
these days of wandering around the country. More and more people
came back from the escape. They also absolutely needed us in
I was first employed, the whole day long helping refugees to pull
through. Even I had now experienced it, how hard it is, not to be
able to be at home. These people came from far, Latvia, Estonia,
and even from the Black Sea. One day, many refugees came from the
area of my school. I learned that for three days long, the Russians
had occupied Friedland, and that many friends were carried off and
some friends were even dead. Now it would have been advisable for us
to leave again, but the thought of the days on the country roads and
spending nights in strange houses, we all discarded thoughts of
Now and then Russian tanks pushed forward, and once they were only
14km away from the city. Sometimes airplanes grasped at us,
destroyed the railway station, and shot refugee wagons in pieces
with machine guns. For us children, I was 16 years old at that time,
that was an event, and we didn't feel the danger very much. Also, as
Russian airplanes shot at whomever was digging trenches in front of
the city, with machine guns, we were not as afraid, as our family
was about us. The days required much work of us. I was put
together with 16 boys, and we helped the soldiers at the
fortification. Despite the many bunkers at the shores of the 20km
long chain of lakes, there was in the middle of the lakes a four-
meter wide tank ditch in the ice. That, however, froze over again
soon, and day after day we dug holes for shelters in the hard,
frozen ground. And the Russians came - it was a Sunday again, the
25th of February. We sat with our billeted soldiers drinking coffee
as the city was suddenly shot at.
We ran out into the yard. The same moment, a projectile roared
directly over the roof. My mother cried out shrilly, beating her
hands before her face and fell back into the house. The soldiers got
their bazookas silently. Then we knew - Russian tanks! After some
hours agonizing wait in the air raid shelter, the fight was
apparently finished. Allegedly, only six tanks penetrated into the
city and were dispersed. Four were shot down in the streets, while
two sought after the wilderness. Now we wanted to go to soothing
sleep around 1 o'clock, there came the command that we would have
to leave the city in one hour. If we had suspected, that on the
other city end the Russians already in all the houses tormented the
population, we would probably not sleep so quietly.
And then began the shelling anew. As I stepped into the yard, I saw
in the main street, 200 meters away from me, the first Russian tanks
drive past. They shot with machine guns into the side streets. I
ran, pulling my mother with me, and we succeeded, at the houses
winding along continuously, to reach the city border. Everywhere we
bumped into groups of soldiers, and every time we believed it was
already Russians, because the personnel's of several tanks should
have escaped. The tank barriers at the city exit were not yet
lowered, and so we reached the free country road. And we ran, ran,
ran in night and rain. Soldiers and refugee wagons with exhausted
horses and crying children passed us; friends shut themselves to us.
Everyone had only a little hand baggage. Only onward! Onward! - And
continually streamed the rain….
At dawn we reached the 18 km distant city Bublitz. We were so
exhausted that we first went at once to friends, in order to rest
although it would have been advisable to run further. As we awakened
there at noon, Russian tanks stood also before this city. Again the
shelling began. The hostile tanks stood on a hill not far from the
city and sent their grenades at the houses from there, and they were
only a little hindered by a German tank train. We also saw here, in
the late afternoon, the first Russian tanks in the streets.
We sat with 20 people in a room. Towards morning, the first Russians
entered into the house, looking for watches, and dispersed German
soldiers. At the end of the day the whole city had a different
appearance. In the meantime however, we only saw Russian soldiers
from the window. We were not allowed to go into the street. One man,
who looked from the front door, was immediately shot. The whole city
was full of Russians. Tank after tank rattled through the streets
further westward. Stalin-organs (6) rolled past, immense masses of
Russian soldiers drove boisterously forward, "to Berlin!" they
shouted. Soon, it became impossible for us to stay in the busy
street. Drunk soldiers came continually into the house. Finally,
we simply ran into the street, my mother and I, and we succeeded to
get to friends unhindered. They lived in a garden center at the
outskirts. By the evening we had to stop and hide in a greenhouse,
because Russians were in the house.
6. Katyusha Rockets were called Stalin Organs. They were multiple
rocket launchers, destructive and feared. The Germans said anyone
caught operating this weapon would not be taken alive.
A week long, the winter garden of the garden center offered us
housing, in which one could not find us so easily. It consisted of
two rooms, built behind the house, in which we eleven persons could
live. We had to be really quiet, so as not to betray ourselves.
Only at night did we dare to go out into the greenhouse and in the
cellar to search for something to eat. Soon there was a Russian gun
dug in, not far off from the house, that fired day and night. Three
days long, Bublitz lay in the front-area. Once the Russians began
to go back, and we rejoiced, although the house trembled because of
that nearby impacts.
Once also German Stukas came and brought the Russian artillery heavy
losses. We could observe everything from the windows. But our joy
was for nothing. Our troops didn't come back. In the following
night, the Russians shot the city in a blaze with tracer ammunition.
They poured oil in our house and ignited it. We hoped to be able to
rescue the winter garden. It stood with only one wall to the house
and had a concrete ceiling. We had carried in four full vats of
water. We had thrown all the furniture from the adjacent room in the
already blazing next room, so that the fire next door would not
become so strong, and we constantly moistened the wall pushing up
against the house with help of a garden hose. The winter garden
didn't burn. Outdoors, a dreadful sight presented itself to us.
Everything around us burned. The sparks sprayed into the night-like
air and danced around homeless people who were rushing through the streets.
Many people sought protection with us in the cellar and in the
greenhouses. For us, it was fine that the house was burned. So,
nobody suspected behind the debris there were still people. Only
after a week Russian officers found us. They took me, supposedly to
work. My mother didn't leave me alone. They brought us into a
church, in which already approximately 500 people were driven
together. I also saw classmates there, who asked me, to have no
fear, they had already been in Warsaw and had been brought back
again. And now happened a miracle: My mother and I, of all the
people, were allowed to go home already after a quarter of an hour.
