Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 7 / Part 7b: Sojourning in Donnersdorf Au, Austria

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 7:

Surviving on an Austrian Farm (and Elsewhere) After World War II  —  Jakob and Katarina Webel Family,  Hoping for a New Home

Part 7b:  SOJOURNING IN  DONNERSDORF  AU,  AUSTRIA

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.  But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.  (Leviticus 19:33-34)

Webel-dozen-Austria.top-halfWebel-dozen-Austria.bottom-half

Jakob & Katarina Webel family, immigrants in Austria

 [The ongoing interview of Jakob & Katarina Webel resumes from Part 7a, which see at: https://rockdoveblog.wordpress.com/2018/12/27/volksdeutsche-by-the-dozen-part-7-surviving-on-an-austrian-farm-part-7a-reaching-donnersdorf-au-austria/ .]

The Austrian farmland, where the Webel family sojourned (after emigrating from Yugoslavia), is shown at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sIo9_5tmEM , titledJakob & Katharina Webel history – Donnersdorf Au, Austria # 1”.

 


DAD:   Then we came there, I have to explain to that farmer again, our purpose, our aim, so I told him, we need only a place, the horses where to be, and food for the horses and a shelter where we could sleep and live, and for that, the horses will work for him and I. We did agree, I don’t ask to pay something for me. I don’t ask to feed the family, just that. And then he sold us [perhaps the verb “sold” here means “leased”, i.e., “rented” via barter for services to be performed by the Webel family], not far here is orchard, maybe like to that house over there, is  between orchard and …

 DAUGHTER:   How many feet is that, Dad?

MOM:   About 100 yards.

DAD:   But here is a way, is over there.

 MOM:   Road where the wagons go.

DAD:   And over there we could stay, and there was before we came, there was the prisoner of war, German, the soldiers from Poland or from America, was prisoner of war there and they were there sleeping and there was the house were there, a bedroom, a kitchen, and a barn, and a basement.

 MOM:   Not a “barn” — a “stall”.

 DAUGHTER:   A stall.

DAD:   A stall, and so. And we could have that, and was in, fenced in with barbed wire, that high, like a ceiling, and so, in the night they was fenced in because they sleep there and they go to work, but now is nobody there, but here bed, beds- 2×2. No, no, no. From the woods cut up, trees, wood that high, and the 2×4 back so men could lay that way or that way, how he want to lay.

 MOM:   Long was 2 yards. this way or this way.

DAD:   A bottom and on the top. So it had 2 layer.

 MOM:   And just straw, nothing else, no blanket or nothing, just straw.

DAD:   So that is there. In the kitchen was a stove, wood stove, built. So we put the horses in and we are there at home now.

 MOM:   Then we sit down and then they come with a bowl-full, like a farmer’s kit in, there’s almost nothing in, just good, made good though, we had for long time not so good food.

DAD:   They give us to eat, bring us to eat anyhow.

 MOM:   Supper, for milk for the children to drink and so.

DAD:   The farmers, because they are far from a city, they do not have to deliver the milk to the state, just only the-

 MOM:   Cream.

DAD:   The cream. Every morning they take the cream off, that farmer had to bring so and so much cream, that so and so much cream, and so, they have skim milk as much as they want.

 MOM:   Skim milk they feed, the people, swine.

DAD:   And so the next morning I went to work.

 DAUGHTER:   This farmer had what? He had cows?

DAD:   He had cows, he had pigs.

 DAUGHTER:   He had chickens.

 MOM:   Oh, yeah, lots of chicken there.

 DAUGHTER:   He had an orchard which contained? Apples?

DAD:   Oh, yeah, mostly apples.

 MOM:   Apples and pears and plums.

 DAUGHTER:   What did he farm?

DAD:   Corn and everything.

 DAUGHTER:   Wheat?

DAD:   Wheat.

 DAUGHTER:   Vegetables?

 MOM:   Soy beans.

DAD:   Not vegetables for   – – – cucumbers, spinach and so…

 MOM:   Cucumbers, lots of cucumbers. Wagons full.

DAD:   Like every farmer, whatever you could sell.

 MOM:   Pumpkins, couple acres.

DAD:   At that time the people were hungry for everything, whatever you could sell good.

 DAUGHTER:   Okay. Next morning you got up.

DAD:   Got up, whatever he said, plow, plow, disk , disk.

 DAUGHTER:   What time of year was this when you came to this farmer? Towards the fall.

DAD:   This was almost the fall, the second hay was ready to be cut.

 DAUGHTER:   So August. About August.

 MOM:   July or August, yes.

 DAUGHTER:   Well, Mom, Rosie was born the end of June.

DAD:   Yeah.

 MOM:   Yes.

DAD:   And if Rosie was 2 months old, it was the end of August, could be, could be.

 MOM:   It was 7 weeks she was old, I remember that  —  7 weeks old.

 DAUGHTER:   Did you have to have her birth documented anyplace when she was born?

 DAD:   When she was born, we get right away the document.

 DAUGHTER:   That was down in town.

 MOM:   Over there, yeah.

 DAUGHTER:   Courthouse or something? Which courthouse?

 MOM:   Obersel.

DAD:   That is like a Magistrate.

 DAUGHTER:   Magistrate, okay. You got up in the morning and did what the farmer wanted you to do. Why did he plow? Was it for a fall plow?

DAD:   Whatsoever[3] was he telled me to do, I did with the horses. Hauling manure, and in the fall they had-, they farmers are a people that way, the whole water, not only the water, the stall is here, the cows, and the drainage goes down in a cistern, this is mixed with rain water that came, and that they had pumps that put it in tanks, horses pull them on the hill, and in fall just pull them down-

 MOM:   Down the hill.

DAD:   Downhill.

 MOM:   That’s the only way.

DAD:   Only in the orchard everywhere.

 DAUGHTER:   That’s how they fertilize.

DAD:   Yeah, they fertilize that beside the manure. So if I could remember what’s I did there for which day but whichever he did, and Mom, in the morning, every day went to the house lady, she was single, “What can I do?“

 MOM:   What can I help? She had lots of workers.

DAD:   Then we had for years could buy no shirt, no material, no pants, no nothing. Everything was torn and the back was…

 MOM:   Made from 3, 4 pieces.

DAD:   Yeah, so Mom could, Mom did sew for her?

 MOM:   And make a garden.

DAD:   And go in the field.

 MOM:   Afternoon, all of, all afternoon, every afternoon we went to the field, worked with the other people.

 DAUGHTER:   Who took care of Rosie? Elsa?

 MOM:   Elsa. She bring her on the wagon to get-, then I give her-, in the afternoon later she bring her out walking on the road, in the field.

DAD:   Bring her to her….                                                                       

DAUGHTER:   Because you nursed her.

 MOM:   Nurse her. That was the only [option].

 DAUGHTER:   Did Elsa take care of all the children?

 MOM:   And then Robert was small and the house lady, she loved this Robert so much in the house, even her own too, they do all kinds of things with him. He was very active and cute and listen to all kinds of … she feed him. In evenings I came home and he’s not hungry, not at all. And she feed him butter and bread and all kinds of things.

 DAUGHTER:   This is where he’d hang on the cow’s tail.

 MOM:   On — yeah, yeah.

DAD:   Yeah, the cows are outside in the field, not in the field, that are fenced in, but here, in the pastures and escape now, that caught on any other pasture, and when the time came, the cow know the time is to go home.

 MOM:   They have kind of hollered to this cow, and then now the time they came all at of the gate.

DAD:   Somebody had to open the gate.

 MOM:   This Robert, everything he knows, open this gate, pull this heavy thing to pull them out of the loops, put them down on the floor, and the cows, they step over, they are used to this.

DAD:   Yeah, and so, and was nothing new if he pulls the cow on the tail, and follows…

 MOM:   Yeah, they had cows, very old cows, and very good cow, very slow, slow, just they had so much milk they cannot walk anymore in the evening. He hold them on tail till the cows went] in the fenced in area] … and they like it, they like him.[4]

DAD:   And he was … everything.

 MOM:   The farmer, all day long he had him on his horse, and he walks beside the wagon and Robert is riding the horse.

 DAUGHTER:   No, Robert was almost 4 years old then. Three.

DAD:   About 2½.

 MOM:   Well, we lived there 4 years with the farmer.

DAD:   He was always there. When we came…-

 MOM:   Then he came home and he said-

DAD:   First day, first day was not so. First day is everything shy, everything is strange, and little by little you are acquainted. When the fall came, there are many big pumpkins and they oh, they have to pick out the seed from the pumpkin. The seed is very good for making oil.

 MOM:   And cannot eat them, they should not eat them, it is not good for them, they get sick.

 DAUGHTER:   But they can eat the rind.

 MOM:   Oh, yeah. That’s the food. Cooking.

DAD:   And our children went there to clean that up.

 MOM:   They have to pick out about 50 pumpkins every day for this feeding pig. See, they was feeding pigs for selling and raising the young ones for themselves every year. Just like a mound, big mound. They had 60 fat pigs and then they had small.

 DAUGHTER:   Sow. Little baby pigs.

 MOM:   Yeah, baby pigs with  …  3, 4 mothers with the little ones.

DAD:   And interesting is that, by that farmer, the man eat all on the same table but all on the same bowl. Every man had his own spoon, and the table is round, you go round and eat from the same bowl, everyone, and then your own spoon, you wipe off on the tablecloth and put in the drawer and tomorrow you take your own spoon. You know which spoon is. So if you clean it up good yesterday, it is clean. If you don’t clean it so good, it is not clean. You will clean off with towel.

 MOM:   Put their marks on the spoon and this is your spoon. They know it.

DAD:   And the dishes when the…, here is the kitchen, here we have a kitchen, we eat, and behind the kitchen is another kitchen for the pigs kitchen they call it. There are here big kettles, they cook here in that big kettles, the pumpkin or the riva (turnips).[5]

 DAUGHTER:   Tell me what you’re talking about. Give me information.

 MOM:   Like red beets, just white beets.

DAD:   Beets, big beets.

 MOM:   Not sugar beets, but they were beets for the cooking.

DAD:   They cook for the pigs.

 MOM:   They cook them and smash them.

DAD:   And when that is hot, they go with that bowl we are eating put them . . . .

MOM:   In this cooking.

DAD:   . . . because all that wet stuff goes there and that’s just clean and the water pump..

 MOM:   Then they had in there, corner, a water pump, right away a pump and we get a hand pump and is a big cement bowl, not a bowl even-

DAD:   Yeah, like, yeah.

 MOM:   You know….

DAD:   That’s their washing.                                                                                         

MOM:   That’s their….

DAD:   But the . . .

MOM:   . . . rinse in place and put them there on the shelf.

 DAD:   But they feed the pigs for selling. Every pig have different, his own cage, where they are. And every pig had his own bowl that they eat. They never eat together. That pig has that much and then there, that pig has that, cannot eat here.

 MOM:   And they get very good food. They get milk and corn mixed, grounded corn, the mill came and ground the corn for them.

DAD:   But they are that small, their cage, they could hardly turn around.  When they got fat and big, they could not anymore turn around. They could just eat there and lay down.

 MOM:   They had cement and this is always clean. This cement, they just pull them out, the dirt is never dirty, always clean there.

DAD:   I mean, the men eat all of the same bowl, the pigs!

 MOM:   The pigs have their own.

 DAUGHTER:   Separate bowls.     ( LAUGHTER )

DAD:   That I worked as every time.

 MOM:   And they milk lots of cows there. Everyone had milk-

 DAUGHTER:   How many cows, approximately?

 MOM:   Oh, 20, 25, and 30, some so they leave the cream.

DAD:   And we were there, we came very good out, everywhere we go. We didn’t demand much and but we do work good and the people was everywhere good with us. They gave us freely. So later on they gave us even a whole pig for butcher without agreement.

MOM:   Without any thing. They said Mrs. Webel was coming, all, all afternoon, every afternoon she came over and she give the free pig.

 DAD:   For a while I did eat with them on the table, and then I stop, no, I would not eat.

 MOM:   Dad cannot eat with them.

DAD:   Then they [ask] why? They come and kind of upset why?

 MOM:   They were very upset.

DAD:   And Mom explained that I am not used to that eat off one bowl and all together, I get, I stay hungry. I came home and cook anyhow. You don’t have to give anything more. Just we will eat. And I went with, we did eat at home and went to work there.

 MOM:   I told her, Hannah, is she called. He satisfied with your food what you are cooking. He is not able to eat so to carry his food so far.

DAD:   They have now here in a bowl full with at this, say sour kraut, and then they cut a piece of meat on top here.

 MOM:   Thin sliced, eat like a spoon with peas.

DAD:   Thin sliced. With a spoon, I see him take it and put in food in the mouth. You need no knife. No knife, no fork just a spoon.

 MOM:   No fork on the table.

DAD:   You eat from yours, this side and that man eat from you his side, that man eats from his side.

 MOM:   Some is more fortunate, some get more meat.

DAD:   And some take care, just from top, the meat, first, and take 1, 2, 3 piece of meat, till you get 1.  And so on.

 MOM:   I then I told her, when you want, you can give me. I cook every day for my whole family and then I can cook for him too. You can give me once in a while when you want. A few eggs or a piece of butter or ..a chicken.

DAD:   And you could not live without money, you need always something, and our money did run out.

 DAUGHTER:   How much money did you take with you? Any idea?

DAD:   Our money run out.

 MOM:   We had …

DAD:   Now we need some money. We got ration card for milk, so and so much milk. And there are people, they pay us so much for the ration card and we give it, sell the ration card.

 MOM:   We sell the ration card for money.

DAD:   We sell the ration card for the tobacco. Then for Christmas or for Easter or some, we sell the ration card for the small children– nothing special, chocolate or coffee or something.

 MOM:   Conserva.

 DAUGHTER:   That’s like jam and jelly and stuff like that..

 DAD:   Yeah. Just meat, fish or so..

 MOM:   Yeah, only is like is now, tuna fish or something in this.

 DAUGHTER:   Sardines or something.

 MOM:   There was chocolate and all kinds of things for little children.

DAD:   But we could not afford that and we are not used to that kind of stuff even when we was in Yugoslavia so we sell that and we get money for that for a few groceries. And again we run out from money. Then Mom gave, also, you got to ? 3 spoons spool of thread, goes to the farmer house, and offer the children, Elsie or Reini or 2, 3 together and sell that for how much they get for it.

 MOM:   Not for money.

DAD:   Not money. Eggs, we need eggs or we need now butter, or we need that or we need that. Not sugar.

 MOM:   We get butter on the ration card, just we sell this ration cards.

 DAUGHTER:   This was after you left the farm.

 DAD:   No, [we’re] still on the farm.

 MOM:   We on the farm.

DAD:   And so we got that.

 MOM:   Dad made a big garden. We can make garden how big we want it.

 DAD:   That fence what we had around this, I cut them in the middle and that fence, I made a garden and orchard was just orchard in there, wild, and put garden in like we would use-

          [interruption in interview due to changing audiotape]

Webel-family-in-Austria.circa-AD1946.png

MOM:   The children…

DAD:   From the horses, the manure, not straw, just the fresh manure, filled up the garden, between the plants. And the children all day long pump, you know, up and down, up and down, fill up, fill up.

 MOM:   They had to stay home or they had to work, they had to all day long just pump on this hand pump.

 DAUGHTER:   The water.

DAD:   Yeah, the water, in the garden and the tomatoes grow that high and everything grows that high.

 MOM:   Peppers was so big, a whole pound meat you can put in one pepper, so big a pepper. We never had them and never will have them.

 DAD:   It was before and ever after. You cannot even believe it.

 DAUGHTER:   For a stuffed pepper, you could put a whole pound of meat in one pepper.

DAD:   You could, yes.

 MOM:   Could, you could not even use them, we sell them.

DAD:   We had the pepper since that time from Yugoslavia.

 MOM:   And the people came from the big cities on this farmers and get the tomatoes and the peppers in bags.

 DAUGHTER:   How big were your tomatoes? No, no, no.

 MOM:   Tomatoes, yeah, all [were big].

 DAUGHTER:   Make huge?

MOM:   Oh, like a softball.

 DAUGHTER:   Larger.

DAD:   Not all, not all, some are small.  But they big, you couldn’t put in [a small] shopping bag.

 MOM:   The vines were so big with so many on, you cannot believe.

 DAUGHTER:   Did you stake your tomatoes?

DAD:   Oh yes.

 MOM:   Yeah, stake them with this was tunnel. You had to crawl under there or under there, there was tunnel here and tunnel over there.

 DAUGHTER:   So you had peppers and tomatoes in your garden. What else?

 MOM:   All kinds of stuff.

 DAUGHTER:   And you sold most everything that you didn’t use?

 MOM:   Yah, then we had the parsley, and we had carrots and we had all kinds of things. And I can go on her farm and help her. Not help, picking for her, and later they was so used to me, they let me even plant everything, whatever.

DAD:   When the time came to plant the Kürbis, how you say…?

 MOM:   Pumpkin.  [The German word for “pumpkin” is Kürbis.]

 DAUGHTER:   Pumpkin.

DAD:   They plant a pumpkins or maybe a big wheel barrow full good manure-

 MOM:   On one pile.

DAD:   . . .on one pile, and then dirt from every side of-, that is a flatbed that high and that big at least in the girth.

 MOM:   Far apart, far apart.

DAD:   But Mom put the seed on them.

 MOM:   They let never nobody put the seed in, just I, they wait for me. Everything is ready, all the men and all are working on this hills of acres of-, then I had to go put the seeds in for the cucumbers and they said, we never had, that’s the best thing, they all grow what I put in, never failed once.

DAD:   We had melons, they had never seen melons before, grown.

 DAUGHTER:   Watermelons, Dad?

DAD:   Maybe they see in city.

 MOM:   Watermelons and the muskmelons.

 DAUGHTER:   Watermelons.

 MOM:   Watermelons and muskmelons.

DAD:   It’s just a clod [?];  I could work this.

 MOM:   And then they was very nice, very nice, big watermelons, the whole field was full. If somebody went out from the workers, cut them a square in and turn them over. The next thing was when I came out, I said, somebody was in our melon field and turned all the melons upside-down. Where everyone was I was looking, had a hole in it, in 4 square. Cut in four, was not waiting, I told them, you wait,[6]  – – – – They [say that they] “never saw it”. They saw it just from us.  They tasted how they looks from our garden, just I planted them in the field where they let us.

DAD:   How many, we plant them for us.

 DAUGHTER:   Did he ruin them then?

 MOM:   Yes.

DAD:   We planted for us and we had enough and we gave it to taste [as a sample[7]] and they like it.  Then they said, we got plenty fields, why not plant for us?

 MOM:   For all the people.

DAD:   So we did. But they were anxious to eat them, they are big and they don’t know when it’s ripe so they go, cut a hole, that’s not ripe, turn over so no one can see.

 MOM:   Yeah, on the yellow part, spot is on the top. You can see it… So I don’t have to plant any more green beans in our garden. I had enough on the field how many I want. I planted for them, they had bushels and bushels.

 DAUGHTER:   Did you preserve any of these for winter?

 MOM:   No, we don’t have bottles.

DAD:   Over there was born Jacob.

 DAUGHTER:   In this place.

DAD:   In this place.

 MOM:   Katie.

DAD:   And Katie.

 DAUGHTER:   Then you were there longer than 4 years.

DAD:   We were there from ’45 to ’50.

 DAUGHTER:   Yeah.

 MOM:   Longer, we was long there. This was a …

 DAUGHTER:   When did you leave [Donnersdorf Au, Austria] then in 1950 and why did you leave?

[to be continued, D.v.]


The next report (D.v.) concludes with Part 8 of the chronicle of the Webel family exodus, with further perils and adventures as sojourning refugees (“displaced persons”) as they leave the farm at Donnersdorf Au, in Austria, and seek a new temporary home in Austria – all the while hoping and planning to emigrate to America, to settle there, near the family of Jakob Webel’s sister in Ohio.

In God’s providence, that migration would occur, successfully, with some of their future offspring, descended from young Robert Webel (who was just a baby when the Webel family left Yugoslavia for Germany, and who guided Austrian cows as a toddler!), namely Nate and Luke Webel, sons of Steve Webel (Robert Webel’s son), to eventually arrive on Earth as native Texans.

That same Robert Webel (who emigrated from Yugoslavia, as a baby, with his family fleeing Communism) is the father of Stephen Webel, who is father (by his wife Erica) of brothers Nate and Luke Webel, the two native Texans mentioned in the earlier episodes of this series.  (Thus Robert Webel, born during WWII, is the paternal grandfather of Nate, Luke, and their sisters.)

><> JJSJ   profjjsj@aol.com


Webel-family-pose.AD1951

References

[ NOTICE:  since Part 7b continues from Part 7a, the endnotes resume at # 3 ]

[3] Notice that “whatsoever” is King James English  — this is because Mr. and Mrs. Webel learned English, in America, from reading the King James Bible. By comparing a Scripture text in a Bible translation of an already-known language (such as a German Bible translation), to the same text in the King James Bible, the Webels could learn how to say the same thing in English.  Thus, the King James English version of the Holy Bible provided a convenient source of English vocabulary (i.e., serving as a bilingual dictionary/lexicon) by which the Webels could enhance/expand their English vocabulary, as immigrants who came to America not knowing English.

[4] This is one of the early signs that Robert Webel was a very remarkable young man – the magnificent destiny that God had in store, for young Robert (l/k/a “Bob”), would later be revealed in America – including his Biblical training at Moody Bible Institute, and his marriage to Marcia Alley, and their family, and Bob’s ministry in many places (including years of service as youth/college pastor at Montrose Baptist Church in Rockville, Maryland). Ironically, even these Austrian cows knew that Robert Webel was an extraordinary boy to be trusted.

[5] The German word for “turnip” is Steckrübe.

[6] Mom is talking about how some of the greedy men would be impatient to eat some of the watermelons that were still growing; those men would sneakily cut a square out of the top of a growing watermelon, remove the slice to eat, then hide their theft by turning the watermelon upside down (so that the cut part was on the ground, unseen by someone walking by. Mom told the men: “you wait!” (but the men claimed that they never saw any such theft occur.)    Mom was right, of course — with patience there would be bigger watermelons for eating.

[7] Jakob and Katarina Webel never lost their marketing skills, as merchants, even when working on a farm in Austria.

Webel-dozen.newspaper-photo

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen AD1951


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Dr. James J. S. Johnson is a member of the German-Texas Heritage Society, and an occasional contributor to its Journal pages.  A lover and teacher of Providential history and geography, Jim has taught at 4 different Christian colleges (LeTourneau University, Dallas Christian College, Concordia University Texas at Fort Worth, and ICR School of Biblical Apologetics) in Texas, as well as aboard 9 different cruise ships. As a C.P.E.E. (Certified Paternity Establishment Entity, credentialed by the Texas Attorney General’s Office), Jim maintains a strong interest in family history documentation. After studying under many teachers, at many schools, Jim happily acknowledges that his best teacher (under God) was Chaplain Robert (Bob) Webel.


 

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 7: Surviving on an Austrian Farm / Part 7a: Reaching Donnersdorf Au, Austria

Jakob & Katarina Webel family, AD1951: "Volksdeutsche by the Dozen"

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 7:

Surviving on an Austrian Farm (and Elsewhere) After World War II  —  Jakob and Katarina Webel Family, Hoping for a New Home

Part  7a:  REACHING  DONNERSDORF  AU,  AUSTRIA

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee….  (Genesis 26:3a).

In this seventh episode of the “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen” family history series, the ethnic-German family of Jakob and Katarina Webel, after evacuating from their former home in (what is today) Croatia, and having traveled through Germany, as a refugee family, during the last months of World War II, – plus sojourning as farmers for ~5 years (AD1945-AD1950) in Donnersdorf Au (Austria), and thereafter in Graz (Austria), they hoped and planned (e.g., in Salzburg, Austria) for a new home in Ohio (America), near the sister of Mr. Jakob Webel.

Webel-dozen.newspaper-photo

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen AD1951


During years on the Donnersdorf Au farm, the Webel family raise many vegetables, including pumpkins, watermelons, carrots, beans, parsley, etc., plus raising farm animals, e.g., pigs, chickens, and cows.  Even after 60+ years, little Robert Webel is remembered for how he would hold onto a trusting cow’s tail!  Regarding little Robert Webel’s fame in Donnersdorf Au (Austria), a local recalls his unique toddler personality – 61 years later!  [See 14:46 (of 19.55) in the YouTube posted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSsZea7Vhww .]


For a YouTube mini-documentary of the Webel years in Donnersdorf Au, Austria, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sIo9_5tmEM , titledJakob & Katharina Webel history – Donnersdorf Au, Austria # 1”. This video footage features Elisabeth Webel Yovichin, her daughter Kristy Yovichin Steiner, her son David Yovichin, and David’s wife Sandy Folia Yovichin (i.e., Elisabeth Webel Yovichin’s daughter-in-law). This 17-minute-long video-recorded visit to Donnerdorf Au occurred in May of AD20110. (In the video Elisabeth Webel Yovichin mentioned that her father (Jakob Webel) dies in AD1989, and that her mother (Katarina Webel) dies in AD2002.  This family history is continued in “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Donnersdorf Au, Austria # 2”, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSsZea7Vhww . See also Bad Radkersburg [Austria] – Mom’s School”, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qa6Q-2QAFQE  and “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Graz, Austria”, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdghufYbLvU .

A related video episode reports on the Webel family’s sojourning time in Germany, as refugees, titled “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Obernzell & Winzer, Germany” [where a flour mill was located], at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnTM3Sb1Ve8 .

For a quick slide-show overview of the Webel family’s refugee years in Europe, see David Yovichin’s “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Europe (with Mom [Elisabeth Webel] Yovichin) – Slideshow”, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmXVzrMqC2A . This 11-minute youtube mini-documentary (accompanied by music that aptly fits the providential history depicted by the video footage “slides”) provides highlights from the entire series of video episodes noted here, with helpful geography indicators from time to time.

More related video episodes (by David Yovichin) include: “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Vinkovci, Croatia”, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGbI76ODOAo; “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Marinci, Croatia # 1”  at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GM9dHiE_URI – followed by https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fzkEk5tvcA “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Marinci, Croatia # 2”, – followed by “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Marinci, Croatia # 3”, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlvlf7Ob20k  — followed by “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Marinci, Croatia # 4”, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GrQooRzHCQ  – followed by “Jakob & Katharina Webel history – Marinci, Croatia # 5”, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVjvoBPbOug .


[CHRONOLOGY CORRIGENDUM NOTE: In the interview excerpt quoted below, the interviewing daughter is identified as a Webel girl born during April of AD1949. However, in earlier episodes of this series,[1] I reported the interviewing daughter as Rosie Webel, since she is the one who actually produced (i.e., authored) the transcribed interview as a family history. But the actual interview questions  —  at least those appearing on page 163  —  cannot have been asked by Rosalie Webel, the ultimate author/producer of the Webel family record (“FROM VINKOVCI TO MEDINA”), because Rosie is reported as 6 years old (see newspaper photo and caption, above) during early AD1951, so she would have been born about 4 years before the daughter whose questions are recorded on page 163. However, Katherina (shown in Mr. Jakob Webel’s arms, in the above-shown newspaper photograph, is then reported as age “2”.  Accordingly, although the arithmetic is not a precise fit (because a child born during April AD1949 would be almost-but-not-yet “2” years old, as of March 19th of AD1951), it appears that the interviewing daughter, who is referred to on page 163, must be Katherina (a/k/a “Katie” – see also pages 156, 162, 168-169), since she was born during early AD1949. This correction should be imputed to prior episodes that apparently err when indicating Rosie as the interviewing daughter.]

 

Webel-family-pose.AD1951

Jakob & Katarina Webel family, AD1951: “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen”

How can the Webel family survive, as refugees, outside their native Yugoslavia? What about food, shelter, hygiene, and some kind of stable future for family living? For immediate survival, as refugees, what can they do, as they plan for a permanent solution to the problem of being forced to escape their homeland (and earlier life as merchants there)?  What must the “new normal” be, until a permanent home can be established, somewhere?  Where to live, now?  Where to live, later?  And how can a successful transition be made, to eventually settle in

a new homeland with a new home, where they can live according to their faith and values, as ethnic-German “Nazarene” Anabaptists? None of this will be easy!

[This interview quotes pages 116-172, From Vinkovci to Medina.]

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

 DAD:   Now we are alone. We are alone. That other family left and we are alone. Very good, we go with 6 small children and waiting another to go. Where could we go? Here is the Danube River, beside the river is a road. Always in the mountains, between the mountains where the river is, .  .  .  .

 DAUGHTER:   What for?

 MOM:   The river is there. They fall down. This a kind of fence like here they build on the bridges.

DAD:   Just a post here and a post there, mark every half kilometer or whatsoever. So our ship, the Hungarian soldier, they bound it, they fasten it here and there on 2 posts in the front, in the back, so we are here anchored. Everybody is left, we are there, our everything(?). So I, with Reini, what do we do? We could not stay here. No houses, no neighbor, no people living there, so we went out looking for something. We found an old and new automobiles or trucks but nobody knows how to drive it and nobody had a key and we found a farmer, he had a horse and we bought the horse and a buggy.

 DAUGHTER:   With the money originally from-

DAD:   Yeah, yeah.

 MOM:   From all the stuff.

DAD:   We bought that for money, some money. Then we had-

 DAUGHTER:   Where did you get that money?

DAD:   I told you. We had the money from before.

DAUGHTER:   That’s what I wanted to know.

 DAD:   We had the transfer from Yugoslav money, make German money. And beside that we had in a-, more than we had, I had to put in the bank and I got now received over half million in Germany money, that I got just a receipt, that’s all. And money is not much.

 DAUGHTER:   A receipt.

DAD:   Money is not much so we will give that farmer that bottle filled with margarine. And that-

 MOM:   And the stove and all kinds of stuff.

DAD:   Food whatever we could not carry. And we loaded all the-

 MOM:   The rice.

DAD:   Loaded all in that buggy and we had a small buggy made like a big buggy, little bit larger than that, like a big buggy, that we had from

DAD:   Yugoslavia already.

 MOM:   Four years.

DAD:   And we loaded that and hang on the big buggy.

 DAUGHTER:   How big was this wagon?

DAD:   This wagon was little bit bigger than that.

 DAUGHTER:   No, the big wagon.

DAD:   The big wagon. Oh, how big?

 DAUGHTER:   Like for baling hay?

 MOM:   Three yards long and almost that, like that.

