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Katy (Katch) My Life, the Flight 1944-45

Written by my Aunt Kathe Fichtinger, who now lives in Bavaria.
Translated by Kathe and her son Rudi | Submitted by Larry Hale

I, Käthe Fichtinger, was born as Katharina Schmidt on October 25th, 1933 in Katy, Yugoslavia. Katy is situated way down in the Batschka, 8 km from Neusatz (today Novisad) in Serbia. Our district town was Titel (pronounced Teetle).

My parents and grandparents were entirely of German descent.  My mother, Katharina, born Beron, was born on October 5th, 1905 in Katy.  She died on July 31st, 1941 in Katy.   My father, Peter Schmidt, born on January 6th, 1908 in Vrpolje - Slavonia. (Slavonia is a federal state of Yugoslavia). His parents, Georg Schmidt and Katharina, born Wagner.  His mother died in 1897 in Vrpolje and was buried there.

At the age of 12, my father came to Katy in 1920 together with his father and sister Maria (born on 09/16/1911).  He learned shoemaker and later hairdresser because of his health.  My parents married in May 1926 in Katy. My brother Johann was born on March 28th, 1927.

My mother had a brother, Johann Beron, and a sister, Barbara Beron.  My grandfather Schmidt had bought a house in Katy and opened a small farmer's restaurant.  I faintly remember the horses, cows and pigs.  

After their marriage, my mother helped as much as she could. But quite soon, she fell sick and in July 1941, she died of heart failure, at an age of hardly 36 years.  She was sick all the time I can remember. Sometimes she was able to get up and do a little housework.  Very often she had to stay in bed. After her death (my grandfather already died the year before), we, my brother of 13 years, and I at an age of 8 years, lived a couple of months alone with my father. But the heavy unemployment which reigned all of Europe then forced my father to leave to foreign countries together with my brother and with some workmates. In December 1941, they went to Austria. As part of a construction team of a contractor called "Backwart and Haller,"  they came from Novisad to Wiener-Neustadt. They worked as bricklayers (masons) at the airplane works.

I was given for care to our neighbors, a family named Müller, who had four children of their own. Three of them were older than I and one was younger.  This was a very hard time for me, only to become harder still.

In summer of 1942, my father returned. His sister Maria, living in Zagreb then, claimed her share of their parent's house, their heritage. My father rented a small flat for us, and the house was sold by auctioned including all of the inventory. Firstly, the furniture was sold (my mother's furniture).

I was sitting in a lilac hedge, listening and watching. With every piece they carried out, a piece of my heart went, and I cried bitterly. That one closet, for example, at the inner face of its door our Lebzelter pictures stuck. It was an awful cruelty, for a child at the age of eight, having to watch foreign people take away her the dear belongings of her beloved mother.

The house was sold to an Hungarian. The first time, I came by each day and played with his sons. The sales arrangement with the notary didn't proceed so quickly as these days. It took a few months to complete.

When my father had finished all of the tasks he wanted to go with me to my brother. But that was not possible, as the borders were closed, because the war hat begun.  So my brother of age fourteen was alone among compatriots in Wiener-Neustadt and my father and I were in Katy.

My father was again looking for work. There were only occasional jobs and farm work. So that I hadn't to be alone all day, I was sent to friends again, changing my foster parents every few weeks. I don't know why, it surely was not my guilt.  I was a quiet child who did everything it was ordered to do.

In one house, of my father's acquaintance, I was only allowed to walk in the garden, after school and homework, exactly just along the paths. I did it, and I didn't even go on the street, not to get dirty.

In the fall of 1942, my aunt, sister of my father, insisted that this roaming had come to an end, and I was put in an orphanage.  A neighbor woman, before mentioned Mrs. Müller, took me to the orphanage at Torschau.

Let me say that we children there, around 50 boys and girls between 6 and 14 years old, were well fed and keep tidy.  We got lessons and had learn a whole lot. Everything was kept very strict. Beside our homework and lesser tasks in the house, the vicar came twice a week for a merry evening.  Just for us children the evening was not truly merry. We were always examined. In addition to our regular tasks, the vicar just ordered us even more to learn. Songs and psalms with many verses were on regular schedule.  He surely must have thought thought that orphans had to learn especially much.