Why? We still wonder over it today. All, who were with us there,
were carried off into the Urals. Many are still there (1946). Most
are probably dead. An officer who brought us home threatened that I
must go with him to Siberia. He would come in the next morning to
get me. My mother and I went in the dawn on the way to friends. They
owned a farmyard two kilometers from the city. Unhindered, we
reached the country road. Only with difficulty, we progressed. We
were completely weakened, because, during the last few weeks, we had
eaten hardly anything. At the street, we saw wagons beside wagons,
shot to pieces, from approaching tanks, pushed into the ditches.
Dead people laid beside them or in them. We saw tanks that the
refugees had passed.
Some weeks long, we lived moderately quietly in the farmyard of our
friend. Only if we saw Russians coming we sat in our hiding places.
We were three young girls there, and we were sick with fear. In the
neighboring farmyard, were seven young girls two months long in the
cellar hiding, without once coming out. One day, Poles who farmed
the neighboring property, found us and got us to work. After that
day, we worked from there on this property. We had to go there in
secret ways, so as not to be seen by the Russians. I had to first
help in the cow stall, and then I "was allowed" to work in the
Russian dairy, besides another German girl and me, there were only
Poles and Russians. A Russian "soldier girl," had the supervision.
There, we two Germans then had to carry the burden for everything
that these girls suffered throughout their deportation in Germany.
In the beginning of June, when streets had become safer, my mother
and I went back to my home city of Baldenburg. Baldenburg was also
completely destroyed. Through the window holes of the ruins one
could see through to the city-end. Our house was one of the few
that were unharmed. However, other people lived in it, and we found
no place. In vain, we looked for housing with my aunt in the
neighboring village (Stremlau). Her house was Russian Headquarters,
and she lived with many other people in a small house together.
Finally we found place in our home afterall. All people were
surprised as they saw me. There were not many other girls in the
city. Some came back in the course of time from Graudenz (7), where
they were carried off, and where they were confined for two months.
Most had died in Graudenz, or died on the retreat from there,
particularly because of the poisoned coffee, that they must drink
with dismissal. In Baldenburg, I was first ordered, by the Polish
mayor to work. The country was slowly becoming Polish. Then I had
to work for the Russian headquarters, a while in the laundry, a
while in the kitchen, on the field or in the headquarters. One
received then at least daily, 500 g of bread and
sometimes some milk. The remaining nourishment we got from fruits
that grew in prodigal fullness in the abandoned gardens.
7. Graudenz was 80 miles away. It is now Grudziadz, 65 miles south
of Gdansk, Poland.
About the time-event, we learned nothing. We did not even know
whether the war was finished. The Russians had delight in confusing
us. One day a poster was put up in the city, it said that all, who
wanted to emigrate to Germany, should report to the Polish mayor's
office. I did this instantaneously, because I had already forged
escape-plans for months. In November we received an "emigrant-
ticket" for Germany, and on the 30 November 1945 began our trip.
The Pole, with his family, already for months we had lived in the
house together, drove us to Neustettin, to the railway station.
There were no rails on the railway lines. We had to sell almost all
our belongings, to get together the money for the tickets. They took
the remaining things from us on the way. The trip was dreadful.
Worst was that I was dragged off in Stargard Poland. I had to work
eight hours long for a Polish family. When I came back again to the
railway station, I did not find my mother. I despaired after five
hours of searching. I proceeded to the border alone. At the border-
station I had to wait all night long on the platform. I was hungry,
and I was freezing, because one of my gloves had been taken. The
next morning the Berlin train came to pick us up. One terrible
crush began. Nobody wanted to remain behind. Alone and without
luggage, I could easily push myself in through a window. Happily, I
saw the same evening, the lights of the Federal-capital shining. I
found the way to friends, to whom also my mother and my aunt a week
They had told them in Stargard; I would be brought to Warsaw. There
they both continued on foot (8), so as not also to be carried off.
We were infinitely glad that again without fear we could live.
8. They had walked all the way across the Oder River.
Abbau Landeck 1
No one thought of the complete destruction of the village in the
year 1945. As the capitulation of the armed forces became
unavoidable and the Soviets invaded into the German East, all family-
members went toward the west on the escape. At the 27th of January
1945, 30 families set off from Abbau Landeck I and Breitenfelde with
their own horse wagons in the late afternoon. The leader-wagon had
been worked to a type of trailer. Big carpetings were a warm basis,
two tubs were fully loaded with sausage, bread and potato-salad,
beds and clothing. With many strains and difficulties, the way
became with - 30 degrees cold begun.
Also my great-grandfather Karl Dummer drawn by illness in the
pension-age had to start the infinite march and also the 4-year old
niece Gudrun Buchholz - that usually on the cab of the wagon sat. In
Bartmannshagen, in the surroundings of Grimmen in Vorpommern, the
family found 1945 refugees for some weeks at the end of April. After
rumors all were able to go back on the farmsteads in the home
Pomerania again, the trek drove - meanwhile had shrunk to 16 wagons -
eastward. The Russians, who were on the advance westward, already
came towards us on the way. They stole also the last valuables.
Especially the proprietor Karl Janke was always picked out with
inspections of the Soviet soldiers. He had many cigars and also the
forester-schnapps with him. In this hard to find wares, the soldiers
were always interested.
At the 07. June 1945 reached Breitenfelde the trek. Inhabitants were
no longer admitted to Abbau Landeck. "There partisans!" was the
remark of the Russians.
