Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 8 (of 8): finally, from Europe to America!

 Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Eight:   Refugees in Austria, Fleeing Post-WWII Europe for America   —   The Jakob & Katarina Webel Family Journey to a New Home

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not Thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.   (Psalm 39:12)

But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, because He hath prepared for them a city.   (Hebrews 11:16)

For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.   (Philippians 3:20)

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[This is the final episode in this ongoing Webel family series  —  earlier parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7a, and 7b appear elsewhere on this blog.]


In this eighth (and final) 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, near the sister of Mr. Jakob Webel.

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 .]

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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 AD2010. (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 .

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

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 Webel family 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 have reported the interviewing daughter as Rosie Webel, since she is the one who actually produced (i.e., authored) the 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. ]


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 from pages 172-183 of From Vinkovci to Medina.]

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

 MOM:   No money coming in, they don’t pay anything, and we had the off season.

DAD:   There was something else. And when we was there, now, in the beginning, now we are kind of settled for a while, not for permanent, that is such a, just a settle-

 DAUGHTER:   Temporary.

DAD: Just until we can go home, and then start being organized, the believers from America and go Switzerland, looking for the believers, from  Yugoslavia and Hungary, from everywhere so the refuge. And they made known through the court through the wherever, everyone should write, report himself. Not you have to but everyone to find each other. And before we get even there, I was looking for believers and couldn’t know the believers. Then Graz is capital city from that province and I wrote to the newspaper (the farmer receive newspaper) so I brought newspaper to make an ad and … something in that effect, I look for connection with the believer, we call it Nazarene over there, from Yugoslavia, and from Hungary. And my full name and address, and we get letters from everywhere–I am from here, I am from here, and I am from here, even from unbeliever, do you know for my brother, do you know for that and for that. One lady had a big flour mill for husband and wife in the town where we are, and their sister was a member, not she, and the sister moved to Argentina in 1920… only,  no later, about [19]25. And we wrote a letter, could I tell her the address for her sister.

 MOM:   You are the Webel from Vinkovci? That’s what she said.

DAD:   Then I wrote her, yes I am that Webel from Vinkovci and I do not know the address from your sister, but in the same time in Argentina, I got a sister who is a member too and they go to the same church. I could give you the address for my sister and then you could get a connection with your sister and so I did.

 MOM:   They moved there.

DAD:   And we visited even them, not so close, but we visit them and it we took them cabbage.

 MOM:   This was something for them.

DAD:   They had a daughter-in-law, she was expecting, and she said would give her what could she give for a …

MOM:   For a piece of sausage, just a piece of sausage like homemade sausage, she would give anything. They was rich people.

DAD:   At home. And we came there to visit them and …

 MOM:   Sausage.

DAD:   Sausage.

 MOM:   Well, we thought everybody’s so good.

DAD:   We had that sausage from the home till we got there to that farmer. Not, you would think, you could not think we had a 1,000 pound. We had a bag full, maybe 20 pound sausage at most, and maybe 2 piece, maybe 4 sticks ham, and maybe 2 piece from the sides of a bacon.

 MOM:   And the most we eat it already,

 DAD:   But we eat little bit, you spend little bit.

 MOM:   So we sold some,

DAD:   That shrink. But we still had it when we came there.

 MOM:   We trade so many things.

DAD:   But that we need a community.

 DAUGHTER:   Now get back to why you decided to leave besides the fact that you were getting a hold of believers.

DAD:   We decide to leave because we were tired to settle down. But we got then connection with the believers too, we wrote to Switzerland and … , and then we find connection, then Danny Spangler was a Salzburg. Salzburg is American part of Austria and Steiermark [“Steiermark” is the German name for Steyr (Austria), which is also known as “Styria”] is English part of Austria. And we are close to the Yugoslav border and nobody could go in that part close to the border except he get special permission and-

 MOM:   Same as Communist.

DAD:   So when we find through Yugoslavia somehow for Danny where he is, then we sent to him a bag a box, apples with the railroad, a box, maybe like crate now, maybe 20, 25 pound, and he was hungry for everything.

 MOM:   He was almost starving to death. He was on death already. No eat, he cannot.

DAD:   We used to say we Americans, Americans are good, they are good like everybody else. Danny Spangler, he is not a man who likes to talk and he just once said that. He was a prisoner in the war by American. On the field, fenced in, and here stands a post on a high place, with a machine gun and there and fenced in. You eat, became that shape and that people was with that soldier, they eat the grass, pick up that grass is good and that grass is good, and that root pick out.