I was nine years old then and always got sick for fear when I knew the vicar was to come.  They did not struck or scold, just mildly rebuked us, but in front of all the children, the senior nurse and the assistants.

In early summer 1943, my foster mother, a Barbara Renner, took me back from the orphanage. She had joined my father and lived with him in a small house. She thought that I would belong home and not at an orphanage.  At that time, I was barely ten years old, and she was 18. I never forgot her taking me home, even in spite of all that was to happen later on, until she died in 1997. She was very young and so by time she gave me blows for love.

A few months later, my father had to go to the German Military.  He was forced to join the Weapon-SS (armed SS?) as all men of German origin in the Balkans.  At first, my father did write letters home, and I also received mail from my brother sometimes.  In his last one there was a photograph, he was 16 years old then.  My father came to the Military in the end of 1943, came home again for three days in early 1944 and disappeared thereafter.  After that - nothing.

In this restless time fell our first confrontation with the Jew - baiting.  There were Jewish people in our village too, but they were just as naturally there as everyone else.  One day, we children were playing when we saw approach a procession of people. (As the land was completely plane, people could already be seen from far away).

When they came closer, we could see that they were men guarded and driven by Hungarian soldiers. On the front there were two men on horses.  Behind them went the men, most of them barefoot, on each side guarded by armed soldiers with bayonet on their guns.  The people only staggered along, pushed on by cries and gun butt hits.  They were Jews who could barely still walk of hunger and tiredness.

It had been raining a few days, so the road was muddy.  The people cried "hunger" when they saw us and had to endure more strikes.  The women swiftly fetched some bread and broke it in pieces. When the soldiers didn't watch, they gave the men of the bread.

Quite a piece fell to the ground but they picked it all up and put in in their mouths.  And again they were hit by the soldiers.  We children couldn't understand anything. We had heard a lot about persecutions of Jews.  But we couldn't imagine what this might mean.

Shortly thereafter, the situation for us Germans became unsecured.  Many young Serbians, sons of our neighbors, joined the partisans.   Tito was the great rebel leader and gathered people around him for fighting against Hitler.  More and more often, people voiced express menaces against us neighboring Germans.

In summer 1944, the Hungarian Military had taken hold of Serbia,  so we still had some protection. But they had to retreat a few months later.  The war went on and on.  Tito and the Partisans became more aggressive.  There were attacks against Germans every now and then.  After dark it wasn't possible to go anywhere for fear of the assaults.

Then there was October 4th, 1944, when all Germans were ordered to congregate in the place of the town hall at 9 o'clock.  Together with their children and as much of their belongings as each one could carry.  Everything else had to be left.  This was a restless night, what was to be carried along? What to leave back? It was the most severe for the young women, because they weren't able to take much with them as they often had to carry their little children.  All the men, even above the age of 50, were at war.  The crowd gathered together here was assembled of elderly people, young women and children.

On 5th of October, a German Military truck was to take us from Katy.  But the morning passed, even half of the afternoon, and we still stood there waiting.  In the afternoon between 3 and 4 o'clock, order was given (these days everything was done on order) that there were no trucks available this day and the next days too. So we should return the next day, the 6th of October.

We went back home, on the way thinking about what else to prepare to take along.  My foster mother's brother and parents wanted to slaughter a pig in the night, cook some large pieces and take those with them.  We also had grown a pig during the winter, but who was to slaughter it? Impossible feat!  A neighbor woman told us about an Hungarian who had slaughtered the day, we might ask him whether he would leave us the meat in exchange for our pig.

My foster mother went over and asked. The family agreed, setting the stage for a little very private tragedy for the two of us.  We had to take the animal (weighing about 160 pounds) over to their house. But how?  Well, how could we two, a child of 11 years and a young woman of age 19, accomplish that feat. There were no street lanterns, darkness had fallen already. I went in front, carrying a petrol lamp, alluring, and Barbara behind the pig pushing and talking to it, and both we were weeping.