The farmsteads were burned down and the village only consisted of
ruins. The last, still remained villagers were shot or were carried
off. About many, my grandmother has heard nothing more still does
not know if those people exist almost 60 years later. Through the
home county Schlochau and its newsletter we have been able to make
contacts to former Breitenfelders again. Of the former Abbau of
Landeck I, only sparse remains of ruins today remind one of the once
pulsating life. The Polish have left nature her way and so the
forest has already occupied everything. Back home wanted my
grandmother never more - too deep is the sad pictures from at that
time in the memory remained, as that first some years before
renovated building-complex completely burned out and declined lay there.
The graveyard was first devastated by the Red Army and then
according to statements of Gustav Grusewski, formerly of
Breitenfelde, that dead person-silence disturbed, and after
valuables in the shrines sought. Where was the dignity of the human
being - whether now dead or alive. The war has on all sides, left
big damages, that could be recompensed no longer, with all involved people.
In the consciousness of the peace over many decades, my grandmother
had put a cornerstone for her happy and carefree life of the next 58
years with the new beginning in Sutthausen at Osnabruck. My
grandfather, whom she found after end of war here soon, came also
from the former German eastern area from the province of lower Silesia.
Also my great-grandmother, who had to carry her husband in Göttingen-
Egelsberg near the refugee-hospital to grave, still spent
18 happy years with the security of the family. She has never been
able to overcome the loss of the home in Hinter-Pomerania, she has
let herself probably however always find the contentment the
expression over the successful new beginning.
The escape was 60 years ago and from that at that time escaped still
lives Edith Dummer, who married that Breitenfelder after the war
smith-son Erich Sonnenberg and lives in Mülheim/Ruhr, my great-aunt.
The eldest niece of my grandmother - Ilse Buchholz has found a new
home in Wismar and has married Manfred Koch from Schlochau.
Hildegard Janke, she married Otto Wolff from Hammerstein, her youth
was spent Landeck Abbau I. She lives in Lindow in the Mark
Brandenburg north of Berlin today.
For those who would like to remember, the homeland; for the Dummer-
Girls, the four sisters of my grandmother; and for my dear
grandmother Grete to memorialize.
(Abbaus are farms that belong to a town but are not in the town itself)
How We and Our Neighbors Survived the Time from February 1945 to June 1946
My parents were the owners of a farmstead in Baldenburg-Abbau in
county Schlochau. Thirty-two hectares of land and meadows, a
half-timbered house, barn, shed, machine shed and apiary belonged to the farm.
On January 21, 1945 the order was given in Baldenburg to pack up and
on the 28th the order was given to leave. In February a wagon had
been prepared and loaded already to leave, but we didn’t start out
because my father was drafted into the Volkssturm (home guard) in
Baldenburg, in order to guard a pine log fortification against
panzers at the Pomeranian embankment there. At the first sound of
cannons he left his post and came home. The foreign workers employed
with us were sent to their home. Janina married later and took up
business ventures with her husband in West Germany.
The Mühlig (administrator of the Hohenstein estate) Family fled with
a Lanz-Bulldog-Tractor and horse team and got to the West.
On February 27 was the advance of the Russians with panzer columns;
they came across Bischofthum and past Orthmanns in the direction of
Grünbaum and Bublitz. A grenade shot hit Orthmann’s old barn and
tore a hole of two square meters in the straw roof; a shot was fired
also in the direction of our farm buildings but did not hit any building.
The column consisted of about 100 tanks. On each tank sat about 20
soldiers, armed with machine guns. There must have been battles also
in Bischofthum, because dead soldiers lay on several farmyards.
Minther’s family had fled; they were overtaken by the Russians; they
came back on foot and found their house had been plundered. There
was no electricity; since December 1944 there was no school in session.
Neighbor Walter Bansemer was shot dead, because he had put on his
post office uniform; the Russians thought he was a SS man. A male
cousin of my father, Erich Giese from Baldenburg-Abbau, was drafted
into the home guard and has been not heard from since. His wife
Herta refused to be raped by the Russians and was therefore shot
dead. Even the youngest son Heinz was shot; after that the three
children were cared for by Albert Giese.
Since there were continuous raids with plundering, we hid ourselves
in the hayloft above the small barn, but then we gave that up
because the houses in the neighborhood were lit on fire. Later we
hid ourselves in our small wood lot, even by night and in the bitter
cold winter with our feather quilts and sheepskins. Refugees who had
taken over the Hohenstein estate slaughtered our geese and ate them,
since the geese often strayed over to there.
Our horses also were taken from us, and we received in their place a
lame horse and a sick horse. The sick horse died in the barn; my
father built a winch and pulled the corpse into the paddock in order
to bury it there.
The cows were taken from us and driven together into Kasimir’s
farmyard. One cow came back two times alone into our farmyard and
wanted to get back into the barn. The cows were driven by the
Russians in the direction of Berlin and slaughtered for their fighting troops.
On March 28, 1945 my father was brought by the Russians to Graudenz
with the intention to send him to Siberia as a forced laborer. In
Graudenz he became sick and returned on foot on May 10 (about 180
km) with a bad rheumatic illness. The illness was healed by his
lying down in fresh stinging nettles.
A relative, Hildegard Raguse, was taken to Siberia where she was
forced to work in a laundry for a year, but she survived the
hardships and maltreatment.
Even our bicycles were taken away from us, but the Russians often
threw them away again because they didn’t know how to ride a bicycle.
Our family and the neighbors were often overrun by the Russians.
Including by night with rapes of the women, under the pretense that
they were looking for weapons, munitions, radios, and clocks.
By night they came from the Gramshof estate, where a Russian
punishment-company was stationed.
During a plundering raid by a robber band of foreign workers our
family was locked in the potato cellar. Egon Giese however could get
out through the cellar hole and freed the others; meanwhile the
place in the barn was dug up and the valuables were plundered.
Apparently the Ukrainian who had worked for us was among them, since
he was the only one who knew the place, but at any rate the Pole who
had worked on Orthmann’s farm was also among them; he came into our
house during the raid with a rifle.