DAD:   Not like that, little bit shorter, but about that short.

 DAUGHTER:   And as wide as-

DAD:   Like they are normally.

 MOM:   10 feet by 5 feet.

 DAUGHTER:   Was it covered?

 MOM:   No, was open.

 DAUGHTER:   Flat wagon?

 MOM:   No, wagon with sides.

 DAUGHTER:   Flat bed or just a shell inside?

DAD:   No, not shell. That high the sides, just 2 feet high.

 DAUGHTER:   And how many horses?

DAD:   One.

 MOM:   One, one.

DAD:   And we want to go, how far? The first place where is a hospital or where are a nurse.

 DAUGHTER:   Yeah, when you were 9 months or 8 months pregnant, right?

DAD:   Not farther but that much. First our intention was to get home before we got the baby.

 MOM:   While this was taking weeks and weeks.

DAD:   But it takes time so, that all, so now is the time, we came in the first town, what was the name?

 MOM:   Obersel.

DAD:   Then we get there, came in a city hall, you call it here a city hall. All we said was we need, but they have not. They are not obligated to give us something because we are now no more refugee. We are no more-, when we was in the Winsor, they are obligated to give us everything, now we are our own.

 DAUGHTER:   What made that determination?

DAD:   Because we left, we left by our own free will.

 MOM:   Free will to go home.

DAD:   We left our home. So, but they gave us ration card, every city when we came, our ration card, we got the food, we got that family….

 MOM:   So far we had them and then we get food for them.

DAD:   And they have nothing but they have a barracks, army barracks, through that road on, that’s uphill so far, and then the other part, they is plenty room, you could lodge there. So, what to do? Lets go, there nothing to do, nothing, so we go uphill and go, go, go, cannot farther pull the wagon.

 MOM:   Horse cannot go farther.

DAD:   So what yet? Unload the half stuff, half children stay there, and wait, and we go up. When we get up there, horse, we unload that, and when the Hungarian people and other kind people in that filled up the barracks but you’ve got room. And the people say, ‘you want to came over here? In that state is full with bed bugs.’ If you know what bed bugs is.

 MOM:   Want this. No. You cannot sleep in this house.

DAD:   But we passed a water mill, for food grounding flour, was a small more river, we pass that. That just one house, nothing, we pass it. No, we will not stay there, Mom goes to the children.

 MOM:   I said, don’t unload it, we go back. Let me go. I said, let’s me go. Okay.

DAD:   So Mom went down with Else.

 MOM:   Took Else, left them there.

DAD:   We stayed there.

 MOM:   He’s talking to this people, all kinds.

DAD:   We stay there not unloading and that’s some children are there, I do not know which one but Reini probably know. So Mom came there to that mill on the way.

 MOM:   Mill lady.

DAD:   She pass by the mill lady and stopped by her and talked with her and ask her for a place to live.

 MOM:   To stay overnight.

DAD:   And that lady, she had not very good living with her husband, and the husband was the owner from that mill and her husband and her husband’s brother, they work. They run the mill, the two men, and now was the husband sleeping and brother-in-law was working. So that woman has compassion with Mom, Mom promise her she give her that rice and give her that and that, and they had built a small cabin. There was 2 men sleeping there and baking bread for the soldier because that, not soldier, but for the civilian taken in the war defending, but this was a, was a small building for that purpose.

 MOM:   Just for making bread.

DAD:   There was beds there, not a bed, just to sleep in, to make bread and tables and they taked their own. And if you are satisfied with that, I will [?].

 MOM:   She show me this little room and she said, I can you give this overnight, my husband is now asleep, just you can have this little room, that’s the only thing what I have. I said, I don’t mind, just even the barn where your cows lay.

DAD:   She was satisfied with that.

 MOM:   Then we agreed both, and I went up there.

DAUGHTER:   How big was this little cabin?

DAD:   Cabin was about like our own kitchen.

 DAUGHTER:   About the size of your kitchen?

DAD:   About.

 MOM:   About 10 x 10.

DAD:   No, not like that. Was small and long.

 MOM:   Small and long.

DAD:   It’s okay. So Mom agreed and she get back to us and we, with the horse, go downhill, there is up there unload our stuff and went there, bring the other stuff with the children. And we did have covered up our wagon.

DAUGHTER:   With a tarp.

DAD:   Yes.

 MOM:   With some cover.

DAD:   And the bigger children slept there in the wagon. We make them sleep there. And so when in the morning or when the husband woke up, the owner, he was, when she told him, he was very upset and very mad.

 MOM:   He almost throw her away, threw her out of the house.

DAD:   Very upset and very mad, loud because she did it. And why he was upset so much? It’s, again, a reason. When the German army fell apart, there was many horses, German horses everywhere and prisoner of war go, take that horse and that horse, we will go home, the prisoner of war, to Poland land or to Yugoslavia and take the horses along. So we need a horse and that horses eat this farmer’s, that mill owner’s and farmer what…  his food here and there and he could do nothing about because-

DAUGHTER:   His wheat. His wheat they eat.

DAD:   His wheat and his hay, and everything and he could do nothing about because they are, they win the war. I have to be quiet, they could shoot me.

 MOM:   They can shoot our whole family out of our house.

DAD:   What could I do, so he was quiet, but now she-, but these men, American, before we came, the American put them together, all of their prisoner of war in the big autos, took them home, no horses.

 MOM:   No horses. Leave all those horses on the way.

DAD:   They thought they will take the horses along, but the American take the men home. You are from Poland, to Poland, Yugoslavian to Yugoslavia, wherever they belong. Now the men is get rid of the Polish horses, now we came with horse and he had nothing.

 MOM:   He had nothing.

 DAUGHTER:   He was jealous that you had a horse and he had nothing?

DAD:   No, no. Our horse get to eat his stuff.

 DAUGHTER:   He didn’t want your horse eating his stuff.

DAD:   Was little bit what he had, was left. Not jealous of me.

 MOM:   See, this is not like here a field, they had mountains where nothing grow, then it’s a river, and then it’s the road, and again the mountains.

DAD:   Just little bit here grow.

 MOM:   Just a little bit in this corner and the other corner grow something beside the river or some.

DAD:   And I go then-

 DAUGHTER:   How did she soothe him?

DAD:   When the morning came, I get up, out, the man was there. Waiting to see who’s there. I went there, talk with him, like with a boss.

 DAUGHTER:   What language did he speak?

DAD:   German. This is Germany. And so [I speak] the German language.  I went to him, introduce myself, who am I and so on, and we thank him for accepting us. And I said, our horse will not eat your stuff. We will go with the children in the mountains pull grasses here and there to bring to feed the horse.

MOM:   Get far in the woods and we will bring it home.

DAD:   And with that small wagon we had, we will feed our horses not from your stuff. And I will help you to work just for that, for to be here. You will not feel sorry because we work and help.

 MOM:   We want to go home to Yugoslavia, we are on the trip, just I cannot go farther, I had to get child born, then we will go riding.

DAD:   And when the people go there mowing grass for hay. but mowing grass, the hill, and some hill is so steep, some hill is not so steep, but when the hill is steep, then put a rope on the man here and somebody holds up stay, up, up, and then going downhill and cut the hay.

 MOM:   And they hold them all the way(?).

DAD:   And not let a little bit by and when it not so steep, then there’s no rope, then he mows, and when the hay is dry, they pull it just down.

 MOM:   They roll from top to the bottom.

 DAUGHTER:   When the hay is dry.

DAD:   When hay is dry. There big rake, down, down, down, down, down.

 MOM:   Big rolls.

 DAD:   And when they do, I went with them always to work.

MOM:   Work every day.

DAD:   Whatever they did, I went to work. I was not afraid to work and Mom was not afraid either, as much as she could in that condition.

 DAUGHTER:   Did you take the children with you, any of them?

 MOM:   No, no, no.

DAD:   The children have to take care for the horses. They go the mountain for grass, I said bring grasses to feed the horse.

 MOM:   And bring blueberries home or raspberries home to eat, and all kinds of things. They are making bread. I went to help them making the big dough. Every day they had to bake bread and all kinds of things, and this old lady there.

DAD:   And they now get horses, was the soldier, German soldier left, and prisoner of war left. That horses will be sold by auction, whosoever buy, and we was there. And in that close there we lived, by that same he had under something, like I magazine or what underneath was a room for make a stall for the horse to be, but it was not built for that, it was so small, here was a pole, and here was a pole, and somehow the horse laid down and could not get up, they get entangled and then broke the neck and so we had to-

 MOM:   Butcher.

DAD:   Not  …  we did butcher, but somebody else butchered that horse so we had.

 MOM:   They butchered the horse, we don’t want it.

DAD:   And that horses was now, the German horses was auctioned and we bought 3 horses and that mill owner bought 2 horses. Up to then he was making his delivery, he had delivery the flour in the stores. He had to deliver that much , the government give that, he ground it and after that-

[interruption in interview due to changing audiotape]

DAUGHTER:   Was he grinding corn and wheat or just wheat?

DAD:   It was mostly wheat.

 MOM:   Mostly wheat.

DAD:   And then when he bought the horses, he put them in the wagon but he could not drive them.

 MOM:   He never had them.

DAD:   Not only that, in that part of the country, the horses are, the wagons are built that way like the plow. So one horse could go.

 DAUGHTER:   Oh, sure, they a center axle type thing.

DAD:   And the center axle had but where they pull, and one pull ahead, and another goes back. And their horses what in Yugoslavia they could not saddle, one horse works, the horses could push back. The other horse could go without pulling anything so the horses were not used to that kind of travel, that kind of-

 DAUGHTER:   They were used to being ridden, not work horses.

DAD:   Even work horses.

 DAUGHTER:   Oh, okay.

DAD:   So when one of them pulls up, the other could push back so never, never could go. Then I go with them, I hold the horses tight, both horses tight on one hand, both horses here, and go by feet far away and leading the horses, you could not go one up forward and one back. All together so leading in the town and leading them back till their horses get acquainted. And so we was working.

 MOM:   Passed weeks and Dad spent every day in the city walking.

 DAUGHTER:   Pulling the horses.

 MOM:   This horses carry and they would not go otherwise.

DAD:   So there their owner was very, very satisfied with us. And then the time came that Mom should deliver. We called how they call how you call?

MOM:   Midwife.

DAD:   Midwife and she want in the hospital. No, we want at home and the baby was delivered there.

 DAUGHTER:   In this little cabin?

 MOM:   Yah [ Ja ], in cabin.

DAD:   Yeah, in little cabin. And when the Mrs. Rossinger saw in the morning we are up, she came right away, take all the dirty stuff, all the diapers, every dirty stuff, wash it, and she..

 MOM:   She was so busy lady.

DAD:   And she was so good toward us, Mom was never, had never such a good time with the baby like she had then.

 DAUGHTER:   Because someone was there to help her.

DAD:   Because someone takes her real good care. Two times, three times, cooked meal, good meal, not only for her, for the whole family.

 DAUGHTER:   Mrs. Rossinger did that?

DAD:   Mrs. Rossinger did that.

 MOM:   For them all and for me. For them all and for me.

DAD:   Yeah, and the washing, everything, she didn’t let Mom wash, she didn’t let me wash, she did it.

 DAUGHTER:   Why do you suppose she did that?

DAD:   Why? Because she had never… she had three children or two and she had never a good time. She had not very good time with her husband at all and she had not good time. Why she do it? That’s because she did it.

 DAUGHTER:   How long were you there?

DAD:   We lived there-

 MOM:   Just a month more than this.

DAD:   And when Rosie was born. After that and then their little Billy was a man.

 MOM:   This was the big Billy.

DAD:   Yeah, boy or whatever, was a big boy now.

 MOM:   Yeah, Billy-

DAD:   She got a girl and a boy.

 MOM:   Yeah, Billy had something happen to him in his foot had something in his foot and she had to take him to the doctor. There’s no doctor for them, they cannot go to a doctor, we can go to the-

DAD:   No doctor, German that is here, just American doctor, and the American doctor could not take care of the German people because they are enemies.

 MOM:   And we are..

DAD:   But we are Yugoslav they will, now we are not German, we are Yugoslav, they will. So Mom should go with that boy-

 MOM:   As my own.

DAD:   — as my boy. That’s my boy told him.

 MOM:   And then they take care of him. I said, no, Mrs. Rossinger, I don’t do this, I will not lie and say that’s my boy if not my boy. I will not do this.

DAD:   But they see what is in the boy.

 MOM:   I know now. He stepped in a strick needle, in a big needle.

 DAUGHTER:   Oh, in a crochet hook.

MOM:   Not a crochet hook, just a long one was half out from the ground and he stepped. And then I said, Mrs. Rossinger, I will not do this, I make some medicine for him and we will put on the place what happened to him. And I will see, when I go I will explain that’s not my child, just we are living in the same house.

 DAUGHTER:   Mom, how old was this Billy?

 MOM:   About 14 years old. And then I made this plaster, what’s ever just make bread and soap and she had all things what I need and we put them on and he was getting better. He had no fever, only getting better and he jumped around the house and he was not like sick boy.

DAD:   So he got healed.

 MOM:   And then her girl was 9 year old and she had a stick [i.e., puncture wound from a stinging insect]  from when they went picking blueberries in the mountains and she had on her breast just way on the pimple that it have sting and on the head, they pull the head, the rest from the bug fell off and she had such a big breast this little child.

DAD:   Swollen.

 MOM:   Swollen and she was so in fever, she don’t tell me, Mrs. Rossinger. And one day I said, where is Mandy? (I didn’t have good the name.) She said, Mandy’s very sick, she had that thing so I want to ask you will go again to the doctor, just I know you would not do. I said, Mrs. Rossinger, you should tell me, I will mix the same, what I made on Billy’s leg and this will be over in short time. We made it. She said for 3 nights she was not asleep and not.. with a high fever. We made this, Mandy fell asleep, about 2 hours after this popped open with all the

 DAUGHTER:   Pus and everything.

 MOM:   All that material, how you say it, pus, came out, Mandy was better, everything was good.

DAD:   They were very happy with us, father and mother, and-

 MOM:   When they feed Robert, Robert was already trained without bottle or any, we don’t have, and she had a little boy like the same age was Peterli. He has not his Dad made this…

DAUGHTER:   There was a Billy and a Mickey and a Peter.

 MOM:   Mandali and a Peter. and the Peter don’t, he don’t want to drink the bottle. They had many milk, all time what he want, he can have, he would not drink. Our Robert has the same bottle, they had to be sitting them besides each other, and they drink their whole bottle. Otherwise he would not drink, this Peterli. So they spoiled even the Robert.

DAD:   And now when a week or two week was Rosie old, we got to go.

 DAUGHTER:   Before we go too much further, have we already gone past the time when Robert would hang on a cow’s tail?

DAD:   No.

 MOM:   Oh, no, we have…this is way later..

 DAUGHTER:   I don’t want you to forget that part. So let’s go.

DAD:   There Robert was too small. And now we want to leave. Mr. Rossinger don’t want to let us. He had, uphill on the same river-

 MOM:   Sawmill.

DAD:   . . . sawmill, you know what is, to cut it.

 DAUGHTER:   Sure. Yeah.

DAD:   And I should go there, work for him, and we could live there.

 MOM:   The house there and everything is there. They will give us everything there.

DAD:   We want to go home. And that was very close to the Austrian border American was here has, and American was there but just German, during the war was it one. In 1939 German annexed it was it one German. But when the war was over, Austria is not part to Germany, we are separate. So we go to Austria and the Austria have to accept us, they have no power because there are American here, American there, they are the powers so we came there. If we would came from Yugoslavia, flying from the Communists, they had to accept us and put us in a camp, somewhere. But because we came from Germany, we go somewhere, nobody, you are on your own.

 MOM:   See, we had to go, then they left this farmers, Brassinger, just one more little town and then is the border, just we had to go over that Danube [River] with the big ship again.

DAD:   Over the river.

 MOM:   Yeah, even across river.

 DAUGHTER:   Like with a ferry.

 MOM:   Yeah, with a ferry. With the horses and with the children….

DAD:   Now we could not go back to Germany and we do not want to go back, we want to go there. But when we came, nobody wants us but we go.

 MOM:   Nobody wants us anymore.

DAD:   But we came and here is a big camp, many Yugoslav people and here we meet people who were already back after war in Yugoslavia and Tito and the communists strip them naked and sent them back. And so we are afraid to go in Yugoslavia. So we don’t go straight as the road. We go this way and that way we heard we are there, even the Pfeiffer’s are there. Go there. Just they are in a camp. The camp is full. think!. They have no power to say, ‘Come with us.’

 DAUGHTER:   A refugee camp barracks.

DAD:   Yeah, barracks.

 MOM:   People and people.

DAD:   The army barracks transferred into refugee camp but filled up. And if I came from Yugoslavia, they have to give me room but if I came from Germany, nobody. So we went from here to there, from here to there.

 MOM:   Three weeks on this or four we do.

DAD:   More. With a ration card. You get here, stop here, it’s a little bit river, little bit water, take what we have to bring to water the horses, and little bit of grass to feed. Then here is a farmer, we go there, pick some hay, oh, I give you the ration card for tobacco, I will give you ration for that, I will give you little bit rice, I give you little bit rubber band with that.

MOM:   Rubber bands.

DAD:   That they deal with it. Yet we came close to a city called Bad Ishel. That’s the place where Austrian king have summer vacation, a big city on the high mountain. And close to that and when the . . . about from the mountain up and down, Reini’s job was to go behind the wagon, when we go downhill to put the brakes on.

 MOM:   The horses could not hold the wagon.

DAD:   There was not a brake, with a pedal, so you go behind the wagon and you have to screw to hold it. So he again, now it’s a little better so he let them go and go up. And was a little bit rainy, and he slip up and wagon went over his-.

 MOM:   He jumped on the front where he get up.

DAD:   Yeah, but he slip down in there. Now he was sick, sick, sick [i.e., very injured].

MOM:   His legs was broken.

 DAUGHTER:   It was the foot that he ran over?

 MOM:   Oh, yeah.

DAD:   And then I take him in small wagon and pull him to the town.

 DAUGHTER:   How old was Reini now?  More like 12, huh?

 DAD:   Reini was [born] in ’34-

 DAUGHTER:   Nine at this time?

DAD:   No, no, no, bigger, bigger, 11.  Well, this is ’44, ’45.  What?

 DAUGHTER:   When was Reini born?

DAD:   ‘34. Now it’s 45, and so, take the first to the doctor, doctor take care of it and say, give us what he needs based on what he did, next town go to the doctor again. So, still not long after that we get-

 MOM:   Cannot walk anymore. He have to lay in the wagon. Nobody can go on the wagon, all we had to walk. He had to lay in the wagon, big wagon.

DAD:   Yeah, and then we, when we get in that big city, they have a hospital, we had to there, but the big city built on the mountain, the streets are small, the houses are crowded, no place to park the horses together so we in this hospital, put them there, oh, he have to stay there in the hospital. So we had to put him in the hospital, we go out of the town, how far will we go? To first place where we could find, so was a railroad crossing, railroad there and a small river there and-

 MOM:   A couple houses.

DAD:   A couple of houses, and beside the river was a little bit grass, that’s the place we could stop. The horses can here, eat the grasses, but one thing we had, the main thing, we had water to wash the diapers and to …

 MOM:   And clothes, I wash all because we have to stay 3 days in this.

DAD:   And beside that, I had made from a heavy wire like that, just on 3 place feet, and put a thin sheet on it bind with wire, so to put fire here on and cook on that.

 DAUGHTER:   Like a small tripod type thing.

 MOM:   Yeah, yeah.

DAD:   And that we put always under the wagon when we travel and fine, so-, and when we go somewhere, the children pick up that food, pick up that wood so we have —

 MOM:   And we see a little branch, we send to get in the wagon.

 DAUGHTER:   Who paid for Reini’s hospital stay?

DAD:   I did. When we get there, he was out of the hospital and we are there on that place, on that space, oh, here is a farmer, go up to the farmer and beg for some hay, pay for that, tomorrow, and we stay there for 3, 4, 5 days and every once in a while I walk to the hospital, he was not in the gypsum in the iron.

 MOM:   Kind of boards, boards all with the….

 DAUGHTER:   Called a splint. They had his leg in a splint.

 MOM:   Yeah, yeah.

DAD:   The whole foot was very damaged.

 MOM:   And all the fingers.

 DAUGHTER:   Little bones.

DAD:   And in that time, like before, we were of the faith and we never did steal, and we make our living so, but we could not go to farther and nobody will sell anymore.

 MOM:   They selled us already couple times here give us some hay.

DAD:   The whole thing was-, important was food for the horses.

 DAUGHTER:   You still had 3 horses?

 MOM:   Yeah, 3 horses.

DAD:   And one evening I went there with a rope and opened the barn. See, the hay is here, is the hayfield, not a farmers house, hayfield, and down on the bottom of the hill they had a barn, I would say, to put the hay in.

 MOM:   No, no animals, just hay.

DAD:   Just hay, and in the winter, when they need it, they came with a wagon, took it home where the animals are. So nobody’s there, I went there and opened and fill up my rope and on my back and take it to the horses where we are to feed them, once. When I did that, I know it’s not right, I know it’s stealing, but I justify myself. It is written when the-, you short the horse not bound mouth when they are threshing, and it is written when they are passed when Jesus went to the field, they passed and get hungry, they have pick it and even the corn and eat.[2]  This was not their corn, but they need it, so I justify myself and I was not condemning myself but [my] justification was not justified.

 DAUGHTER:   You didn’t feel good.

DAD:   I was not justified but I try to justify myself.  So when we get Reini out, we didn’t have to pay nothing, this war time…   that was so…

 DAUGHTER:   Was his foot completely healed?

 MOM:   Oh, no, we had to carry.

DAD:   We had take care again.

 DAUGHTER:   What did they do to him in the hospital, Mom?

 MOM:   Put new bandages on him, everything new.

DAD:   First, they put in the gypsum, but not in the gypsum, they put an iron here, an iron here, to hold it.

 DAUGHTER:   Gypsum means cast.

 MOM:   Cast. Don’t make … 

 DAD:   . . . cast, cast, but make an iron here and put them on maybe a right place and bandaged them and stay that long, 3, 4 days there.

 MOM:   This no infection, this was everything they take…

DAD:   Then they say they will give us a paper, with that you go where you go, the first doctor, he will what now to do.

MOM:   The biggest city what we get towns and towns, and again a bigger city, in this city, this and this, a hospital or a doctor …

 DAUGHTER:   Was his foot broken open or was the skin all still intact?

DAD:   No, was not intact.

MOM:   What is” intact”? [i.e., what does “intact” mean, as used in the phrase “not intact”?]

 DAUGHTER:   His skin was all torn and everything.

 MOM:   Torn.

 DAUGHTER:   Where were you traveling to?

 DAD:   Back to Yugoslavia.

 DAUGHTER:   Were you still trying to go back to Yugoslavia?

 MOM:   Oh, yes.

DAD:   We are trying to take time, to take time to stay there as if possible.

 MOM:   If somebody wants us.

DAD:   We are afraid to go to Yugoslavia but we have no place to stay so we are traveling like gypsies..

 DAUGHTER:   You’re looking for a home in Austria.

DAD:   Here and there and always closer, closer to the Yugoslav border, and the mountains are that steep somewhere horses hold back the

wagon. The 2 wheels are tight, could not roll, and the wagon runs before the horses.

 MOM:   Cross the road, not like this.

DAD:   Like when you go with automobile and it cut out and it go that way.

  DAUGHTER:   That’s how steep it was going downhill even though you had 3 of the wheels locked.

 MOM:   Yah  [Ja],  2 of the wheels were locked.

DAD:   Two of the wheels, yeah, yeah. And still it was very dangerous. And Rosie grew little by little older but as long as the wagon rolls, she was quiet. When we stop, ahhhhh, cries, cries, cries.

 MOM:   She cries.

DAD:   And every people wherever we go, were aware we got the baby, and some were curious, some came-

 MOM:   And never left the children in the wagon on the hill down, we had them out of the wagon and had them walk down and when the wagon was down, and everything is set, then we go back in the wagon and go again.

DAD:   So we go lots of time. Interesting things, sometime a horse could not walk in a whole day, ten miles. Two mile, 3 mile, it cannot walk.

MOM:   Can’t walk, just so tired.

DAD:   A man could much more endure than a horse can.

 DAUGHTER:   Were the horses shod? Did they have shoes?

DAD:   Yes, yes. They have shoes.

 MOM:   They had shoes, they get so soft they cannot walk anymore.

 DAUGHTER:   Okay, then what happened?

DAD:   Then finally we came to Leipsik [i.e., Leipzig, in Saxony, Germany – formerly spelled “Leipsic”].

 DAUGHTER:   What happened to Rosie’s crying?

DAD:   I would just say, nothing, she cried, you have to stop them, but it was so.

 MOM:  Everybody know we have a baby since as soon we stay on the road. But for a water or whatever.

DAD:   Telling about that…. one place we stopped is a railroad, beside the railroad, place we stop, we stop here. The horses put down on the wagon untied and give something food.

 MOM:   Right here is the railroad and here is the road and this was a triangle so was just weeds and trucks and…

DAD:   And we stayed there, was a flatbed truck there standing beside it, and we take our stuff on the flatbed there, catch a little sleep there.  Came-

 DAUGHTER:   On the flatbed truck, Mom.

 MOM:   Yeah.

DAD:   A lady from the window calls, ‘we [i.e., you] have no right to stay here, we [i.e., you] should go away, this.’

 MOM:   She was yelling at us all kinds of stuff.

DAD:   Cannot go farther, we stay here.

 MOM:   And the other lady. Don’t forget the other lady is looking through the window over the railroad and she see all the thing what I do. I wash the children one by one and make their beds ready and I wipe them with my apron. And she was kind of.. she had to take a towel over. It’s not right, I wipe them, all their faces and hand, and they are clean on my apron.

 DAUGHTER:   Brought this towel.

 MOM:   Not right away, not right away. She was just looking everything was going on. And that lady was yelling over there so bad.

 DAD:   And then so it’s night, got dark, that lady was holler.

MOM:   Listen, listen, before this lady was a hollering, she was washing clothes in her wash kitchen down in the basement, not the basement, even floor, and then she had a other floor and a other. And the smoke came very bad out of this kitchen.   And Dad was the first one there run over. All this paper what she had before the fire where she peddled.

DAUGHTER:   Yeah, where she was boiling the water.

 MOM:   Boiling the water.

DAD:   Catched fire, and so …

 MOM:   Catched fire, was on fire, the kitchen, and Dad went there and put the fire out and made everything ready, and he was the first there, and this lady stop hollering and everything was smooth.

DAD:   This was a — she almost died when that happened. And so we lay all in the bed, came a storm, a big, rained hard, hard.

 MOM:   And this lady came, and said they got a workshop beside their house with a wooden stuff all woodwork and we can come over there with the children and with the horses, put the children in the dry, this bad weather is now here.

DAD:   And they had a workshop and it had a flat, only a roof before that, so we get the horse under that roof and we get in workshop, just don’t make a fire.

MOM:   Don’t put a light on or anything.

DAD:   And then came thunder….

 MOM:   The lightning.

 DAUGHTER:   Thunder and lightning.

DAD:   And I put the horses in the, on the wagon, they could not pull, they could not pull. I had forgotten I had my make it tied, the wheels.

 MOM:   We tied the wheels. They cannot pull for nothing. Here comes the bad weather, rains and thunder and lightning.

 DAUGHTER:   Then did you remember?

DAD:   Probably.

 MOM:   Finally he remember.

DAD:   Finally the horses get there and the horses are in dry place and we are in dry place, settled again, sleep till the morning. When the morning came up, sure enough, I cleaned up, take some broom, find somewhere, cleaned up what the horses make everything, make it clean, not leave that mess there, and-

 MOM:   We was even good friends when we leave and this lady from across the street, she saw it, all these things, was I did before the storm come, and everything, she brought the towel over and she said she saw how I wash this children and she was kind a….

 DAUGHTER:   Was Reini’s foot still bad?

 MOM:   Oh, yeah, still the same.

DAD:   One day.

 MOM:   Better, was always a little bit better, healing, just not good.

DAD:   He could limp already. And so on till we finally, oh, the main experience was there in…

 DAUGHTER: Yeah, but didn’t somebody ask about me? If I was your baby?  Because I was dark?

DAD:   No.

 MOM:   Well, maybe in some-, we went onto one place, was the same thing happen, was coming such a big storm, we did park was outside only, nowhere, just somewhere. Then an old man came over there and he saw this baby and he was so surprised and I was washing the diapers and making supper for us, was before night. And he went away, he give me 5 marc or 10 marc, money, for this little child, and then, okay, “thank you”, and he was really a old man. He went home, then came more ladies there. He went home and say, over there is some so and so, and this people came there, they said, what! he give you the money? I said yes. He such a stingy man, he would not give even a straw hollum, you know how you say it, even nothing! They are refuge [i.e., refugee] too.

DAD:   But you should know that we had our diapers, were all clothes, cloth diapers you know, but many was rags, but not dirty.

 MOM:   No, I wash all the time.

DAD:   We had, our rags were clean, regardless how we were, which condition, our rags were clean. We didn’t have a bathtub, we didn’t have running water, we didn’t have many thing, but we were clean, we didn’t have soap, we didn’t have detergent, but that makes no difference.

 DAUGHTER:   Okay now, Jake and I were born in Donnersdorf [Au], Austria?

 MOM:   Yeah. That was much later. We coming now there. Then we was traveling, traveling, then the —

           [interruption in interview due to changing audiotape]

 DAUGHTER:   You mean Reini had to go in the hospital periodically for more medicine too?

DAD:   Yeah.

 MOM:   Yeah. when they saw the dressings that the nurse give. They say you have to be in the hospital in big city.

[missing some interview: someone is speaking too softly to be audible]

DAD: —  then we know it not good to express it.

 DAUGHTER:   Curiosity.

DAD:   Curiosity, yeah.

 MOM:   They come from so far like a ….

DAD:   Yeah, and soon, we talk, Mom was talking now.

 MOM:   You was not there even, you went in the mountains with Reini looking for a job or even if a farm there we can stay with somebody-

DAD:   A place who needs horses and workers, to stay there.

 MOM:   And Dad was not there, then an old lady came there and she was talking all kinds of things. I told her was now Dad is looking for a job and this, all of this. Then she told me she know a farmer what he needs worker and he needs horses, her son goes there for work.

