Dieter's Childhood Memories....surviving World War II
My late hubby wrote down what he experienced in his childhood, after my book was published.
He really was not interested to get it as a book, so I got the YES from him at that time to open up a blogging website for him. He was unable to deal with a computer or the Internet. When feedback rolled in, he did not care - and we did decide to remove it.
After Dieter had died on Christmas Day 2019, I had much time on my hands, because there were the orders staying at home - - alone.....
I found the scanned pages of his bio in my computer after a frantic search. Usually I am very organized, but we were actively traveling at that time, and it had escaped my mind, how it has been saved. I went through all the possible apps and found it in the Scan App. I did not even know I had such a thing in my computer, it appeared as a sub in pictures. Anyway - Our niece Bettina was so nice. to convert the pages into PDF format, but she could only do it via scanned pages, which resulted in having much to scroll to reach the next page.
I will give the PDF file free to anybody, who gives me their email address - in facebook or WhatsApp. Some people like it reading in their smartphone or tablet. If anybody wants the file of my own book in a regular e-book format, I can do that, too, for my relatives free. My camperfriends at this resort would be asked for $ 4.00.
So - how else could I publish his memoir??
Hey - I have this website for a long time already. Now it still comes handy. I really like working with the computer I have to type everything anew. There might be some typing errors, I will do proof reading later. I am eager to bring Dieter's history to my friends. No wonder we did so good together, we had very similar experiences at the end of WWII .
I almost forgot - some pictures of Dieter's childhood had survived, too, thanks to the ingenuity of his mother, also.
You will find these in this website in the sub-page of the tab "Guestbook". The sub-pages can be seen and chosen by mousing over them and clicking them.
2. About my hometown Maltsch
3. History of Silesia and Maltsch
4. My Childhood in Maltsch
5. The war is coming closer
6. Fleeing the Russians
7. Fleeing to Bavaria
8. Moving to northern Germany
When my wife Karin and I are talking to camperfriends, we were asked: Where are you coming from?
Our answer is: Originally from Germany.
"What part of Germany?"
Bremen - in the North, close to the coast of the North Sea. That's where we lived before we came to the United States of America in 1984. - Originally we came from the eastern part of Germany, my wife from East Prussia and I from Silesia. Both provinces were taken away from Germany after World War II.
Then our friends really get interested.
Here is my story.
2.) About my hometown Maltsch
Maltsch was a small town of about 3,700 residents. My parents moved to this town in 1939, just a few months before WWII started. Our house was owned by the government and was provided to us free of charge, because my father was holding the job of a rivermaster there. It was a nice 2-story home with a full basement..
Part of the basement was converted into a bunker with a steel entrance door from the cellar and 2 steel doors in front of the windows. Inside were some benches and beds. In case of an air raid we had to seek shelter there.
The town was located at the big river Oder. ( For my American friends: The Oder flows into the Baltic Sea and passes the capitol of Germany Berlin by about 50 miles to the east). It was a very busy river with big ships traveling up and down, some with their own motor, some being pulled by rear- or side paddle wheel steamers. Maltsch was also a harbor town. In the wintertime the river froze solid and all ship traffic came to a stop. The town had also a paper mill and a sugar plant. It was a very busy nice little town.
The closest 2 biggest cities were Breslau to the east and Liegnitz to the west. There was no bridge across the river, but a ferry, operated by steel ropes. It was big enough to transport trucks across the river. The town was surrounded by big forests on both sides of the Oder and to the south by fields.
We had a very nice public bath at a small lake in town with jumping boards in different hights. Meadows invited to sunbathe.
When we had summer vacation from school, some of my friends and I went swimming already early in the morning, sometimes in the nude.. In the wintertime we enjoyed skiing or sledding. There were enough small mountains around. I was 6 years old then.
But life changed soon thereafter with the beginning of WWII in August of 1939. My father could not enjoy our hometown any longer, he had to go to the front. He had joined the military already as a young man during the recession after WWI, because no jobs were available, and he did not want to live at his parents expense.