Subsequently, the robber band went to farmer Rütz and raided them,
robbed them and murdered them. After that their house was burned up;
the barn and shed remained standing. Albert Rütz and his daughter
Irma were not seen again after that; probably they lay under the
ruins of the burned up house. Rütz’s German farm worker lay shot to
death in the sand pit; my father buried him. Days later his corpse
was dug up again, since other robbers suspected that valuables were
buried on the spot.
Neighbor Max Bansemer was also taken away by the Russians. After
about two months he came back, sick and starving; at his mother’s he
ravenously ate pickled meat and died thereafter. He was buried next
to his brother Walter in the private cemetery at Hohenstein.
One day a column of workers came with a diesel motor and, under
Russian supervision, threshed the stored grain and that of the
neighbors, using our threshing equipment. They took the grain and
the equipment with them; later we saw the threshing equipment on the
land of my grandfather Albert Zemke in Klein Karzenburg-Abbau. The
equipment stood there for a few weeks until the Russians transported
it to Russia.
Then in June 1946 there was the expulsion by the Polish authority.
Although it was an extremely hard decision, we decided to
voluntarily leave our farm, since we could not buy any food with the
worthless Reichsmark. We had no Zloty and we also had no more animals.
For payment in Reichsmarks, a Pole from Kasimirshof offered to drive
us with his horse-drawn wagon to the train station in Neustettin
(about 25 km), which he also did.
He wanted to buy the tickets for us, but then he disappeared with
the money, so that we had to pay for the tickets to Stettin once
again, for seven persons (including grandmother and aunt). In the
train we even had to sit in a third class compartment.
In June our neighbors Orthmann, Sievers, Prochnow and Phillips as
well as our relative Wilhelm Kuchenbekker were driven out.
On June 29, 1946 we were driven in a freight car on a communal
transport by rail from Stettin to Segeberg; here we were registered
and disinfected against bugs. Then we spent one night in so-called
louse huts. On the next day then we traveled further across the
Rendsburg high bridge to a collection-point barracks near Klanxbüll
on the North Sea dike. We children ate sour quinces there for the
My father got a job as a servant on an estate in Stadum near Leck,
but only for a short time; he then brought us something healthy to eat.
In August then, with no household goods and with only the things we
could carry on our bodies, we moved to Birk Street in Leck, Kreis
Südtondern, into two rooms of a Wehrmacht barracks with bunk beds.
Groceries could only be bought with Marks.
My sister and I went to school again. There was school lunch there,
even Cadbury chocolate once. Later then we planted vegetables on the
50 square meters behind the barracks and raised hens and rabbits. My
father was often without work; he did relief works in the forest and
worked as night watchman in a knitting factory and at the airport.
In that time I, with my father, rooted out stumps in the woods, in
order to get wood to burn for heating and cooking.
In a garbage dump at the airport there were many small orange
colored plastic bottles from armed forces equipment. In a newspaper
ad, these bottles were sought by a firm for the production of combs.
So I collected half a sack full; in return we were given combs, which
we should sell. The business didn’t run so well, however, and we
received only 100 combs. At the airport we also rented about 500
square meters for potatoes and vegetables.
A cutting experience for our family was the early death of our
mother in the year 1951; she died of cancer.
One could say that my father never really “succeeded” in the
Bundesrepublik. Although he was a farmer with his whole body and
soul, he had to take work wherever he found it. He never saw his own
farm again, in contrast to me; I have been there seven times
already. Only a fallen-in half-timbered house stands today on the
piece of land belonging to my parents.
For me it was different, in that I could take a course in Hamburg in
gas and water installation, and in 1964 I took my master’s exam and
led my own firm from 1968 to 2000.
(from the memories and from the notes of my father Otto Giese, put
together by Egon Giese, 12 years old at that time)
Translated by Lana Larsen, 3/2014
by Adalbert Mikoteit
On the 5th of February of 1945, after more than a year's absence from our
family, my father suddenly and unexpectedly came for a few days, on
leave to Neuguth. At the same time, my little Grandma, mother’s
mother, was visiting us. The rumors in the village, that the Soviets were no longer
to be held back, would just simply not let up from the refugees who
had already been with us for several weeks. We heard the worst
stories, what the Soviets were doing to the German population after
they had marched in. In the village we still heard the continuous
slogan from the regional leader Schultz. Although it had been an
open secret that the Germans were retreating from all fronts.
On the same day, in the evening, the local leader, Richard Dahlke,
came to our house. He was very excited, and said to my parents, “If
you want to get out of here alive, pack your things immediately and
go as quickly as possible to the railroad station.” From the
supervisor at the railroad station, he had heard that there were
very few trains which would be going through Neuguth. Most of the
trains were used for the military and the wounded. We did not have
much time to consider anything. What a good fortune it was that my
father happened to be with us for a few days. With the families of
the other customs officials, the women were utterly alone with their
children. How these women must have really dreaded to prepare
themselves for the flight without a husband and father.
My father decided immediately to flee. Exactly at that point of time
my sister Irmhild had been with the Forester Schulz in
Prechlauermühl. My father immediately got onto his bicycle and got
Irmhild on the very same day and brought her home. Now, thank
goodness, our family was all together.
Now for the family a most difficult phase began. What should be
taken with on the flight. Would we have to leave our home for a
longer period of time? Could we after a short absence return to our
home, or was it a departure forever? All these considerations were
brought into play. My father decided that it would indeed be an
absence for a longer period of time. My mother immediately wanted to
take the table silver and other objects of value with us. My father
was practical and thought differently. According to him, groceries,
warm clothing, and all important papers should be taken along. The
winter of 44-45 was very cold. We had temperatures of minus 28
degrees. My mother and I went into the village to ferret out some
rolls at the bakery.