DAD:   He needs horses, not workers so much. And before, the first, when they divided Austria, there are four aliens, the Russian, French. That part was Russia occupied, but when they divided, then Russia had to go out from there, and came the English men there, England, and when the Russia went, they took all the horses from that farmer and that was a..-

 MOM:   Acres of land but no horses.

 DAD:   There’s a rich farmer and no horses and no tractor so how can?  So he need badly horses, and that old lady’s children, went periodically there to work.

 MOM:   They are working by for this farmer and they are coming home on the bike and so on, and she told me all kinds of things and I was quick writing down some things, address and other, and she said, I will send my son, okay, I will send my son. He comes over here only you will follow him. And when Dad comes back from this mountain, what’s-, all afternoon something, who knows how much time, then I told him, let’s go right away, tomorrow is Sunday, let’s go right away. Okay, finished everything up and take the wagon and we go. We had Reini out from the hospital. When we wait, this old lady’s son, maybe he never comes, better we go by ourselves. We know the name and we know the town, and let’s go. Oh, we go, go, go, go, go, and getting dark, and no place like this.

DAD:   And we found a place, with that name-

 MOM:   Dad stopped and no place like this.

DAD:   No, no, no, we found the place, but no farmer like that and even-

MOM:   Find the name.

DAD:   No farm, no big farmers, no small farmer. Then somebody remember, oh, there and there is a town the same name, that’s are rich farmers, the farmers there.

 MOM:   That’s are the big farmers.

DAD:   And now it’s all night.

DAUGHTER:   You mean 2 towns with the same name.

DAD:   Yes.

 MOM:   Same name. And then, while we have to stay now overnight, it’s too late, late at night. We ask them how far this is. You have the whole day traveling with these horses, so far is this from their same town. So we stopped over there and I ask can we have maybe skim milk for the children, they have no supper, and then they give them just a little bit something. She gave us skim milk and we stayed in their yard overnight and so in the morning early Sunday, we never traveled Sunday, just Sunday was no travel, ever, with the horses.

DAD:   I don’t know when was that where they would not keep us because they still stole their horses.

 MOM:   No, this was on other place, same time, the same time, same time before this. We came on a place, and was the same thing, they would not even let us-

DAD:   We stopped in the front of the farmer. Why? Because here is a well with we could have water, could give us was water and the farmer came out, and want to chase us out, no we could not stay here, but you could not chase us out, just stay, that’s all.

 MOM:   He didn’t listen to us say anything, we don’t say nothing, we was quiet, we stayed and, well, we was all kind of shy so anyhow, he was not just coming and, you know-

DAD:   Not physically but just hollering we should go away.

DAUGHTER:   Since you couldn’t go to church any Sunday mornings or anything like that, what did you do? Did you have church with your family?

DAD:   No, we didn’t have church. We didn’t have church. First of all, the children were small, we had no church. We had only our service every day, our prayer before meal and after meal and before going to bed, but we had not never imitate a church service.

 DAUGHTER:   What did you do on Sundays since you didn’t travel?

DAD:   Same thing.

 DAUGHTER:   Just rested?

 MOM:   Same thing. rested. Just cook just a simpler soup, I cook soup.

 DAUGHTER:   Nothing [else]?

DAD:   Some people does kind of have a devotion and have a… I never felt that way that we should.

 MOM:   And then as he told us we should go. We don’t.

DAD:   The next day we went.

 MOM:   Next morning, when we get up, I can go there in the house and find the lady and I said, will you sell something to us for the children. Yeah, you can even cook them here, okay. I said that’s not necessary, have to be cooked. Yes, then she said, that is skim milk or you cook for the children. I said, okay, I cook. I put rice in and make a good meal then. Cook rice in the milk and that was good for the children. And so I cook them over on her stove, the whole pan full and I give her a cup of rice. She was so glad and so happy. And the husband was already somewhere on the field or in the work somewhere, just she was very nice, very nice.

 DAUGHTER:   Okay, that Sunday you traveled. Did you make it to the other farm?

DAD:   Yes. Not the whole day, but afternoon, early in the afternoon we got there. The farmer was standing at the roads before his house, just close by there. It was farmer and a whole bunch of people there.

 MOM:   Workers, his workers.

DAD:   We saw that. What should we do?

 MOM:   This young boy went already with the bike, morning early, and he was there for long already, long before. And he told them all kinds of things and when we arrived, they was all sitting on the steps there, the 5 high steps, very big ones, and then he — –

DAD:   Not very much we could not … “What should I do with the bunch of children?” He was a single man.

 MOM:   Never married.

DAD:   Never married, 40 years and his sister too was 52 and they run the farm. They were rich people but what can he do with that children. He don’t need to feed 10 mouths.

 DAUGHTER:   Before we go on any further, tell me the name of this town.

DAD:   That name really, Au. That means “valley”.

 MOM:   It just “Au”.

DAD:   It is not official name. It’s official name that belongs to Donnersdorf, but it Au [i.e., Donnersdorf Au, in Austria].

 DAUGHTER:   How large is Donnersdorf  [i.e., Donnersdorf Au, in Austria] ?

DAD:   Donnersdorf is here maybe 10 house, maybe 20, that’s all, but the farmers are, here a farmer and there a farmer, had 100 or 200 or 500 acres field and every farmer…

 [See YouTube @ https://youtu.be/9sIo9_5tmEM?t=37 ]

DAUGHTER:   The main city or whatever is very small but it has the big sparse farms around.

DAD:   Yes, yes.

 DAUGHTER:   And it’s a very rich valley.

 MOM:   Rich valley, yah. — The Au.

DAD:   Sure, very rich people live here, there’s always the poor people because it could not exist rich without poor.  And so then I again to explain to him we are anxious to get a roof, that’s all, not to go to Yugoslavia.  That’s all.  There, in Leibnich, we did met Bach’s wife. Also a woman called Pfister, she was in Yugoslavia, she was in Austria and went back to Yugoslavia, and the Communists stripped her all and she is here with 2 young girls.  She has nothing whatsoever [notice the King James English again], only what she had on her.

 MOM:   No cover for the children, not even a blanket, not even anything.

 DAD:   Blanket.

 DAUGHTER:   “Poplum”, I used to know what that means. What does that mean, Dad? Is that like a quilt?

DAD:   Yes, like a quilt, like a quilt but wool inside and not a…

 MOM:   We gave them a quilt for those 2 girls to cover at night.

DAD:   Yeah, to have something. And later on.

 MOM:   We had enough.

DAD:   And later on the 2 girls, they came to America, one is Bach’s wife, one is Pfister’s wife, members here. The mother-

[Here Mom suggests shutting off the recorder: “Then we can eat a little; Dad should eat too.”]

PART 7  to be continued,  soon,  God willing )


 References

[1] The 6 earlier episodes, in this Webel family history series, are published as follows:

(1) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part One: Jakob and Katarina Agreed to Marry Before They Ever Spoke to Each Other, A True Example of Love at First Sight…and First Sound”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 35(1):25-32 (spring 2013), quoting from Rosalie Webel Whiting’s From Vinkovci to Medina (unpublished Webel family history), supplemented by personal interviews with Chaplain Robert Webel (during August AD2012);   (2) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Two: Volksdeutsche in Croatia, before World War II: Jakob and Katarina Webel are Merchants in Marinci (Taking Care of Business and the Business of Life)”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 36(3):154-170 (fall 2014);   (3)Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Three: World War  II  Confronts  Jakob  and  Katarina  Webel (Swabians  Face  Nazi  Invaders  and  Yugoslavia’s  Break-up)”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 37(2):98-113 (summer 2015);    (4) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Four:  Surviving in Yugoslavia, Then Fleeing for the First Time – Jakob & Katarina Webel Escape from Marinci to Vinkovci,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 37(4):219-240 (winter 2015);   (5) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Five:  Fleeing Yugoslavia, Escaping the Communist Takeover: Jakob & Katarina Webel Flee Toward Germany,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 38(3):110-124 (fall 2016);   and  (6) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Six:  After Yugoslavia, Wandering Through Europe: Jakob & Katarina Webel, Fleeing To Germany,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 39(1):196-215 (spring 2017).

 [2] See Matthew 12:1-4; Luke 6:1-5 in conjunction with Deuteronomy 23:24-25, Leviticus 19:9-10, & Deuteronomy 24:19.


WEBEL-Steve-Erica-and-kids.AD2014

The Steve and Erica Webel family (above), during AD2014. Included in this family photograph are the 2 native-Texan boys, Nate Webel (born in AD2007) and Luke Webel (born in AD2012), who thus represent the ethnic-German-descended Webel immigrant family heritage, as they rightly claim their own status as “German-Texans”.  Steve Webel is a son of Robert (“Bob”) and Marcia Webel.  (The family resemblances, to both Chaplain Bob and Marcia Webel — both of whom are shown below —  is easy to see.)

Webel.Bob-with-Marcia

    ><> JJSJ   profjjsj@aol.com


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Dr. James J. S. Johnson is a member of the German-Texas Heritage Society, and an occasional contributor to its Journal pages.  A lover and teacher of Providential history and geography, Jim has taught at 4 different Christian colleges (LeTourneau University, Dallas Christian College, Concordia University Texas at Fort Worth, and ICR School of Biblical Apologetics) in Texas, as well as aboard 9 different cruise ships. As a C.P.E.E. (Certified Paternity Establishment Entity, credentialed by the Texas Attorney General’s Office), Jim maintains a strong interest in family history documentation. After studying under many teachers, at many schools, Jim happily acknowledges that his best teacher (under God) was Chaplain Robert (Bob) Webel.


 

Spain’s Supposedly ‘Invincible Armada’

SPANISH ARMADA (de Loutherbourg)

Spain’s Supposedly ‘Invincible Armada’,

Illustrating God’s Care in Providential History 

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD, your God, He shall fight for you.   (Deuteronomy 3:22)

Armada-fireship

Spain’s Invincible Armada set ­sail, in A.D. 1588, aiming to invade and conquer England. Queen Elizabeth, though weak, says she has strength to die for her England. The most critical defense of England, however (humanly speaking), appeared to depend mostly upon Sir Francis Drake.  It was summer in A.D. 1588—political tensions between Spain and England were about to explode in a naval fire-fight, beginning in late July.

The tension had been rising, with several catalytic dominoes triggering a chain-reaction that would lead to war on the high seas, between the two most prominent sea-powers of that generation. The fate of England, and thus of all English colonies (including, therefore, the fate of English-speaking parts of North America, such as present-day America and Canada), hung in the balances, as the “Invincible Armada”—an attack force of some 130 ships (and 30,000 men)—sailed from Lisbon (Portugal’s capital now, but then owned by Philip II), to a rendezvous point at Calais (opposite Dover) to join forces with, and to escort, a large land force of Spanish soldiers (“the Army of Flanders,” some 16,000 fighting men), commanded by Philip’s nephew (the Duke of Parma). Then, the plan was for both forces to join together on the edge of the English Channel, with Parma’s army in barges, to be escorted by the “Invincible Armada,” a short sail westward, across the English Channel, to land, invade, and overwhelm England—and to depose Elizabeth, and to replace her with a Spanish “puppet.” Queen Elizabeth feared foreseeable defeat, and she addressed her marshaled soldiers (who prepared for the anticipated invasion at Tilbury, near the western shores of the English Channel):

“I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation…, but being resolved in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all, to lay down for my God and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too…”

Elizabeth I -- The Warrior Queen

However, before recounting what happened, to whom, and how, and why—the stage must be set, historically speaking, so that the contextual backdrop of this high-stakes drama can be seen in its panoramic framework.

The monarch ruling Spain then was King Philip II, who ruled Spain (and its territories) from AD1556 to AD1598. In England, the monarch was Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled England from AD1558 to AD1603. Spain’s King Philip was born in 1527, into a very different Spain than that of AD1588. Philip’s father was Spain’s King Carlos I “Quint,” better remembered (to many) as King Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor of the Hapsburg dynasty, whose career was dominated by reacting to the invading Muslims in his empire’s east, and the wildfire-like Protestant Reformation in his empire’s west. King Carlos (or Charles) was, at his career’s peak, ruler of Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, and much of the Western Hemisphere—arguably the most powerful ruler in all of Europe. Thereafter, his son (Philip II) would also reign as a global super-king.

During Philip’s reign, Philip would check the dominant power and presence of the Muslim Turks in the Mediterranean (in AD1571), and would later conquer Portugal (in AD1580). Philip also strove to maintain the status quo in the West, politically and culturally, so he promoted the 16th century “Inquisition” in his dominions (which dominions included Spanish territories in both hemispheres, such as Peru, Mexico, and his namesake in the Pacific, the “Philippine” Islands). However, Philip’s zeal sometimes produced popular reactions, which Philip’s forces could not thereafter contain.

For example, one of his empire’s crown jewels, the northern provinces of the Netherlands (which means “lowlands,” a geologically accurate label), would break away from Philip’s grasp, seeking political and religious independence (AD1581). It was the conflict in the “Spanish Netherlands,” to a large degree, that catalyzed Spain’s military decision to launch the “Invincible Armada” against England, since England was a strategic ally of Dutch independence (in the “united” northern provinces of the Netherlands), from the AD1560s, when many of the Dutch exerted efforts to obtain some kind of self-rule.

(Ironically, this Anglo-Dutch alliance, in time, would subsequently facilitate an independence-oriented pendulum-swingback in 17th century English politics.) King Philip began plans for the Armada attack on England, it appears in hindsight, from 1586. Philip appointed the Duke of Medina Sidonia, Alfonso de Guzman (“El Bueno”) as the fleet commander of King Philip’s “Invincible Armada.” (All of these geopolitical actions, and reactions to those actions, of course, had very direct consequences on the Caribbean colonies of those same European super-powers, as would be illustrated in that and later generations.)

Queen Elizabeth, born in AD1533, began her remarkable life in a very different England than the England of AD1588. That same year in France, Jean Calvin (a/k/a “John Calvin”) became a convinced Protestant. In AD1534, for example, the year after her birth, her father (King Henry VIII) broke with the Church of Rome, establishing the independence of the Church of England, by royal decree. In AD1541, Spain’s Hernando de Soto was discovering the Mississippi River. In AD1543, the English translation of the Bible was legalized in England. In AD1547, Elizabeth’s father, King Henry VIII, died, and the kingship passed to her half-brother, Edward VI (then only 9 years old), but he died in 1553 at age 15. Then Lady Jane Grey was crowned as Queen of England, but her refusal to share royal rule with her husband alienated the nobility (many of whom withdrew support from her), and she was impeached for “treason” and beheaded, within days by Mary Tudor’s allies—after only 9 days as England’s queen.

Thus, in AD1553, Elizabeth’s half-sister Mary Tudor became Queen of England, a Catholic queen ruling a mostly Protestant kingdom—a recipe for fireworks (and, in time, for about 300 Protestant martyrs). In July AD1553, Queen Mary Tudor married Philip of Spain (who would soon become king of Spain, at his own father’s abdication in 1556), with an arrangement that made Philip “king consort” of England—meaning that Philip was “king” of England so long as he was married to Queen Mary Tudor. (Thus, Philip was no longer England’s king when he sent the “Invincible Armada” to conquer it in the summer of AD1588, because his English “kingship” expired when his wife Mary Tudor died in AD1558.) Obviously, this royal marriage secured England to Spain’s sphere of influence and, to a certain degree, control—especially when Philip inherited his father’s abdicated empire in AD1556, about 1½ years after he married England’s queen. Since Philip was now King of Spain (as well as king-consort of England), this meant that Mary Tudor was now Queen (consort) of Spain, as well as Queen of England. Mary soon announced a royal pregnancy (imagine the ramifications!), with a due-date in JuneAD1555, but this proved to be a “phantom pregnancy”: no royal baby ever arrived.

During Mary Tudor’s reign (AD1553-AD1558), her cousin to the north, Mary Stewart, Queen of Scots, ruled Scotland in an uneasy (and unstable) situation. Mary Stewart, like Mary Tudor, was a Roman Catholic queen ruling over a predominantly Protestant population. In late AD1554, Mary Tudor was informed that the pope decreed absolution of his earlier curse on England, but only if Queen Mary Tudor diligently prosecuted all “heretics” in England with death, by burning them at the stake. Mary Tudor promptly obeyed this directive, thus earning her nickname, “Bloody Mary.” Prominent Anglican churchmen like Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, and Nicholas Ridley met the flames as martyrs, as well as about 300 others. The judicial proceedings of these Inquisition prosecutions were documented with detail in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, soon to be a blockbuster bestseller. What Elizabeth Beecher Stowe’s fiction Uncle Tom’s Cabin did in America (in the AD1800s), John Foxe’s forensic non-fiction chronicles in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs did in Europe (in the 1500s) for civil rights-promoting Protestant “reformers.” The overall political (and popular culture) reaction which Bloody Mary’s discriminatory decrees produced in England is hard for historians to over-estimate.

Against this boiling-over cauldron of political volatility, Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister (Bloody Mary) in AD1558 as the new Queen of England. England began to change—immediately.

Meanwhile, politics in Scotland was at a boiling-point. In AD1560, the Calvinistic Church of Scotland was becoming a key political player, just as Elizabeth’s reign as Queen of England was budding. Elizabeth quietly backed the Scottish Kirk, to keep hostile French influences out of Scotland.  (Elizabeth would one day learn that Mary Queen of Scots (her own cousin) had herself claimed to be the rightful and legitimate heir to England’s throne, deeming Elizabeth a “bastard” (and thus disqualified to sit on England’s throne), and had concurred in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth!

In AD1565, Spanish soldiers massacred the Huguenot settlement in Florida, enforcing Spain’s claimed geographic monopoly (yet legitimizing the act as punishing “heresy”).  Providentially, that massacre would have a connection to England’s defense against the Spanish Armada, almost 2 dozen years later.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, under pressure triggered by Mary Stewart’s alleged role in murdering one of her several husbands, Mary Stewart abdicated her title “Queen of Scots,” in AD1567, leaving her 13-month-old son, James (i.e., King James VI of Scotland, and later also King James I of England—to be famous for the “King James Bible” of AD1611) as Scotland’s new king, with the actual rule of Scotland going to the baby king’s Scottish Presbyterian uncle, James Stewart, the Earl of Moray. Elizabeth’s reign began in turbulent times!

In AD1568, two adventurous English “monopoly-busters,” John Hawkins and his cousin Francis Drake, narrowly escaped death from Spanish ships while peacefully visiting a Mexican harbor, producing two lifetime adversaries of the Spanish navy (both of whom would participate later in England’s repulsion of the Spanish Armada in AD1588—more details on that to follow). During AD1570-AD1572, Drake was actively “privateering” in the greater Caribbean “world,” repeatedly raiding the Spanish Main. In AD1572, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre occurred, triggering massive immigrations of French Huguenots into Elizabethan England. In AD1577, Queen Elizabeth secretly provided support to Drake, for his “privateering” (i.e., government-licensed pirating) enterprises in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and elsewhere, against Spanish ships—wherever they might be found.

In AD1579, Drake captured a mega-fortune, by seizing Spain’s treasure-ship Cacafuego, delivering “half” of its treasure of gold, silver, and other commodities to Queen Elizabeth (assuming Drake completed his English version of the IRS Form 1040 “accurately”!). Francis Drake was heralded as a national hero, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in AD1581. Meanwhile, assassination threats continued to complicate Queen Elizabeth’s reign and the security of Great Britain’s realm.

Accordingly, in AD1584, the English Parliament enacted a statutory law authorizing vigilante action to be used by anyone, if need be, to defend Queen Elizabeth against any attempted assassination plot.

Meanwhile, in the highly flammable AD1580s—the sparks between Spain and England continued to multiply. Then, in the watershed year of AD1585, England openly joined the so-called “Eighty Years War” against Spain, by providing military aid to the revolting Dutch Protestant “United Provinces” (led by William I of Orange, ancestor of a later English king, King William III, champion of England’s “Glorious Revolution”). This irrevocably galvanized King Philip II of Spain—who had once been king-consort of England—to plan a retaliatory war against Elizabethan England, to punish England for contesting Philip’s authority in the ongoing “civil war” in the Spanish Netherlands. Obviously, the piracies by Drake (and other English privateers) continually added fuel to ignite the anticipated fires of war.

Meanwhile, political plotting and maneuvering accelerated change in England’s homeland. In February AD1587, Elizabeth consented to the execution of her cousin Mary, the former Queen of Scots (imprisoned for years in England), after a treason/assassination plot (the “Babington Plot” involving a “cover-up” by Mary) was discovered and thwarted. England’s (i.e., Elizabeth’s) reaction to this attempted coup d’état, motivated by information received about King Philip’s developing plans to attack England’s homeland, came quickly.

So, adding insult to injury, in April AD1587, privateer Francis Drake brazenly attacked—and successfully burned—Spanish ships in their own harbor, Cadiz. King Philip was humiliated and incensed. Queen Elizabeth must be stopped! Soon afterwards (July 29, AD1587), Spain’s King Philip obtained the pope’s blessing on Philip’s developing military plan to invade and conquer England—and to depose Queen Elizabeth—and to replace her with a Catholic monarch of Philip’s choosing (i.e., a Spanish “puppet”-king). So, in the summer of AD1588, a very-much-changed Spain and a very-much-changed England were about to clash: high stakes on the high seas!


But this clash would never have occurred—if the European “world” of AD1588 had not already been catalytically shaken by two history-changing “earthquakes.”


Perhaps the two greatest geo-cultural European earthquakes of their “world” were, chronologically:

(1) the New World discoveries of Spain’s Christopher Columbus; and

(2) the ecclesiastical-cultural revolution known as the Protestant Reformation.

Europe would never be the same (nor would the world, for that matter), after either—much less both—of those two historic “earthquakes.”

(QUALIFICATION:  Although Vikings, led by Leif Eiriksson of Greenland, had discovered North America in AD1000, almost a half-millennium before Columbus reached the Caribbean islands, the Vikings’ travels to and from North America were short-lived, relatively unimpactful, and did not permanently connect the geopolitical “worlds” of the Western and Eastern Hemispheres,  —  however, Christopher Columbus’s exploits did the opposite, permanently connecting the Old and New “Worlds”   —  as Dr. John Eidsmoe has insightfully observed and documented in his authoritative historical study COLUMBUS AND CORTEZ, q.v.)

When Christopher Columbus sailed west from Spain in AD1492, he irrevocably closed a chapter in the ongoing story of Europe’s “world” of politics, economics and geography—and even agriculture and cuisine! Admiral Columbus ironically continued to believe (mistakenly) that he was discovering and exploring islands of the “Indies,” and even Japan!  Hence, Columbus called the Caribs and other natives whom he met in the Caribbean, and on other lands nearby, “Indians.” This erroneous name for Western Hemisphere natives has stuck, so the name was eventually “corrected” to the “West Indies,” to distinguish the Caribbean native “Indians” from the real “Indians” (of eastern Asia), i.e., the natives of India, Indochina, and the “East Indies.”

But in AD1493, this corrected geographic view of the globe was lacking, so Portugal and Spain sought direction from the current pope (Alexander VI) regarding which nation should have (and colonize) the various “new lands” known as “the Indies.” The pope’s solution was a longitudinal “Line of Demarcation,” which roughly bisected the Eastern and Western Hemispheres by an imaginary line in the Atlantic, nearly touching what would eventually be discovered as the eastern edge of Brazil. However, this appeared unsatisfactory, so a revised deal was negotiated between Spain and Portugal, in 1AD494, called the Treaty of Tordesillas, which moved the “Line of Demarcation” to the west, providing Portugal with some of South America’s Brazilian territory, which bulges eastward into the Atlantic Ocean. This diplomatic solution to the imminent problem of colonial competition had one practical flaw: it was only a two-party deal, agreed to only by Spain and Portugal! Obviously, France, England, and the Dutch—just to name a few—did not consent to this two-headed “game of monopoly,” so geopolitical conflicts on this “partitioning” were certain to occur.

And they did!—again and again, and again. Monopoly busting, ironically, almost cost Francis Drake his life in AD1568, at age 29. That experience convinced Drake that there would be no peaceful co-existence in the Caribbean world for English adventurers who wanted wealth.

Ironically, it was Drake’s illustrious career of privateering after 1568 (i.e., piracy with a royal “letter of marque,” a license for commissioned acts of piracy—but sometimes Drake acted without a commission) that would prepare him with the naval experience needed in 1588 for preemptively striking and counter-attacking the Spanish Armada.

Meanwhile, many years before, in AD1517—while the European super-powers were strategically competing (and even sometimes battling) for the new lands in “the Indies,” a Dr. Martin Luther was hammering his indulgence-protesting “Ninety-Five Theses” on the church door in Wittenberg, and by doing so, Luther was closing a chapter in the ongoing story of Europe’s ecclesiastical, theological, and social world. Thus, back on the European continent, an ecclesiastical-theological tsunami erupted, cresting the geo-cultural horizon in AD1517, to become known as the Protestant Reformation—with ramifications much broader (and deeper) than just church doctrines, church life, and church politics. Although pre-Reformation “sparks” had ignited a few theological fires of European church reform, in prior generations (e.g., John Wycliffe and John Hus), it was the indulgence-protesting hammer of Dr. Martin Luther in AD1517 which carpentered the foundations of Europe’s (and the world’s) Reformation movement. Ultimately, the entire geo-political order of the European super-powers would be affected, as well as all colonial lands then or thereafter controlled (or even influenced) by those same European super-powers. Also, religious politics of the 1500s included incidents like the massacre of French Huguenot pirates (and English sympathizers), seeking to justify acts of piracy to Spanish ships and New World settlements.

So, when the Invincible Armada of Spain sailed to conquer England in AD1588, the turbulent world of that day—shaken by globally changed conditions traceable to Columbus and Luther—presented the challenge of a lifetime to Elizabeth’s #1 pirate, Sir Francis Drake.

Francis Drake was born in the seaport town of Plymouth, England, in AD1540; his family moved to another seaport, Rochester, where his father served as a minister at a naval shipyard. Drake lived (literally, as a boy) and thrived in the world of sailing ships—an old English tradition from the Viking era.

In AD1566 Drake had sailed with his cousin, John Hawkins, as profit-seeking “monopoly-busters,” conducting trade with Spanish colonists on Venezuela’s shores, despite an official Spanish embargo (ban) on such practices—prompting political protests from Spain and Portugal.

On one occasion, a Spanish colony governor agreed to trade with these English “monopoly-busters,” but only if they used a show of “force” first, so the Spanish governor could later excuse his unauthorized business deals (with the English “monopoly-busters”) by claiming he had only traded “under duress,” i.e., under the coercive threat of an English pirate raid.

What a scheming politician!

Portugal did not want English ships interfering with the slave trade from west Africa, and Spain did not want English ships in Caribbean waters, much less visiting the “Spanish main” (a phrase sometimes meaning the continental mainland holding of Spain in what today is called “Latin America” and sometimes used to mean whatever Spanish territories bordered the Atlantic, Caribbean, or Gulf of Mexico).

“In 1567, Drake commanded the Judith on Hawkins’ second [Caribbean basin] expedition. On the return trip, the [English ‘monopoly-buster’] ships stopped [for emergency repairs, after negotiating permission with the local Spanish port authorities] at the Mexican port of San Juan de Ulua, later-named Veracruz. A fleet of Spanish ships approached the harbor, pretending to be friendly. But the Spaniards attacked the English, killing many English sailors and sinking several [of the 7] vessels. Only the Judith and Hawkins’ ship, the Minion, escaped” [Quoting pp. 265-266 from Vernon Snow’s “Sir Francis Drake,” In World Book Encyclopedia (1972), vol. 5].

Drake’s ship and Hawkins’ ship became separated in the desperate escape. Of Hawkins’ men, only fifteen survived the return trip to England.

Three of Hawkins’ crew—David Ingram, Richard Brown, and Richard Twide—walked for months, from Tampico, Mexico, to St. John, New Brunswick (then Acadia, now Canada). Other survivors who made land were captured (and tortured to death, Inquisition-style) or were simply not heard of again.

“Francis Drake and what remained of the crew of the Judith arrived at Plymouth. After listening to Drake’s report, Hawkins’ brother William wrote to Secretary of State William Cecil and the Privy Council, informing them of the disaster, and dispatched Drake to London with the letters so that the council could hear a firsthand account of the affair.” [Quoting John Todd, Jr., “Three Ships Sunk by Spaniards in Veracruz (Some Survivors Walked from Tampico to Canada)” in Francis Drake’s Disaster in Veracruz, pp. 8-9].

Drake vowed life-long revenge on the Spaniards, and Drake fulfilled his vow, religiously, earning his Spanish nicknames, “El Draque” and “El Drago” (the Dragon). Soon after Drake’s return to England, during AD1570 to AD1572, Drake pirated many Spanish ships in the West Indies, with Queen Elizabeth’s blessing.

Ironically, since Queen Elizabeth was the “governor” [not “head” — Ephesians 5:23] of the Church of England, this was ecclesiastically comparable (somewhat) to a papal blessing for a member of the Anglican church—comparable to King Philip II’s papal blessing, two decades later, on his quest to conquer England with his Invincible Armada and his nephew’s Army of Flanders.

Drake’s escapades in the West Indies swelled like Mt. Saint Helens, ready to erupt at any time. Now he no longer tried to negotiate embargo-circumventing “monopoly-busting” trade with Spanish colonists, he merely raided Spanish ships (and sometimes Spanish towns) as a pirate. While on Spanish-colonized coastland Colon (a major peninsula of Panama), Drake captured the town of Nombre de Dios, then ambushed a mule train of Spanish conquistadorean silver, bearing Peruvian silver to the Isthmus of Panama.

As a privateer for Queen Elizabeth, Drake owed her half of his pirated plunder, if he got it at sea. However, his “letter of marque” contract said nothing about the Queen getting any of the loot that he captured on land!

Drake’s ships did not remain in the West Indies, however.

In AD1577, Drake sailed from England to the Caribbean, and eventually sailed all the way south to the Strait of Magellan and sailed around South America’s tip, clockwise, along the Pacific coastline up to California, near San Francisco and beyond (up America’s northwest coastline, where he even spent a brief time trying to teach some natives about the Christian God, because they had tried to worship him), striking Spanish ships at every convenient opportunity, and even the Chilean seaport of Valparaiso (for 25,000 pesos of gold, among other loot). It was during AD1579, about his famed Golden Hind [see photo of replica ship], that he used trickery to capture the Spanish treasure-ship, Cacafuego (“Dung-fire”), in the Pacific, with a fortune (worth millions in today’s dollars). This was Drake’s characteristic pirate-style of “monopoly-busting,” disrupting Spain’s claim of monopolistic supremacy by looting the looters. (Unlike the legends of Robin Hood, though, Drake never returned the Peruvian silver he confiscated to the native Peruvians.)