 MOM:   That root’s good, that was not even roots anymore.

DAD:   And they went under the fence to beg and to steal and to beg. And Danny was not a man to go to beg or to steal, and he was there to die, from hunger.

 DAUGHTER:   They didn’t feed him? The Americans didn’t feed him?

DAD:   Yes, they did.

MOM:   But dry corn, little cans…

DAD:   Once in a while. like they do the Chinas, like they do the Russia, like they do everybody.

 DAUGHTER:   Off in the war zone.

DAD:   It is war time. First, it’s hard to deliver to the soldier, not to the prisoners of war, but he was dying. Then came one of his buddies, everybody, more or less, especially in the army, in the need, everybody who is close to him. One of his buddies went out there and stole or dig out potato piece, what’s ever, and came, then he could eat. Not be alone, no. Eat. And he forced it in his mouth and so he-

 MOM:   Few crumbs bread, a few crumbs bread, and-

DAD:   So he eat a little bit and see, he came to life. He was that far exhausted, even nothing just.

 DAUGHTER:   Was Dan a Christian at that point?

DAD:   No. No.

 DAUGHTER:   At that point, no.

DAD:   He was raised a Christian.

 DAUGHTER:   And isn’t Karl and Danny brothers? Karl and Dan are brothers?

 MOM:   Yes.

 DAUGHTER:   And Karl is older?

DAD:   No. Danny is older.

 DAUGHTER:   Karl is younger?

DAD:   We like to call ourselves Christians and we are, but there are many, many people in the world who do not call themselves Christians like we do,  but live in a God fearing land. The Bible says if you are Jews and your called, you are proud because you are Jews, you have a reason to be proud because your fathers are given the law and so minister that, but that heathen, that man who have never heard from God, he honors God by nature, and he will condemn you who are called Jews, something to that, and the same thing is in us Christians. We heard today a very good sermon, Art Yarhouse, He was here. And he said, not the same word, when what they do. If we haven’t the same attitude as belong to a Christian, but I would add, I would add to it. Jesus said, forgive them but we need to know we need forgiveness. How often have we grieved our neighbor, our Heavenly Father seems even farther, even this is nothing, this is nothing.

 DAUGHTER:   Okay, you sent Dan a crate of apples?

DAD:   A crate of apples and he eat it, and he, when we get permission, he give to us.

 DAUGHTER:   Oh, the Americans granted him permission.

 MOM:   This whole crate was not long, not even a week, he had to eat.

DAD:   Then he give to us and he lived with us. He was with us.

 DAUGHTER:   In this farm.

 MOM:   Yah, in this farm.

DAD:   And then he was a tailor, he found work as a tailor in the town.

 DAUGHTER:   At Donnersdorf?

DAD:   No. No. Not in Donnersdorf of the AlberRhine.

 MOM:   AlberRhine.

DAD:   That was little bit village a little bit bigger and he was work there and came every day home and sleep by us and live by us. In the kitchen we had a big table and they open up, it was a bed, and he and the.

 MOM:   We don’t open this table for a bed! And behind the table was this bed always. They was all sleeping on this bed, children when we was there. Over there was sleeping Reini and Dan. This was all we had.

 DAUGHTER:   Yeah, I know what it is.

DAD:   We all others slept in that room, just we cut that bed that had so we had only 2 beds, 4×4, so we could but… we had 6 straw but we had the blankets.

 MOM:   The next day when Sunday was over, then Monday morning I went over to the boss lady and told her, I don’t want you to put anything in this house while the soldier was there living for years. We want all new straw, and we want everything taken out and clean it and I want to paint all the walls before I do it.

DAD:   Not paint, but-

 DAUGHTER:   Whitewash.

DAD:   whitewash, whitewash.

 MOM:   I even put the-, even later we put the molded.

 DAUGHTER:   Drawing.

 MOM:   No, the molding.

DAD:   No, no, no, no, no. Some kind of figures out of picture.

 MOM:   Figures and I make it on paper and cut them out and then we paint, make them different color.

DAD:   Make here some kind of flowers and then put with oil over it so the paper is strong. And then you put on the wall and you paint, is a flower on the wall.