You should imagine that we both were rather young yet and we had bought the pig as a piglet.  From the beginning we had competed feeding it and constantly watched whether it had already grown. We had tugged home sacks full of grass, oats and maize for our piggy. And now we were not only to leave our little piggy, but even give it away.  We were both very sad. But we really did arrive and delivered our pig.

The Hungarian's wife had sliced and fried the meat. Barbara went there another time, carrying a large earthen pot into which they laid the meat slices in layers and poured liquid lard over them. The lard got stiff over night and we could carry the pot along.  So we had a side-dish to our bread for a long time.

Then the next day came. Those owning horses and carriage could pack the cart full with their property and food.  Those who had no horses were provided with cart, horses and coachman by the Military.  They were confiscated from the Serbians, they called it "requiriert" then.  The coachmen were to take us to Hungary and then return horses and carts. This was going to work out differently, too.

On 6th of October, the hard day came.  They distributed us among the carts, two or three families per cart and off we went.   We drove in a line of about thirty carts, one behind another, packed full with beds, furniture and children.  Many a tear flowed among the grown ups, because they had to leave back all they had worked for many years (even decades) long, houses, furniture, acres, vineyards.

When we reached the village center, agitation arose because there was rumor that partisans would plan an attack. Some of the men went in front and some behind us. But this wasn't a lot of protection for the whole convoy, too.  It began close to the end of the village, there were shots and the military came to help. Someone shot from within a hut, the soldiers fired back, and the hut exploded fiercely. The hut had been not a hiding place for partisans, but an ammunition storage.  We drove as fast as possible to get away. 

This was the farewell of our home village.  Our evangelist priest his wife and some elderly people, among them a grand uncle of mine, remained.  The evangelist priest Franz Klein and wife Theresia from Katy and a few other elderly people were sent to Jareg to a camp. There many of them died terribly from starvation.

The priest at first was left to starve, drink vinegar and in the end he was crucified.  The other elderly people left were hung on the trees. My grand uncle was among those, too.  He had not joined our flight, he wasn't able to leave his bees alone.  Our flight had begun and was to continue for one and a half years with only short breaks.

We passed through many villages, in the beginning alone, but later on other convoys kept joining ours.  Ever more Germans had to flee.  There were races because those who arrived at the villages first in the evening could sleep in the houses. The others had to sleep in barns, stables or in the meadows.  We slept very often in stables and barns these times.

At the Balaton (Plattensee) in Hungary, we slept in a meadow.  One feather-bed below and one above, so we slept.  In the morning, everything was frosty white.  Even hair and eyebrows, which looked funny, but we had to pass on.

In Hungary, in Vesprem, our flight was paused.  We were divided up and sent to several villages.  My foster mother Barbara and I came to a farmer in Ajkarendeck.  We were lucky, they were just about butchering.  Barbara helped a lot in the house and on the farm and so we had enough to eat.  We were to stay in Hungary for about three weeks and then go back home.

The German military was to repel the Partisans.  But it came the other way, the Partisans were stronger and repelled us.  In the beginning of November 1944, order was given that we had to continue on to Austria.  The horses and the carts had to remain, the drivers, mostly knights of

Serbian farmers, sometimes even the owners themselves, had to let of their horses go. There were dreadful scenes.  Our cart and horses belonged to a farmer who was a friend of my father.  He embraced his horses' heads and cried fiercely, and I with him. Then he had to return. With carts and horses we went on to St. Pölten.

In Hungary, all things had been easier to endure. People gave us food.  On the acres, there were leftover fruit and potatoes.  We could get maize and food for the horses.  But when we drove though Austria, there was quite some bad talk.  In St. Pölten the military reclaimed carts and horses and we had to board railway wagons. Quite often we had to change trains, just as the trains were needed for some other purpose. Quite often, we rode in cattle wagons.