Drake continued westward, challenging Spanish and Portuguese colonies—e.g., the Philippines, Moluccas, Celebes, Java—as he went.

As he surveyed the Pacific islands, Drake enjoyed opportunities for “monopoly-busting” trade, especially trading with native East Indies merchants who disliked the Portuguese traders, including a sultan in Ternate who disliked Portugal because his father had been killed by Portuguese merchants. Drake traded with the sultan for valuable East Indies spices—such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and pepper—all of which enhanced the taste of European food, and sometimes retarded spoilage, an important trait in that age of unrefrigerated food.

Eventually Drake returned to Plymouth, having been the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, returning to England as a national hero in late AD1580. Drake’s map accurately pictured the world’s two hemispheres, and he enthusiastically recounted his almost-3-year-long odyssey to Queen Elizabeth, for six hours!

Elizabeth had personally invested 1,000 crowns to finance Drake’s expedition, yet she received 47,000 crowns (with Drake keeping 10,000 crowns) as a return on her investment—more than enough to pay off all of England’s foreign debt at the time, as well as England’s national expenses for many years to follow! (And that was just the cash!  There was much more wealth in other forms, brought back in Drake’s Golden Hind!).

England would not forget this, or the Pacific, ever. Elizabeth was enthusiastically impressed, but not so her ex-brother-in-law, Philip II, the king of Spain (and, as of AD1580, also of Portugal). King Philip II protested Drake’s raids as “piracy,” because England and Spain were not then officially “at war.” Elizabeth’s reply was to proclaim Drake as a Knight in AD1581—officially to honor Drake for being the first Englishman to sail full circle around the world, a feat previously accomplished by Magellan’s survivors. Drake’s knighthood enraged King Philip II.

Interestingly, Philip had earlier indicated interest in marrying Elizabeth, as he had previously married (though mostly ignored) Elizabeth’s half-sister, Mary Tudor, England’s prior queen. But Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen (hence the name of her later-settled American colony, Virginia), was “married” only to her England.

Drake entered domestic politics. He served as mayor of Plymouth in AD1581 and AD1582. In AD1584 and in AD1585 he served in Parliament’s House of Commons. Had the old “sea-dog,” whom the Spaniards feared as “the Dragon,” quit the high seas for the life of a land-lubber? No.

In AD1585, King Philip ordered a trade embargo against all English goods, resulting in many contract breaches and general interruption in English trade worldwide.

Elizabeth called on Drake to respond to this world trade crisis: would he be willing to sail to the Caribbean, and to teach the Spanish another “monopoly-busting” lesson or two? Yes.

So, late in AD1585, Drake sailed from England to the Caribbean, with “monopoly-busting” on his Spaniard-targeted privateering agenda. En route to the West Indies, Drake harried the Spaniards’ seaport Vigo, then burned Sao Tiago. Drake landed on Hispaniola, and burned Santo Domingo. Then Drake “visited” Cartagena for 6 weeks, demanding ransom, or else. In AD1586 Drake also visited the Cayman Islands, to obtain sea-turtles, a valuable fresh meat source. On the return trip to England, Drake stopped in Florida at a Spanish fort (St. Augustine) and burned it, probably recalling how some of his old comrades in AD1568 had sought refuge in Florida, but had wandered through Florida without help, due to a recent Spanish massacre of Fort Caroline’s Huguenot settlers (in AD1565). After sailing northward from Florida, Sir Francis Drake visited the English colony of Virginia, and even picked up a few English passengers (who wanted to catch a trans-Atlantic “taxi” back to England).

Meanwhile, King Philip II was amassing his “Invincible Armada”.

When Elizabeth learned of the Spanish Armada’s approach, she quickly turned to Drake for help. Drake’s first response was to preemptively strike part of the Armada, before it could be strategically assembled to cross the English Channel.

It was in that context that Drake sneak-attacked Spanish warships at anchor in Cadiz, one of Spain’s most important seaports, seizing tons of ammunition. About 30 Spanish warships were destroyed.

On May 30, AD1588, Spain’s Invincible Armada launched from Lisbon, Portugal, with very specific orders from King Philip—on how the conquest of England was to be accomplished.  Meanwhile, after the Cadiz attack, Drake had returned to England to organize England’s naval defenses for what would come next. The formal commander of England’s navy then was officially Admiral Lord Howard. However, Howard wisely deferred to Drake’s naval expertise and wisdom, so Vice-Admiral Francis Drake was then the de facto fleet commander of the English naval defenses. Assisting Drake as squadron leaders—to defend against the inevitable invasion—were Drake’s Plymouth-born cousin, Sir John Hawkins (knighted in AD1588 after the Armada’s defeat) and Martin Frobisher (also knighted after the Armada’s defeat), another ocean-experienced English explorer-adventurer. Then, Spain’s 130 warships sailed northward, under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia, an aristocrat without Drake’s “school-of-hard-knocks” experience.  On July 30, the Armada entered the English Channel, engaging in some sporadic long-range gunfire with English ships for two days.

On August 6th, the Armada anchored at Calais, France, to await the arrival of (and then escort) the barges carrying the Spanish Army of Flanders, which was coming from nearby Dunkirk (“Dunkerque”), to constitute Spain’s main landing-force of invaders. (This crisis prompted Queen Elizabeth’s speech quoted on the first page of this paper.)  The Flemish army never arrived; they were blocked by Dutch gunboats! On August 8th, the English sent five “fire-boats”—unmanned, gunpowder-loaded ships, set afire, with the wind directing them toward the anchored Armada!

SpanishArmada.painting-deLoutherbourg

SPANISH ARMADA (de Loutherbourg)

The Armada panicked, and scattered helter-skelter to avoid colliding with fire-ships or any flying fire-debris spewed out by gunpowder explosions. The small, agile English ships chased the fleeing Spanish ships near Gravelines, a French port. The English sunk two Spanish ships, and seriously damaged, if not crippled, the other 128.

The Spanish fled, sailing counter-clockwise around the British Isles (hoping to reorganize with the help of Irish sympathizers/allies), only to lose half of their warships to freakish winds [!!!] off the Irish coast.

These “coincidental” ship-destroying storms at sea were interpreted by many (both British and Spanish) then, and by many since, as demonstrations of God’s providential care for and protection of the British nation, and thus also of God’s providential protection of Britain’s Protestant enterprises. Many gave thanks to God for his protective providence.  Only 67 (about ½) of the Spanish Armada warships returned to Spain. It seems irrefutable that England was providentially spared from an otherwise certain Spanish invasion.

Spain eventually returned, with a second Armada, in AD1596, but this too was quashed by providential weather. Once again, unsurprisingly, this defeat-by-weather was recognized as God’s continuing providence, again defending Protestant England from the Inquisition-enforcing Spaniards.

So what was the end result? England remained a world super-power, in ways that secured furtherance of the Great Commission.


Dr. James J. S. Johnson, during AD2005 (when this was written) was variously lecturing aboard international cruise ships, teaching history (inter alia) at LeTourneau University and Dallas Christian College, and was daily appreciating God’s providences.


NOTE:  the original version of this article first appeared as Short Paper #24 of the Northwood Review of Geography & International Studies (March 2005), and was used (with permission) aboard NCL’s NORWEGIAN MAJESTY later that year.


 

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 6: After Yugoslavia, Wandering through Europe … Fleeing from Germany

Refugees in Germany, as WWII ended

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 6:  After Yugoslavia, Wandering through Europe  —  Jakob and Katarina Webel Family, Fleeing from Germany

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Let brotherly love continue.  Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.   (Hebrews 13:1-3)

Bavaria-refugee-traffic.AD1945

In this sixth episode of the “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen” family history series, the ethnic-German family of Jakob and Katarina Webel, having evacuated from their former home in what is today Croatia, strive to survive as refugees, during the latter part of World War II, having left the broken-apart country of Yugoslavia in a train – traveling through places like Prague (in present-day Czech Republic), eventually to reach Germany.

But it is obvious that Communists are gaining control of what was Yugoslavia (and will nail that control tight as the war concludes) — including Croatia — and the Webel family rightly fears and is fleeing the intolerable cruelty of the Communists. The country of Yugoslavia (then Croatia, later Yugoslavia, then again later Croatia), their original homeland before World War II, has ceased to be a safe-to-live-at “home”, so the Webel family has emigrated – facing a very uncertain and unpredictable future in other countries — leaving behind extended family members (such as Jakob’s father). Masses of displaced families on the move, but to where?

refugees-near-Bavaria-horsedrawn-wagons.AD1945

But what is next? Where will the trains take them as a family? Can they succeed in staying together as a family?  Where should be their new home in post-WWII Europe?  Where will the trains take them?  What about food and hygiene?

[This part of the interview quotes from pages 91-116 of Rosie’s record.]

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

DAUGHTER:  So approximately how long were you in this train?

DAD: Maybe 2 weeks, huh, Mom?

 MOM: Long enough, long enough.

DAUGHTER: About 2 weeks.

DAD: Many times nothing to eat for a day or two.

MOM: Yeah, and once they had to-

DAD: But we had that sausage in the —  you know, you are not allowed to open. Nobody is allowed to know, even not the children. Because when the children know it’s here, they would ask, and if one person know beside you, then everybody knows. So we just scarcely opened it, cut little bit off.

 MOM: Get something in your stomach, this was all we had, never filled up.

DAD: Then we came there and unload from the train in Germany.

 MOM: Many days on this train, then the transport was, they say, now 4:00 we arrive over there in Prague or somewhere where we was, we will have a good meal, we can go there with our dish, we get good meal and all the people will be fed. Yeah, was not so. We don’t arrive this night and this foods have to stay overnight and the next day this time almost, and when Dad brought this food in the wagon. I was not feeling food, this was stinky, I said, no, I would not eat this, stinks this food, And Dad told me ‘how you can say this before the children, this food stinks.’ Now, we had finally something to give them and all they look at me. I will not eat, I will not eat. And he forced some dish, they have to eat, and I’m not hungry and the other said, I’m not hungry, And Dad start eating, okay. I cannot eat, rather I die. I cannot eat. This stink this food, you know, this was just couple hours, they threw up. They was so sick, all, the whole transport was sick from this food, they had them keep this food overnight in these big kettles for over thousand people.

 DAUGHTER: There was over 1,000 on the train?

 MOM: Yeah, and was noodles and beans all mixed together, was a kind of pig food. what you feed the pigs Just when I smell it, Dad says you find nice. He was throwing up, all others.

 DAUGHTER:  So who all got sick? Dad?

 MOM: Oh, Dad was very sick.

 DAUGHTER:  Did the kids eat?

MOM: No, they was sick, you have to eat, they were sick, very sick. Very sick. They threw up, there was no end to throwing up, the whole stomach was sick. Then finally when we came off this train…my, my….

 [The audiotape was stopped after a discussion about how late the time was.]

*          *          *          *          *          *          *         *

[When the interview resumes there was a digression of topics, returning to earlier events, when Dad first saw and heard Mom,  as she sang in church, when Dad was scouting for a girl  who would make the right kind of wife.]

 DAD:  I was not a tall boy, never, and I did not like to have a wife taller than I am. So that’s nothing, so when she stood there….

 DAUGHTER:  But she’s not taller than you, is she?

DAD: No, she’s not, there she was, was singing somewhere, she was standing anyplace, then I remember how tall she is. Let’s see on that… so I remember, about an inch lower than that. Then, later on, I go there and stand there and stand to my body, and see, am I taller than that or not.

 DAUGHTER:  Why did you pick mom out of all the other girls?

DAD:  Why? Well, why?

DAUGHTER:  She had a nice beautiful voice? Cute?

DAD:  One thing, she was a nice looking girl, and one thing, she had a good voice, and I know I cannot sing and it is very important for a believing family [i.e., a Christian family] if they can sing. And if a mom can sing, then she can teach the children, not so teach, then that inherited by the children, they can usually. And I like to sing, I know cannot, maybe if I would grow up in a church where there are good singers, maybe I could train myself because I know the notes, I know very good the notes, I meant not only the name of notes, I know which is which. But I have not hearing to decide to know am I following ever now a little bit higher or lower than you are. But that could be trained if you…-

 MOM: I thought so when he would…

[interruption when audiotape stops]

DAD:  The train finally arrived in the — that’s almost Eastern Germany, but now is a Polish territory — and from the train we are transferred all in a big some kind of like a dance hall or something like that.

 DAUGHTER: What’s a ‘dance hall’?

 MOM: Dance hall.

 DAUGHTER: Oh, like a big building.

DAD:  Big building, yes, but I don’t think it was upstairs but a big building and I think we had about 30 beds there, make up beds, but on 2, 3 floor, the beds, (bunk), somebody is here on the top, and the beds were wide easy for 2 persons. So we were all that and just a little room to walk in-between.

 MOM: Was 93 person in one room, and in other was over 100, there was just 2 big sitting —  not halls, was like halls for dancing halls.

DAD:  And we did… The food, we get all from the same place but whatever we did have, put under the pillows or under your bed and so hide how you know, and one lady was with, she had sugar, whole box, about 100 pound. . . . .  Not crystals, but pieces.  How you call this?

DAUGHTER:  Cubes.

sugar-cubes

DAD:  Yeah, and the children had always sugar to eat and they had stuff: meat, was winter time, they put, hang on the window outside overnight to keep it cool, in the morning would disappear, nobody is there because there are 100 people, you never know who. And there is everybody hungry, it’s, the food is, here you get food, but that food is no good, you could think that the war is almost to the end. The war is prolonged 4 or 5 years and nothing came in, nothing grow, nothing is there, everybody is poor.

 MOM: I had never eat such food what they cook.

DAD:  Everybody is poor, so everybody’s hungry.

 DAUGHTER:  The food that you took from your father when you went on the train.

DAD:  We did have it.

 DAUGHTER:  You still have some of that left?

 DAD:  We went with much, we still had much but we slept on it in that time.

 MOM: We hid it because of the people.

DAD:  We hid it.

 DAUGHTER:  It was hidden?

DAD:  Yeah.

 DAUGHTER:  You were hiding it.

DAD:  Hiding it, but how could you hide? There where you sleep.

MOM: Well, was not long like this. Tell them a little farther what I did. I went to a lady, get known was Major’s wife.

DAD:  And then in that big room was a little corner, have there some more nurses, the nurses who take care of us, and mom went there to the nurses and asked permission to make something-

 MOM: On their stove that was there, was cold.

DAD:  They had a little stove, to make something for us especially, and they allowed, you know. And sure mom take, give it, them a little bit. And they didn’t have it something, and so little by little Mom and Aunt Anne’s mom get in the city, get acquainted with a lady . . . .

 MOM: No, was not Anne’s mom, this was Anne’s sister, Eva Brasenkovich.

 DAUGHTER:  Okay. You were not held captive there. That’s just where you were, where you slept, where you lived?

DAD:  You were there like refuge. And they take care of us, but they didn’t have any, they themselves had nothing so, and mom get acquainted with the lady, she happened to be the Major’s wife. And they lived in an apartment, in a big building apartment, they had about maybe 4 or 5 persons with families there, and Mom asked to give the permission to take a bath, the children.

 MOM: Give the children the bath over there and wash the stuff and-

DAUGHTER: And so, little by little, we washed, bathed the children there, and washed our clothes and washed their clothes too for nothing.

 MOM: Oh, this was something….

DAD:  And sure, how we make out the soap, probably she giveth the soap [notice the King James English here!] because everything was a ration card. Right away when we get there we get ration card, but you can buy nothing and so Mom asked there to hide our bacon and our hams and our sausage, and we hid in the attic, like attic here, just you could walk in.

MOM: Storage, storage, there stuff and. . .

 DAD:  And every apartment has little bit fenced in.

 MOM: Was fenced in.

DAD:  But so you could see through, so they could dry their clothes there in winter, could lock up there part.

 MOM: Each one was locked.

DAD:  So you could put here, they put paper, from outside could nobody see it, and hang there, and so they hang our stuff there and whenever mom goes to bring a slice, she give her a slice, little bit.

MOM: And I gave to her a slice, to this lady. Oh, she says, my husband would just love, this noon we will have a lunch what’s we have not for 3, 4, 5 years. So one slice of ham, Nice dry ham sliced like a finger thick or so, nice slice.

 DAUGHTER:  How would you do that? Would you cook that or fry it or what would you do? Add water to it?

 MOM: Eat in raw, no, eat in secret, beside our little bed, no good food then, you get some kind of bread, cornbread and this little bit sungka or how you say, ham, dry ham, or what is on the bottom, is bacon like this and the others all…

DAD:  When she was able to have some potatoes from somewhere, then she go to that nurses to cook there and then she cook with our sausage, a little bit in there, in the potatoes too, and sure is just little bit sausage, the sausage have to disappear not to see, nobody, but you give little bit the nurse if it is only that much.

 MOM: Oh, I cut them right away in little slices in round circles.

DAD:  So there is something to the food we get or . . . .

MOM: I cook their beans and make the noodles.

 DAUGHTER:  How did you buy the potatoes?

 MOM: The farmers I go and beg.

DAD:  If you cannot buy, you could beg.

 MOM: I go and beg for one potato over there, one over there, and they give it.

 DAUGHTER: And what were we doing, us kids?

 MOM: You was home. With Dad in this….

DAD:  And over there, the people, came, them give us puzzles, give us that and that.

 DAUGHTER:  Give you what?

DAD:  The puzzle for doing . . . .

 MOM: A puzzle.

DAD:  So something like that.

 DAUGHTER:  To occupy your time?

DAD:  Occupy . . . .

 MOM: The children.

DAD:  And many time I did play with the children, puzzles or [the board game] Mensch ärgere Dich nicht’ [a board game somewhat like Parcheesi] something to get the children quiet down.

Mensch-argere-Dich-nicht.Parcheesi-like-boardgame

DAUGHTER:  Did they have no work for any of the men to do?

DAD: No, not — in that time was nothing. This was not long. And then, little by little, they find a quarters, apartment somewhere, that family, that family, and so finally we get somewhere out from there.

MOM: They find for us an apartment somewhere big room for all. They have to empty this farmer and have to have one family and they took us. So we finally, and then all . . . .

 DAUGHTER: Where did you get sent to? Where was your apartment? In the same city?

 MOM: Oh yeah.

 DAUGHTER:  What was the name of this city?

DAD:  That’s [a town] by Brisnow [did Dad say “Breslau?][1] , that is a big city now in Poland  —  but that was a small town, and I do not recall the name.

Oder-NeisseLine.postWWII-map

DAUGHTER:  In occupied Poland now.

 DAD:  Yes, it is now. And that not happen for along . . . maybe a week or two.

DAUGHTER:  How long were you in this big quarters? About 2 weeks?

Breslau-Germany-lka-Wroclaw-Poland.map

BRESLAU  (a/k/a Wrocław in Polish, & Vratislav in Czech)  shown in pink 

(Breslau was within German land transferred, after WWII, to Poland.)

MOM: We was very . . . the children was all sick there, all the yellow jaundice from this bad food in this, there was no food enough. Was this food was not for eating, just what I make once….

DAUGHTER:   Okay.  Was in this same city you found an apartment?  At that point . . .

 DAD:  Not we found, they found for us apartment.

 MOM: They get (?) closer and closer.

 DAUGHTER:  Then were you supposedly self-sufficient at that point?

DAD:  Self-sufficient. … our ration card to eat, buy what you can, and eat what you could . . .

DAUGHTER:  Then what did you do to live?

DAD:  We had from our home money and we use that.

 DAUGHTER:  Did you have these people live with you?

DAD:  No.

 DAUGHTER:  Just your family.

DAD:  When we arrived there, then everybody who had relationship in America, in Germany, they could apply to go there, and Pfeifer they had a sister some children (Robert) somewhere in Bavaria, and they are transferred there.

 MOM: In Salzburg.

 DAUGHTER:  And then they were transferred there.

DAD:  So they were transferred there immediately. So we was there and then after period of time and we were there, but that not take long, the war get closer and closer. The [Soviet] Russian army came from North and we heard all day the cannons and bombs there . . . .

 MOM: All night long.

DAD:  . . . . and the planes, running over, the German was retreating and then we saw man go with a wagon, a woman, the whole family, little bit have left food, some take their belongings and go South, go South, go South.

 MOM: Hundreds and hundreds of people.

DAD:  From morning till night you can see that from our window.  And even you can see a child die, left them there in a ditch, just go farther along, go farther, go farther.

DAUGHTER:  The snows were deep that this time in this place?

MOM: Yeah.

DAD:  The people, we, mom, have to go to shovel the snow, to help the traffic go.

 MOM: Army just looking.

DAD:  And little by little even the army goed by, not the regular army, but when you are retreating, there’s no regular, just bunches, of people, and then in the town where we are have to be . . ..

Germans-expelled-from-Poland.AD1945

ethnic Germans expelled from Poland, winter AD1945

MOM: How many months we have people the whole room full laying on the floor. We got much people was there.

 DAUGHTER:  Where from?

DAD:  The people from more North where already the Russian army was.

 DAUGHTER:  You invited them to come in?

DAD:  No.  They come from outside far and the night is here, they slept wherever. We could not walk all ways, all ways, all ways. So they said we are here, there’s 20 more here, or 30 more here sleeping. In the morning they go farther.

 MOM: The whole barn full by this farmer, the whole yard full, you cannot believe.

 DAUGHTER:  Where did you live? In an apartment by a farmer?

DAD:  It was not an apartment, it was in his house, just a big room.

 DAUGHTER:  In his house. In the barn.

 MOM:  Yeah, in the barn.

DAD:  And then came the time they said we have to leave, not we, the whole city, only the men have to stay there, to fight. The men had to stay there to, for a war purpose, then here, before that, they want me to go to enlist to defend, Every man who is in that age have to go in the war, regardless, and I could not go. And because… I could not go… one thing, I would not take arms, the next thing, I would not leave the family and they came, the women and the children had to go away and the men had to stay behind. And I don’t want to, I will take our sack, and that wooden suitcase that we got, for plywood, we bought them because we didn’t have them from Yugoslavia. We bought them and packed everything, packed everything and other farmer, they took us to the railroad depot to go, when we came there, we stay all night then the farmer went back and then once went back to the farmer again.

MOM: No we was all day and all night was no train, no room, no train, nothing. We can sit there but people all over. Cannot imagine.

DAD:  And so the next day we went again and-

MOM: Farmer took us back and he brought us again other day .

DAD:  Oh, then the bathroom flooded, the mud everywhere, was in winter…. Flood, but the children, sleeping on the table.

 MOM: Could not put them on the floor, it’s all water.

DAD:  After midnight it already quiet. I went out and found a buggy where they-, the railroad, a small railroad they had a big buggy with 2 wheels, you could put packed much packed, and 2 wheels and is balanced you could push it. And I put all our stuff on that that one buggy and when they arrive at train, all the people around there, there’s still not a train.

 MOM: Even Pfeiffer’s stuff, he put all our stuff and each one had to watch one hour during the night, it was frozen cold. Hard, you get cold feet, cannot stand, and then another go out.

 DAUGHTER:  You took turns guarding your supplies or your stuff.

 MOM: Yeah, all together.

DAD:  And when the train came, go away, somehow mom and the children went in, and I am not there with my stuff, could not get through it, through that window the children get in.

 MOM: I put the children through the window. One lady says, give me that little child, here I carry it in and I was afraid to leave it ‘cause I can never go through the door, we have to crawl out somehow, and I give the little ones through the window, they help me, they open wide the window, and the husbands, they get the children and when all of them in, now I have to-, dad is not here, nobody’s here, how can I go in the train. Where they go. They are alone. The train goes.

DAD:  And behind, with that train was a boxcar where you put the stuff in, and I get somehow our stuff in. Now I have no room in the train but, I don’t know, how they managed to get me in . . . .

 MOM: Yeah, yeah, you crawled in, they help you.

DAUGHTER:  In the same [train] car where mom was.

 MOM:  Yeah, I told there, there’s my husband and the children are all now in, and this people what took me first in, I said that’s my husband, he has to go with the train. They said, we will push him in how somehow. No, no, you cannot go through the door or through the steps, you have to crawl through the window, somebody has to pull you up, and they did so. So he was in.

 DAUGHTER:  What were these trains like? Did they have seats dad?

 MOM: Yeah, yeah, dad can tell you how many people was in this small . . . .

DAD:  The train is divided, 2 seats sit, see each other against the wall. In the two seats, there may be room for a four maybe five but this is that way and the children are here and children are here . . . .

MOM: He faces them.

DAD:  And I don’t think we were less than 20, were maybe 30 people in that room, crowded.

 MOM: You never get up or put down.

DAD:  In that time . . . .

 MOM: We were all stinky.

DAD:  When you want to get up, stiff, you could hardly move, but that’s it.

 DAUGHTER:  Where did you go? How long were you on the train?

DAD:  How long we are on the train is hard to tell you exactly, but at least 5, 6 days.

 DAUGHTER:  How did you eat?

MOM: Ten days, Dad.

DAD:  I said at least but will be….

 MOM: How you get.. huh…

DAD:  They know the train is coming there, they prepared the food, but there are again not German airplane, but American, and they bombed there, the bridge so you could not go, so that –

 MOM: So the food you can never get.

DAD:  Never get to the food. But the locomotive, hitch up here and there and go the other way. And so it takes more longer. Then we get to where we get, and once we get to the capital city from that Czechoslovakia, Prague is the name… And there, oh, we were supposed to get something, and we did, but . . . . but it’s okay.

 DAUGHTER:  Now what was it?

 MOM: I will tell you before this, we want, Dad was saying. Dad went out, right away out of the train, and look for some food. Find some food, make no difference what, and he saw a line. And he went in this line and finally come, he was a long time gone, he’s not coming when he can, he brought schnitzel, on how many he has ration cards, he get so many schnitzel for his child, one. Then they didn’t come back while here are more children here.

DAD:  And more people.

 MOM: And more people and they are all the same way and they are so hungry.

DAD:  We are . . . .

 DAUGHTER:  What is a schnitzel? Is that like a roll?

 MOM: Yeah, a roll.

DAD:  We are 8 people with the children and here are about 20 in here. And everybody want to eat, everybody’s hunger so we divide that because you could not eat that we took out of the mouth.

 MOM: Some people, they took us in in this train, this people, and they helped people that was like us, all of them did. And then Dad broke it in pieces and it was a mouthful.

 DAUGHTER:  Each one gets just a little mouthful.

 MOM: Don’t matter. And then they sent their mother, their mother, she wants to go, she has just 2 children, for her husband is in the war. She don’t even know where he [is], and she went, the mother, and left the little boy and girl with us. And the train start running, and the mother was not therewith; the children start screaming and crying! When Dad saw her running, toward the end of the train where her wagon, he grabbed her — he just grabbed her and pulled her up, how was the train gone. She said she would never leave her children anymore for any food, they go all together hungry or so . . . .

DAD:  In that time you know what that means. When you are hungry or your neighbor, people you never saw, never meet before, you divide with them the last drop or that crumb bread. But don’t forget we hid our package behind, there we got sausage, there we got lard, there we got bacon, but we could not get there and we don’t have nothing from it. So we leave it. Some day we eat a little bit more, some day almost nothing and . . . .

 MOM: Dad always was when, he went out he said, I will be very careful what I do, how far I go, and he once say he have a ration card for tobacco and finds somewhere a very rotten apple, he gives this ration card for this apple, he brought this apple that comes so handy, you cannot believe. You cannot eat the ration card for tobacco. Apple, that’s something for all these children. And one young mother, she has a child 8 days old, and she has it in the middle of-

 DAUGHTER:  In this same little room?

DAD:  In that room we had 2 girls, they had somewhere found a child, abandoned, they took it with themselves, they want, not young girls, maybe only 25 or 30 year old, but they took that girl and that child for themselves and here you can get milk for the ration card. They need to run there to get it and because of this line, there is a big line already, and you get them, drink for them too, and nothing new when the diaper, newspaper diaper, rag, whatever use for a diaper, and we go out and again, when the train goes, when it stop, and run there to the locomotive, beg for water, hot water to . . .

 MOM: You have to beg for the food, have to beg for diaper, sometimes you beg for outfit.

 DAUGHTER:  Now who was-, the last one born here was Robert. Rosie was not born yet.

 MOM: No, Rosie was not born.

DAD:  Just was Robert.

DAUGHTER:How old was he at this time?

DAD:  Robert was at this time a year and a half.

 DAUGHTER: (January, February.)  And you were pregnant then with Rosie.

 MOM: Yeah, sure.

DAUGHTER:  Because Rosie was born in June.

DAD: Yeah, but Robert, he was a little fellow, he know when he want to go to the bathroom, he ask.  And I take him out, hold myself on the . . . on the train you got like a bar and holds on the bar and hold him out, the running board.  Then he  . . . ‘I have to go.’  No, you don’t; no, you don’t have to.

 MOM: No, you don’t have. ‘Yeah, I have to go’.

DAD:  But sometimes you have to… [Dad is noting the difficult logistics involved], . . . you know. No, no.

MOM: He was very good, that so many days and so many nights.

DAD:  But he like that, the wind from the train running(laughter). And mom holds me . . .

MOM: I hold him in the back. You know that air is very sharp when you open that train door. And him you have to hold until he’s done and he holds him from the back.

DAD:  And we had a lady there, she had a buggy with a child, and this, she never take care of the baby, left him in the buggy. He was stinking, he was everything in the buggy, everything.

 MOM: He made the sickness, he was older than Robert. He was older and he start and get fever, this little child. And the grandma just hide this the little baby in that buggy. ‘He catch a cold, you can’t open the door. Mister, you shouldn’t. Don’t do this’, she says. And our child is already sick, well, we have to open the door here, you got the stink, it’s stuffy. You know, he made all this mess in his diapers and he lives in buggy.

DAD:  Till we finally could get to the nurses to take the child out, he’s sick, and then. . . .

 MOM: We have to get the signal, here is a child sick in that [buggy]  — and then on the first big stop where they can take this child out from a big city. They took this mother and father, no, was not the father, the mother and the grandma and grandpa, with this little baby, they took her out. We have such a relief, we had such a relief, can hardly stand them anymore.