More facts according to Wikipedia: The industrial town of Maltsch ( now: Malczyce) is located at the big Oder knee, where the river changes its directions to the north and brakes through the southern mountain ranges into the Glogau-Baruther ancient glacier valley. The town became significant at the end of the 17. century. That was when merchants started unloading their merchandise thereto get the independence from the big stack right of the big cities Breslau and Frankfurt/Oder.
Starting in 1780 coal was transported along the coal road from Waldenburg and loaded onto Oder ships and shipped down the river into Brandenburg county, to the metropolitan cities Berlin and Potsdam.
The connection to the railroad was established in 1844 and from then on coal from the eastern part of Silesia was added. Another railroad line was established in 1895 to bring Granit from Strigau to be loaded on ships also.
In 1937 the volume of all merchandise of 210,000 t was 50% coal and 28% granit.
3.) History of Schlesien ( Silesia) and Maltsch
In the Middle Ages, Silesia was inhabited mostly by people of Slavonic ethnic background and belonged at first to Poland and later to Bohemia. Since the 13. century Silesia together with Bohemia has come under German cultural and political influence. In the 16. century it became part of Austria, and a significant part of the inhabitants were germanized. This process continued during the next centuries. In 1742 Prussia conquered most of Silesia, only the southernmost regions remained Austrian.
In 1815 the eastern part of Saxony was incorporated into Silesia, while the northernmost part, the enclave of Swiebodzin ( Schwiebus ) became part of the province of Brandenburg.
In the 19. century the greater part of the Silesian people were Roman Catholics. In the western and central regions practically only German was spoken, while in the eastern part of Silesia (Upper Silesia), the Polish language was predominant.
As independant Poland cam into existance in 1918, the Polish speaking populace also wanted to belong to it.
Ater 3 Polish uprisings and a plebiscite, the region was divided in between Poland and Germany. Small fragments of middle Silesia were also incorporated into Poland and a little area in the south into Czechoslovakia.
After World War II the greater part of Silesia became part of Poland. Only three districts west of the river Neisse ( tributary of the Oder) remained German. They are now part of the federal German state of Saxony.
German inhabitants either escaped or were dispelled from Silesia after 1945.. and Poles from the formerly Polish regions in the east settled there.
4.) My childhood in Maltsch
After my parents had moved into Maltsch, I had to start school, I was 6 years of age.
one day my mother and i went to the Elementary school in town, because we had to see the principal first. He was very friendly, and after a while talking to him, he asked me to show him, what I had in my backpack, which my mother had prepared for me the day before. When he opened it, a toy terrier came to light! My mother was very upset, and the principal was laughing.... He found that very amusing, that I had exchanged the contents of the tote for a toy dog.
Life was still pretty normal at that time, and we did not feel much of the war, except, that food got rationed and food stamps were given out. But at that point, there were not real shortages. We kids enjoyed our life, swimming in summer and sledding in winter.
Here comes a little story, you will find horrifying, after you read it. In those times the education of children could be very rough.
When I was 8 years old, my mother sent me to the dentist across the street, because I was complaining about tooth pain.
So - here I was, sitting in the waiting room and waiting for my call. When I was called, I told people to go in first, that I had plenty of time. Eventyally my mother showed up to check on me and to find out, why it took that long. She was told that I was so nice to let everybody go ahead of me. She made sure, that I was the next patient, and then she went home again.
I was sitting in the dentist chair and the doctor wanted starting to work on my teeth, but that was not that easy. Every time he asked me to open my mouth. I did so, but when he came near with his hands. I closed my mouth shut again, and I also covered it with my hands to block it.
So, he started tying down my arms to the armrests, first one arm, then the other. But I still clamped my mouth shut.
After a while trying, he went to the waiting room and asked a soldier with a pistol at his side to come in and help him.
The officier stood in front of me, drew his pistol and told me, that he would shoot me, if I would not open my mouth. Now the dentist finally could do his job.
When I was 10 years old, after 4th grade, I had to switch over to Highschool, which was in another city, in Liegnitz. I had to go there by train. That year I also had to join the "Hitler-Jugend". We had to meet twice per week in the afternoon, Wednesday and Saturday. It was fun, but also sometimes a little stressy. My guess is, that it is comparable to the "Boy Scouts" in America.