 MOM:   You can paint, buy this. (stencils)

DAD:   Okay, Mom think we should before we move in, we clean it.

 MOM:   And the whole week and was everything we’re scrubbing and washing.

DAD:   And so we live there, Why we move? We had even there church service. Right in the beginning, when we found believers, one man

from Hungary was in Rosenburg maybe 40 miles, from there, from our place and then Danny and we and one lady was in that Leibnich so we 4, 5 had a church service.

 DAUGHTER:   How long was Danny with us?

DAD:   Danny was with us till-oh, who was it?

 MOM:   Till  Katie was born.

 DAUGHTER:   So how long was he with us?

 MOM:   Real long. So we told him, Danny, you are a big man. You are old enough and you have a good job where you can go in town and get apartment for you, somebody rent. We need the place. We get a other baby, we need one child again out this room in the kitchen and that’s enough. You have a good job and he have money.

 

DAD:   But he was very good boy. He was like our boy.

 

MOM:   He was always like our boy. And then there was never a Sunday, he always came home when he was not working, he was here, not there in town.

 

DAUGHTER (ROSIE?):   What relationship is he to us?

 DAUGHTER:   Cousin. He’s a cousin.

DAD:   His mother was my sister. And so when we decide to leave then, we have no social security, we have no future not at all, and later on we had church in Graz [Austria], believers from here and there and everywhere, we had church in Graz. We had to travel every Sunday to Graz, walking, maybe 4, 5 miles to the railroad station then traveling there, leaving the children at home or taking them along and it was very inconvenient and so we want to move to Graz.

 DAUGHTER:   Mostly for the church.

DAD:   Mostly for the church purpose. And-

 MOM:   Most Sunday we went, we try, we want to go, we had to go leave the house morning 3, 4:00 and come evening home about 10, maybe later. We never know what’s happened to the children . . .

DAD:   And whenever we had-

 DAUGHTER:   Was I born in this house?

 MOM:   Yes, yes, you were born in this house, yes.

 DAUGHTER:   April of [19]49.

 MOM:   Oh, yes.

 DAUGHTER:   You were there till [19]50.

Before Danny was born, it already fall, ‘50.

DAUGHTER:   The fall of 1950.

DAD:   And it was hard to find a place in Graz, no place to find, but again, only the barracks, and barracks that we found, now it was almost like private was no anymore camp. Everyone lives for himself with a job but the barracks you fix up a little bit, but when we moved in, fixed up, raining, we have the put that umbrella here, or put that pail there, pail there.

 MOM:   And all the pans and everything on the bed, the children are now sleeping now not is raining over here, Dad, okay, put that thing over there. Then, okay, move the bed over there. Now starts here coming rain down, okay, move the bed over there. You don’t know what you should do, all the pans and everything, what else?

DAD:   And then we found a man.

 MOM:   No, windows, all broken out.

DAD:   I find a job.

 MOM:   You was trying…

DAD:   But very hard job, very hard job, making, not producing, but making sand. The sand and the gravel came from the… the dirt in the wall is it, through the screen divided, that was my job long time, very hard job, but makes no difference. Then we found a man who was willing to build for our money on his place a bedroom apartment for us.

 MOM:   Kitchen and bedroom…paid for the wood.

DAD:   And we gave the money through the bank but he never build apartment because he did not build, he somehow spent the money, he gave us, for temporary, he built a regular apartment but that apartment was just here was a kitchen and then was a hallway and then here was a bedroom on the other side. And that hallway was drafty, was just was covered, but was not closed, and in that apartment we had many time in that kitchen, that kitchen was not larger than our kitchen, I don’t think was larger and there was many time church service in there and there was that place where the children are.

MOM:   This was in the bedroom.

DAD:   Where we go to bed.

 MOM:   Bedroom, there was a little bit big, then the children can sleep on the bed. We had three . . . .

DAUGHTER:   Three bunks up.

 MOM:   Yeah, bedroom and our bed. And that’s not built-in like here for the clothes, no closets. And then some children was under the tablecloth, or under the table, nobody knows. The smaller, they are there on the beds, but sometimes they are fighting or beating each other. No, no, not loud noise, just, and they looked at Dad and was enough, stopped right away. They know they will get…

DAD:   I t was enough, I always sitting so that I could see the children.

 DAUGHTER:   Was it cold in this part of the country?