DAD:  One thing is, 4 people less, 3 grown-up people and that buggy, and more than that, they were-, the people were afraid the child…

 MOM: They took him out to the doctor, and they said he had pneumonia. Well, he was so thirsty for coffee, all day long he was yelling for coffee, this child.  ‘Coffee, coffee, coffee.’  Like teeny voice.  When he start asking, he was not quiet till he was drinking coffee.

DAD:  Probably so…

 DAUGHTER:  So this train when to Prague, Czechoslovakia. What happened there?

DAD:  And then we came to there through Bavaria, close by Aregansborg [spelling?], big city, and in that city we make a halt in there and that train was full with people, from German people from Northern parts and with us it was nobody from Yugoslavia to our knowledge. Just the people from Germany. And they divided us among the houses, farmers here and there, and so we got in a city, they call it, is a small city, they call it Winser, like Winsor, Winser, and the house where we got our apartment, for a 2-story house, our part was a second story, I think it was a little small, maybe 2 rooms or 3 rooms we had, something like that, but not a bigger one.

 MOM: It was a very nice room.

DAD:  Yeah, and the backyard was Danube River.

MOM: Across the street was the store, across the street was the courthouse and all the main.

 DAD:  And now we again live on our own. Now we got our packages, everything, and we get a ration card.

 DAUGHTER:  How did you manage to find your packages? You just threw stuff on, who’s to stop anybody from taking them?

DAD:  When the train stops, you will over here unload and everybody looks for his own, nobody looks for somebody else because-

 MOM: They’re all….

 DAUGHTER:  Nobody really cares about anybody else’s.

 MOM: You don’t know, will you live tomorrow?  This was not a nice like living like now.

DAD:  And then usually get the noise round, tomorrow will be the store and they have butter. But on the ration, nothing without the ration, on the ration card you have butter, but they know it’s about, I say about 1,000 people here and they got butter for 300.

 DAUGHTER: Dad, where was the ration card distributed from? Where did you get them?

DAD:  Like for every city, go for the court house, they distribute for every person who lives here, every week.

 DAUGHTER:  You had to go and get them.

DAD:  You had to get them.

 DAUGHTER:  They were given to you according to how many you had in your family?

DAD:  Yes. Yes.

 MOM: Yeah, had to put down a name.

 DAD:  But different is the ration cards for the grown-up people, different for the mother, different for the children up to 10 year, and even for the small children.

 MOM: And the babies. The baby get one, when I get one too.

DAD:  So the people know tomorrow will be something. In the morning about 4:00, the people are already standing there.

 MOM:  Standing.

DAD:  When the store open, is a line, big line waiting, and when they open the doors, they let in about 10 people, then they got served, then they get out and the other people . . . .

MOM: Otherwise they would step on people.

DAD:  So the first people gets, the last get nothing, no nothing, is sold out. But they got everything, but again, we-, how should I say it, not to be smart, but everyone takes care of first of himself, and so when is nobody more there, and it’s sold out, that is the owner, whosoever it is, old lady or young lady, mom goes there, and talks to them and they get acquainted to them and-

 MOM: An old woman, she was a very nice person.

DAD:  And we had so and so many children, we had 6 children and we are from there and there and we had a store there, you know what’s to mean the store get them, and we do have that stuff with us and that stuff with us and that stuff with us so we could give you something, a little black pepper.

 MOM: I told her we had the ration cards for coffee, nobody we cannot afford to buy coffee.

DAD:  Yeah, yeah, we would not buy coffee. And coffee, the people would pay for the ration card to get coffee. We would give you the coffee ration card and you give us a little bit of something, and so we never had to stay in the line.

 MOM: Save for us.

DAD:  When they got the butter tomorrow, then for our butter, it all ready before they open the door.

 MOM: She make this ready before even…

DAD:  And so everything.

 MOM: Cabbage, was big cabbage, from a whole truck full, but is not enough for everybody.

DAD:  But on the ration card.

 MOM: On the ration card, each one gets a little head. All kinds of things.

DAD:  And mom gets a big …   And the bread is very coarse, made from corn, of corn and very coarse, and mom cannot get sick from this. So she goes, maybe not in that town, but she goes to the bakery, and when there is no customer there, she goes with the baker lady in the kitchen and she want to talk with her. And then she told her, I am ..say, who we are, introduce ourselves, and then what we want, but you have to introduce yourself. And then we want, I want light bread, 1 loaf, 1 pound light bread every second day or every week, and I would give you that.

 DAUGHTER:  And you were with the children the whole time?

DAD:  Sure, sure.

 MOM: Oh, yeah.

DAD:  Mom was the most that.

 MOM: I had to go make something for the family, it was not-

DAD:  If a man goes, he will not get. And most of men are in the army, the home men are in the army or in the prisoners of war. And women run the business, run the store, run everything, so if a wife goes there, it’s very different thing than if man goes there. And beside that, I was always more or less behind, the people would say, how is that young man not in the war, our men is in the war, so you have to be very careful for everything.

 MOM: He’s home. He never goes out. I had to go for everything.

DAD:  Not much.

 DAUGHTER:  You were afraid to show your face in the town.

 MOM: Yeah.

DAD:  So Mom get that stuff here, and that stuff there, and that stuff there.

DAUGHTER:  Let’s get these times right. You said that happened about in February sometime.

DAD:  February to March, and then came already the American from the other side where are not the Russian is far behind, but American came.

 DAUGHTER:  Up the Danube River way, south way.

DAD:  Yes, they came. And on our side, where we are, came the American, and German, is no soldier more there. But the civilian have to defend, and most places get winter damage, not let them in, and the wind destroy the bridges, not let them in, but before they came, the German, the government they had here a big stock house, and there a stock house, filled with stuff because they never know how long will take the war so our mayor, the Russian, the American is here, tomorrow, even tomorrow, every day they will be here.

 MOM: Every day, every . . . .

DAD:  So he proclaim everybody should get there with a ration card and according to ration card we will get whatsoever they get. So we got ration card for 8 persons, we got a big, maybe 100, maybe 200 pounds of rice. Some people have no place to put it but in the pillowcases, put in pillowcases.

 MOM: Put in the pillowcases, the rice . . . .

DAD:  (I talk, not you). So it was ever, so then we got for food is that the main thing. But then children’s shirts and some different things you want, regardless big and small, every ration card gets so much. So we get this and that. And, oh, like when is war times. Everything is no order so the-, you know what’s kepper but these I don’t know. Ribbon that small, rolled on a big, big roll to sell it, and that was no place to buy it, but somewhere in a storehouse, was some pile and pile, and the children play with that, throw them round, over the house, and in the river, and everywhere. And pacifier, the streets full, everywhere and the most that the people back up, children play. And we gathered them, good pacifier, children go get, so we got lots of pacifier and that pants too.

 MOM: The rubber . . .

DAUGHTER:  Rubber bands?

MOM: No, the pacifier, not the pacifier, what go over the bottles, the other.

 DAUGHTER:  The nipple?

 MOM: The nipples, that was the same thing.

DAD:  So we gathered them again. Like a businessman, oh, boy, I could use that, not we . . . .

 DAUGHTER: But somehow . . .

 [Break in the audiotape recording]

DAD:  No war, they came, but when they came to our place, everybody out, everybody out. We just start to eat supper, everybody out, everybody out. We had to go. where go? Go, go, go ,go, go with the children, nothing with you. So we go and if on the way we see somebody throw a pitcher over there, in the grass, and we came at the end somewhere and was a farmer, we’ll get over night.

 DAUGHTER:  Wait a minute? You mean you had to leave all your things?

DAD:  Everything.

 MOM: Everything. Not one meal to cook.

DAD:  Nothing. Just the children and go. Even our food we sat to eat, let it. And American soldier eat there, they put the cover up the window, whatsoever they find they turn up, cut off the windows because other side over the Danube is still German and once in a while they shoot cannons, the American, but was no the war between them. And in the morning everything is quiet, we try to go back on our place and by going back I say ‘Reini, go [get] that’. He look for that pitcher.

 DAUGHTER:  Oh, you sent him to get that pitcher that someone had thrown away.

DAD:  Yeah. And we for long time had that pitcher. That was a . . . .

 DAUGHTER:  What kind of pitcher?

DAD:  For drinking. For water, for, like a beer, they used to have a . . . .

 DAUGHTER:  A beer stein?

DAD:  Yeah, yeah.

 DAUGHTER:  You still have it?

DAD:  No.

 MOM: It was somewhere broken.

DAD:  And then we get back in our home.

 MOM: We had no glass or a…

DAD:  Our home, oh, there is a pile of garbage, no soldiers anymore. Right away they come, hide the bread, better we pick it, because American soldier eat, what they throw away. Pick them out, we eat what was good, and whatsoever[2] was good to eat. And so. . . .

 DAUGHTER:  In other words, you’re saying they were wasteful with the food that you had there. Did they get into your stuff there?

MOM: No, no.

DAD: No. They were . . . .

 MOM: No, you ate their food.

 DAUGHTER:  No, no, no, they were interrupted during their mealtime and they were not allowed to finish their meal.

 MOM:   . . . they didn’t eat their food. I know, but they left American food there.

DAD: They left it, yes. They left it.

 MOM: Yeah, see, they were eating American food.

DAD: Yeah. They left American food, what they had eaten there, the military food what they had was they threw out in the garbage like they do. And we will go through, that is good bread, that is good that, that is good that. We could even-, we eat that. And our food what was it?

 MOM: Baked potatoes, without anything.

DAD: Yeah, was . . . she had on the table. They was not hungry on our food.

 MOM: Mashed potatoes was on table too.

DAUGHTER:  No butter, huh, mom?

 MOM: Oh, no.

DAD:  And there we… Robert, our Robert, He had a pacifier. And there we take the pacifier away, no more pacifier, and when…. ‘See, the soldier take it.’  No, no soldier would take that.  ‘The soldier took it.’ ….

 MOM:  He always understand soldier take it. And he will, too, with the hands [imitating how little Robert would ready his fists, to fight whoever took his pacifier]: “No, no, soldier, you took my pacifier!”

DAUGHTER:  So he’s almost 2 years old by now.

 MOM: Yeah.

DAD:  Almost, yeah.

 DAUGHTER:  Now was Rosie born?

 MOM: No, not born yet.

DAD:  And then is the war at an end.  Now the war is end. There are no German soldier or . . . . to end. But here are some prisoner of war, Yugoslav men, and here and there working by the farmer, and they, you can talk with them, you could . . . . they are ready to go home. They could not how to go home, they will go with the Danube River. And how they got, not a ship, but where you put the grain in and a ship pulls them. How you call that?

 DAUGHTER:  Barge.

DAD:  Oh, barge, that’s the same then, because “barga,” that’s the same as barge. In this barge, we in the barge and that goes, the river goes that way so we goes with the river, so they will go and one family from Czechoslovakia will go with us and we go, we too.

 MOM: Takes the men.

 DAUGHTER: Your object was to get back to Yugoslavia.

DAD: Yeah, anxious to go back, our business, our… everything we have is there. And we have . . . . the war is ended, we have nothing to lose, we have to go back home. In Germany, nobody wants you, you are . . . .  they have almost nothing to eat and where, they have to share with us.

 MOM: And every day the same thing.

DAD:  And when we get in the store, our, you gypsy, you have that and I have not.

MOM: They call us gypsies.

DAD:  They are, they don’t realize or didn’t think equal, we are not equal with them. They are at home here and we eat their bread.  How could you feel equal?  No!  It’s so we are . . . .

 MOM: They thought the food should….

DAD:  And beside that, our people from Yugoslavia or from everywhere, and they are hungry more than the people who live at home. And they got, stealing, they got that and that.

 DAUGHTER:  Now you went on this barge.

DAD:  So we will go home. We packed our stuff, we bought a stove and everything we go.

 DAUGHTER:  This happened in March?

 MOM: Yeah.

DAD:  Second part of March, maybe April.

 MOM: April, April. That was, yeah, it was. I knows it was.

DAD:  Already would be April. Maybe even May.

 MOM: Yeah, it was warm.

DAD:  Could be even May because was no more cold. So we go that way with . . . down the river. But we could not go far away here. Through the war, we came to Reggensburg [spelling?] and here through the war, the bridges are crashed in the river because of war. And here the American made pontoon bridges, we could not go farther. So we stopped then, wait, wait till finally the American open and let us go through and we went through it now, is that now is that bridge, Isle Bridge. Isle Bridge does not hold up the water, the water goes, runs around this and the post and so on, and here we go through, but not slow like a current.

 MOM: The water is boiling like in a bug pot.

DAD:  So we went by but hardly, and beside that, from that all men, no man was ever living on a boat or knowing handling to handle a boat.

 DAUGHTER:  None of you had the knowledge to work that.

 MOM: No, and this was something…

DAD:  I had the knowledge but was not enough. And then came on another place again, bridge down, what to do with the current is so, and came another river into the Danube, the river called “Inn” [also spelled “En”].  And is very . . . came from the mountain, very strong, and that because that is strong, it pulls that Danube water strong. And here is the bridge, here is you, so what to do? The men decided we will put a rope on our barge and go beside and hold back to go slow, till the current is over. And mom was on there with the children and the other lady.

 MOM: All out of the boat. Just Dad was in and a couple men in it.

DAD:  Yeah, but the man does not want to listen, here is the bridge and the bridge is build on a solid foundation. And they hold the rope around the corner instead of go with the rope, not to hold back, and when the finger came to the solid, you let them go, so one by one let everybody go and the ship go and came around and pull it and go that way, not that fast, but goes that way into the Danube River.

 MOM: We don’t see any men anymore on the ship. Nothing’s there, nobody.

DAD:  And then the ship goes that way.

 DAUGHTER:  Before you go any further, dad, give me approximately how big this barge was.

DAD:  The barge is big, maybe that big from that ladder, like that room.

DAUGHTER:  All the way to the kitchen?

 MOM: Yeah, all the way.

 DAUGHTER: About 40 or 50 feet. And about that same wide?

DAD:  Maybe that wide, maybe that wide.

 MOM: Yeah, so wide too.

 DAUGHTER: 18 feet?

DAD:  Yeah.

 MOM: That’s like a barge.

 DAUGHTER: Who was on the barge? The women and children?

 DAD: No, the men.

 MOM: Couple men.

 DAD: Just a couple men. And they had all the other let out.

 MOM: I went out. I don’t want to go…

DAD:  And then, but little bit farther that bends that way. Because it was war, war time, so the Hungarian marine, marine who was working, a soldier on the ships.

 MOM: On the ships.

 DAUGHTER: That’s called Navy.

DAD: Navy, the Navy, they don’t want to surrender to the Russia, they fly [flee?] to the American, to surrender [to] the American. And they was parked there in the Danube River, the Hungarian, like a prisoner of war — but on their ship because they surrender here, and they threw a lasso, I would save, would catch.

MOM: He catched it.

DAD:  I would catch the ship…

 DAUGHTER:  The barge?

 MOM: The barge with Dad. Some jumped out.

DAD:  And then when they catched us, then we were afraid to go farther.

 MOM: They told Dad and they told us, don’t do it anymore. You cannot go.

DAD:  You cannot go on.

MOM: You have to be a really a seaman.

DAD:  Not only that, the bridges are down here and there, everywhere, you could not go to Yugoslavia, to Belgrade.

 DAUGHTER:  Where did this happen?  At this intersection with the Inn [a/k/a En[3]] and the Danube River.

DAD: A little bit farther.  And that’s close by Regensburg[4]  . . . that’s all . . . .

DAUGHTER: So everybody had to run and catch up then.

Passau-Germany-wartorn.AD1945

Passau, Germany (WWII, AD1945)

 MOM: Bassau, Bassau, Bassau , Bassau [probably Mom said “Passau”, i.e., the city located at the intersection of En/Inn River and Danube River[5]],   – – –  not Regensburg, Bassau.

DAD:  Not the Regensburg.

 DAUGHTER:  ‘Cause I know. . . ?  Regensburg was earlier.

 MOM: It was [undecipherable — perhaps she said “Passau, which is located in Lower Bavaria, Germany]. I know good.

DAD:  B… B… Bassau [“Passau”, perhaps?].

Passau-and-Ressenburg-Germany.map

DAUGHTER:  Okay.  Where was this?  In Czechoslovakia?

 DAD:  No, Germany, It’s in Germany. And then the prisoner of war take their package, go home, with their package of war, walking… wherever.

 MOM: Left us alone.

DAD:  Now we are alone. We are alone. That other family left and we are alone. Very good, we go with 6 small children and waiting another to go. Where could we go? Here is the Danube River, beside the river is a road. Always in the mountains, between the mountains where the river is, .  .  .  .

[to be continued, D.v.]

Webel.Jakob-Katarina-faces

The next report (D.v.) resumes the chronicle of the Webel family exodus, with further perils and adventures as refugees (“displaced persons”), eventually leading to a successful migration to America, with some of their future offspring, descended from young Robert Webel (who was just a baby when the Webel family left Yugoslavia for Germany), to eventually arrive on Earth as native Texans.

That same Robert Webel (who emigrated from Yugoslavia, as a baby, with his family fleeing Communism) is the father of Stephen Webel, who is father (by his wife Erica) of brothers Nate and Luke Webel, the two native Texans mentioned on the first page of this report.  (Thus Robert Webel, born in WWII, is the paternal grandfather of Nate, Luke, and their sisters.)

So, for now, this “chapter” rests with an appreciation that two native-Texan boys, Nate Webel (born in AD2007) and Luke Webel (born in AD2012), as well as their sisters, descend from German immigrant stock (“Volksdeutsche”) who trace back one ancestral line to paternal grandfather’s parents, Jakob Webel and Katarina Schleicher, whose early family life together included surviving WWII.      


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Dr. James J. S. Johnson is a member of the German-Texas Heritage Society, and an occasional contributor to its Journal pages.  A lover and teacher of Providential history and geography, Jim has taught at 4 different Christian colleges (LeTourneau University, Dallas Christian College, Concordia University Texas at Fort Worth, and ICR School of Biblical Apologetics) in Texas, as well as aboard 9 different cruise ships. As a C.P.E.E. (Certified Paternity Establishment Entity, credentialed by the Texas Attorney General’s Office), Jim maintains a strong interest in family history documentation. After studying under many teachers, at many schools, Jim happily acknowledges that his best teacher (under God) was Chaplain Robert (Bob) Webel.


Below is a newspaper photograph, dated 3-19-AD1951, captioned “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen” Webel family, who immigrated to America.

Webel-dozen.newspaper-photo

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen AD1951

Also shown below is Chaplain Robert Webel (who was 8 when his family came as refugees to America) with his wife, Marcia, residents of Florida.

Webel.Bob-with-Marcia

Chaplain Bob Webel provided information supplementing and clarifying his sister’s interview of their parents (titled From Vinkovci to Medina) quoted hereinabove.

References

[1] If Dad said “Breslau”, that is the German name for the major once-German city that the Poles callWrocław(and the Czechs call “Vratislav), city which became part of post-WWII Poland in late AD1945 (due to the Potsdam Conference), when the “Oder-Neisse Line” redefined the border between East Germany and Poland, moving that border west. Because Breslau is located on the Oder River east of the Neisse River (its northeasterly-flowing tributary), Breslau was transferred to Poland.  Previously, Breslau had served as the capital of Silesia (and Lower Silesia), and had variously belonged to (at different times) to Bohemia, Hungary, imperial Austria, Prussia, and Germany.  Today it is the 4th-largest city in Poland.

[2] Notice that “whatsoever” is King James English  — this is because Mr. and Mrs. Webel learned English, in America, from reading the King James Bible. By comparing a Scripture text in a Bible translation of an already-known language (such as a German Bible translation), to the same text in the King James Bible, the Webels could learn how to say the same thing in English.  Thus, the King James English version of the Holy Bible provided a convenient source of English vocabulary (i.e., serving as a bilingual dictionary/lexicon) by which the Webels could enhance/expand their English vocabulary, as immigrants who came to America not knowing English.

[3] The Inn River [a/k/a En River] is a tributary of the Danube River. The Inn River drains into the Danube at Germany’s Lower Bavarian city of Passau, on the border of Austria and Germany.  As a border city, Passau is an important migrant entry site for people immigrating into Germany.  The Danube River itself eventually drains into the Black Sea.

[4] Interestingly, Regensburg (a Bavarian city at the confluence of the Danube, Naab, and Regen rivers) was once a hub of expatriate Croatian Protestantism, led by a Croatian Lutheran named Matija Vlačić (Franković) Ilirik – i.e., Flacius (i.e., Matthias Flacius of Illyricus, AD1520-AD1575), who taught Calvinist-like theology at a school that he founded in Regensburg, in December of AD1561. Flacius was born in the Istrian town of Labin (a/k/a Albona), when Labin was still part of the Venetian Republic.  (Labin was later acquired by Austria; today Labin is part of Croatia.)  Due to persecutorial Counter-Reformation politics (including the Schmalkald War), Flacius could not live safely in Croatia, so he dwelt most of his life as an exile-refugee in Germany (and briefly elsewhere), from where he led the conservative portion of Germany’s Lutheran church after the death of Lutheranism’s founder, Dr. Martin Luther.   Flacius’s leadership included service as Hebrew professor in Wittenberg, and later teaching in Magdeburg, Antwerp, Frankfurt, Strasbourg, and again in Frankfurt.  In Wittenberg, during AD1545, Flacius first married, having 12 children by his first wife (before her death in AD1564). In Regensburg Flacius remarried, later in AD1564, and had another 6 children by his second wife.  During World War II Regensburg hosted a factory for Messerschmitt Bf 109 aircraft, as well as an oil refinery, both of which were bombed by Allied warplanes (8-17-AD1943, again 2-5-AD1945).  During AD1945-AD1949. As part of the American Zone of Occupation, Regensburg hosted the largest Displaced Persons camp in Germany, at one point housing about 6000 refugees and other displaced persons.

[5] Regarding the Bavarian city of Passau, (a/k/a Dreiflüssestadt or “City of Three Rivers,” because Danube there receives the Inn River, from the south, plus the Ilz River, from the north).  Notice that the Danube River’s intersection with the Inn River is specifically mentioned in this part of the interview.  [For more about Passau, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passau .]

<> JJSJ

The 5 earlier episodes, in this Webel family history series, are published as follows:

(1) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part One: Jakob and Katarina Agreed to Marry Before They Ever Spoke to Each Other, A True Example of Love at First Sight…and First Sound”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 35(1):25-32 (spring 2013), quoting from Rosalie Webel Whiting’s From Vinkovci to Medina (unpublished Webel family history), supplemented by personal interviews with Chaplain Robert Webel (during August AD2012);

(2) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Two: Volksdeutsche in Croatia, before World War II: Jakob and Katarina Webel are Merchants in Marinci (Taking Care of Business and the Business of Life)”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 36(3):154-170 (fall 2014);

(3)Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Three: World War  II  Confronts  Jakob  and  Katarina  Webel (Swabians  Face  Nazi  Invaders  and  Yugoslavia’s  Break-up)”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 37(2):98-113 (summer 2015); and

 (4) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Four:  Surviving in Yugoslavia, Then Fleeing for the First Time – Jakob & Katarina Webel Escape from Marinci to Vinkovci,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 37(4):219-240 (winter 2015).

(5) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Five:  Fleeing Yugoslavia, Escaping the Communist Takeover: Jakob & Katarina Webel Flee Toward Germany,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 38(3):110-124 (fall 2016).

Pondside-at-Webels.Ducks-on-Pond-1

JJSJ birdwatching, backyard of Chaplain Bob and Marcia Webel (St. Petersburg, Florida)

In Real Life, It’s Survival of the Fitted

© Jay Fleming

IN  REAL  LIFE,  IT’S  SURVIVAL  OF  THE  FITTED

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Know ye that the LORD, He is God:  it is He Who hath made us, and not we ourselves;  we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.   Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise;  be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.  (Psalm 100:3-4)

JJSJ-with-Dungeness-CrabDarwinists cluck, with affection,

Darwin’s phrase, “natural selection”;

Science fiction’s sales pitch,

‘Tis a slick bait-and-switch;

It’s a fraud, by-passing detection.

 

Whene’er the real world we inspect,

We observe real cause and effect;

The “fittest” can’t survive

Till at first, they arrive;

Blind nature can never “select”.

 

If nature is deaf, dumb, and blind,

It won’t birth a lucky “design”;

Half-baked, mutants aren’t “fit”,

When they, gene-codes omit;

Such changes won’t make a new “kind”.

 

So whom have the Darwinists kidded?

And whom have such sophists outwitted?

Nature’s “favor” won’t wait

For a new, wannabe trait;

To survive, life must be God-fitted!


© AD2010 James J. S. Johnson


What’s the real “why” and “how” behind creation?  Check out Revelation 4:11.

Wise-men-still-seek-Jesus.silhouette

For some specific examples of “survival of the fitted”, see my creation science article “Survival of the Fitted: God’s Providential Programming”, ACTS & FACTS, 39(10):17-18 (October 2010), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/survival-fitted-gods-providential-programming   —  including Arctic Tern migrations, chicken egg hatching, mustelid embryology, Melipona bees pollinating vanilla bean flowers, etc.

In fact, the evolutionary phrase “natural selection” is a deceptively misleading bait-and-switch metaphor, as has been documented and clarified by Dr. Randy J. Guliuzza, “Darwin’s Sacred Imposter: The Illusion That Natural Selection Operates on Organisms”, ACTS & FACTS, 40(9):12-15 (September 2011), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/darwins-sacred-imposter-illusion-that/  .

See also, accord, an example of an evolutionist effectively admitting this awkward reality, saying:  “Evolutionary biologists routinely speak of natural selection as if it were an agent” but then again “Many evolutionary biologists, in fact, assure us that the idea of a selecting agent is ‘only a metaphor’—even as they themselves succumb to the compelling force of the metaphor…And so we are to believe that natural selection, which ‘is not an agent, except metaphorically’, manages to design artifacts; and the organism…is not, after all, a creative or originating agent itself. Its [the organism’s] agency has been transferred to an abstraction [natural selection] whose causal agency or ‘force’ is, amid intellectual confusion, both denied and universally implied by biologists. Natural selection becomes rather like an occult Power of the pre-scientific age…”  [  Quoting admissions by evolutionist Stephen L. Talbot, “Can Darwinian Evolutionary Theory Be Taken Seriously?”  —  posted on  natureinstitute.org  on May 17, 2016 accessed September 14, 2018 (emphasis in original), at    http://natureinstitute.org/txt/st/org/comm/ar/2016/teleology_30_TMP.htm   ]


white-ibises-birdbook-webel-backyard-ad2016The Rock Dove Blog is a humble attempt to honor God with a beginner blogsite, so your patience (hopefully) will be rewarded, in due time.  At present the sole author on this blog is Dr. James J. S. Johnson (a/k/a JJSJ), a fan of rock doves (a/k/a “pigeons”)  — as well as an appreciative worshiper of the God Who made them (and also the rest of creation, including us humans, for whose benefit the Lord Jesus Christ became mankind’s crucified-and-afterward-resurrected Kinsman-Redeemer.  Addicted to reading since childhood, JJSJ has earned (over time) several academic degrees (including natural science degrees) and government-issued post-doc certifications.  But the greatest truth is “Jesus loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so” — which is summarized in John 3:16.


 

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 5: Fleeing Yugoslavia, Escaping the Communist Takeover

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 5:  Fleeing Yugoslavia, Escaping the Communist Takeover  —  Jakob & Katarina Webel Flee toward Germany

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.   (1st Corinthians 10:13)

In this fifth episode of the “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen” family history series, the ethnic-German family of Jakob and Katarina Webel, then living in what is today Croatia, face and struggle with the turmoil of life in the broken-apart country of Yugoslavia.  Life in war-maimed Yugoslavia is unimaginably harsh.  The family unit’s survival is often tenuous.

Belgrade-bombed-out.WWII

As the outcome of World War II becomes predictable the Webels make the hard decision to evacuate their native country. The country that was “home” before World War II would cease to be their family homeland after the Webel family emigrated, leaving behind extended family members (such as Jakob’s father). But where would they go next? Where could they go?  Where should they go, to make a new home in post-WWII Europe?

As World War II ended in what was then Yugoslavia the then-occupying “winners” were often quick to exact revenge on people-groups whom they were ethnically adverse to. Ironically, the Yugoslavian “winners” included many Ustaše-allied Roman Catholic Croats, who had previously allied (as quislings) with German occupation Nazis, as well as Communist “partisans”.

In time this aftermath occupation transitioned into a Yugoslavian version of Communism, under Tito (i.e., Communist dictator Josip Broz Tito, a/k/a “Marshal Tito”), who aligned his political control of Yugoslavia with the Soviet Union whenever he deemed it advantageous to do so.

As Tito secured and increased his dictatorial control over Yugoslavia, he directed his “partisan” (i.e., Communist) military forces to impose especially harsh treatments against civilians who were ethnically Hungarian or German — such as Danube Swabian Germans (like the Webels), as well as against ethnic Serbs.

Of special relevance to the Jakob Webel family (who were “Danube Swabian” Germans, ethnically and culturally, a/k/a Volksdeutsche), Yugoslavia’s post-war regime (under Marshal Tito) was enacting merciless reprisals against all having   any kind of “German” identity, even those who had resisted the German invaders during the war.

In particular, Marshal Tito decreed that Volksdeutsche in Yugoslavia were enemies of the (new) Yugoslavian state – i.e., deemed untrustworthy and politically hostile to the new Communist government, as if their ethnicity alone made them outlaws (i.e., outside the protection of ordinary laws).  As if they were criminals or POWs, these ethnic-German Yugoslavian civilians were captured (or ordered) and forced into “internment” camps (a/k/a concentration camps) – about 110,000 of the local Yugoslavian Volksdeutsche — devoid of basic necessities, subjected to hard labor, deprived of decent healthcare and nutritious food, so that > 40% (probably about 46,000) died as “enemies of state” inside such internment camps after the war.

Marshal Tito’s Communist soldiers savagely implemented other aspects of his so-called “ethnic cleansing” policies, to (allegedly) make Yugoslavia “safe” from perceived (or “foreseeable”) dangers of disloyal/disfavored ethnic groups (like the Swabian Volksdeutsche) who were suspected of being unsympathetic to Tito’s post-war Communist regime.

In effect, ethnic Germans and Hungarians (and some others) were presumed to be “fifth column” traitors or spies, who stayed behind, strategically – on behalf of the retreating armies of Hungary and/or Germany.  To combat this alleged “threat”, Marshal Tito’s atrocious dictatorship-enforced programs of terroristic mayhem, murder, and massacre followed the official closure of World War II (in Yugoslavia) – like a new war, on the heels of the immediately preceding (yet officially “ended”) war.