Occasionally, we had soldiers in town to recover, or to prepare for new tours of duty. Sometimes they would cook pea soup in the "Goulasch Kanone", in a big kettle on a travois on wheels. The residents were invited to join their eating. That was fun, and the soup tasted very good.
My father was home about 2 weeks during one year, so were other soldiers. . That was a hard time for families to manage without their fathers.
In fall, the sugar beets were harvested, and farmers drove down the street with their horse wagons filled with sugar beets. It was a cobblestone road and there fore the rides were a bit shaky. There was also a 90 degree turn to the left to reach the sugar plant. I watched those wagons closely, because they would lose beets once in a while - and I would collect them. At the end of the harvest season, my mother would cook the beets, press out the juice and cook it again, to get sugar beet sirup. I liked that sirup very much, and I still do.
Once in a while I get some containers with that Ruebensirup from Germany.
5.) The War is coming closer
Towards the end of 1944 the German troops were pushed back out of Russia, and the front came closer and closer.
Some troops were moving into our area. Since the summer of that year we had my grandparents living with us, my father's parents. They moved into some rooms upstairs, because bombers were starting to bomb Breslau, their hometown.. That was a time, when we all had to use the bunker a lot. The sirens sounded almost every night, and sometimes we had to sit there more than an hour, sometimes twice per night. That was a scary feeling, and we were glad, when the sirens sounded the flat tone, the end of the alarm. We could go back to bed.
At the southside, up and along the river, there were high-water dikes with bunkers built in. We found out about those bunkers, when soldiers started to digg out the entrances and make those bunkers functional.
I had to jump into action also. I was ordered by military authority to get my sled out and transport food for the soldiers in those bunkers. I also had to bring soup for them in big steel canisters once a day, which I had to do on my ski The soup container on my back was pretty heavy. It was hard work for me, an 11 year old boy.
6,) Fleeing the Russians
It was January 16. 1945. early in the morning, when I was ordered to come to City Hall. We were handed out flyers and were told. to go from house to house and inform people, that they had to evacuate town the next morning.
The Russian front came closer very fast. There were open coal wagons of the railroad ready to pick people up.
I went to our house first, because it was across the road. My mother was doing laundry, and she stopped at once, and instead went to kill some chickens. She fried them to take with us for food. She also packed things for all of us together, mainly clothing and food.
The next morning she packed our sled, and we both and my two brothers, 9 and 7 years old, went to the station and boarded the train. My grandparents, who lived in our house, left that day, too. But somehow we got separated and ended up in different cities. We found each other later on.
When the train left, the Russians were moving in already on the other side of the river and started shooting into town. But we got out safely. That day the train was moving very slowly to the south, away from the Russian front, to Hirschberg, a town in the mountains in between Silesia and Czechoslovakia. In the evening we all could leave the train and get out of the freezing cold and were moved into big halls in town.
We had to stay in Hirchberg for a few days, I do not remember exactly how long. During these days, we kids went out into the snow to play, climbing hills and explore the area a little. That gave us something to do.
Finally the day came, when we had to move on. We had to board another train, but this time it has been a passenger train and it was heated. The train was crowded to the limit with people and their baggage. Not everybody had a place to sit. Some were sitting on their baggage and smaller children were lying on it.
When the train moved, it moved slow. Very often it stopped for hours, I assume waiting for new coal to fire up the engine. In some stations of the railroad, the Red Cross was giving out food and tea for hungry passengers. We had to have a cup or a bowl to get some of that food. Sometimes the passengers had to hurry back into the train because of an air raid. It was leaving the station and stopped in an open field. When the raid was over, it went back to the station.
The train was moving from Hirschberg through Czechoslovakia. It passed Prag, the capital of that country, to Plan, a city close to the borderline of Bavaria. Plan was a city in the so-called Sudetenland. which was part of Germany and stretched along the border of Bavaria, Saxony and Silesia. Plan was located in the area of "The Three Spa Towns" -
Marienbad, Franzensbad and Karlsbad., near the city of Eger. The train ride took several days, I don't know how many. The train, which arrived in Plan, before we came in, was attacked by fighter planes and many people were killed. We were told to leave the train in a hurry and look for cover. Later we were told, to go into a small farm community about 4 miles away, where we would be taken in by the locals, one family at a time. The name of the village was Untergodrisch. My mother, my 2 brothers an I were sent to a lone house, one mile away from the village, in the middle of the woods and a small lake at the side. It was a very nice place.