These days, this is hard to imagine.  One such big car for three or four families.  Simply a bunch of straw in a corner to sleep on, just like plain livestock.  Once each day we got a warm meal.  In the bigger villages or some town, Red Cross women came to the station. They carried large pots and everyone was allowed to go and get a portion to eat.  Mostly thick soups, or vegetables and a piece of bread. Young women with little children got fresh milk as well.  That way, we arrived at Checia (Tschechei), the village was named Datschitz.  We stayed only a couple of days there.

In the meantime, it had become winter and we were very cold in those open wagons.  On our ride, just a couple of hours after passing the Austrian border, we arrived at Budweis (Budejovice). There, our cars were shunted unto a parking track once more.  Usually it took a couple of days till we continued.

We walked about at the station all day to see whether one might be able to buy something someplace or whether one might meet some acquaintance by chance.  Suddenly, there was rumor that the station was to be shut, as in the evening, a transport of wounded soldiers would arrive.

We were very excited and pushed through in spite of the barrier.  We did want to see the wounded.  We children got order to exactly watch each face, as it might be there was a relative or acquaintance among them.

War was coming to its end, and everything went astray.  None of the women still knew where her husband, father, brother or son was, whether they were still alive or not. Dawn fell and there was not much light. In Budweis, the tracks lay above the station. The wounded had to go down a stair, pass through below and up another stair to leave the station.  Then, the transport arrived, and along the wounded men.

It was terribly shaking.  About two hours a long porters carried with a hand-barrow stretchers upstairs, one after another, mostly very heavily wounded, often lesser cases too. Some went themselves supported by comrades, others used crutches.

Down in the station, where it was dark, they sometimes had to put down the stretchers, then the porters who followed simply went over them.  They step upon the wounded.  Shouts, curses, the cries of the women and children, one big chaos.  These are some of those hours that I will never forget my life long.  But we kept up until the end. Have looked at all and each one as thoroughly as possible.  We even discovered two or three we knew, this elicited big emotion and happiness.

And the next day, we suddenly met a brother in law of my foster mother in the station. There was a lot to tell and ask, as each one hadn't heard anything about the other for months.  A few days later, our transport went on. Then we arrived in Schlesien, I exactly remember the address: Börwalde, Kreis Frankenstein above Münsterberg. Börwalde was a little village, surrounded by a number of big farms, nearly estates already.

In the beginning, we were put in a camp once more, which was a large school room. Later we were distributed to the big estates and large farms.  We became quarter on one of the large estates. Despite that all, this was a nice time. A small break of relief.  We got sufficient food to live. We stayed in Börwalde during the winter.  These times, in the areas of warfare, they built barriers against the tanks. They consisted of thick tree trunks, about two or three meters across and just as high an long. Whether these barriers really could stop a tank I don't know.

In Börwalde there were a number of such barriers. There I had a strange experience.  One day, I was going home across the village, it was nearly dark already, when a soldier addressed me.  He wore the uniform of a higher ranking officer, he asked me for the streets. To which side was Frankenstein, whether there were still soldiers in the village and how many tank barriers there were in Börwalde.

I gave him the information as good as I was able to and then I went home. There retold the Opa (the father of my foster mother) my adventure.  We were together with the family of my foster mother throughout the whole time of the flight.

The Opa immediately went downstairs to the estate's senior.  The young lord was at the front in Breslau. The senior was some high ranking military also, but I cannot remember what.   They both came to me and interrogated me very thoroughly. As I learned later there was no military around the village and the man was a spy.  And only then I was frightened.  When we were there in Börwalde, there were big fights in Breslau.  In the evening, one saw the fire flashing and one also heard the thunder of the cannons. 

A couple of weeks later, we also had to leave from here again. The Germans of this region had to flee as well, as this was Polish territory.

Many years later, during the time I lived with my father in Austria, and even in later time, when we met again, we still talked about our native home and about the war, over and again.  There, my father told me sometimes about an adventure he had at Hirschberg, in the Riesengebirge ("Giant's mountain").  He was wounded, living with people privately and had to go to the hospital daily to have his bandage renewed.