Ironically, many Romans Catholics (including Croatian Ustaše criminals) were shielded from these reprisals (and were shielded even from accountability for their earlier war crimes) by post-war forces, as part of the Rome-based “ratline” movement (a tragic and ugly topic, the details of which this family history report will avoid attempting to describe  –  see, accord, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratlines_(World_War_II_aftermath)  –  noting the Roman Catholic Bishop Alois Hudal’s leading role in Croatian atrocities) – yet Protestant “Germans”, such as Lutherans or Anabaptist-like evangelicals, had no such political “shield”.

The “ratline” operations after World War II were politically complex, sometimes realigning WWII “foes” as post-WWII “fellows”, including many examples of American acquiescence to Rome-facilitated protection of Nazi and Ustaše war criminals, to prevent the USSR accessing former Axis “foes”. [See, accord, Mark Aarons & John Loftus, Unholy Trinity: The Vatican, the Nazis, and the Swiss Banks (St. Martin’s Griffin, 1998), 432 pages.]

Communist-imposed reprisals included revocation of citizenship status, loss of property rights (to private homes and personal property), slave labor impositions, loss of physical liberty to move freely (via imprisonment in concentration camps), many forms of torture (including savage sex crimes against women and children), forced starvation, forced deaths by deprivation of health care (when illnesses were easily treatable), and deportation to Siberia (via arrangements with the Soviet Union’s withdrawing Red Army). Similar fates were experienced by many Hungarians in post-war Yugoslavia.

Genocidal executions (including fusillading executions and torture-caused murders, as well as internment camp-facilitated starvations, etc.) of Danube Swabian Germans (like the Webels) were committed after the war, likely exceeding 60,000 – although “official” records of governmental post-war killings of noncombatant “Germans” (in post-WWII Yugoslavia) report only 27,367 such murders.

Genocidal executions of Hungarians were committed after the war, likely exceeding 50,000 – although official records only report about 35,000 or less.  Genocidal post-war killings of Serbs likely exceeded 25,000.

Some of the more fortunate “Germans” (i.e., “Volksdeutsche” – ethnic Germans) of Yugoslavia were allowed to emigrate to Germany or Austria

However, not waiting for the post-war government’s “permission”, many ethnic-German Danube Swabians (including the Jakob Webel family) fled Yugoslavia after World War II “ended”, to avoid the cruel aftermath regimes that blended Communists and Croats.

Accordingly, many ethnic-German Danube Swabians (“Volksdeutsche”) fled Yugoslavia after World War II “ended”, to avoid the cruel aftermath regimes that blended Communists and Croats.

Yugoslavia-map-WWII.AD1944-AD1945

LEAVING YUGOSLAVIA

As the Allies gained the upper hand, against Germany, the German war machine was incessantly hammered on the east by Soviet forces, and on the west by British and American forces. What would happen next?

The German military leadership became especially concerned about the treatment of ethnic Germans in territories that became occupied by Soviet forces. So, as the Soviet military advanced against German-occupied territories in AD1944-AD1945, German authorities strove to evacuate German people to lands west of the Oder-Neisse line (what became the post-WWII border between East Germany and Poland, based mostly on the Oder River and the Lusatian Neisse River). Many ethnic Germans, who did not evacuate voluntarily, were vindictively expelled (or summarily killed) by the incoming Red Army of the Soviet Union.

Oder-NeisseLine.postWWII-map

(A chronology-of-events discussion is reported on page 69-7, beginning with Robert’s birthday [see pages 69-70] as a time-cairn. Dad [Jakob] Webel recalls who the German Army tried again to recruit him – and he recalls how he claimed exemption due to the number of children he and Mom then had, so the German recruiter told Jakob to serve as a clerical “volunteer” [see pages 70-72]. Then the interview shifts to recalling that the war’s outcome was then foreseeable.)

*       *        *       *        *

MOM:  And I have to run the store again by myself with Reini.

 DAD:  So I was every day there-

 MOM:  And Else stayed home and take care of the children and cook and do what she can and she had this long hair.

 DAD:  At that time already it was we all saw that Germans will lose the war we all saw, before that we know. They came, the Americans, they came, they put on the town, Vincovci, and bombs and bombs, many, many.

 DAUGHTER:  The American people did?

 DAD:  American soldier, not people.

DAUGHTER:  Why did they do that?

DAD:  Why? Because Vinkovci is a place where the railroad goes on 6 different ways so it’s crossways so then they kill that, is no connection with the-

 DAUGHTER:  At this point was Yugoslavia allied with Germany?

 DAD:  Not then. Half Yugoslavia was with Germany, half was under Germany, but not to be.

DAUGHTER:  Not with it.

 DAD:  Occupied.

 DAUGHTER:  Vinkovci was under-

 DAD:  Was with Germany.

MOM:  This was war. I had to leave the house and go into the store.

DAD:  But they, every once in a while, they bomb and so on , and then the people, the Germans should move to Germany, move to Germany, and mom and the children, I send them to Orlich.

 MOM:  First was the other things, I had to go every day in the store, till fell apart your office over there.

 DAUGHTER:  What do you mean “fell apart?”

 DAD:  Well, around the war is Germany who go, run away, so no is no office.

 MOM:  No office so there is nobody there.

 DAUGHTER:  You stay at home then.

 DAD:  Sure.

 MOM:  He came home again to run the store and I can stay home for a while and wash and do whatever..

 DAD:  And then when every day, every other night, came the airplanes, it’s danger for the children because …

DAUGHTER:  How long were you a clerk approximately if this time is November?

 DAD:  Not too long, couple of weeks. But that’s was all collapsing, running down hill.

 MOM:  Better we stayed at home. They had no windows, we had no doors, just was everything busted from the bombs.

 DAD:  From the airplanes.

 DAUGHTER:  This is November.

DAD:  A little bit before November, week before . . . .

DAUGHTER:  Wasn’t it starting to get cold?

 DAD:  Yes. It was cold.

 MOM:  Every day he make the roof, finish the roof off, the roof on the … and we keep all kinds of what you need, how do you say that…?

 DAD:  The wheat and the barley and everything is on the-

 DAUGHTER:  Up on the house.

 DAD:  That is our storage, the farmer.

 DAUGHTER:  Yeah, the farmer.

 MOM:  And the roofs are always down. The bombs, they break the-

 DAD:  Then the bombs fall there, they shake, and the bricks can fall down the roof, the bricks you know.

 MOM:  And every day they go on the roof, fix the roof, put other things over there.

 DAD:  It was not broken.

 MOM:  Fix something, again patch them up, and then the airplanes come and chi..chi..chi only, they have to run down and lay down. Dad put us to Orlich, me and the children.

 DAUGHTER:  That’s another town. How far away?

 MOM:  Was a little town.

 DAUGHTER:  Where your sister lived?

 MOM:  No. Aunt Christy (Pfeifer) lived there.

 DAD:  That was about 15, 20 kilometer but in other direction, not in city.

 MOM:  Not too close to the city.

 DAUGHTER:  Okay. And Mom went there. By this time was your store gone or were you still running it?

 DAD:  No, still running it. Me and Reini was running the store. When the bombs came, we just lay flat in the store down, we wait, and close the windows, the outside door.

 MOM:  This was a wooden outside door..

 DAUGHTER:  How long did this go on? While you and Rieni ran the store?

 DAD:   — not long.. And then the German people had to move out, then they came there in the town where mom is, by force, the German army or the German SS, by force take mom in the automobile and brought her to Vinkovci.

 MOM:  Not in the auto, trucks. The trucks, the big trucks.

 DAD:  They brought her to Vinkovci and shipped them to Germany, but not by free will, by force, they was watching them not to go run away.

 MOM:  Yeah, we was watched, on every wagon was a..(soldier).

 DAUGHTER:  What happened to Aunt Christy? They didn’t take her?

 DAD:  No. They want to take her but they beg and they promised they will tomorrow morning go with horse and buggies.

 MOM:  Like the other people went by themselves on horse and buggies.

 DAD:  They let them stay, and they did again, they stay at home.

 MOM:  Just then aunt Anna, her mother and father, and her sister, with her 4 children, Eva Brasenkovich, me, and Dad with our 6 children.

 DAD:  Wait…. Mom and the children who were in Orlich, they went there, and then they came to Vinkovci, there they are station, not station, they stay in the train, and they go pick people from everywhere, more, and she want to go to our place to call me to go along with them, and did not let her, not at all.

 MOM:  I ask the soldier what was watching the wagon, on every wagon is a soldier and they are up and down and they are watching the people. You are not allowed to go out, not for anything. No, you can go with, then when you have to go somewhere for your own, the soldier had to go with you, watch ‘em, and the other watch the wagon. Then you cannot go anywhere alone.

 DAUGHTER:  But I know you got out somehow.

 MOM:  I went under the wagon.

 DAD:  Under the train.

 MOM:  Under the train, and I was waiting till on the other side was a town.

DAD:  The soldier does not stay here, he goes 3 [or] 4 hundred yard that way, and if he turn your back [probably “his back” is intended here, i.e., if the soldier turns his back you might be able to escape].

 DAUGHTER:  Explain the train to me again. How did you get out? You went under the train.

 DAD:  The train stays there and so the soldier goes hundred to two hundred yard that way and that way, and when he go that way and he turned his back-

 MOM:  No, that soldier was on my wagon, he know, I told him I will,(escape) how you say it, I will run away, if they shoot at me, don’t matter, I will run away, this will be this night. And he don’t have to know. He know it, I told him I will do it. But they don’t let me, nobody let me, I will do it. And he said, I’m very sorry and he was a very young person. He saw I cried and said I go, whatever happen, I left the children and I went down under the train and crawl on the other side and was waiting on the other side for just maybe 2 posts on the whole side, and I was waiting till he turns the back, not the face, and I crawled under those wires all through till in the cornfield. When I was in the cornfield, then was the end. Then I went in this row on the cornfield wherever I get now, night time.

 DAD:  And she get .. instead go east…she went west.. very far.

MOM:  Very far, very and so I had to go, go, go, finally I don’t even know where I am, just finally I came in where houses were, houses, and get teeny little bit, not light, just-, so anyhow, I find the way home.

 DAUGHTER:  Did you ask directions?

 DAD:  No. She found the road.

 MOM:  The streets and finally I know where I am now, it just I am very far away. So I was wet till here, mornings dew, in the cornfield, and I came home, it was just starting daylight and they butchered pigs.

 DAUGHTER:  Who was home? Dad and Reini and Grandpa.

 MOM:  Yeah.

 DAD:  Grandpa and Uncle John and his family.

 MOM:  Uncle John and Anna.

 DAD:  And Uncle John had butchered 2 pigs, I think 2.

 MOM:  Yeah, and then when they saw-

 DAD:  And they was already killed.

 MOM:  What’s this?, how come I home from Orlich? Why am I here now? And I told them what happened.

 DAD:  And then, Uncle John, when he heard what’s going on, then he put the horse and the wagon, and the children and he sped away to the village somewhere.

 MOM:  Somewhere in the village to hide.

 DAD:  Why? Because the German could pick him up. Left the pigs there, left the grandfather there, left everything there so-

MOM:  Then I told him we need bread, something to eat, we are hungry, nothing to eat. And I left the children with Rosie Paisel and with aunt Anna’s father and mother, and then her sister and 4 children and our 5. So I told them then I don’t go back alive, they should never take the children over the border, they should live in town somewhere in the corn, first was Reini, he’s the oldest.

 DAD:  Reini wasn’t there.

 MOM:  Oh, not Reini, Else the oldest, just let them down when the train start going and then she can pick up the little ones so was ever, and I don’t come back, I don’t know when I come back or whatsoever happen to me. So we made agreement so that they was kind of sorry. I said, I cannot stand anymore, I have to go. So I went. So Dad said, no, you are not going back. I said, I have to go, I promised, the children are there. And I promised this young soldier. I come back the regular way. I will not come through the field. I come just the regular way, just I want to go to my dad’s house.

 DAD:  And my dad say I should go along. So, what do I do? Take a wheelbarrow and put in a big sack, not a paper sack, but big sack, bread.

 MOM:  Bread was not baked, dough was ready and was in the oven. We had to get it home, get bread later.

 DAD:  Okay, what did I take?

 MOM:  Just lard(?) and speche (bacon), shugee (ham). But what we killed a year before. A year old.

 MOM:  This was butchered a year before, dry stuff. dry bacon, dry sausage…, I need a pan, I need dishes, nobody has bought pan.

 DAD:  The Bible, Jesus said, like when a scribe is learned to be a disciple, not the same but the same meaning, is like a wood house who brings to the table old and new. When the new came, he got old. So, not to brag but we had the, the butcher time is, but we had plenty bacon-

 DAUGHTER:  From last year.

 DAD:  -and ham and sausage.

MOM:  Dry sausage.

 DAD:  Couple of 50 kilos, that’s 100 lb. bag (you could put wheat in), filled up with stuff, not the one but two.

 MOM:  So we had to carry, this was all from our house-

 DAD:  Put in the wheelbarrow and beside that we had a small wagon like a regular wagon just that small, and filled up that, and we pulled that.

 MOM:  And Reini, he start crying, he would not stay with dad for nothing, just he come.

 DAD:  With his mom.

 MOM:  With mom and filled up this wagon and then….

 DAUGHTER:  Why did Reini cry?

 DAD:  He want to go with mom.

 MOM:  Want to go with mom, don’t stay with dad, and with Grandpa. And Elsie and all there they’re all with me so he had to stay with dad and store keeping.

 DAD: But before that happen, one night came the American soldiers.

 MOM:  This was not there before, after you came after. We stayed longer on this train. You came there.

WWII-refugees-at-train

 DAUGHTER:  Didn’t the train move?

 MOM:  No, no, the train don’t move and they don’t bring the people together less and less and they want to fill up, there was over 1,000 people already on, just they want to fill it up, the wagons, and one night we had such a-

 DAUGHTER:  Bombing.

MOM:  Then Dad say you should go. Then you came by yourself. Is so,the third day-

 DAUGHTER:  What happened? You had bombings?

 MOM:  Bombing, and shelling, then we went all up on time in the wagons and Rosie….

 DAD:  Yeah, but I want to say something yet. Before you went to Orlich, was a big bombing in Vinkovci, one day and then next day in the morning, but we were prepared, they said we should go in the basement but I said no, it is not good to go in the basement but we had a big straw pile, bigger than a house, I pulled out straw and make a hole to bury inside.

 DAUGHTER: A tunnel.

 DAD:  And here you go in, is that small, you could crawl in, the other side you crawl out. In the middle is big hole and one day we was on the roof, fixing the roof, and came the Americans but flew low.

 MOM:  With the shotguns. [i.e., shooting guns]

 DAD:  We know, run down.

 MOM:  The shotgun, they shot like this.

 DAD:  Because right after the town close was the German canons.

 DAUGHTER:  Like an artillery type thing.

 DAD:  Artillery against, when they came high, they could not shot because they know they could not.

 MOM:  So they come low.

 DAD:  And in the night they came, evening, they look out, the alarm ring out (wolf sound)

 DAUGHTER:  One of those kind.

DAD:  Yeah, but here is a light, big light.

 MOM:  The whole town was light-

 DAD:  That I know, they are make orientation. . . . Oh, here one, here one…, now no more orientation, they know what, where they want to bomb. Run the children in the hole, and they all went in that hole, the children.

 DAUGHTER:  Grandpa too?

 MOM:  No.

 DAD:  Grandpa we did call, we just take the children, we call him but he was in the garden and he was almost lost. Not almost… he fell down there.

 MOM:  He hold onto the tree, and all the air pressure.. this way or this way-, He was really scared. He was really scared, he could not stand up.

 DAD:  And under the straw was nothing, it was quiet. The people said, I said, I defend, that is the best. Basement could fall, but straw could not, if the bomb fall on top, could not fall through because of that straw, but if is a fire, started burning, one side you could not-, other side out. And then next day, and the roof was very damaged, we was on the roof. Then we saw they came low, and we run down again, it was, they killed the artillery, and after that was mom where we was …

 DAUGHTER:  Then you were sent to Orlich.

 DAD:  After that, yeah.

 DAUGHTER:  Okay, now we’re back to where mom got out of the train from Orlich.

DAD:  And she came back home and I took her there with food, whatever I could, and I get home.

 MOM:  He went back to his father.

 DAUGHTER:  You can do that because they only want you.

DAD:  Only mom. But I am not registered.

 MOM:  He’s not in the pages. He’s not there and I’m watched. When they saw me, how this lady get away? How she can go when there was mad. I said, I told you I will run away alive or not alive. I told this major even there in his place and he was so red. And he said, this your boy? I said, yes, this my boy. I told you I had a boy at home and I want him and I let my husband know and you don’t want to listen. I would go with the soldier, I don’t mind to have a soldier beside me. My husband is living in this town and he had a store and I had a son over there and they did not even listen to me.

DAD: So I left Reini there and I went home. We brought bread.

 DAUGHTER:  The next day.

 DAD:  Brought bread the same day.

 MOM:  The same day, when the bread was done, you brought bread, a loaf of bread over there and we eat good.

 DAUGHTER:  Who did you feed, just your family?

MOM: Aunt Rosie’s and aunt Anna’s mother and father.

 DAUGHTER:  They were taking just the women and children to Germany?

DAD: No, everybody but-

 DAUGHTER: But dad, why not you? But dad wasn’t in Orlich. Mom was in Orlich. Oh, I see.

 MOM:  He don’t know them, he was not on the list … [interruption in recording] … And Reini, then they left home, and then later he brought the bread. We was still here. Now this night we had a big-

 DAUGHTER:  Bombing. And dad wasn’t with you.

MOM:  No, he was with his dad [i.e., Grandpa Webel] and they had a very bad night, the same thing in this hole over there in the straw. I didn’t tell him when Dad [i.e., Grandpa Webel] say in the morning, “Jakob, you pick your stuff and go to your wife and children now, maybe you don’t find them ever. Go, and I’m very old, maybe one night, two nights come the same thing and I get killed and I’m old and I’m ready to die.”

 DAUGHTER:  Was Aunt Rosie gone by this time?

 DAD:  She was married. She was gone too.

 MOM:  Long time. Grandfather’s already old, 80, and then he sent him, Go. Then he came and bring still some stuff, still more bread and stuff and then he came there…

 DAD:  Not only that, and I knew what in Germany is not, no rubber, no black pepper so I brought from our store black pepper, take it in a small package, black pepper and rubber band and different things, more small things what you could take it in the hand and so.

 MOM:  He brought all kinds of things from the store then and then he came there.

 DAD:  Even if you are ready to die, you are not ready, you’re holding to life as long as you can.

 MOM:  Then he was laying down, he was sick.

 DAUGHTER:  Dad was sick? When he got to you? When was he sick?

 MOM:  When him there and he decided really he goes along, whatever comes and leaves his father alone in this big house. Uncle John left. Everything is…

 DAUGHTER:  Why didn’t Grandpa come along? He didn’t want to? He thought he was too old?

Webel.Grandpa-Reinhardt

 MOM:  Yeah, he don’t want to come along. So dad came.

 DAD:  It is not so easy. It is easier to die at home than to die on the road.

DAUGHTER:  Was that the last time you saw him [i.e., Grandpa Webel]?

 DAD:  Yes.

 MOM:  Yes, yes.

 DAUGHTER:  Do you know how he died then?

 MOM:  Oh, yeah, later Uncle John came home and Aunt Anna when he died. He was a couple more year.

 DAUGHTER: He didn’t die from the bombing.

 MOM:  No, no, no.

 DAD:  No. And so we went to Germany.

 MOM:  He do what he can. So he was living, the neighbor lady came over, take care of him and saw what he needed,

 DAD:  That the night came the American soldier, American Air Force and bombed the city. That very bad, that very bad, that was maybe a week longer burning, all the railroad station and finally they moved..

 MOM:  All the things and so many people was and so many houses was not even standing their house.. ”What is mine? Where is the place?”

 DAUGHTER: The train leave?

 DAD:  It went away but not in the direction we want, it went over other direction but still over Hungary, over Vienna.

 DAUGHTER: Did it eventually get to Germany?

Yes. Over Hungary and Czechoslovakia, came to – [a part of Germany] — now is it Polish.

 DAUGHTER:  Why did they want you to go there?

DAD:  Why?  Because they knew, they saw the Communist will take over that part and they knew we German have lost so and so many people in that war, and we move on to build up the German nation again.

WWII-refugees-fleeing-Yugoslavia

 MOM:  So when we… when dad come…

 DAD:  And beside that, they knew when the Communists came, they will kill the German all, men and women and whatsoever they did, so they want to save as much as they can.

 DAUGHTER:  This is the Germans who were collecting their people . . .

 DAD:  The German.

 MOM:  We was in the wagon and dad laid down, and before we had to go over the border and you leave the Germany border, Hungary or whatever was Essig, dad wants to leave, he wants so bad to go-

 DAD: To jump out and go.

 MOM:  -jump out-

 DAUGHTER:  And go back [to Yugoslavia].

 MOM:  -and leave all us and was so hard raining you cannot even see. And one man in the same wagon, he did this. He left the wife and the children there and went and run away back, stay in Yugoslavia.  And dad wants to do the same thing just not by himself. He cannot leave his father alone and go with us, and go who knows where. So this was-

 DAUGHTER:  A hard decision.

 MOM:  -He wants to do it, but I say don’t do it. I said when one child start crying we are catched and we will go to big trouble. Must never, and then they take you and have you be still alone, so. And this what can happen with so many children. Raining hard, and now we will, in couple minutes we will go over the border, then it’s the end. And I said, no, I don’t even think you should do it. Let’s go where the other people going, the thousands and thousands people are going. What’s going to happen? We will see. Just maybe one night like last night I said that-

DAD:  Many nights even during the traveling the train.

 MOM:  Many nights we had no machine.

 DAD:  We, they came, the American, and bombs and killed the locomotive or the locomotive catch up and run away, let them, everyone stay-

 MOM:  In the woods, we are in the woods by ourselves.

 DAD: We, our family, and the Pfeiffer family, all together.

 MOM:  All on one pile; we all get killed. Not to see the other suffer…

 DAD:  If we get killed, kill all, if it’s here. And in those times, not only those times, but in that kind of time, you don’t think that’s mine bread. No, that’s ours.

 MOM:   — and then I went begging…

 DAD:  And you go, that is box car, like they call it, there’s no toilet or no anything, no water, no nothing, and they just stop the train here, now you need water and you need toilet, you need something to eat, you get nothing. Then goes somebody down to… then the train go away and the child is down, cannot bring it up or your wife, stays down, happens many thing.

 MOM:   — happen so many thing…

 DAD:  And Robert  [i.e., Chaplain Robert Webel when he was an infant],  he was-

 DAUGHTER:  He was a baby then.

 DAD:  He was a baby, yes. That was later, was second trip.

 MOM:  This was later for second, the second it was, the second trip. This was not the first.

 DAD:  Now we stop again somewhere, and here is, you see smoking, smoke.

 MOM:  Smoke, smoking in the ….

DAD:  So Reini, ‘Run over there with the baby’.

 MOM:  Reini was scared to go, and Else too.. .

 DAD:  So Reini, Else, go run over there, German soldier cooking for a transport. Go over there and beg something to eat.

 MOM:  Coffee was everywhere.

 DAD:  They give it to children.

[DAUGHTER?]:  They were afraid to go but then they’d be left behind.

 MOM:  Yeah, they afraid. They was children.

 DAD:  But they are going. Then Bring coffee or then bring whatever.

 MOM:  Sometime I went. I, and Rosie Webel the post had to watch us. He said, you have to go back. I said, we are not going back. Over there in this wagon are 10 children, you never ask is there food and we go to the soldier kitchen and we will beg something, whatever is there. And he said, when the train goes, then he goes. He’s not allowed to let us, he had to shoot or he had to report. We went anyhow. We don’t listen to him and he was so scared.

 DAD:  And in that boxcar was more people, not only we. When we came, when they came…

 MOM:  When we came to this kitchen. They want to give us all kinds of things we cannot carry. We carried the loaf bread here or one over here, then we had a hot pan, bowl full kraut or whatever they cooked and brought around.

 DAD:  If a man would go, maybe they would not give it, but a woman or children, they give it.

 MOM:  … 6:00 we should come back, then they make supper, good coffee, we can have a nice strong coffee. And Anna’s mother, she is very old, full of life, she can talk very good, and I was not scared to go with her. She was really encourage, she was an old person just she-

DAD:  She was not old then, but older [than …].

 MOM:  She was not old, just she was talkable, she can talk to anyone, very good, better than Anna, she, when we came back, she says, see, we got food but when we came in the wagon, you should see all the people, how mad they was. How can we do such a things, without gun, without.. , We don’t went without you, we almost-

 DAD:  You saw was given, could go, only you could go.

MOM: You can go-

 DAD: But everybody eats, for long as you had food.

 MOM:  We give them, too, to eat.

 DAUGHTER:  How many people, approximately, were in a boxcar, dad?

 MOM:  Ours was the last. We had not much in the . . . .

 DAUGHTER:  You were the last boxcar on the train.

 MOM:  No, no, no, the least in, they don’t want more, we had so many children because we had lay the children.

 DAD:  Who was else besides the Pfeiffer’s?

 MOM:  Pfeiffer, Brasenkovich . . . Guttwein.. . .

 DAD:  Nobody else.

 MOM:  Nobody else.

 DAUGHTER:  Then how many people? You said 10 children.

 MOM:  She had 4 children the Guttwien’s, and we had 6, and they had 4, this was 10, ours what we count, we never counted Guttwien’s.

 DAD: Guttwein had 2.

MOM:  Four, four.

 DAUGHTER:  So you had 14 children.

 MOM:  Yes.

 DAUGHTER:  And how many adults?

 DAD:  Five.

 MOM:  Old Brasenkovich and…

 DAD:  Yeah, we are 5.

 MOM:  And there was just 1.

 DAD:  There was 6.

 MOM:  Her husband stayed

 DAUGHTER:  That’s pretty good.

 MOM:  So was not too bad.

 DAUGHTER:  Did you have blankets or anything like that, dad? Did you take any of that stuff from the store?

MOM:  No.

 DAUGHTER:  Nothing like that.

 MOM:  Yeah, you went ???

 DAD:  Yes, not only blankets but our dunyas(?) too.

 DAUGHTER:  Oh, the feather beds.

 MOM:  The feather pillows and feather beds. He went home and brought this.

DAD:  I am a salesman, I know to pack and very tight pack packed.

 MOM:  A little bundle has a lots in. He had this, he got the strings all in the store, the good, new…

 DAUGHTER:  Yeah, the good, heavy twine.

 DAD:  The twine, yeah. So I packed it, we had that our bedstuff . . .

 MOM:  Bed stuff, when we was in this wagon, when it start moving, the train, nobody went, I would not have a dishrag or a rag, there was no rag for wiping our hands, whatever, they’ve got just their good clothes, that’s all. They had in the middle night, are you going pee? The children …

 DAD:  After we have eaten, then there is a locomotive, and then they are running with hot water, with steam, run there with pail and back and you have hot water. You open this and they get hot water, it’s good for washing the dishes and for the face.

 MOM:  Washing the children all the face-

 DAD:  In the same dish.

 MOM:  Yeah, well, we took it also out, not always you don’t always washing inside.

 DAD:  But you have to be-

DAUGHTER:  How many cars were you back from the locomotive, about?

 MOM:  About 50. Oh, yeah.

 DAD:  But when you stopped, you would run there.

MOM:  Sure, when I need to wash diapers, I’d wash diapers and hang them out on the clippers, and put the things out and they would dry very quick (LAUGHTER)

DAUGHTER: Could you see through the boxcar?

[DAD?]:  No, no, no, it was solid.

 MOM:  Solid.

 DAUGHTER: Some of them used to be like cattle ones.

 DAD:  No, was solid, but just the door was open.

 DAUGHTER:  Moved. right?

 DAD:  Yeah.

 MOM:  That was locked, the one side was open, can roll it open or half can close it. So we put all kinds of things, make it like a cover,toilet where they go, like you cannot-

 DAUGHTER:  Private a little bit.

 MOM:  You cannot the old people, only little children or-

 DAD:  In a corner, hang a curtain up and-

 MOM:  Put a curtain up and open the door and –

 DAUGHTER:  Throw it out.

 MOM:  Yeah.

 DAUGHTER:  Hope nobody got hit-

 MOM:  Make a little bit private or somthing like this.

 DAUGHTER:  So approximately how long were you in this train?

 DAD:  Maybe 2 weeks huh Mom?

 MOM:  Long enough, long enough.

 DAUGHTER:  About 2 weeks.

DAD:  Many times nothing to eat for a day or two.

 MOM:  Yeah, and once they had to-

 DAD:  But we had that sausage in the-, you know, you are not allowed to open . Nobody is allowed to know, even not the children. Because when the children know it’s here, they would ask, and if one person know beside you, then everybody knows. So we just scarcely opened it, cut little bit off.

 MOM:  Get something in your stomach, this was all we had, never filled up.

 DAD:  Then we came there and unload from the train in Germany.

 MOM:  Many days on this train, then the transport was, they say, now 4:00 we arrive over there in Prague or somewhere where we was, we will have a good meal, we can go there with our dish, we get good meal and all the people will be fed. Yeah, was not so! We don’t arrive this night and this foods have to stay overnight and the next day this time almost, and when Dad brought this food in the wagon. I was not feeling food, this was stinky, I said, no, I would not eat this, stinks this food, And Dad told me: ‘how you can say this before the children, this food stinks?’ Now, we had finally something to give them and all they look at me. I will not eat, I will not eat. And he forced some dish, they have to eat, and I’m not hungry and the other said, I’m not hungry, And Dad start eating, okay. I cannot eat, rather I die. I cannot eat. This stink this food, you know, this was just couple hours, they threw up. They was so sick, all, the whole transport was sick from this food, they had them keep this food overnight in these big kettles for over thousand people.

 DAUGHTER: There was over 1,000 on the train… .