DAD:   Yes.­

 DAUGHTER:   It gets cold in the winter time?

DAD:   Oh, yes.

 DAUGHTER:   Just like Ohio? Or colder?

DAD:   About. And in that building, in that was the Danny born.

 DAUGHTER:   Oh, in this little apartment.

 MOM:   This apartment.

DAD:   He was born in December.

 MOM:   Oh, was cold.

DAD:   In a room where we had no stove.

 MOM:   No fire.

DAD:   No heat, no fire.

 DAUGHTER:   December, [19]51. December 17.

DAD:   No was ’50.

 DAUGHTER:   Yeah.

DAD:   No fire, no room, no fire in the room, no fireplace, no stove, no nothing, cold there, like cold.

 MOM:   You brought some kind of heater from somewhere. An electric heater, put them there for she cannot even give the baby a bath was so cold, frozen cold. I cannot be uncovered, not even the hand almost, so it’s cold.

 DAUGHTER:   Did we all sleep in that cold room?

 MOM:   No, some are sleeping in the kitchen. Some are in the kitchen, some are in the-, again, the same thing.

 DAD:   It was very hard time.

 DAUGHTER:   Do you remember that man’s name?

DAD:   Which man?

MOM:   Yeah, Singraber(?). Yes. Singraber, was living here…

DAD:   He had a daughter, she was a married for, deliver or something, post office and that lady, she was such a woman, she could not care money. He give her today, I would say in American money, $2, go buy grocery or $5, She bought grocery, everything whatsoever she thinks he need and leftover 50 cent, she bought for the $.50 chocolate or something for something in it for herself or for her child and she came home, “clap” [gesturing]. The cooking, I have forgotten to buy vinegar.

 MOM:   No paprika.

DAD:   Then, Mrs. Webel, could you borrow me a little bit.

 MOM:   No pika bona (baking soda).

DAD:   If she goes in the store tomorrow again, tomorrow again, every day.

 MOM:   She buys a little bit.

DAD:   And then give me for, I could say, for 5 penny, salt, for 10 penny, sugar, for 20 penny, that. So figure out everything what she need, better. When she got home, she needs something.

MOM:   Start cooking. Again something she had not.

DAD:   It’s the Singraber’s daughter.

 MOM:   Yeah, I said, Mrs. Spring, her name.

 DAUGHTER:   Spring.

 MOM:   Yeah. Mrs. Spring. I said, why you don’t save this, this was. She said, oh, Mrs. Webel, I’m so glad I shop today. Everything what I need, and I will bring yours back. I said, you don’t have to bring it back. She said, yah, I will. And I had a little leftover money, and then she show me, and our children was open wide their eyes and their mouth. And this little child eat chocolate and all messed up and ours like would like….

DAD:   She would even eat it, too.

 MOM:   Yeah, I said, why you don’t save this, this penny or whatever was you left? Maybe you need it later when you start again cooking. She said, oh, I made a good list, I know I had everything just enough. Finally she came laughing like this and she said, you are right, Mrs. Webel, I don’t have this at home. I said, I told you. Don’t spend every penny.

DAD:   But that happen every day.

 MOM:   Don’t spend every penny. She had never soap to wash her clothes. She had never soap to wash the clothes.

 DAUGHTER:   How long did you live in this apartment?

[end of audiotape side A; then interview recording resumes]

DAD:   We went, oh…

 DAUGHTER:   How old was Danny?

 MOM:   Danny was.. When we…

 DAUGHTER:   When you left?

 MOM:   When we left? How old?

DAD:   Was couple months, couple months.

MOM:   Yeah, couple months.

DAD:   In March, really before March, maybe February.

 DAUGHTER:   And that’s when you started making plans to come to the United States?

DAD:   We making plans always but was no opening, was not allowed. United States did not let no German out, German was considered enemy and no Germany. Hungarian and Yugoslav and Polish, they could, but not to United States, till they changed the law German could go. And then we right away applied and we went through it and so.

 DAUGHTER:   Were you corresponding with your sister here in the United States?

DAD:   Yes, yes.

 DAUGHTER:   To make plans to come. What sister? [Mrs. Keiper, née Webel]

 [Referring to Jakob Webel’s sister in Ohio]

DAD:   You have to have somebody to sponsor you, regardless who you are. If nobody, relative, church organization, or anybody have to sponsor you before you get. Because United States don’t let you come in otherwise.