In the village we saw horrible images. Almost all the farmers were
preparing their big wagons for the flight. Some attempted to
construct from wood or sheet metal on the wagon to make them safe
from the weather conditions. Others put pallets over the wagons and
then pulled big tarps over them so that the rain and the great
coldness would be held away from the people. The small farmers who
only had one wagon, simply packed the most important objects and
covered everything with a tarp. Many a famer even put a small cast
iron stove on the wagon and let the chimney show through the top of
the tarp. Only the most important goods were stowed on the wagon.
Most important of all were the groceries for the people and the food
for the animals, because most of these wagons would be pulled by
horses. Only a very few had tractors attached to their wagons.
Outside on the wagons, and under them, there were many boxes and
cages for small animals like chickens, geese, ducks, and rabbits.
Some farmers even had pigs in cages. Because of great coldness the
small animals were all packed into hay and straw. Otherwise they
just simply would have froze. Behind on the wagons, the cows and the
replacement horses were tied on. Some mares had small foals who
anxiously pressed themselves against the sides of the mother
animals. In the whole village a frightful commotion ruled. Most
women and children cried because they had to leave the house and
farm in a short time. At the departure time everyone was embracing.
In great silence everyone hoped after a few days to be able to
As we returned with these latest perceptions and realizations to our
house, there was no holding back my father anymore. Immediately the
big packing and division of groceries and clothing for the
individual family members began, except for my small brother Peter.
He was just about three and a half years old and could not yet carry
anything. For everyone the warmest things, such as underwear,
pullovers, jackets, pants and coats were made readly. Our objects of
value we brought into the cellar and hid them all under the wood and
the coal. Mother absolutely wanted to take our feather beds along.
Two big sacks were filled with them and stood readly. My father went
through everything one more time with us and checked if the things
were rightly divided among the various members of the family. Little
Grandma and mother cried almost uninteruptedly. My father saw
everything very realistically and planned the entire matter from a
tactical point of view. My sister and I could not yet comprehend
that this would be such a disaster. I saw all of this as a big
adventure. I correctly comprehended for the first time, this flight
as we stood with our baggage in Neuguth at the railroad station, and
what it meant to leave one’s home within just a few hours.
My mother carried a big suitcase and had my little brother by the
hand. My father had two suitcases in his hands and a gigantic
backpack of the mountain troops on his back. Little Grandma had a
backpack on her back and a little suitcase in her hand. I carried a
backpack on my back and in the one hand a small suitcase, and with
the other hand my sister Irmhild. We children had to go to bed very
early. My parents and grandmother probably did not sleep the entire
On the ninth of February 1945, we got up very early and went to the
train station in order to catch a train. We had to carry all of our
luggage, which was about 2.5 kilometers through the village. As we
went through the village, everywhere there was an eerie silence. The
greater part of the farm families had already left their farms and
had started on the great trek. It was a picture of misery which was
offered to my eyes there. The women and children cried, the men
cursed and swore. One seldom saw German men, and if they did, it was
either the old or the disabled ex-service men who had come back from
the war. To help, there were only the very old and the prisoners of
war who had worked in the agricultural industry.
Many famers also had women forced laborers from Lithuania, Latvia,
Estonia, the Ukraine, and the Soviet Union on their wagons. Without
the help of the prisoners of war and the forced laborers, there
would have been ten thousand more people killed on this flight. The
prisoners of war and the forced laborers knew exactly what the
Soviet Army would do with them if they fell into their hands. It had
been spoken around that the prisoners, the internees, the forced
laborers would be shot in cold blood. Later in Uetzedel and also in
Lüneberg, I heard from many women with high esteem and great
respect, spoken about these people, without whose help, they surely
would have been lost. Of course there were also some gigantic
disappointments and terrible exceptions as everywhere in life.
When we arrived with our luggage at the railroad station, there were
only a few inhabitants of the village waiting there for a train.
Most of them had fled before we did and from the beginning had not
listed to the area leader. The supervisor official at the railroad
station told us that there were no longer any scheduled trains
running. From Rummelsburg there was a train reported going in the
direction of Schlochau. He could not tell us what kind of a train it
was and when it would arrive in Neuguth.
All trains with armed forces material and the military frorces
hospital trains had absolute priority. We stood already several
hours in the icy cold at the train station and waited for a train.
In the distance, we heard strange "grumbling," and thundering. We
hadn't counted on a thunder storm at this time of year. My father
immediately enlightened us. "I know these sounds, they are the
shell strikes of the Russian artillery."
At last a train was announced. But how great our horror was, when
the train pulled in and stopped. It was a freight train with closed
cars intended to be a cattle transport. To our great surprise, the
sliding doors opened, and many people looked out. This was the train
with which we were supposed to flee. The people in the train already
had a day long train ride behind them. Many came from Elbing and
Allenstein in East Prussia. But among them were also many people
from the Baltic States.
In each of the cars, both in the front and back at the upper edge, a
hatch had been made through which air and light could penetrate into
the car. Straw had been sprinkled on the floor to at least hold out
the cold from underneath. With the whole family, we climbed into a
car, but we had to leave the sacks with the beds standing on the
railroad platform. Later we would have well been able to use the
beds. The cattle cars were hopelessly overfilled with women,
children, and old people. On the walls, there was shiny ice.
All pieces of luggage were piled together in the middle of the car.
The mothers cowered with their babies in their arms in the straw and
looked at us anxiously as we climbed into the car. The children
cried and wailed from cold and hunger. Some of the people had been
on the way for almost a week and longed for a place to stay. The
train didn't stop long and set back into motion in the icy coldness.
We rode in the direction of Prechlau and continued to the city of Schlochau.