One day he was on his way to the hospital again.  Then a woman came toward him. He became attentive, because he realized already from far away that the woman was heavily weeping.  She kept both her hands in front of her face and didn't see and hear anything and bumped into my father.  Only then she took her hands from her face and both their amazement was great.  My father called out: Lieschen, is that you?  And the woman said: Peter, is that you?  They were good friends from a village in Yugoslawia.  And this happened far abroad in Hirschberg.

The woman was named Elisabeth Köhl, she came from our village and was on her flight by train. A few other people from our village also rode on that train.  Just we were not there, we rode in another train. The meeting happened like this. Most of the children in that train had become sick of diphteria.

In Hirschberg the train was shunted aside and the children got vaccinated. All the children stayed well, only one of them was already very sick and had to be put into the hospital.  This was the little 1 year old Helga Köhl. Mrs. Köhl went with her child and stayed there until the child was taken care of, then she had to leave.

She was told to return the next day. When she returned the next day to the hospital, the physician told her that her little had died.  The disease had progressed to far already. She was not allowed to take the child with her because of the danger of contagion.  So she went away, a mother whose child had died, who wasn't allowed to see the child again and not even take it with her and bury it. And just in this hardest hour of her life, far away from home, she ran into a friend from home, a compatriot.

After short questioning about the where from and where to my father went to the station with Mrs. Köhl.  There he greeted all his friends and stayed with them until the train parted.  My father gave promise to Mrs. Köhl immediately that he would take care that little Helga Köhl would get a Christian funeral.  That promise he did keep.

He got help from a nurse of the Hirschberg hospital. The child was laid into a coffin in together with a deceased young woman and buried in a Christian manner. Many years later in 1988, I was at a compatriot meeting in Oftersheim, near Mannheim, for the first time. I went to Heidelberg together with my aunt and her sister.  There Mr. Koch, a cousin of my mother, had come to meet us.

On Saturday noon, we all went together to the Kurpfalz hall and were welcomed by the leading members of the meeting.  One treated each other familiarly, introduced oneself with the maiden name, the name of one's home.  I knew hardly anyone any more and had to search deeply in my memory who might be who.  Amidst the hall, an elderly woman approached us.

She greeted both my aunts, they knew each other well. Then suddenly she turned around to me and asked: And who are you?  I told her I was Schmidt Käthe from Katy.  She opened her eyes widely and asked: Schmidt Peter his daughter?  And when I confirmed, she took me in her arms and started to cry. She kept asking over again: Where is your father, does he still live?  I told her my father had died in January 1970, and learned about that whole story from Hirschberg once more. This time from the other side, as it was Elisabeth Köhl who I talked with. I was able to soothe Mrs. Köhl, I retold all that my father had told me about the funeral of her child. Every two years when we met again in Oftersheim, she talked about how glad she was then in her deep pain to meet my father, a friend from home.  Her son assured me about 10 years later that she had kept talking about Schmidt Peter and the coincidental meeting back then until her demise. 

A few weeks later, after quite some detours, we arrived at Oberösterreich (Upper Austria).  When we arrived at Linz, we were once more shifted unto a side track where we were to wait. We explored the surroundings of the station and even went some stretch into town. A couple of days later, we had again gone to town for a walk, when suddenly the sirens started howling.

We knew what that meant, air-raid alarm! We heard the planes approach, but they were still quite high.  We followed the people and arrived at a large air-raid shelter, it was way down and very strong. We stayed there some time, when a siren howled again.  The sirens gave signal when danger began and when the danger was over, that much we already knew. But this time, it was the all-clear signal and that we didn't know.

People continued on again and we did the same. We wanted to return to the station. Then, quite of a sudden, the sirens, and we already heard the planes.  It was terrible, and we stood there and didn't know where to go.  We didn't find the way back to the air-raid shelter and simply kept running ahead.  When there was another explosion, we ran into buildings, then on in a park, behind a think tree.  But ever more planes arrived, ever more bombs fell down. It was horrible. We knew we had to find some shelter, but where?