 DAUGHTER:   In March of [19]’51 you decided to leave this apartment, where did you go?

DAD:   Then we decided, we left to go to America.

 MOM:   Oh, we was here in March already, 20th of March.

 DAUGHTER  (ROSIE):    Yeah, we arrived March, [19]51. But tell us about how the… when I got lost, what happened.

 DAUGHTER:   I want to talk about this first.

DAD:   We have decided before to go. We have to make plan. In that apartment we was longer. Katie was born in-

 DAUGHTER:   April, [19]49.

 MOM:   In the Au.

DAD:   Yes, but we didn’t came in [19]51 to Graz.

 MOM:   When Katie was little.

 DAUGHTER:   How little was-. You must have come in [19]49, Mother, to this apartment.

 MOM:   No, no. First in the barracks in Graz.

 DAUGHTER:   Yeah.

 MOM:   And then later in the apartment.

DAD:   Probably [19]’49 sometime. and we lived, we had a garden out that-

 MOM:   Yeah, we lived in the barracks.

DAD:   [19]49,  and sometime in [19]50, we moved-

 MOM:   This man, she built us apartment.

DAD:   -to that house and we always we made plans to go. First to Argentina, wherever we could go, because was no abiding place there.

 DAUGHTER:   And at this time now you no longer wanted to go back to Yugoslavia because there was nothing there.

DAD:   No, it is not possible to go.

 DAUGHTER:   Was your father already dead at this time? Yes.

DAD:   Yes. Yes.

 DAUGHTER:   And what about Uncle John? You said that he came back to Yugoslavia.

DAD:   He [i.e., Uncle John] was staying, he stayed in Yugoslavia.

 DAUGHTER:   So he was under Communist control?

DAD:   Yes. And he was there, and he was an unbeliever before, and he get converted, but after Dad died. And we must to live in Graz at least 2 year but 1 year in the barracks and 1 year by that Singraber. But in all the time we applied to go to United States and when we was ready to go ‘til the paper went through, was Danny born.

 DAUGHTER:   Danny born.

DAD:   So we have to make a new paper again, and then have once was, it was everything ready and then Karl was under-nourished.

 MOM:   Karl was not healthy.

DAD:   Then we have to have nothing wrong with children, just feed him eggs, raw eggs I give eggs or something like that.

 MOM:   Raw eggs.

DAD:   It came in 6 months back, then we came back, the law is changed, you cannot go.

 MOM:   And oh, oh, Karl was good, it just is the law again changed.

DAD:   Till finally wherever they go, we are ready to go, you can go.  Now, we have put money in that building. Our money is there that men give us, not the money, but he give us, black and white, we could live there, so and so long.

 MOM:   Five years, 5 years.

DAD:   So we sold that same building, the right to another family, believers..

 MOM:   For the rest of the years.

DAD:   But if we go out and leave empty, that man would not let them in.

 MOM:   The other people in.

DAD:   So we let the people in before we moved out so the people was there so-

 MOM:   He cannot throw them out. We sold them our right.

DAD:   Then that people did not have the money to give us, but HILTA, that’s the aid for the Switzerland, they give them the money so we had some money.

 DAUGHTER:   And that’s the money you had when you came to America.

DAD:   That’s the money. That was very little and it was transferred in American money, was maybe $50. I do recall how much, but then we have to go over to the United States part of Austria.

 DAUGHTER:   How did you do that? By train?

DAD:   By train. We have left packed, everything ours, go by train to Salzburg [in Austria, by the German border], Salzburg there is the main United States office or you can call it Consul.

 DAUGHTER:   Consul. Consulate.

DAD:   And there you get the visa to go, and sure, we, takes a long time and there Rosie got lost. How? Oh, that is upstairs office, you have to, there are many people that wait all day long to get in and out and so this and that and that. And the children, like children, went downstairs in the street looking in the windows, the TVs and that, that’s big city, that’s show window here and there, here is that, here is that, here is that. Somehow they get separated, the bigger children from Rosie. And Rosie was small and she got…[2]

 MOM:   And she came around just now not to..

DAD:   Came the children and no Rosie! Then down, down, looking every street corner looking for Rosie, no Rosie! Somebody told us, go there, there, so, so far.  It’s far to that way, that way, and that is police station  —  and probably they know something. And we came there, we looked in the door and there was Rosie among them, and she right away said, “Mom, what’s my name?”