At every station, many people boarded the train so that soon there
was no more room for the newcomers. Often the train stopped in the
small stations, and we had to let the military and hospital trains
pass. Sometimes we stood for hours at a time in an open stretch, and
nobody knew why. When the train didn't continue moving, some people
were close to panic, because they feared the Soviets would attack
The food supply in the train wasn't the problem, because most of the
refugees had provided themselves with sufficient groceries. Whoever
had nothing more to eat, got something from his neighbors. The
greatest problem was the icy coldness which with time even
penetrated right through the warmest jackets and coats, because we
couldn't move much in the cars. Most of all, the coldness occupied
the mothers with small children and infants. Against this cold,
there was for us in the moment only one remedy: we placed the
suitcases and other items of laggage against the walls and piled
them up to the ceiling. Then we stabilized everything by wedging
pallets between floor and ceiling against the suitcases. We
had "taken care," of these pallets during a long stop of our train
in an empty yard. This measure kept a considerable amount of the
cold away from the inner space so that the people no longer had to
freeze so hard. When we arrived in Schlochau, we were provided with
soup and a cup of coffee by the German Red Cross. In any case, we
finally got something warm in the stomach.
We could only distnace ourselves a few meters away from the train
because nobody knew when and where the journey would continue. Train
schedules hadn't been in effect for a long time. The trains
continued from one signaling section into the other, when it was
free. Before the continuation of the journey, the locomotive
whistled three short times, and after that, the train started up. It
happened again and again that people who tried to get a hold of food
or beverages, or urgently had to look for the restrooms, no longer
reached the departing train. Some then tried to jump onto the moving
train but remained alone back at the train station crying and
screaming. Such things happened mostly to children, mothers, and old
people. On the platform and in the cars, heartrending scenes took
place when mothers lost their children or children their mothers. In
the rarest cases, the people would be reunited at the next station.
In our family, nobody was permitted to go to the rest room in the
station . We took care of our necessities like hundreds of other in
the open stretches when the train had to make a forced stop there.
During the flight, I wore my winter uniform from the Jungvolk (young
people's organization) because it was very warm. But it had another
much greater advantage. When the refugees were taken care of by the
German Red Cross at the train stations, it was often noted, "Oh,
there comes a small defender of the fatherland, who surely is very
hungry." Many a time, that brought me an extra portion of soup.
From Schlochau, our train went in the direction of Neustettin. This
is a stretch of about 60 kilometers for which our freight train took
almost two days. In the meantime, we had a real snowstorm, which
brought with it gigantic drifts. Again we waited for hours in an
open stretch. My father spoke with the locomotive engineer, and they
decided during these long stops, women with small children and
babies could go up into the locomotive to warm up.
This brought great relief for everyone. We stopped again in an open
stretch. Not far from our car stood a small abandoned train keeper's
house. My father took me and two old men to the house to check and
see if we could find something of value for us. To our great joy, we
found a small cast iron stove with a long stove pipe. Both of them
were snatched up with the speed of the wind and taken to our car. My
father set the stove up, put the stove pipe through the trapdoor in
the wall, and started a fire.
We had taken lots of wood, too, and we could get coal from the
locomotive. It didn't take long at all, and the small stove spread a
welcome warmness throughout the car. Through the warth, life spirits
were lifted, and life no longer appeared so gray and hopeless. Our
car was the only one from the whole train which could be heated.
Many mothers came to us with their little children to warm up and
were compelled to ride with us for a while. I was tremendously proud
of my father for accomplishing this, taking into account our adverse
During the trip by freight train, four babies froze to death. The
dead children weren't permitted to stay in the car because we didn't
know when we would again reach a train station. The first two babies
who died were forcefully torn away from their mothers, and during a
stop that lasted for hours in an open stretch, they were laid in the
meters deep snow and covered with more snow. The other two babies,
who died during the journey, were given to the Red Cross for burial
in Neustettin. For me, as a 12 year old boy, these terrible moments
could have broken my heart. The mothers completely collapsed and
could only be brought back to the cars with the help of others and
the use of force. The many forced stops in the open stretches and at
the train stations and the many individual events affected us
powerfully, both psychologically and physically.
On February 12, 1945, we arrived in Neustettin in the afternoon. The
train was supposed to go through Stargard and Stettin to
Neubrandenburg. But as always, nobody knew how long the train would
stop here, and if it would even continue. My father and I got out of
the car to get some soup from the Red Cross and to stretch our legs.
Mother, Grandma, and my two siblings were not permitted to leave the
car because we always lived in fear of losing one another. Suddenly
a military orderly and some Red Cross nurses came toward us. Two of
them had big syringes that looked like big air pumps in their hands.
We had to stop and open our shirt collars at the throat. Then they
stuck the syringes into our collars and pressed forcefully on the
end. We weren't to surprised that from our sleeves, pants legs and
collars, huge clouds of disinfectant came out. "Well," said the
corporal (orderly) Neumann, "now you are disinfected and won't get
any more clothing lice or other vermin." For the Red Cross, I need
to proclaim special praise because wherever we went, many women and
men from this organization were at the place and helped in any way
they could. Along with this, it should not be forgotten, the people
from the Red Cross were also under great pressure, because they too,
had to prepare for the flight with their families.
When the locomotvie whistled, we quickly boarded our car and the
train set off in just a short time. At the next involuntary stop,
our surprise was great because we weren't going in the direction of
Stettin, but rather toward Köslin. This direction was a medium
catastrophe for us because were weren't going west, but instead
toward the northwest, directly in the direction of the Baltic. We
had information about this route, that along the Baltic Sea coast
huge streams of refugees with their possesions were underway. But we
had no possibility of influencing the route. We all hoped that our
train wouldn't be struck, that is, rolled over by the Soviet Army.