In the meantime, two young soldiers had joined us who kept driving us on and took care that we stayed all together.  In the end, we sought shelter within an old bomb crater.  This is a large hole where formerly a bomb had struck.  The hole was so large that a family residence would have fit into it.  We slid down the rim and stood within yellow loam. In this hole we were to keep on about two and a half hours. It was the most heavy bomb attack upon Linz. But it also was the most terrible experience we ever had.

We were laying inside beneath the plain sky and saw the airplanes and the bombs falling down. My foster mother's father kept telling us where to go, always towards the bombs.  At that side we all pressed down flat to the ground.  And this was continuing fast, the bombs fell constantly, sometimes several at once. We didn't even have time to be frightened.

The Opa always says, down, this one won't get us, it's too far to the right, or left. He kept to encourage us and drove us on. When it became quieter after a long time, when no bombs fell any longer, no planes kept coming, we laboriously crept out of our hole.  Before, Linz still was a town, already damaged, but still quite nice.

Now, there were only smoking ruins left and we stood in the middle and didn't know where to go. With much trouble and asking, we found our way to the station through this great chaos. But what had it become. Linz was a big city even then, with a big railway station, but now everything lay in debris and ashes, and there were many fires still.  The rails lay crisscross about. Our wagons lay upside down and far away from there previous place.

After a long search and climbing about upon this mess we were able to find our waggon, it was lying on its side.  We children were heaved up and had to remove the splinters of the broken windows so we were able to crawl within.  All the luggage was mixed up in a mess. With much effort, we removed a few pieces away from the windows. Only then the grown-ups could climb into the car. We carried our luggage out and redistributed it, so we didn't loose our few last belongings, after all.

Hours later there arrived trucks with military, they picked us up, along with our luggage and carried us to the country.  There, we got quarter at some people.  Those people got quarter and still they left without grumble some of the little space they had to others.  There we stayed for about three weeks, until the worst mess was cleaned up and a few tracks could be used again.  Then we were taken up again, and another transport was put together. 

The ride went on.  But we didn't get far, though, till Kirchdorf only, this was but after a couple of hours, then there came low flying air planes. The people of Linz had already told us that something such would ensue.  In front of Kirchdorf, there is a tunnel, and where the train reappeares from the tunnel again, one can already see the station.

There the planes dived down like insects and their machine guns spit fire.  By the time we had reached the station, the first planes had passed already.  We could disembark from the train only in small groups.  Every time when they rose up high to turn around for return, some people were able again to leave the train and run into the station building. That way, it took more than one hour until we all had arrived in the station building. And there were dead and many injured again.

In the station basement all of us met again afterwards, even the lightly injured ones. We got hot tea and something to eat from the Bahnhofs-mission (a Red Cross division). A few hours later the ride went on.  That way, we came to Pießling, a little village near Windischgarsten.  There, we were assigned earth huts by the military.  These huts had been dug by the soldiers, simply about one and a half meter down into the soil, a couple of stairs going down and a pointed roof on top. The roof, though, was not tight, when it was raining, all available buckets and large dishes had to be set below the leaks.

Within the huts, right and left behind there were wooden couches.  Upon them lay some straw, and there each family could find their comfort, very close together.  The front room served as a lounge. In the center a table and a bank at the right and left.  All fixed in the ground, one couldn't move anything.

There were six such huts and lots of people. We fetched the water from a spring running down the mountain. The toilets were also made from wood, just a few for all the huts. There we lived then.  This was about February or March of 1945.  We received food tickets from the community and we had to get around with them.  What we could get for them was so little that it really didn't suffice for life.  We went to the farmers for "hamstering", as they called it these days. [This means, we tried to get as much food as we could and kept it privately as good as possible.] Some potatoes, some flour, that made us already happy.  Sometimes nothing at all, too. They scolded or even chased us away with dogs. The most often used words were: Go to Hitler.  But it wasn't our fault that we had arrived here.

My foster mother cooked spinach from stinging nettle. There was a saw mill at Pießling, owned by one Mr. Pießlinger. Thus the name of the place.  They also had a farm attached, there we could get some milk sometimes, though only without cream. The cream was sold separately.