Oh - I forgot. Before we had to go to this house, we stayed for a few days in a farmers house of that community. I started to help that family with work, which I continued doing while living in the lone house. I very much liked working in the fields.
The farmer had a big stone baking oven in his backyard and were baking their own bread once a month. I split tree roots for them to be used as firewood in that oven. The entire oven would be stacked with wood first, and when it all was burned down, the ashes were taken out - and in went the already prepared breads to be baked. When the bread was done, it was taken out to cool down. I got one, and I was very proud to provide my family with a bread I had earned. Those were meager days. We could not even get what we were supposed to get with our food stamps.
There was no meat, no eggs, no nothing. To get bread for our family of 4 people, I had to go to Plan once a week to have one bread for us 4 hungry people. .
One day, on one of these shopping trips, I was attacked by an American fighter plane. The very low-flying planes would fly along roads and fields - and would shoot at everything which moved. I heard it coming and ran to a pile of snow fences set up next to the road. . I dove underneath, head first. It was a close call. I saw the bullets hitting the road pretty close to me. But my time was not up then. I got away with my life.
One day, walking along the shore of that little lake, I noticed a lot of fish in there - big fish. I went home and asked my mother for a needle and some strong yarn. I looked out for a stick in the woods, and I fastened the yarn and my home-made fishing hook - and fishing I went. I used worms as bait. I could see the fish in the water and held the bait right in front of them, but they did not like what they saw. I did not catch anything. Today I know that the fish were carps and that I had to use some other bait. But with my self-made hook, it would not have worked anyway. They would have fallen off the hook before I could have pulled them out.
Later that summer we moved into a small room in a little appartment house in the community, and I was still helping out that farmer. These farmers were pulling their farm wagons with oxen. One day, when we were going out to his fields, we passed a big cabbage field. In the middle of that field I noticed the biggest cabbage I ever saw.
I jumped off the wagon, made a mark on the side of the road. That night, when it was dark, I slipped out of our room with my backpack and walked to that field. I found my sign and the big cabbage, cut it off and brought it home. Now we had something to eat for the next couple of days. My mother did not like what I did, but we needed something to eat. Nobody would give you anything, so you had to help yourself.
At one point my mother got sick, and I went from farmer to farmer begging for some eggs I did not get one.
Living in the appartment, we had to use a different bakery in the town of Heiligenkreuz, which was about 3 miles away. This baker would bake bread only once a week, that was all the flour he had. When we had found out which day it was, we arrived there many hours before the bread came out of the oven and started to help the baker. This way, when the bread was ready, we were the first to get one.
Dueing the end phases of the war, the city of Eger I mentioned before. was bpmbarded many times. The bombers flew right overhead our community - and after some minutes, when they dropped the bombs, the whole earth was shaking.
Shortly before the end of the war, in May 1945, German soldiers tried to get away from the Americans and were throwing their weapons and ammunition away. It was chaos.
One night both fronts were shooting heaving artillery right over our heads. You could hear the big bullets moving by, it was soooo scary! The next day American troops moved in - and it was over. At least for us. But it was a very dangerous time, because there was so much ammo laying around and kids started playing with it. Some got maimed or killed.
When the American soldiers moved out, the Czechoslovakian people moved in to take back the Sudetenland.
7.) Fleeing to Bavaria
When the war finally was over, my father was taken as a POW ( prisoner of war) by the American troops in Italy and was brought to a POW camp in Bozen/Tirol in Austria.
But we did not know that fact, we were very troubled, because we had no idea where our father was.
And he did not know where we ended up to be. Somehow he found out about his parents wereabouts
and consequently could be discharged from camp. They lived now in Weiden/Oberpfalz in Bavaria. To get there was easier said than done. The railroads were not fully functional, and therefore one had to walk a lot on foot. But he made it there.