We were beyond the city of Bublitz when our train again had to stop
in an open stretch. I can no longer exactly remember, but I think it
was near the town of Manow when the train stopped. For our stove, we
urgently needed wood. My father, two old men, and I jumped from the
train and went into a village that was right opposite. The entire
village was abandoned by it's residents. There was an almost ghastly
silence except for the unearthly crying of some cows. What I saw
there was awful.
The farmers who had fled, had to leave a large part of their cattle
behind. The cows were not tied up and ran around freely. With some
of the cows who had given birth to calves, the udders were so
greatly swollen from the milk they produced, that they had burst.
The cows were still alive and screamed for God's mercy. I will never
be able to forget this crying. My father pulled out his service
pistol and shot three cows, and thus released them from their
We went further into the village, but left one of the men to watch
the train. As quickly as possible, we gathered together as much wood
as we could. With the wood under our arms, we wanted to go back when
I froze. What was before my eyes was the worst sight that I ever
saw. On a barn door, there stark naked women were nailed, and it
looked as if they had been crucified. Their bellies had been slit
open and the entrails were hanging out. My father couldn't prevent
that this atrocity came into my site. For me, it was a shock, and I
couldn't calm calm down for hours on end. My father took me in his
arms and hugged me to calm me. I cried uninterruptedly and
unrestrained until we were back in the car and with my mother. She
tried to console me, but I couldn't get rid of that image. Later in
Koeslin, my parents sent me for medical treatment. The deed was
explained in the following way. After the flight of the people, some
of them must have turned around and returned to the village. These
people were then murdered by roaming foreign workers.
From Neustettin to Koeslin, our train took three days so that we
arrived in Koeslin on February 15th. Today one just simply can no
longer imagine what took place in the train stations during and
after the war. Our family always had to hold hands and hang on to
the pieces of luggage in order to keep from being separated from one
another. There were unimaginable masses of humanity who moved and
pushed in all directions in the train stations. It was mostly
soldiers and thousands of refugees trying to reach a train in the
direction of the west. Among them were helpers of the Red Cross and
other help organizations, without whom there would have been a
catastrophe. Even today, I am astonished that with these chaotic
circumstances, very few serious accidents took place. It lies to a
large extent on the displined and responsible officials of the
For some time, there was standing on the platform just opposite of
us, a long hospital train. It was being loaded with food supplies,
beverages, and medical supplies. It was such a huge racket, that a
person couldn't even understand his own words. Loudspeaker
announcements, the whistling and hissing of the locomotives, the
screaming of the commands from the soldiers, and the crying oand
howling of thousands of refugees made comprehension almost
impossible. Much happened through sign language. The cars of the
train were marked on their sides and roofs with gigantic red
crosses, in order to make the trains with the wounded recognizable
from attack, most of all from the air. The hospital train was
supposed to go through Belgard and continue to Stettin, in order to
cross the Oder River to get to the west.
My father fought his way through the masses of humanity until he
arrived at the transport officer of the hospital train. He asked him
to check if our family and possibly some mothers with infants could
travel on the hospital train. The train was almost without exception
occupied by seriously wounded soldiers from the eastern front. I the
hallways and on the connecting platforms between the cars there was
still some space available. After long conversations among his
colleagues, the officer agreed to take us and about ten mothers with
small children and babies. We all were happy that we escaped the
freight train, although at times we became a united community.
My father was instructed by the officer to select the ten mothers
with their children. Most of all, he would have liked to take all of
them, but the number was limited, and my father had to keep to the
allowance. Now we had to reach the other side of the platform in the
fastest way because nobody knew when the train was supposed to
depart. First we placed all of our luggage on the platform in a big
pile and set my little brother on top of it. Then by running, in so
far as that was possible with the crowd, the pieces of luggage were
loaded onto the hospital train. When we wanted to get the last
suitcase, my little brother stood on the platform bawling with all
of his might. What happened, was someone stole the one suitcase that
was under his behind. We immediately wrote the suitcase off because
to look for it was absolutely pointless. Now the mothers with their
children had to be fetched quickly. This went without a hitch.
While we were transferring from the freight train to the hospital
train, Grandma urgently needed to go to the restroom. But she didn't
trust herself to do that because she was afraid of losing us.
Through this whole excitement and the transfer, Grandma could no
longer hold her business. During the run across the platform,
Grandma relieved herself. The whole mess ran down her woolen
stockings, down onto her shoes, and onto the train platform.
Although it stank like the plague, there was no stopping or waiting.
We heaved Grandma with momentum and united strength into the car.
After about ten minutes, the train set itself into motion. the
suitcases and the rucksacks we had deposited on the walls and
ceiling. We had to somehow press ourselves against the sides because
the hallways had to remain open for the nursing personnel.
Grandma stank frightfully. She was ashamed and cried softly. After
everyone had found a place, Mother went with Grandma to the restroom
and cleaned her from top to bottom. Although the whole hallway stank
brutally, this all was taken as unchangeable. If the entire
situation in which we found ourselves, hadn't been so dead serious,
I can well imagine, that all of us would have resoundingly laughed
about it. None of us could leave the car, because the orderlies and
nurses needed the entire place for the care of the wounded.
Sometimes we saw doctors and nurses with blood smeared smocks who
were just coming from an operation. Again and again, frightful cries
resounded through the train when wounded soldiers could no longer
stand the pain. The entire nursing staff worked to the brink of
In spite of the narrowness of the hall and the side effects of the
hospital train, the trip on the D-train couldn't be compared to the
freight train. It was comfortably warm in the hall, and the train
traveled quietly and fast. But even the hospital train had to stop
now and then in the open stretches. The further west we went, the
greater the danger of being attacked by low flyers. Although entire
cars were marked with red crosses, our train was attacked twice by
low flying aircraft without resulting in great harm to people or
material. On the 16th of February we reached Stettin. Here we had
about a three hour stop. It was exactly like all of the train
stations we came through. Masses of humanity of never seen
proportions. The people stood on the running boards of the old cars
and laid flat on the roofs, in order to not fall into the hands of
the Soviets. The train crossed the Oder River, went past my birth
city of Pasewalk, and continued the several hours trip to
Neubrandenburg. One more time, the entire family gave the transport
officer hearty thanks for being taken along in the hospital train.