 * *  *  *  *

 [ TO BE  CONTINUED, D.v. ]

The next report (D.v.) resumes the chronicle of the Webel family exodus, from train rides to refugee life, eventually leading to a successful migration to America, with some of their future offspring, descended from young Robert Webel (who was just a baby when the Webel family left Yugoslavia for Germany), to eventually arrive on Earth as native Texans. That same Robert Webel (who emigrated from Yugoslavia, as a baby, with his family fleeing Communism) is the father of Stephen Webel, who is father (by his wife Erica) of brothers Nate and Luke Webel, the two native Texans mentioned on the first page of this report.  (Thus Robert Webel, born in WWII, is the paternal grandfather of Nate, Luke, and their sisters.)

Webel.Jakob-Katarina-faces

So, for now, this “chapter” rests with an appreciation that two native-Texan boys, Nate Webel (born in AD2007) and Luke Webel (born in AD2012), as well as their sisters, descend from German immigrant stock (“Volksdeutsche”) who trace back one ancestral line to paternal grandfather’s parents, Jakob Webel and Katarina Schleicher, whose early family life together included surviving WWII.          


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Dr. James J. S. Johnson is a member of the German-Texas Heritage Society, and an occasional contributor to its Journal pages.  A lover and teacher of Providential history and geography, Jim has taught at 4 different Christian colleges (LeTourneau University, Dallas Christian College, Concordia University Texas at Fort Worth, and ICR School of Biblical Apologetics) in Texas, as well as aboard 9 different cruise ships. As a C.P.E.E. (Certified Paternity Establishment Entity, credentialed by the Texas Attorney General’s Office), Jim maintains a strong interest in family history documentation. After studying under many teachers, at many schools, Jim happily acknowledges that his best teacher (under God) was Chaplain Robert (Bob) Webel.

Below is a newspaper caption, dated 3-19-AD1951, with the “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen” Webel family, who immigrated to America.

Webel-dozen.newspaper-photo

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen AD1951

Also shown (below) is Chaplain Robert Webel (who was 8 when his family came as refugees to America) with his wife, Marcia, residents of Florida.  Chaplain Bob Webel provided information supplementing and clarifying his sister’s interview of their parents (titled From Vinkovci to Medina) quoted hereinabove.

Webel.Bob-with-Marcia

><> JJSJ   profjjsj@aol.com  

The 4 earlier episodes, in this Webel family history series, are published as follows:

(1) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part One: Jakob and Katarina Agreed to Marry Before They Ever Spoke to Each Other, A True Example of Love at First Sight…and First Sound”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 35(1):25-32 (spring 2013), quoting from Rosalie Webel Whiting’s From Vinkovci to Medina (unpublished Webel family history), supplemented by personal interviews with Chaplain Robert Webel (during August AD2012);

(2) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Two: Volksdeutsche in Croatia, before World War II: Jakob and Katarina Webel are Merchants in Marinci (Taking Care of Business and the Business of Life)”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 36(3):154-170 (fall 2014);

(3)Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Three: World War  II  Confronts  Jakob  and  Katarina  Webel (Swabians  Face  Nazi  Invaders  and  Yugoslavia’s  Break-up)”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 37(2):98-113 (summer 2015); and

 (4) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Four:  Surviving in Yugoslavia, Then Fleeing for the First Time – Jakob & Katarina Webel Escape from Marinci to Vinkovci,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 37(4):219-240 (winter 2015).


 

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 4: Surviving in Yugoslavia, Then Fleeing for the First Time

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen,  Part 4:

Surviving in Yugoslavia, Then Fleeing for the First Time  —  Jakob & Katarina Webel Escape from Marinci to Vinkovci

 Dr. James J. S. Johnson

For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war.   (Isaiah 21:15).

WWII-Yugoslavia-bombing-damage

In this fourth episode of the “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen” family history series, the ethnic-German family of Jakob and Katarina Webel, then living in what is today Croatia, face and struggle with the turmoil of life in the broken-apart country of Yugoslavia.  Life in war-maimed Yugoslavia is unimaginably harsh.  The family unit’s survival is often tenuous.  As the outcome of World War II becomes predictable the Webels make the hard decision to evacuate their native country.

The Webels spoke German fluently – it was the language of their home life – so they were treated differently by the German soldiers who occupied Yugoslavia during World War II. Life then was dominated by violent military aggression, counter-aggressive guerilla actions, and escalated vengeance in surreply. If a German soldier or a Croatian soldier was found killed, a reprisal swiftly followed: several Serbs would be seized and killed, for each German or Croat found dead.

Jakob Webel, as a matter of Christian conscience, did not want to fight for the Nazi-Croatian military agenda. So avoiding Jakob’s conscription into the Nazi war machine – the German army or its deputized ally, the new Croatian army) – was an ongoing peril.  Likewise, Jakob tried to avoid being forced into the Communist war machine – the so-called “partisan” guerrilla forces – which would eventually lead, after the war, to Yugoslavia’s communist dictatorship (headed by Marshal Josip Tito, a Croat).  So dodging abduction by local Communist “recruiters” was also an ongoing peril. Like many other non-combatants, Jakob and Katarina Webel were striving, as marriage partners and parents, just to survive the World War II chaos.  Even the peaceful act of church attendance, for non-Catholics, became a life-threatening endeavor in the Croatian part of Yugoslavia, because all religions except Roman Catholicism (Hitler’s religion from childhood) were persecuted by the Ustaše Croats (often to the point of violent murders), — although the chief religious target of Croatian persecution was Serbian Orthodox Christianity (which was Roman Catholicism’s chief competition in Yugoslavia).[1]

WWII-map.Croatia-from-Yugoslavia

But domestic living in Yugoslavia – for the Jakob and Katarina Webel family – would not survive World War II, because the Webels would leave Yugoslavia and become refugees before World War II ended — trekking through many countries in the process. The Webels became 12 souls within a massive evacuation exodus.  Their refugee experience would involve traveling through many countries, by various means.  The first major part of the Webel family’s migrations was by train, as they evacuated Yugoslavia (painfully leaving Jakob Webel’s father behind), and thereby passed through several neighboring European countries to Poland.

WWII-refugees-fleeing-Yugoslavia

Specifically, the Webels were delivered (by train, with many others) to a small German town near Breslau (on the Oder River), in what was formerly the Lower Silesia region of eastern Germany – but Breslau soon became a part of Poland (and was re-named Wrocław), due to post-WWII boundary changes (under the Potsdam Conference agreement).[2]   But many more migration miles would follow.  However, neither Poland nor any other European nation was to become a permanent home for the Webel family. Rather, years of refugee living – as Yugoslavian “expellees” — would eventually lead these brave souls to Ellis Island.  But those later adventures must wait for later episodes in this continuing series.

This episode will present the first step in the Webel family’s emigration – specifically, the wartime experiences that escalated in AD1943, up to the time when it was no longer safe for the Webels to live in the Croatian town of Marinci (where they ran a general store) – and in less than 24 hours they fled (with everything they could transport by horse-drawn wagons) to the Croatian city of Vinkovci, home of Jakob Webel’s father (Reinhardt Webel).   But before the war ended it would become apparent that Vinkovci would not be safe either – nor would anywhere else in Yugoslavia after the war. But sufficient for each day was the evil thereof, so this episode chronicles life in war-torn Marinci (resuming from the events reported in Part Three of this series) unto the Webel family’s narrow escape unto Vinkovci, from where they would eventually flee Yugoslavia – permanently – as “expellees”, refugees seeking the safety that God would providentially provide to them, years later, in America.

WWII-map.Axis-occupation-of-Balkans

BACKGROUND CONTEXT

A short introductory review would be helpful, to provide the context of the Webel family’s last months of living in Yugoslavia (during World War II, as U.S. bombs rained down), in order to show how (and why) Jakob and Katarina Webel made the hard decisions to leave Marinci — and (eventually) Yugoslavia altogether —   as refugees, during the late-war evacuation exodus (as it became obvious that the Soviets would soon overtake Yugoslavia).

As noted in Parts One[3], Two[4], and Three[5] of this series, Texas hosted the births of Nate Webel and Luke Webel[6], two brothers of German stock, extending the biogenetic impact of their father’s father’s immigration to America, in AD1950.  In time Nate and Luke should learn to appreciate how their family history, thanks to God’s good providence, includes survival and immigration (to America, after WWII) of “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen”, on Monday, March 19th of AD 1950, as “expellees” seeking refuge in America (under the amended Displaced Persons Act) from Communist tyranny then ruling what was “Yugoslavia”.[7]

How Two Native Texans Descend from Post-WWII Refugee Volksdeutsche

To review the Texas connection, native Texan Nate Webel gained a little brother, Luke Webel (a new native Texas), during summer of AD2012. Luke’s parents are Stephen and Erica Webel, whose lives (and those of their daughters and sons) are in constant motion (due to Steve’s professional responsibilities which require international travel), yet they periodically alight and reside (just long enough to catch their breaths) in Arlington, Texas.[8]  Stephen Webel (Luke Webel’s father) is the son of Chaplain Robert (“Bob”) and Marcia Webel, who currently reside in Florida.   Chaplain Robert (“Bob”) Webel (paternal grandfather to Nate & Luke Webel), as an eight-year-old, was one of the “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen” who flew from Munich (Germany) to New York, arriving at Ellis Island, March 19th of AD1950.  Bob Webel’s parents—Jakob Webel and Katarina (née Schleicher) Webel—who immigrated to America with their surviving ten children, have repeatedly illustrated the phrase “truth is stranger than fiction”.

Webel.Jakob-and-Katarina

As noted before (in Part One), Jakob Webel’s family belonged to an ethnically German evangelical Anabaptist church tradition, a group known as “Evangelical Rebaptizers”[9] — who lived in what was then called Yugoslavia.[10]  In Jakob Webel’s mind it was vitally important, when he selected a wife, to marry within his family’s faith tradition—it would have been unthinkable to marry someone of another faith.[11]  Jakob succeeded, marrying a kindred spirit wife, Katarina Schleicher, during the early AD1930s, before the world had learned that trying times would be forced upon the world by Hitler, Hirohito, Mussolini, and their ilk.

As the testings of time (during World War II its aftermath in Europe) proved, repeatedly, the simple vows of young Jakob and Katarina (reported in Part One and Two of this series) were not a mere matter of happy youthful enthusiasm or ceremonial tradition.  Jakob and Katarina were promised to one another; there was no looking back.  It was unthinkable to consider separate lives thereafter:   these two young hearts were truly united as “one” (see Genesis 2:24), loyal to each other (and also to their God), as later events would prove, again and again. The young couple were faithfully committed to each other, before God and many witnesses (including themselves), and World War II’s horrors and deprivations would soon (and repeatedly) test that marital union.

But the couple’s family business got started, as a new family (as reported in Part Two), before those horrific challenges confronted them.

Then war came to Yugoslavia (as reported in Part Three)  –  surviving as a family became a basic need for each and every day.  Meanwhile the vying militaries of World War II, both official armies and underground resistance guerrillas, interrupted daily  living – repeatedly threatening to rupture the Webel family.

Webel.Jakob-Katarina-faces

For two decades daily life in Marinci, Yugoslavia (now Croatia) – for Jakob and Katarina Webel’s growing family — was always abnormal and threatening, never convenient nor comfortable (as reported in Part Three).  Notwithstanding calamity and crisis and catastrophe (and tragedy) on every hand, the Webel family continued to grow – eventually to include 11 children, but one (Hilda, twin sister to Robert) died of malaria (in AD1943) as a newborn (of about 4 months) in Yugoslavia, leaving a dozen Webels.  Hilda’s short life would nonetheless display God’s providence, however, due to a German law that exempted men from being drafted for military service if they were fathers of at least 7 children.  (More on that to follow.)

In the transcribed interview, below,[12] notice that the replies of the Webel parents (“DAD” = Jakob; MOM = Katarina) don’t always fit questions actually asked by the interviewing daughter (DAUGHTER).  Notice also that Mom chimes in, to clarify (or correct) the English words needed to convey Dad’s memory on certain details.

In this Part Four, Jakob Webel and his wife (Katarina Webel) are interviewed about the tumultuous times following Croatia’s assertion of independence (in April AD1943 – “splitting” from Yugoslavia (which was then at war with Germany), while family life and running a family business (in Croatia) continued to become more confusing and dangerous.

 

Weekly (if not daily), Jakob strove to avoid being drafted by the Nazi-controlled German army, and also by Communist-led “partisan” guerrillas (or be killed by them for refusing to meet their extortion demands), while the Webel family resided in Marinci and then (in time, when the crisis situation escalated to a life-threatening climax) in Vinkovci.  At one point (not reported in this episode, because it happened later), in all this confusion, Katarina herself was captured—and she providentially escaped—and she successfully returned to her family.  But was living anywhere in Yugoslavia/Croatia safe?  What if the USSR’s Red Army invades Croatia, and decides to occupy it? Hard times called for hard decisions.

 

Eventually, as American bombs fell – suggesting to the Webels that the Germans would eventually lose the war – it became clear that some kind of escape was needful.   Meanwhile, baby twins Robert and Hilda would be born (June 2nd of AD1943), but only Robert would survive that year.

The interview resumes (from page 25) with Mr. and Mrs. Webel recalling life under the new pro-Nazi “independent” regime of Croatia, which was operated the country notwithstanding intermittent pro-Communist “partisan” guerrilla warfare,[13]  during AD1943 and after.  Dad Webel had just returned home (to Marinci).

*   *   *   *   *

DAUGHTER: From that time you were drafted [by the now-defunct Yugoslavian Army] to the time you saw Mom again, how long was that?

DAD: April [of AD1943] was … about 2 months.  And Mom was, in that time, running the store by herself.

MOM: And I was pregnant with Robert (and Hilda).

DAUGHTER: Now give me approximate times on this.  Robert was born in June [of AD1943]?

DAD: June 2.

DAUGHTER: So how much before June 2 did you come home?

DAD: Not much.  I came home on Good Friday so I do not know what the date is but I know it was Good Friday when I came home.

MOM: His father [i.e., Dad’s father = Mom’s father-in-law] was with me when I was running the store and Reini was young, very young.  Somebody had to be with the kids.

DAUGHTER: So, in other words, your dad [i.e., Dad’s dad] was not in Vinkovci the whole time [that Dad was away with the Yugoslavian Army].  He came to help Mom.

DAD: He came for visit and for week, couple of weeks with Mom.

MOM: I was alone and it  was very hard to work.

DAD: And I could not understand that I came with the bike, driving back [about 20 kilometers from Vinkovci to Marinci] and no telephone there in whole town.  Mom know already at home, somebody told her Dad is home again.

MOM: They all call.

DAD: And nobody called me in the town, just others, just Schwab [i.e., “Schwabbies”] but that’s the Germany.

DAUGHTER: What does that mean?

DAD: That German.

DAUGHTER: The German [i.e., the ethnic German people whose ancestors  migrated to and lived in Yugoslavia, sometimes called Swabians or “Schwabbies”].

DAD: The German.

MOM: And I was to open the store and they all come running, Schwabbies coming!

DAD: And they all call me the German because no German in that town.  I was the only German [notice that Dad considered himself, ethnically speaking, as “German”] and they call me German but now that I came, nobody says that German is coming, that Jakob is coming.  And Mom know already, the people talk, Jakob is coming.  And I had no idea how could that sound [i.e., the transmitted news of Jakob coming home] come before me [arriving].  I am driving bike and there is no phone there.  How could they know before I came there?  But they knew it.  And I came home and we had that church, not in the town.  Church  was in another town, but was Serbian town, like our town, but they had a church but they were afraid, they call the German and so they were afraid to have a church service so Mom invited, come to our place and our house.

MOM: I said, I cannot come.  I have the  children.  I have the store and all those things.  You are welcome all in our house.  I’m not afraid from the German, I’m not afraid of the Serbian people, just come.  I had the [church] service.

DAUGHTER: So the church came to your house.

DAD: So the men, the members . . .

DAUGHTER: During this time when you were gone…

DAD: No, in that coming Sunday, Easter Sunday.  I on Friday come home and my Dad is there.

MOM: And I had the store.

DAD: And the store, full of people, I had maybe time to hug Mom, but right away start to working in the store to satisfy the people to get the people out.

MOM: The whole town was so excited, you cannot believe it!

DAD: Because I am at home.

DAUGHTER: They’re all excited to see you.

MOM: They are all excited:  Jakob is home!  They was running through the street!

DAUGHTER: Did you have your [Yugoslavian Army] uniform on?

MOM: Oh, yeah.

DAD: Yeah, sure.

DAUGHTER: By then he couldn’t get it off anymore.

MOM: No.  Just that Jakob was home.

DAUGHTER: Tell me about the time you came home and Mom had Robert because this is when she was sick.

MOM: Then that was probably in April, Easter.

DAUGHTER: Were you real tired, Mom?

MOM: Oh, yeah.  I was sick, with so many kids.

DAD: You could take the children, the store, day and night, no rest, but the customer in the night, the children, and then the wash, to cook, to . . .

MOM: And his father [i.e., Dad’s dad] was there, we already decided we can close the store, it’s too much, I cannot do it anymore.  There’s so many people there, they overload me, and I can’t do it so we decided that when this takes longer, we can close the store.  And Dad is there we’ll stay . . .

DAUGHTER: During this time, the 2 months Dad was gone, did you go to Vinkovci and get supplies?

MOM: No.  No.

DAUGHTER: No supplies were purchased.

DAD: Oh, yes.  Bought supplies, written and send for them…

DAUGHTER: Sent the men, you sent them.  Okay.

DAD: Have to have supplies almost every week.

MOM: Every week you have to get yeast.

DAD: Almost every week you need something because you could not run a store…

MOM: without kerosene…

DAUGHTER: Okay, I just needed to know that.

DAD: And then, when I came home, Saturday, Sunday we had never Sundy opened the store, and only in emergency we give something Sunday.

MOM: They come then around and ask and I say, you know, we never give Sunday.  Just believe I need it.  Most was the yeast.  Got to buy the yeast for they have to fix tomorrow’s bread then.  They got no bread to eat without yeast.

DAD: ut we give them, if they need cigarette, no.  If they need, you have to buy yesterday or tomorrow of go to other store.

DAUGHTER: Sometimes you would give yeast.

DAD: Sometimes, if somebody calls or there is a custom when somebody dies or if some [one is] dying, they have to hurry in the store to buy a candle.  Give him a candle with the hand.

DAUGHTER: Candle.  Catholicism, right?

DAD: Huh?

DAUGHTER: Catholics or Lutheran?

DAD: No, not Catholic [and Lutheran] … [Serbian] Orthodox and the Catholic.

DAUGHTER: Greek Orthodox and Catholic.

DAD: No, that’s way different.  [Serbian Orthodox is “way different” from Greek Orthodox, apparently.]  They both, the Catholic too, then you get . . .

DAUGHTER: But mostly Greek Orthodox.

MOM: The candle, you give it in the hands.  They cannot die without candle, and  they come in the middle [of the night], whenever in the store, knock on the window, it would be dark and we went to bed.

DAD: And you do it.

MOM: Yeah, order a ribbon so long, a yard or 2 yards.  A ribbon to tie, I don’t know what they tie but they cost so much.  So that we had to give it.

DAD: Sunday was the church, they came there, the members they were surprise[d].

MOM: And they came one by one, he is home.

DAUGHTER: Is this when you had all the kids and they were under the bed and nobody even knew you had that many kids?

MOM: No, no, no.

DAD: No.

DAUGHTER: That wasn’t the time.  Okay.

DAD: And then was it so … and I was at home.  Then, little by little, the Croatian State got organized all right and drafted the men to the [new Croatian] army.

DAUGHTER: Were you drafted again?[14]

DAD: No, no.

DAUGHTER: Is Robert born yet?

DAD: No.

MOM: No, no.

DAUGHTER: And you’re still talking before this.

DAD: And then when the time came Mom was more sick, and more sick, and fever, high fever, and the children [i.e., twins Robert and Hilda] were born ahead of time because of the high fever, and one baby [i.e., Hilda] in hurt, but  Mom was under the doctor’s care, but not form that city, but German army doctor.  Because the civilian …

MOM: There was almost nobody there.  They was all gone.

DAUGHTER: Dispersed.

DAD: And we are German [i.e., ethnic Germans who speak German, although citizens of what had been Yugoslavia] so the German army take care of us, so they gave a medication, and . . .

DAUGHTER: Did they come to the house to take care of you?

MOM: Yes.  Go in the house . . .

DAD: They were in station in the town.

MOM: There was station there.

DAD: But as a little town, we had no [medical] doctor, otherwise, we have no drug store.  We have some drug items.

DAUGHTER: Were you sick before Dad came home?

MOM: No.

DAUGHTER: It was after Dad came home that you got malaria.

MOM: Yes, then I got malaria.

DAD: And she get [malaria] probably from the soldiers in the town, we don’t know how getting, and when the children [i.e., twins Robert and Hilda] were born, then it start already the Partisans [i.e., mostly Communist guerrilla resistance to the pro-Nazi Croatian government, plus Serbian dissidents who opposed the Croatian Ustaše terrorists], you know what “Partisan” means.  “Guerrilla” that what they call it here [in America].  The Serbian, the war against the Germans, but not the Serbs, at the time, there were some, always some fanatic.  And there goes a German soldier in there, [and an assassin secretly] shot him, and then, who did it? “Nobody”!  And they “knew” some Serbian did it.  And then the German, where did that happened? …  they’d say , here, here.

DAUGHTER: A big search.

DAD: In the city, all the Serbian they get together and tell [i.e., ask] who was it [who killed the German soldier]?  “Nobody, nobody”!  So they [i.e., the Germans seeking revenge] take 1, 2, 3, 4 and take, kill, without … [i.e., the vengeful Germans would seize a few Serbians and kill them, as a reprisal, without any trial or proof of who was responsible for the killing that was being “avenged”].

MOM: Sometimes 4 for one, it was 5 for 1.  They came and took 8 for 1, and then they took 10 for 1.

DAD: And so on.

MOM: So it was worse and worse.

DAUGHTER: And did they shoot just men?

DAD: Just men.  But then and no question, what do you think – this war was.

MOM: That was to just for war.

DAD: Who killed our soldier?  Just a “Serbian”.  They know that somebody did but who did?  Nobody did.  And a gun has everybody because the army, this person, you know, so everybody could have a gun.  Even when, I did say that, but when I went from the army home, going home was more soldier there and wounded men, had gun, with himself.  And want to go with the wagon, you could not go, when you have the guns.  What should I do?  “Get away!”[15]  What should I do?  Over there is a bridge, put it [i.e., the gun] down under the bridge.  I don’t want to meet a German soldier and we are in Yugoslavian [army] uniform and we got guns, they could think we are enemies and without thinking, without explaining, they could kill us.  No, we don’t want that.  No.  If you want to go with us, threw it away.  Yes.  And so, whosoever[16] want could find a gun in that time.  In normal [i.e., pre-WWII] time, in Yugoslavia, no man could have a gun or a revolver.  No, no, no.  Only a hunter and he have to have a license and so, but not . . .

MOM: Just buy somewhere on the black market.

DAD: No.  That not easy.

MOM: That not too easy, they will find out and they will come in the houses and look, and search the house. . . .

DAD: But in that time everybody had because the [Yugoslavian] army dispersed, you could throw away, so . . . and because one Serb killed the one German, then the German – the [German] army, not the [non-combatant ethnic German] people – the army, like I said, brought so many people. “Who did it?”  “Nobody” did it.  Then they [i.e., German soldiers] take 2 [ethnic Serbians] and kill them [as a reprisal].  And so tomorrow over there was again a German killed.  So the Serb is afraid, run away in the woods, in the mountain, so they built the Partisan (guerrilla).

MOM: The beginnings of their [guerrilla] army.

DAUGHTER: The Serbians did at that point.

DAD: Yeah.  First to fall, some fanatic want to go to war against Germany.  The majority are afraid he will kill me, the German will kill me because the German soldier is killed, they will kill me [i.e., in another multiplier-revenge reprisal, with the victims being selected solely on the basis of being ethnic Serbs who were Serbian Orthodox in their religion – and thus hated by the German/Nazi/Ustaše killers].

MOM: They [i.e., the Serbs who feared reprisal killings] run away.

DAD: So they run away and soon there was the Partisan – we call it “Partisan” over there, but [in America] they call here “Guerrillas”.  Guerrillas would come and they got the multiplied through that.

DAUGHTER: Those were strictly Serbians at this point?  Mostly, anyway?

DAD: Mostly, the Serbian because the Serbian [was] more persecuted from the Germans and … [the pro-Nazi Croats].

DAUGHTER: Why did they assume a Serbians killed him [i.e., a German soldier]?

DAD: Because a Serbian was against the German, not a Croatian.  Croatian, they see it.

DAUGHTER: What does “Croatian” mean?

DAD: That’s a Yugoslav … [Yugoslavia] is a part Serbian, part Slovanian [i.e., Slovenian?] and part Croatian – and Croatian and Slovanian [Slovenian?] was under Austria-Hungary for 100 years and the Serbian was independent for maybe 50 years, and before that’s what other 50.  So the Serbian are in the culture, culture way behind, they have no education, they have no …  but they …

DAUGHTER: In the culture they were way behind.

DAD: Yeah, in the culture, but they are the majority [in Yugoslavia].  And in 1918 the First World War they make the one kingdom [composed of Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, etc.] … because the majority rules, the Serbians made the ruling.  Because a Serbian did the ruling, here is the Croatian town, the main officer or main office-holder, main-money-getter is the Serbian from there, from Serbia, even if he has no school [credentials].  If he had no college or no high school, he is more in the position than the man in the Croatian [town] who got the schooling.  And that became friction in between the Serbian and the Croatian.

DAUGHTER: They formed a partisan at that point.  Then what happened?

DAD: The people formed a partisan.  Then whenever the German in the night – let’s say in the day time here’s a German and a Croatian, but when the night came, then the Partisan, they need bread, they need cigarette, they need ammunition, so what they do?  …  they know, here are the 20 German in the barracks sleeping, and they got 2, or at the post, kill them, they go kill them to take the ammunition.  Then we need ration cards to buy cigarette because the people are smoking, they have to go there in the office in the night, kill that man, or force them to give it.  And I go, I have a store, I go today to the town, and I … with no battery, could you buy battery?  But the radio, people had already radio, not TV but radio, some people.  And I get the battery and it is ….[end of Side A] … I was in the town, I had the batteries.  They knocked on the door, open in the night.  Who is it?  “Open!”  Yeah, I know who it is.  I have to open.  “Don’t put the light on, just open the door!”

MOM (recalling the midnight customers, i.e., Partisan resistance guerrillas, seeking to buy supplies in secret): “Open the door!  Let us in!  Close the door!”

DAD: To let in, close the door.  Sit in the store.  The town people you know.

DAUGHTER: “You got sharp tools?”

MOM: Yes. “Bread?”

DAD: “You got batteries?”  you could not take all.  Yes, I can do.  There’s more here.  “And … you got cigarette?”  Yes.

MOM: “You got socks?”  Yes.

DAD: “You got chocolate?”

DAUGHTER: And everything you gave?

DAD: Yes.  Everything, whatever they want.

MOM: We had to.  If not they …

DAD: …kill you.

MOM: …kill you.

DAUGHTER: Then you may as well give the whole store.

DAD: No, they do not.  Even the whole store.

MOM: They go nice away.

DAUGHTER: Why didn’t they pay?

MOM: Why should they?

DAUGHTER: It’s war time.

DAD: They even had the ration cards, you give me cigarettes.  They even give ten cards not matter how many they take, a hundred they got. They can go to the court house, they bring it.

DAUGHTER: So they gave you ration cards.

DAD: Yeah, so that I could buy again.  And many times they give us money too, they paid.

DAUGHTER: Oh, they did pay.

DAD: Yes – sometimes yes, sometimes no.

MOM: They sit there and they don’t want to go and pay.  They sit and ask all the things and talking.  I want to send them away.  I’m scared and they don’t go away.

DAD: You must talk  with them like them be the best friends, and when they go away, then you go to bed.

DAUGHTER: Did they come many nights?

DAD: People many nights, and …

MOM: Almost every night.

DAUGHTER: How late in the night?

DAD: This is late, when it’s dark.  Everything is quiet, quiet, just you hear:  “Daddy, there is walking?” … [i.e., Dad recalls how he would be asked if he heard someone walking] … Then boom!

MOM: You hear the heavy shoes walking.

DAD: You know that.  And then, in the morning the neighbors said, “Was the Partisan at your late place?”  “How do you know?”  “I have . . . don’t ask.”

MOM: “You saw them?”  They said no.  The we don’t ask.

DAD: “Never came here.”  Never say yes, never no.  You never know who.

MOM: Never can say anything to nobody.  No, not at all.

DAD: And then came the time the children [i.e., twins Robert and Hilda] was born and the Partisan already is very much powerful group.  They took that man and killed him and that man and beat him half-dead.

MOM: Burned the house down.

DAUGHTER: Why?

DAD: Is war time.

MOM: When you say something, when we would say they was at our place.  They took batteries or took something or asked for something and took it.

DAD: And the people are making whiskey and there was more people together and one man went home and another town and the Partisan caught him and [asked] “where you was?”  “There and there.”  “What did you do there?”  “We burn whiskey.”  And that man say a lie too, and he said, “we have organized to fight against the Partisans”.  “Who?”  “That and that man.”  And they came and caught that man the next day, next night, and was a new mayor, he was sick, and he lay in the bed and we went [to] visit them, he was in the bed, and nobody was there.  All over black and blue.

MOM: They beat him so much.

DAD: They beat him almost to death.

MOM: They sick for more than a year, not moving or anything.

DAUGHTER: Because the other guy said they were organizing against them.

MOM: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

DAD: And [there] was one man, he was in German army and came home, he rent a house and he came home on leave and they know and they found out and in the night they burned the house to pick him out from the house and –

MOM: He brought the children, he had 4 children and his wife and they went out of the house, sneaking out when it start burning and went around they had the big wall, high wall, brick wall, was by the property like a front.

DAD: When there from house to house is for fence, every house and the sidewalk is there beside.  But some people had a brick wall, not like a wooden, and they had a brick wall, and they hid behind the brick wall, laid down till the morning.

MOM: Lay down on the ground, flat down.  Children and all with the man and wife, they stay alive, but the house burned down.  Nobody come and bring the pail [of water, for dousing the house fire].  They cannot.  They is not allowed.

DAD: And the fire-ware now start to go, boom, boom, boom, boom. No.  Fire-ware, not allowed to go.  They kill you.[17]

MOM: They cannot, cannot believe it and the next neighbor can’t go out and get the pail of water, he’s afraid they will kill him as soon as they see him.

DAUGHTER: Now all these visits by the Partisan, are these before Robert was born?