At the same time, my mother and I went to Plan to buy some food and we came upon a convoy of American trucks loaded with German POW's. They stood idle to rest for a while, and everybody was walking around to flex their muscles.
Suddenly my mother saw a familiar face among them. It was a school friend from Pommerania, where my mother grew up. They talked for a while, and then my mother asked him, where the convoy was going. He answered Weiden. We knew my grandparents address there, and my mother wrote a note for them on a very small piece of paper to be dropped off at the city checkpoint in Weiden. He did that, and somehow it got delivered to my grandparents.
When my father was reunited with his parents, he was asking them whether they knew where we were.
They said YES - and were looking for that small piece of paper, but it was nowhere to be found. There were other families living in the same appartment, every family had only one room, and there were a lot of kids with them. Together they looked everywhere and turned the entire appartment upside down. They found it in a matchbox the children were playing with.. What a relief! After a short while of recuperation my father went on the road again.
He had to walk about 50 miles to get to the borderline between Bavaria and Czechoslovakia, closest to where we were living on the other side of the border. The name of the bordertown in Bavaria is Merfeld. When he arrived there, he could not get across himself, he wore his dismantled German uniform, the only suit he had. He had to find a civilian who could be sent as a messenger. He found a young man who was going back anf forth about the border all the time for money. My father paid him his last 400 German Mark.
He arrived late in the afternoon and explained to my mother, what he was supposed to do, namely bring us over the borderline into Bavaria.
My mother had about 2 hours to pack everything up, because we had to leave the same evening. The walk to the borderline was about 7 miles. Everybody of us had a backpack to carry. We had to walk arounf the next 2 villages in order not to be seen. When we arrived near the border in deep forests with big trees, we noticed some men of the border control. They left us alone and we moved on. What we did not know, was, that they alarmed the border station.
When we moved on, we had to wade through a creek and swamp up to our bellies. Then we were in some meadows again, and ahead of us was a road with a grain field on the other side, already harvested, but set up in sheafs.
We were just across the road, when we saw a truck convoy moving fast toward us. Now we started running into the field. By that time the convoy had stopped, and the border police started shooting. But we were far enough into the field, where we used the sheafs for cover. Then we started running again and made it safely to the other side of the border....we were in Bavaria now. But still not safe. The next thing was, that we came upon an American Checkpoint, where soldiers and an officer were sitting around a campfire.
We were stopped and my mother told them about my father. The officer and a soldier were asking to step into their Jeep and they drove away. We had to stay behind at the checkpoint.
The officer drove to a big garage where people were staying overnight. He called out loudly my father's name and stepped into the open. The hugging and kissing scene between my parents convinced the officer, that my mother had spoken the truth. He left the both of them there and drove back to the checkpoint to pick us and our luggage up and bring us to the garage also.
The Americans were very nice to us and gave us something to drink. When they dropped us off, they told my father, to see the commander the next morning. When he did so, he was told to leave Merfeld at once and move to the next community. Otherwise he would have sent us back and report us.
When my father came back to the garage, he told my mother the news, and we went back on the road.
We walked very slow, because it was already midnight, when we arrived at the garage the night before, and we were all very tired. We walked about 7 miles to the next village. On our way to there we found out from someone, that we had walked at the edge of a minefield. Cold shower ran along my spine, we were just lucky.
When we came into the next little town, we were asking for shelter. We went through the whole community, but nobody wanted to take us in. Finally we came back to the farmer where we started our search, and then suddenly he felt sorry for us and let us stay in the barn.
We stayed there at least for a week, because the farmer and his wif realized, that we were people who knew how to behave. He showed us a field, where we could get potatoes and even let us cook in his kitchen using his pots.
After a few days my mother and I went back across the border to get more of our goods we had to leave behind.
This was a very stupid decision in between my father and my mother. My mother and I left around noontime, and my father came with us until we came closer to the border, then he walked back to the barn, and my mother and I across the border. I was always good in navigating and remembering big forests. There were so much mushrooms around that we collected them . Good, that we did, because when we encountered border control , we showed them our mushrooms and told them we got lost collecting them. They let us go.