 MOM:   She was crying, “Mom, what’s my name?”

DAD:   They ask her “what’s your name?”  She know the name but just she could  —  “Where are you from, what street, which town?”  —  and she does not know, she didn’t [clarify] nothing.

 MOM:   She was this, you cannot, and the police all around her, they gave her candies. And she was crying.

DAD:   She could talk in German, she talk German with them, but she does not know her address, she does not know where she is.

 DAUGHTER:   So then from this, you got your visa. Then what happened?

 DAD:   There we get our papers to go to the United States and that was the first transport of Germans to be allowed to go to United States. And the president of that… United States government had organization who handled that. The president from that organization, how they call it I have forgotten, makes no difference… Mr. Wagner, and he came to Salzburg to congratulate to us we get to the United States because we had small child, we go with plane, the other people go with ship, but we go with plane because we got… and we will be there in 3 days, we are in United States and congratulate. But no plane goes from Salzburg. The planes goes [sic] from Germany, from Munich, so we have to go with the train to Munich with our papers to go to America. When we came there, the leadership from that camp has no idea Germans could go to United States. What kind of organization is this? I do not know. But they have no, you could not go. They assigned us, again, a big hotel room that’s where we lived. It’s a big room and that’s our room. We go to the kitchen to eat and so on, but the kitchen is so-, the children, from so and so much year, goes over here. So old goes over there, and the babies goes over there.

MOM:   Mother with the babies.

 DAD:   The mothers gets over there.

 MOM:   And the fathers way in the…-

 DAD:   What kind of organization is it? And I made then and every week or now is your wash day, you could go in the kitchen and wash your stuff, now is your wash day, so and so on.

MOM:   Is all you can wash.

 DAD:   And every day is a list there, they and they fly to America, they and they fly, never we, never we, then one day.. We made.. everything written, application, asking they should give us their food, one plate all for all. I told her, have to explain why, why you want to get the food.

MOM:   Oh, cause the mother go there and the father go there and other.

 DAD:   Because our children could not eat that. How could we sent a child for 5 year, go there, get your the food and eat and the child not get…. So we got lost, we got hungry, and finally they agree to give us bargain, that’s you get a pound that, a pound that, a pound that, and so on. And when the time goes, came Jews, the rich people from there, refuge from Poland, they fly, and we stay.

MOM:   Just they came in yesterday, the other day, then they fly. And we sitting here for weeks.

DAD:   Yeah, all them, they go, and we sitting. What should we do? What should we do? Wrote, sit down, I wrote a letter, Mr. So and so, president from the . . .   I would say unit or such an organization, Frankfurt, Germany.  We are in Germany too, but I do not know his address, but they know if I should write President Carter  [actually Truman was president during AD1951],  Washington,  they would know [how] to find him.  I don’t have to put zip code in [i.e., that was prior to when U.S. mail required use of zip codes].

DAUGHTER:   That’s right.

 DAD:   So I wrote him, and so I wrote a letter something like that in German. I am so-and-so, my name, and on that and that date I was in Salzburg and you was there and we was ready to fly to United States and you congratulated us and say we will be in 3 days in America, but we have to go to Munich, and we came to Munich and we are here so long and nobody takes care of us and nobody knows when we can go and we are here. What for? What will do? Some just to complaining and asking for help, and don’t take a long time, 2 days.

MOM:   Couple days.

 DAD:  A day or 2, then office said, ‘Mr. Webel tomorrow you will fly’.

MOM:   The lady said, “Mrs. Webel, tomorrow you fly. We got orders, don’t tell anyone. You got orders you will have to fly.”

 DAD:   And Mom was sick.

MOM:   I came up to Dad and said….

 DAD:   She got sick, she get vomiting, she get dizzy, she sick, oh, and before you go to the plane, you have to go to the [medical] doctor to check you and check everybody. We came to the [medical] doctor, mom was sick, but the doctor was refuge [i.e., a refugee], a Hungarian man, and when I found out he’s Hungarian man, I talk to him Hungarian, and when we talk Hungarian, then was Mom “okay”.   [ In other words, the Hungarian physician decided that since Mom Webel could speak Hungarian, she was “okay” enough by his standards! ]

MOM:   He don’t even look at me. Not even measure my temperature.