My foster mother once did show me where in Windischgarsten there was the horse butcher. Sometimes, I had to get up very early in the morning and go to Windischgarsten (about 12 km). Then I had to line up at the horse butcher. Then I could, after around two or three hours waiting, buy a couple of kilograms of horse meat.  Barbara did cut the meat into thin slices, salted and fried it, often without fat, thoroughly on both sides. Then one could eat the meat, otherwise it was not so good, because horse meat tastes slightly sweet.

But at these times we were always hungry and then we ate everything possible. Very often we gathered berries and mushrooms in the woods.  But as we didn't know the mushrooms we mixed them all up.  Just to avoid eating poisonous ones we had them checked by a knowledgeable person.  Some of them were so disgusting that we weren't able to eat them in spite of being hungry.

During this time, my father was wounded and lay in a hospital (Lazaret) in Hirschberg in the Riesengebirge, and we lived in Borwalde, Kreis (district of) Frankenstein, quite close, and we didn't know.  When he was better up (he still had his arm in a sling), he had to rejoin his troops. On his way he made a detour without permit to Wiener-Neustadt.  There he met my brother.  At this time, my brother still lived there. My brother wanted to hide my father, because it was already known that the end of the war was near.  But my father refused to desert still now near the end.  He thought this would not pay for the short time left. If he had been caught they had shot him immediately. And so he went away.  This was the last time he saw my brother.

After that, my brother was missing and never turned up again despite a years lasting search by the Red Cross and also officially, because of an inheritance. 

And thus came the 8th of May, 1945. We still lived in those earth huts.  Then all of a sudden unrest arose among the people. They talked a lot. People stood together on the main road of the village.  Then, there came cars. Many strange cars, and then the message, silently at first, but with increasing volume: "The war is over!."   We shouted, danced and cried on the road. 

The strangers driving through the village in convoys were Americans.  They did occupy Upper Austria at that time. We children looked and were astonished. Out of the cars, they threw chocolate and chewing gum, which latter we didn't even know and swallowed down at first.

In the cars, there sat foreign people, partly blacks, and we never had seen such a thing before. There was exultations. At long last, no war any more.  But what to do now? Life went on, no work, no food, no place to live.  By chance we got to know a farmer's wife, who had her farm on the Dammberg, at an altitude of about 1300 m. Somewhat above the farm, there was a little house and a barn beside. But what was the most important, there was a cellar wherein they put the potatoes in fall, heavenly. The farmer's wife left us the house together with the barn, and in turn Liesl, a 16 years old sister of my foster mother, had to work on the farm as a maidservant.

There we arranged ourselves as good as possible. Every family got one room. Barbara and I had a bed in the kitchen.  In the large room, there resided the parents and two younger sisters of Barbara. In the barn lived her brother with his wife and an alien family with two children.  Barbara's brother was an epileptic and thus not a soldier.

At this place, we lived from summer 1945 until spring of 1946. In the meantime, we had got notice by acquaintances, who were in a camp in Linz, that most of our compatriots were in Germany.   Thus we applied for a leave and some time later got permission to exit with the next transport. We were to go to Linz by train and in Linz the transport was to depart.  But there was everything smashed and bombed out. There were so many refugees who wanted to go there from here. The transport was postponed and we were distributed again among the farmers.

We were sent close to Bad Hall.  The place all consisted of large and lonely farms, we had to walk several kilometers to the nearest village.  Even the farms were lying very far apart. What we already had learned in Pießling on the Dammberg, we got to recall here again.  Respecting the cattle, when passing a large meadow.  If a cow was stubborn or angry, then there wasn't anything left but to run as fast as possible unto the nearest fence and quickly surmount it.  We lived with this farmer until early August of 1945, then time had  come at last. We were carried to Linz by truck and when all people had arrived the transport went on its way at last. 

On 29th of August, 1946, we arrived at Pforzheim main station by train. Again we were carried by truck to the villages around.  We came to Göbrichen together with a couple of other families.  It was a small farmer's village then. In the school building another camp was set up, and that was our last station for the time being. 

The End

[Published at DVHH.org by Jody McKim Pharr, 2006]