When we arrived in Untergodritsch we went around the community and in from the backyard to the farmer, where we were living at one point. They thought we were crazy coming back. They told us that the Czechs were looking for us. So, they hid us in the barn and brought the rest of our belongings to us. We packed them up and went to sleep for a few hours. At 3 o'clock in the morning the farmer woke us up and we left again.
We walked through the nicht, but now we knew where the checkpoint was. We walked arounf it, not knowing, that there was yet another checkpoint. First my mother fell into a creek with her heavy backpack and later we could avoid 2 other border controllers. Finally out of the woods, we walked along a small sany road thinking we were over the border, when there was another border control. As we walked towards the barrier, there were 3 border police man standing behing us- with their machine guns ready to shoot. They took us into their control building and checked us out. We were lucky that there was somebody who spoke German. They saw our baggage and my mother told him that we were walking along the border and somhow, without knowing, came across. I do not know whether they believed us, but they let us go.
After being back on the other side - in this case Bavaria, my mother was so exhausted that she was not able to move on. She could not carry her backpack anymore. S I looked for a good place to hide her and our stuff. When she was hidden, I walked about 2 miles to the barn to get my father. Then I had to go back to my mother's hiding place, then back to the barn again. By the time we were back in the barn - - and slept all night and the entire next day. In the evening on the next day my father woke me up. He had dinner ready: buttered potatoes with onions and chives. Delicious !!
In the meantime, my father found a cabinet maker and ask him for leftover wood - and he built us a handcart, so we had not to carry anything on our backs anymore. Few days later we started traveling again. From time to time we had to take the little wheels off, because everything was made out of wood, to grease the axels with mushrooms.
In the evening we tried to find a place to sleep for the night. That day we had walked about 18 miles. We found a small inexpensive hotel. In the morning just after having had some breakfast, a truck stopped in front of the hotel. There were already many people on the truck. The truck driver allowed us to enter his truck, after some money questions were cleared. The truck was driving directly to Weiden. The truck had an oven in the front corner, where they burned hardwood to generate gas to drive that truck.When we had to climb a hill, all men jumped off the truck and were pushing to make it to the top.
Arriving in Weiden, we went straight to my grandparents appartment. It was a joyful reunion.
Now we were 8 people in one room. It was very crowded. Something had to be done, and very soon...
After a few days resting, my father left to look for work and a place to stay. During that time I helped my grandfather to collect firewood. He had a handwagen, where he could load it into. The next forest was about 2 miles away. We were not allowed to cut any trees down, we could collect only what was on the ground. We had to go deeper and deeper into the forest, because we were not the only people collecting fire wood. But we managed everytime to get a load. I also helped with other things, waiting it out for hours standing in line to be able to get some meat once a week.
After a few weeks my father was back, and the good news was, that he found a place to stay and a job, but at the "other" end of Germany, in the north.
Now we had to pack up and move again, this time including my grandparents and my cousin.
8.) Moving to northern Germany
Well, now my father had found a job and a place to stay, but the problem was getting there.
The railroads were still not functioning normally, there were almost no passenger trains. First we had to get from Weiden to Nuernberg/Fuerth. My father was looking out for a truck to take us there, it would be a ride of about 65 miles. Within a few days he found somebody who had to bring some freight to Fuerth, and he would take us there for some pay. The morning the truck had to leave, we met the driver at his place and loaded our baggage from the hand wagen onto his truck. The cart we had to leave behind. At was also a truck with the same means of firing up for getting the machine going. Same actiond to overcome hills.....When we came to the freight station, we unloaded our things from the truck and looked for a freight train riding in our direction. It were all open coal wagons. During that trip, we had to change trains several times. Only the last train to Salzbergen in Westfalia , close to the community we had to go to, was a passenger train.
Arriving in Salzbergen, it was too late to look for somebody to pick us up. So we had to stay overnight in a small waiting room, sleeping on the concrete floor without any blankets. But that was not new for us, we had to do that many times before already.
The next day a farmer, our next-door neighbor, came with a rubber-wheel flatwagon, drawn by 2 horses, to bring us into our new home. It belonged to a community named Listrup. It was a small farmtown at the river Ems in Nordrhein-Westfalen. The house was direct at the river with a lock and a dam across.