MOM: What?  …  was born?

DAUGHTER: This was after Robert was born?

DAD: In that time.  In that time was it so.

DAUGHTER: And you [i.e., Mom] were real sick.

MOM: Oh, yeah.  And then we hired a maid.

DAD: And then when the children [i.e., twins Robert and Hilda] were born, in that time, and the children were born, and that happened so many times, I was afraid to be in the house.

DAUGHTER: Why?

DAD: Because they came, the man form the house is taken it out, the Partisan in the night, and killed him.  And everybody know I am a German.

DAUGHTER: [I] see, they didn’t like the Germans.

DAD: Yeah, So…

MOM: He [i.e., Dad] slept on the …

DAD: So I went out in the yard in the garden [at night] and most of the time in the tree [slept].

DAUGHTER: Slept in the tree.

DAD: Yeah, because if they go down they go on the ground.  If they do shoot, they do not shoot in the air, they shoot that way not in the tree.  And the baby [i.e., newborn Hilda, Robert’s twin sister] was sick to die.

DAUGHTER: Both of them [i.e., were both twins sick]?  You mean just one of them?  Hilda.  Both babies had malaria?

DAD: Yeah. She [i.e., Hilda] had them [i.e., malaria germs] from the Mom.

DAUGHTER: Yeah.  Both twins – Robert and Hilda – both malaria?

DAD: Just Hilda.

MOM: Robert doesn’t have.

DAD: And Mom called me in the night but not holler, just half loud, “Jakob, come, child is dying.”  I wait [in the tree] a little bit … watch … went down.

MOM: Once the Partisan came and then we saw what was in window and Dad went open and we did not want to open the door.  They saying something to him, you said something to them, and they said to you, “hang more out [of the window]” … [and Dad disagreed, replying] “yeah, you will pull me out”, … Dad said, “you can pull me out”.

DAD: Open the window and talk to them.

DAUGHTER: Open the window further.

DAD: I open the window and they talk to me, and when the window is open, they are … their head is lower than the window sill so …  because I see the house is higher and you have to go with the steps in the store, and then form the store in the house, again steps, so the bedroom is much higher than the store, and form the bedroom window sill, the men are maybe to that hedge so I shouldn’t have pull out but now out.  “No, you will pull me out.”  “I will not go out, but [you guys] come in, so I open the door, they came in.[18]

DAUGHTER:   Is this the night that Hilda died?

DAD: No, but it was very dangerous while you go away.

MOM: She was 4 months [old] almost when she died, she was sick all the time.

DAUGHTER: She was?

MOM: All the time.

DAD: Yes, for more or less sometimes better, sometimes worse.

MOM: And the [medical] doctor give the baby shots, and she was better, then became worser, then became better, so 4 months, then dead.

DAUGHTER: Were you better?

MOM: Well, I cannot get medicine till I was .. the baby was 3 weeks old, then I get my shots for the malaria shot, pills, I have to take pills, then I take a yellow…  I get yellow jaundice.  Yellow like a lemon.

DAUGHTER: Robert never got sick?

MOM: No, no, he was strong, much stronger.

DAD: No.

DAUGHTER: Were you not able to get medicine became you were pregnant?

MOM: They cannot give it, I need it, but I was pregnant.  When they give it they will kill the babies, they cannot give till the babies are born.  Some kind of medicine, not the medicine what I should have.

DAD: The German did have the better medicine than Yugoslavia then, and maybe they have the better medicine or the same as America had at that time.  Now is the medicine much better in everywhere but they could not give.

DAUGHTER: So then after Robert was 4 months old and Hilda died, when was it that you left the town of Marinci?  Was it much longer after that?

MOM: Oh, yeah.  Oh, yeah.

DAUGHTER: Was Rosie born here too?[19]

ROSIE (ANOTHER DAUGHTER): No, no, no, I was not born there.  And I want to know what happened to your hair at that time.  Did you have bond hair then?  Is that when your hair fell out?  Because of the malaria?

DAD: Wait.  We did go ahead of time.

DAUGHTER: Okay. Let’s go backwards then.

DAD: Yeah, backwards.  When I came home from the army (spring AD1943), Croatia organized and they pull out their own army, and I as a German was not obligated to go to the Croatian army but was a propaganda made.  That we should go to the German army, or not to the army, we should just be a German club because we are [ethnically] German.  And I went there and they took my name there and I regret later because I went there.  Then, not long after that the German organized the German there to go in the German army.  But the German could not draft us as a soldier, but they could take us as a volunteer, or as a SS, and so they make all the German have to go in there. Now it is here to go to sign but later on to the [medical] doctor to look if I was…

DAUGHTER: Physically well.

DAD: Good for us to do that.  And I did not went.  And then they send me a paper, I have to go to that place to be drafted.

DAUGHTER: Did you go then?

DAD: Yes, I went there.  Sunday I was in the church and I gave the song, the seventh in the addition or (sings… “Be Faithful unto Death”). Next day I gave others I give that song and next day or two days later I have to go to be examined by the [medical] doctor.  Then I came there, there is a big hall and here is a table, they ask me my name, they ask me, they know nothing about me.  Then I see but what I came here as a by my free will.  And I see right away, see the train to Germany. DAUGHTER:  They want to send you to Germany?

DAD: They did.

DAUGHTER: They did?!?

DAD: They did.

MOM: Three months!

DAD: yes.

DAUGHTER: And you didn’t know where he was?

DAD: Nobody knows.

MOM: Nobody!  He went away and this was all.

DAD: I went to [medical] doctor to look if I am healthy and just go right away.  When I came there into Germany . . .

DAUGHTER: Now tell me, when was this?  If Robert was born in June, is this before he was born?

MOM: No, no.

DAUGHTER: No, he [i.e., Robert] was born in ’43, this was afterwards.

MOM: This was in fall [i.e., autumn] when we was by Dad [i.e., Dad’s dad, in Vinkovci] and when they took you.

DAUGHTER: You said you were in a tree [evading the nocturnal partisans] when she [i.e., baby Hilda] died.

DAD; Mon, no, no, that was before.  Don’t …  that was before Robert was born.  Then when I was there in the army and right away first you have to get a gun.  I refused and then the first thing, go over to the Corporal hall to the sergeant, and he put you to clean the toilet, then after that you go in the jail, then go here and that question, then that, then that, then they take picture [of] you and sent you to Vinkovci and come back and so on, and after 3 months I was in jail.  And…

DAUGHTER: Why were you in jail?

DAD: Because I didn’t take up gun.  I didn’t take the arms.

MOM: That’s when Robert was born.

DAD (disagreeing with Mom’s chronology): No, Mom, wait.  You will see.  You will see he [i.e., Robert] was not born.  You will see.  I will prove to you.

DAUGHTER: What were you doing in the jail?

DAD: Nothing.

DAUGHTER: You just sit around.

DAD: Sat around and . . .

DAUGHTER: Did they feed you?

DAD: Sure, that they did. And when now is 3 months over, the unit is ready to go to the battlefield, and what should they do with me?  They call me many times before the office and once they called me, would I go to the battlefield as a medic?  Yes, I would.  Okay.  I was not happy when they ask me because I know what what’s battlefield mean, and then I went back, then they came afterward back, if I go, they as a medic they asked, would I take a handgun?  No.  Then I was happy when they ask me that.  No, I would not.  I could not tell them that I am glad you ask me that one.  But. . .

DAUGHTER: Why were you glad they asked you that question?

DAD: Because if I said no, they would not send me in the battlefield.

DAUGHTER: You didn’t really want to go.

DAD: Yes, but who want to go there?  A medic is ot better protected than a . . .

DAUGHTER: I know that.

DAD: . . . and sure they said to me everything, they said, you will not see your family and I think, do you get a guarantee that if I take the gun that I will see the family?  I know what you . . .

MOM: Yeah, there was always asking something.

DAD: And when the 3 months was over, they called the captain, and they said [to Dad], “what should we do with you? It’s up to you.”  Then they said, “we don’t want to send you to the court martial and the doctor said you are sick”, and they gave me papers, send me home.

DAUGHTER: In the head?  What kind of “sick”?  Were you really sick?  “Sick in the head”?

MOM: No, he was sick he was 3 months in jail.

DAD: When you are 3 months in the jail, between the 4 walls.

MOM: No windows, no air . . .

DAUGHTER: Oh, you really were physically sick.

DAD: I was, but not sick that I could not go to . . .

MOM: He was so pale… and so thin.

DAD: So they send me home because they felt they don’t want to send me to court martial and then when they send me home, they could not give me paper to home, just only to capital city to Vienna, to capital city of Austria, and there I have to go to that office.  When I came home there, I give the paper to the office, that’s the soldier in there.

DAUGHTER: Home to where?

DAD: When I came to Vienna, when I came there, again the SS office, that’s one of their office, when I came there, sure, we prove that them by the court, was not court martial, but just a examine.  We are not volunteer.  How could I be volunteer?  We are forced.  How can you voluntary when you didn’t want to take a gun?  I didn’t came volunteer, I they take me by so and so … and explained to them and they know it is so.  So when I came to the Vienna, the office, they take the paper, “what kind of sickness?”  “It says right here I am sick.”  “You know you are not sick, you go to doctor.”  The he reads letter.  “Oh, Marinci [in Yugoslavia]”, he sees.  “Oh, do you know Langenfelter?”  “Sure I know; is our neighbor.”  [Dad now provided some editorial information that he learned, later, about Langenfelter the spy.]  And that … when he was in Marinci, there was a German man, he was in the Hitler party, a spy for the German, and he went to the Yugoslavia and got in the Orthodox a priest and married a Russian woman and was in Marinci a priest, but a German spy.[20] And he was our neighbor, and when we talk with the children and he comes to us, he said, like you, like Mom talk, the same language, and he like to came to us [i.e., Langenfelter liked to visit the Webels and speak the German language with them] and when nobody was there, he talk only German to us, but he was a wear [i.e., he was wearing garb] like an Orthodox priest and he wasn’t.[21]  And that man [i.e., the Nazi SS officer] ask, “do you know Langenfelter?” “Sure, I know.”  “How is he?  Where is he?”  “We are neighbors” – and so on, “he is our house neighbor” … and then he [i.e., the SS officer] give a paper, [saying] “go!”

MOM: Not even to the doctor — “go home”.[22]

DAD: No doctor.  That he gave me the paper to go home.  But again not home only to Esseg.

DAUGHTER: What’s the name of this Orthodox priest?

DAD: That’s Langenfelter.

DAUGHTER: Now he was a German spy.

DAD: He was a German, was a SS [i.e., Schutzstaffel =   = “guard staff”] in the [Nazi] party, and he was a spy in Yugoslavia.

DAUGHTER: Did you know that [then]?

DAD: No, no.

MOM: No, no, we don’t know this.  Later on.

DAD: We would never say —  nobody would say.

MOM: No, we never say this.

DAUGHTER: Okay.  Then he sent you . . .

DAD: He sent but he gave a paper to go to Essseg and there where I was drafted or where I should be drafted, to go there.

DAUGHTER: How do you spell “Esseg”?

DAD: E S S E G.[23]

DAUGHTER: I knew it wasn’t X.[24]  You went there?  That was your original place where you went for your physical [examination by a physician].

DAD: Yes, yes.  And when I came there, I give them my paper and they said no, you will not go home.  You will go in the mountains [to] fight against the Partisan.  They need men over there.  But you go see the doctor.  Because I was sick, sent to doctor.  When I go to see the doctor, the army doctor, there’s nobody there, it is now is Good Friday.  The doctor is not there and that . . .  Again is Good Friday, I remember that’s very good.

MOM: Good Friday, a Good Friday:  no train, and the next rain . . .

DAD: And I know . . .

DAUGHTER Bob [i.e., baby Robert] had to have been born then. It’s second Good Friday?

DAD: No, that’s . . . wait.  I will tell you.  Then when I came, see, should I get no doctor? Should I wait Monday?  (It’s Saturday.)  Monday?  No, I go home on my own.  So I went to the train depot and went in the train home.  When I get on the train, they come to ask the passport, I give him the German paper, he do not know read, he could not read that, it in German.  And I had the German uniform, he cannot read, so I get home.  When I get home, everybody was surprised, Mom too, and then I think that was the time where Mom … when Dad [i.e., Dad’s dad] was there, but makes no difference though.  And then was Sunday, we went to church, and a couple of weeks later on, came from the Esseg, from the army, writing to the our mayor, to send me with police there, because I am a – how do you say? – VO.

DAUGHTER: AWOL [“away without leave”].

DAD: AWOL, yes.  And we have no post office there.  And we have just one police in that little town and that police goes to another town to bring that post, whatever that is, and goes on our house by, and then he goes to the city hall or township hall and there he has to divide that mail.  But he pass on our house and he saw that German letter, and he cannot read that stuff, from the mail, he threw it through the window, it was Sunday, threw it through the window into our room.

MOM: We had always the window a little bit open where he can throw the mail in.

DAD: And we came home from the church, here is the mail, and I am the wanted [i.e., Dad is a “wanted man”].  What should I do?  What should I do?!?

DAUGHTER: Mina Habrinsky, that’s the Mayor of the town of Marinci.

DAD: Yes.  What should I do?  It’s not the mayor, but  an official.

DAUGHTER: The head official.

DAD: What should I do?  And then we decide open it up and read.  When I read, I know right away I’m from whom is it, and could be only me because there’s no Germany here.  So I opened and saw what is it.  What should we do?  No, we will not give it to them.  We will not give it to them.  We will not destroy, just hide somewhere.  So I did.

DAUGHTER: And Robert still isn’t born yet?  Mom, you should remember this.

DAD: No.  That was all.  Then was the time elapsed and Robert was born and as soon that children was born, I went to the town, to Vinkovci, to the priest [who kept the birth records] and put them in and got certificate that we have now 7 children – because we had 5 and Robert and Hilda is 2 [more], is 7.  According to the law, German law, if I have 7 children I don’t have to go [into the military draft], I am relieved [i.e., exempt] from the whole army.

DAUGHTER: So you immediately went to the priest in Vinkovci to get your certificate of birth for your 2 children [twins Robert and Hilda],   —  you had to go to the Orthodox priest to get that.

DAD: Not, no, no, no.  Lutheran priest.  Not that certificate, to report the 2 children born and then the whole family and the one paper to certify I have – we have – 7 children.  So I keep that in my pocket, we have 7 children and I don’t have to go [into the military draft].  Then it’s no army – no, no, nothing. . . .

MOM: Dad, Dad, I even sent this to you when you was, when we finds you, I sent this to the Marinci office … of all these 7 children.  This was when Robert was born. Still, just [to] be sure, I’m sure, I had to sent it.  I had to go to Marinci to the Mayor and make the papers to Vinkovci, Dad [i.e., Dad’s dad – Mom’s father-in-law] brought me to Vinkovci, when in Vinkovci I went in the court house and he made the paper, we sent them, when we find through this man, where you are.  Was 3 months you was away.  You remember that?

DAD: Okay, okay.  And then because the Partisan they didn’t give us peace.  They know I get home and they one night came 2 Partisan or 3, and one was very rough with a  — how you say? – rifle and a knife.

DAUGHTER: Oh, yeah, the bayonet.

DAD: We say – the German say too – “bayonet”.  Serbians say “bayonet”.  I came from Germany, I have to have a gun, I had to give the gun, and I have bought some picture for the children and you could buy nothing in store except war picture.  And a German soldier on the road, a German soldier war [picture], not Russian or American would be there, and they see German soldier, and picture, and [Partisan] people get mad and the other, right away they want to take me along, one, and the other said let him alone till tomorrow evening, I guarantee he will give you a gun.[25]

DAUGHTER: They knew that you’d have a gun by the next morning so you went into town . . .

DAD (correcting the Partisan’s deadline): By next evening.

MOM: By next evening they came and we had to prepare at least one gun, they want 3.  One has to have it.

DAUGHTER: Why did they think you had a gun?  Because you were a German?

DAD: Because they need it, they want it.

MOM: They don’t care wherever you get them [from], just they want it.

DAD: In war time, is a man’s life nothing.

DAUGHTER: Didn’t they care about ammunition?

DAD: But they are together.

DAUGHTER: Okay.  Keep talking.

MOM: I went to this lady and told her, “Lady, please feed the horses; we have to go 4:00 in the morning to Grandpa”, to Dad’s.[26]

DAUGHTER: Robert was already born.

MOM: Yes.  Hilda was already died.  So I went to this lady and said.  She was kind of surprised and 4:00, she was here.  We went on the wagon, me and she, we traveled all the way, we don’t talk anything, we always used to talk and have fun.  She was also talking all kinds of things to them, what’s going on in the town, all kinds of things.  And then we was very polite and none of us saying anything and when we came to his father [i.e., Mom’s father-in-law = “Grandpa” Webel], very early and first went up, just start daylight.

DAUGHTER: Now you were in the wagon with her and all the children.

MOM: Not the children.

DAUGHTER: Just you and her.  And you had all the kids at the house?

MOM: They was home.  When I came to his dad’s – Grandpa – and I told him what happened last night, almost Dad was thrown away, for tonight we prepare, we have to have gun, otherwise they will kill him [i.e., Dad] and they will burn the house down.  They say it and they did in this town and many more places and they will do ours too.

DAD: So we said he [i.e., Grandpa Webel = Dad’s dad, i.e., Reinhardt Webel of Vinkovci] should hire a man with a wagon and come move us in the city.[27]

MOM: Yeah.  Whatever they ask.  They don’t want money.  They want all food, was very short.[28]

DAD: Corn or wheat or whatever . . .

MOM: There was never [enough] food, was any kind of food, there was a shortage on food.  Whatever they ask, we give it, and Dad [i.e., Grandpa Webel = Reinhardt Webel] hired.  They know all his dad in the whole city [of Vinkovci] and he went and hired wagons.  Still we had all hired this wagon.

Webel.Grandpa-Reinhardt

DAD: And they came there and came down.  The store was full with people and they came.

MOM: And he was working hard.

DAD: Then pack, no, but nothing, — just put on the wagon.[29]

MOM: The whole town [of Marinci] was so surprised.  Was such a shock.  [The interview transcript of interview indicates that both parents were then talking over each other – obviously this dangerous experience was one of the most traumatic days of their lives.]

DAD; Nothing packed.  Nobody know we moved.  Nothing packed. . .

DAUGHTER: You mean you moved the whole store, you packed the whole store up in these wagons.

MOM: Yeah, as much as we can. … by daylight that we should come on the main roads [to Vinkovci].

DAD: Before the night came.

MOM: Before the night came the Partisan will come and cut us up and maybe we [be] killed off.  Before daytime, just taking out was everything.

DAD: Not before daytime.  Before night came.

MOM: Before night came, yeah, before it.  This was after noon already.

DAD: And so they moved me away with the children and whatever we could. And leave the other stuff opened over there.

MOM: There was so many stuffs.

DAD: And the next day again, the day time you can go and bring it.  SO we moved there and when we moved there, then again came the … from the …

MOM: This was already October, November.  This was, and Robert was already 8 months, no, he was born in June, he was already 4, 5 months.  And Hilda, she was buried too, Robert was alone.  Then we moved away.

DAUGHTER: Where is she [i.e., Hilda] buried?  Was she buried in Marinci?

MOM: Yeah.

DAUGHTER: In the backyard, a cemetery, or what?

MOM: Cemetery.

[There is then a brief discussion aimed at getting timeframes sorted out.]

*       *        *       *        *

DAUGHTER: And then you got moved to Vinkovci.

MOM: Yeah, yeah.

DAUGHTER: Okay. That settles that .

DAD: But, then in Vinkovci, they came calling m,e to the . . .

DAUGHTER: Who are “they”?  The Partisans?

MOM: No, no.

DAUGHTER: Oh, Esseg [i.e., the German military].

  [ TO BE  CONTINUED, D.v. ]

Vinkovci-postcard

In the next report the Webel family adventures continue in Vinkovci, but the hard decision would there be made, by Jakob and Katarina Webel, to flee Yugoslavia altogether – for good.

So, for now, this “chapter” rests with an appreciation that two native-Texan boys, Nate Webel (born in AD2007) and Luke Webel (born in AD2012), as well as their sisters, descend from German immigrant stock (“Volksdeutsche”) who trace back one ancestral line to paternal grandfather’s parents, Jakob Webel and Katarina Schleicher, whose early family life together included surviving WWII.                    

><> JJSJ     profjjsj@aol.com 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Dr. James J. S. Johnson is a member of the German-Texas Heritage Society, and an occasional contributor to its Journal pages.  A lover and teacher of Providential history and geography, Jim has taught at 4 different Christian colleges (LeTourneau University, Dallas Christian College, Concordia University Texas at Fort Worth, and ICR School of Biblical Apologetics) in Texas, as well as aboard 9 different cruise ships. As a C.P.E.E. (Certified Paternity Establishment Entity, credentialed by the Texas Attorney General’s Office), Jim maintains a strong interest in family history documentation. After studying under many teachers, at many schools, Jim happily acknowledges that his best teacher (under God) was Chaplain Robert (Bob) Webel.


Below is a newspaper caption, dated 3-19-AD1951, with the “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen” Webel family, who immigrated to America.

Webel-dozen.newspaper-photo

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen AD1951

Also shown below is Chaplain Robert Webel (who was 8 when his family came to America) with his wife, Marcia, residents of Florida.  Chaplain Bob Webel provided information that supplemented and clarified his sister (Rosie)’s interview of their parents, titled From Vinkovci to Medina, quoted extensively hereinabove.

Webel.Bob-with-Marcia


ENDNOTES

[1] Recall (from earlier episodes in this series) that the Webels belonged to a small group of Bible-believing Protestant evangelicals whose roots traced to “Schwabbie” German Anabaptists, a group demographically smaller than the few Lutherans who then lived in Yugoslavia. As indicated below, in the interview portion of this episode, the Webels faced this crisis by offering their own home for conducting church worship services. See Rosalie Webel Whiting, From Vinkovci to Medina (Webel family history), page 25-26.

[2] Eventually – according to God’s providence – the Webels would emigrate to America. But that fateful transatlantic journey would be a long distance into the future from the days of living in and leaving Yugoslavia, when the Webels faced the Nazi/Ustaše occupation (and Communist Partisan guerrilla intrigues).

[3] “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part One: Jakob and Katarina Agreed to Marry Before They Ever Spoke to Each Other, A True Example of Love at First Sight…and First Sound”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 35(1): 25-32 (spring 2013), quoting from page 1-4 of Rosalie Webel Whiting, From Vinkovci to Medina (unpublished Webel family history), supplemented by personal interviews with Chaplain Bob Webel (during August AD2012).

[4] “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Two: Volksdeutsche in Croatia, before World War II: Jakob and Katarina Webel are Merchants in Marinci (Taking Care of Business and the Business of Life)”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 36(3):154-170 (fall 2014), quoting from Rosie Webel Whiting (see footnote #1), pages 5-18.

[5]World War  II  Confronts  Jakob  and  Katarina  Webel (Swabians Face  Nazi  Invaders  and  Yugoslavia’s  Break-up)”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 37(2):98-113 (summer 2015), quoting from Rosie Webel Whiting (see footnote #1), pages 5-18.

[6] Nate Webel (b. Nov. AD2007, Fort Worth, Texas) & Luke Webel (b. July AD2012, Plano, Texas).

[7] “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen” is the caption of an unidentified newspaper clipping, with a photograph of the 12 Webel family immigrants, who arrived at Ellis Island on March 19, AD1950, after a transatlantic trek that went from Munich to Copenhagen to Scotland to Greenland to New York City. The Webel dozen then were father Jakob, mother Katarina, Reinhardt (17, a/k/a Reini), Elisabeth (15, a/k/a Elsa), Karl (13), Adolf (12), Theresia (10), Robert (~8), Rosalia (6, a/k/a Rosie), Jacob (4), Katherina (2), Daniel (2 months old).

[8] The family history information in this article is derived from repeated personal interviews with Chaplain Bob Webel, mostly when he was visiting Arlington, Texas (during the summer of AD2012), and from the transcription of his sister (Rosie)’s interview of their parents, an unpublished family history titled From Vinkovci to Medina (which is further described below).

[9] The Yugoslav-emigrated, German-speaking Evangelical Rebaptizers, when they immigrated to America, renamed themselves the “Apostolic Christian Church of the Nazarene”. (This church tradition traces back to German Anabaptists – it has no ecclesiastical connection to what in America is popularly called the “Church of the Nazarene”).

[10] Like a violently erupting fumarole, the tragic history of Yugoslavia’s political factions is a series of internal fighting (dominated by Ustaše-led Roman Catholic Croats persecuting Eastern Orthodox Serbs, with Nazi and Russian Communists intervening with their own agendas), and that fighting is a major catalyst in this family history—as will be noted later, D.v., in future reports on this fascinating family history  (see, e.g., http://www.icr.org/article/7056/ ).

[11] Certainly Jakob was thinking Biblically, on this point—see Amos 3:3 & 2nd Corinthians 6:14.

[12] Rosalie Webel Whiting, From Vinkovci to Medina (unpublished Webel family history, copy provide by Chaplain Bob Webel), pages 19-25, supplemented & clarified by personal interviews with Rosie’s brother, Chaplain Bob Webel, during July and August of AD2012, and afterwards.

[13] The interview resumes on page 25, recalling events when the Webels still lived in Marinci.

[14] Dad Webel was previously drafted into the Yugoslavian Army [see Part Three in this series].  When the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was politically split up — and recognized as jurisdictionally defunct (i.e., when Croatia declared its own “independence” under Nazi German sponsorship),  —  Dad’s military obligation (to Yugoslavia‘s draft laws) expired as a matter of law.  So the question is asked, was Dad later drafted by the new Croatian State?  (Dad replies in the negative.)

[15] Apparently Dad recalls that if he had a gun, then, he was shooed away from the wagon he wanted to ride, so carrying a gun was more of a disadvantage than an advantage.

[16] Dad uses the Old English pronoun “whosoever” occasionally, demonstrating that he learned English (in American) by reading the King James Bible.

[17] Firefighting was deterred by fear that Partisans would kill any who tried to extinguish the fire.

[18] Dad Webel rightly fears what will occur if he leans too far out his window, to where the Partisans can yank him outside of his house. Dad Webel tells the nocturnal visitors that they can enter his house, to talk with him, but Dad does not want to go outside with them (or allow them to accomplish that result by yanking him out of his window).

[19] Rosie is responsible for producing the interview with Dad and Mom Webel. However, it appears here that the main interrogator is a sister of Rosie’s – although earlier episodes in this series presumed that the interrogator was Rosie herself, since she produced the recorded-interview family history.  (It is obvious that the one asking  questions, here, is a daughter of Jakob and Katarina Webel; yet it is also obvious, above, that Rosie Webel is involved in the interview and she is the one who ultimately produces the recorded interview as a transcribed family history.)

[20]Dad is being interrogated by a Nazi SS officer in Vienna. The SS officer notices that Dad’s paperwork indicates his residence as Marinci (Yugoslavia), and perhaps the paperwork indicates Dad’s ethnicity as a Swabian (i.e., an ethnic German) whose ancestors settled in Yugoslavia. The Nazi SS officer recalls that the Germans have a spy in Marinci named Langenfelter.  Langenfelter’s “cover” identity is the pretense of being an Eastern Orthodox priest, married to a Russian woman. This would allow Langenfelter to spy on the Serbs (whose Serbian Orthodox religion is a variety of Eastern Orthodox Christianity) and his marriage to a Russian woman would allow him to learn about Soviet-related Partisan doings.  Because Langenfelter is actually a German himself, Langenfelter is naturally attracted to the Webel family, who are ethnic Germans.  So, if Langenfelter wants to visit folks who are not anti-German he would be inclined to visit the Webels in Marinci.  Speculations aside, the SS officer could test Dad Webel’s “story” by corroborating what the SS officer knows about (and from) Langenfelter, the Webels’ neighbor (who was really a Nazi spy in Yugoslavia).

[21]Langenfelter was wearing the costume of an Eastern Orthodox priest but really he was no such thing; Langenfelter was actually a Nazi party member in the Schutz-Staffel (“SS”).

[22] The paperwork provided by the Nazi SS officer did not direct Dad Webel to undergo further medical examination; rather, the paperwork directed that Dad Webel go home to Marinci in Yugoslavia. Perhaps the SS officer thought that Dad Webel would be of some assistance to Langenfelter the spy (if Dad Webel was allowed to return home to Marinci).

[23] Apparently the paperwork that directed Dad Webel to “go home” specifically indicated that he was to return via Esseg (also known as Osijek), a large city in the Slavonian region of Croatia, located on a bank of the river Drava, about 16 miles upstream of the Drava’s confluence with the river Danube.  There was then a German population living in Esseg (n/k/a Osijek), as well as an Axis-controlled oil refinery that was the target of Allied bombing on June 14th AD1944.

[24] Apparently Dad’s pronunciation of “Esseg” sounded somewhat like “Essex”, so the spelling clarified this word.

[25] The anti-Nazi/anti-Ustaše Partisans, when they see that Dad Webel has a war picture (that depicts a German soldier), are upset, assuming that Dad favors the Nazi/Ustaše military cause. The immediate goal fo the Partisans is to coerce Dad into providing them with a weapon.  The Partisans assume that Dad has easy access to German weapons, but he does not.  One Partisan decides to allow Dad some time to locate a weapon – the Partisans will return later, expecting a firearm of some kind.  The Partisans do not care how Dad gains possession of a gun; they only care that he gets one for them, soon.  (This is especially problematic for the Webels – they belong to a Swabian-German Anabaptist “Nazarene” church tradition of non-violent pacifism.)

[26] The decision was made to go to Vinkovci (where Grandpa Webel lived), to acquire a gun, to meet the threatening demands of the Partisans. To do this Mom recruited a neighbor woman to help her travel from Marinci (where Jakob and Katarina Webels then lived).

[27] This is decision-making at the climax of a growing crisis: The family of Jakob and Katarina Webel needs to completely relocate from the town of Marinci, to the city of Vinkovci (where Grandpa Webel lives), in order to flee from the Partisans (in Marinci), before it’s too late for the Webel family to do so.

[28] Mom Webel recalls that the men who moved the Webels’ personal property, form Marinci to Vinkovci, wanted to be paid in food, not money – because food was scarce then.

[29] Both household items and the entire store inventory needed to be moved in one day – there was not time for packing. It was enough to get everything onto a horse-drawn wagon going from Marinci to Vinkovci.

Vinkovci-Croatia