On the 18th of February, 1945, we got off in Neubrandenburg and
stood at the train station. We rode to Demmin on a local train. As
we sat in the overfilled train, we conversed once again about the
hospital train. My father said, "Be happy and thankful that you
weren't permitted to walk around the train, because what there was
to see in the wounded compartments, explodes the human power of
In the evening of February 18th, 1945, the train stopped in Utzedel
and our whole family got off. There we stood like a lost crowd.
Utzedel is a small farm village with a big estate that belonged to
the Maltzahns. Grandma and Mother grew up on this estate and knew a
number of people there from the time before the war. This was also
the reason why my parents had chosen this small village as our
destination. A friend from Mother's youth, Mariechen Grapenthin,
took all six of us in for the first night. Because we weren't the
only refugees in Utzedel, we were divided among various farms. The
individual farms were already stuffed to the limits with refugees,
so that is wasn't at all easy to accomodate us together. My father
and I slept in a barn, Mother, Grandma, and my sister and brother
spent the night at Mariechen's. For me, it was a good night, because
I could stretch out and sprawl.
The next day, Mariechen Grapenthin took care, that we all would be
accommodated at the innkeeper Zander's. We remained with him until
March 13th, 1945. My father tried to get from Utzedel back to
Neuguth in order to get various items for the family. Shortly before
the Oder River was the end. The field police would not let him
continue, and that same evening, he was back in Utzedel with us. My
father's leave was over, and he had to go back to the front in
Italy. At his departure, my father implanted the idea that in no
case were we to remain in Utzedel if the Soviets should attempt to
cross over the Oder. Still in the middle of March, the same slogan
of the final victory of the great German Reich. Utzedel, this small
village, was stuffed in every corner with refugees. Most refugees
arrived in the village as part of the trek. Above all, they were
happy and satisfied that they were safe and sound and had crossed
the Oder and escaped with their lives.
Escape from Schlochau
And a Return After 63 Years!
by Alfred Hauwe
The Fortress of Schlochau in 1943
The announcement form of the office Schlochau 1943
Our apartment in Gelsenkirchen-Buer was destroyed 1943 by bombs, my
father was a soldier at the Eastern Front. So my mother and I left
our home town and found a housing with friends in Delitzsch, Saxony.
Here, the message reached us that my father became badly injured in
Russia and was transferred to a military hospital in Schlochau. So
we came in the autumn 1943 Schlochau and were assigned an apartment
on Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Strasse #3 in the house of the Lawyer Dr. Schleiff.
The military hospital in Schlochau in 1943 and 2008
Two views of Alfred Hauwe Senior in the Schlochau hospital
We visited father until he died in January 1944 of the consequences
of his heavy wounds. Since our apartment was destroyed in
Gelsenkirchen, we remained in Schlochau because it was quiet there.
There were no bomb attacks like in our home. We felt safe there and
wanted to wait for the end of the war here. But it came quite
differently. In January 1945, we already heard the cannons of the
front and we had to leave Schlochau hastily. We traveled west with a
freight train of the German armed forces, that took also civilians
without luggage. In Bad Polzin, County Belgard was the train trip
ended. Now it went if it was possible, per hitchhikers or on foot
further. General-direction west. The big refugee storm from East
Prussia and the remains of the German armed forces stopped up the
streets. As a 9-year old, I saw and experienced sorrow and cruelties
on this escape that lasted until August 1945 and took place to the
biggest part on foot, so much that I cannot forget these pictures
until today, enough for a whole life. In August 1945 we were in
Alread Hauwe, Elke Henning and Bürschl the dachsund in front of
Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn Strasse #3 in Spring 1944.
Alfred in the same spot 63 years later in 2008.
March of 1944 and June of 2008
I remember being billeted with the family Schleiff and I remember
taking my first attempts on ice skates in the winter on the frozen
lake. Through the expansion of the European union, it is trouble-
free today to travel to Poland. So I made the decision to travel to
Poland to look around Schlochau once again and to see the house I
lived in. I had no idea whether the war had spared it. From Mr.
Sternberg, the webmaster of this website, I received a map from the
German time, so it was an easy thing for us to find Friedrich-Ludwig-
Jahn-Straße, that is called ul. J Sobieskiego today. I have
immediately recognized the house, a magnificent villa from the
beginning of the previous century, although the color of the paint
was altered. Today, the state forest superintendent's office resides
here. I was also permitted to look at the rooms. Since offices are
furnished here however today, I could recognize no longer much
again. Also the hospital, in which we could visit my father five
months daily, has survived the war.
The hospital hall
With the walk through Schlochau, many memories came back. The
landmark of Schlochau, the castle-tower is however unchanged, only a
few grenades have left their tracks.
The fortress tower and wall in 1943 and 2008
My wife Elisabeth has accompanied me on this trip. She knew
Schlochau only from my stories. Now she can understand why I have
told so much of the beauty of Pomerania. We were a week in Pomerania
and have looked much of the beauties of the Kaschubei at numerous
trips into the surroundings.
I would like to thank Mr. Sternberg of Minnesota,USA and Mr. Frymark
in Lesno,Poland for advice and support.
The arrival of the trek from Damerau in Lübeck 1945. Photo from the
Schlochauer Heimat Stube in Northeim.
Germans from Russia in the refugee camp at Hammerstein 1929-30.
Photo from the Schlochauer Heimat Stube in Northeim.