My father was the new rivermaster there.
It was a beautiful ride of about 8 miles, most of it through woods, where we even saw mushrooms growing at the side of the road, which we took home to eat.
When we reached our house and unloaded our goods and walked inside, my mother started crying, because every room looked so empty and we had nothing to put in, no beds, no cabinets - nothing. The first thing was to get a table and some chairs for the kitchen. There was an oven built in for cooking, but we had no plates, cups or pots. The next room was the bedroom. We had no beds either. Now we had to get some special jute bags and filled them with straw and put them on the floor as beds. We had 3 rooms, including the kitchen and the bedroom. My grandparents had 2 rooms upstairs. The most important thing was, that we had a place again we could call home.
That was in 1946 and I was 12 years old.
We had a big backyard and a barn. We started to ripping out weeds and digging the soil to get the garden going. We also had some fruit trees - and there were meadows. We plought the meadows and planted potatoes and wheat.
We also bought some chicken, a pig and some sheep and later a cow.
My brothers and I also could get back to school again. There was a little schoolhouse in town with 2 classrooms, but only one was in use, because there was only one teacher. The second teacher was not allowed to teach, because he blonged to the German Party - and with that you were a Nazi. If you worked for the government, like all teachers did, you had to be in that party. He had to be denazified, and that took forever.
The teacher was a lady by the name of Mrs. Bolte. She had to teach all the children in our little town, the 5. to 8. grade in the morning, and the 1, to 4, grade in the afternoon.
In the wintertime we had to heat the classroom with a big wood-burning oven, we kids had to bring the wood and put it in the oven. Mrs. Bolte had her living space on top of the classrooms on the second floor. She was a very nice lady and a good teacher. She liked me a lot, even though at times I did odd things. On one of those days, she sent me out of the room because I was disturbing class. I went outside and walked away from the shool building across the meadows to the river. When she wanted me to come back in, I was gone. So she sent the whole class out to find me and bring me back. I don't remember what happened, but I think she was glad to have me back in one piece.
After the Highschools opened up again, I went back there, but it was not easy. Back in Silesia, when I started highschool, we were having English as the first foreign language, now this school had started with Latin, so I had to catch up with one whole year of Latin. I made it into the 4th year of highschool, never really fully catching up.
At that time my father was moved to another town and river. The name of that town was Hamm-Bossendorf, a suburb of the City Haltern am See. It was located at the river Lippe and the Lippe-Seitenkanal.
When we moved to there, I quit Highschool and went to work to be a mason. My apprenticeship to learn to be a mason lasted 3 years. I worked on construction sites building houses out of stone and concrete. Once a week I had to attend school. At the end of my learning years I had to take a written and practice test to get my diploma.
To be able to attend Engineering School, I had to work another year in related branches like carpentry etc, and i had to get it in writing, To get to Engineering School, I had to take another test. Making that test did not mean I could start studying right away, there had to be an opening. I was lucky, there was one. The school was in Koblenz, far away from Haltern.
But befor I could start Engineering School, my parents immigrated to the Unites of America and I had to go with them. That was in fall of 1953. On Sept. 5. we arrived by ship in the harbor of Quebec, Canada. From there we rode the Greyhound Bus to Montral, Canada, and from there to Newark, N.J., were we rented some rooms from a very nice lady with the name of Mrs, Klein. I started working as a mason in the construction company D.O Evans.
I worked there for 3 months and then went back per ship. I knew Karin already, my future wife. Karin and I met in 1950 and we were close ever since.
When I was back in Germany, I started to go to school again for one year to pick up on things I missed because of WWII. That was before I took the test in Engineering School in Koblenz. When I started that school, we were 46 students. After 3 years there were 11 left, including me. During my 5. semester in 1957 Karin and I got married.
In 1958 I finished and received my diploma as an graduated construction engineer and architect.
I worked as an architect for 8 years. Thereafter I worked till 1984 as an engineer for big contractors, superving extensive building projects in different cities.
In 1984 we decided to live in the USA.