 DAD:   But beside that, they had a hired plane, not a United States, they hired a plane to take that special transport over, but the company that owned the plane, said no, we could not take so many children. And they picked out all such family with so many children so they could not go with so many children.

MOM:   The most can take is so much children. That’s all . . .

DAD:   Then everybody thought ‘Webel family will get out, we will just go.’ But I know we will go because I know where came the order, I wrote a letter.

MOM:   This office girl told me there is the order.

 DAD:   We know that.

MOM:   Then right away we know what’s happened. Exactly that.

 DAD:   So that family eliminated 2 children, that family eliminated 5 children, or with four, and we go.

MOM:   They were surprised. All the neighborhood. . . .

 DAD:   Not only surprised. All those generals are mad!  —  we go with so many children, 10 children.

DAUGHTER:   So this special transport took you where?

 DAD:   From Munich to New York.

DAUGHTER:   To New York.

 DAD:   But not direct. In that time was no jet, was propeller and we went first that is a Scandinavian airline. We first went from Munich to Scandinavia to Copenhagen and from there to Scotland, and from there to Greensland [i.e., Greenland].

DAUGHTER  (ROSIE?):   Greenland.

 DAUGHTER:   Did you have to change planes every time?

 MOM:   Yes, almost, yeah.

 DAD:   I don’t think we change but we have to go out.

MOM:   Yeah, yeah. They cleaned it for 2 hours or something.

 DAD:   Yeah, and then go again the plane and go farther. I don’t think we changed the plane. I just think we..

DAUGHTER:   They just fixed it and it got refueled and all stuff and it took that long to get going.

DAD:   Yeah.

MOM:   Once we had to go down, was full of ice and everything, it was so heavy with snow and ice.

DAD:   The wings were filled with ice so they had to land to thaw.

MOM:   Everything was different.

 DAUGHTER:   How long did this take?

 DAD:   Not long. It take about 2 days, second day we are here, just one night.

MOM:   Yeah, 18 hours. That’s all together.

 DAUGHTER (ROSIE?): Yeah, it takes 6 to 8.

 DAUGHTER:   Then you got to New York City.

 DAD:   To New York City.

DAUGHTER:   And I know there was a problem in New York City.

 MOM:   There was a problem.

 DAD:   They, whosoever [notice again the King James English!] brought us, we… they have to give us to the sponsor. Some goes with the train too, but that Keiper, our sponsor, made arrangement to meet us in New York and Reinhardt Keiper went to New York to meet us. And when we arrived, we arrive to the airport, today is Kennedy airport, they call it international airport at that time I think so. We are here waiting for sponsor to take us and nobody came. Reinhardt Keiper came with Freddie Fetzer.

MOM:   Three cars came.

DAD:   And Reinhardt Keiper on the phone, didn’t have no idea where the plane land, here on the phone asking is there here the plane, that and that and that, and never went Reinhardt Keiper on the phone but always Freddie Fetzer on the phone. Why I do not know. And when they asked who is talking, ‘Freddie Fetzer’. He didn’t tell him…

MOM:   They don’t say anything.

 DAD:   About the family Webel. So they could not find out where the Webel family is and they could not find out where the sponsor is. They called Medina [Ohio], “What’s happened to the Keiper people?  They should pick up the people and they are not here.” “They are in New York.” So late evening, the whole day we stay there. Not fenced in but almost fenced in, here you are allowed to be and…. Like in every crossing you remember something what you have forgotten.   .  .  .  . .

 [Dad reminisces for a while about other topics.]

DAUGHTER:   Okay, Dad, you’ll have to get back to New York City now. The last thing you said was we were in a roped off area.

 DAD:   We were roped off and everybody is was gone, just we, and nobody is now, nobody recognize, nobody have to feed us because we are supposed to be by Keipers already, and we are hungry and the people are not allowed to go to it, keep somebody by, and put an orange there like you-

MOM:   And feed us.

 DAD:   Like embarrassing for us, like hurry up catch, no, the children did not went. They was ashamed that they was ashamed to do something like that. And finally they found someone who could talk in German and went take me a store to buy something meat for children to have to eat. Then we eat and finally came Keipers. Finally they are awaken, the Keiper went to the phone and then they say where we are and then they get us. And when they get in that cars, travel to home, it was already dark and night and they got lost on the highway, they have to turn back,

MOM:   It was raining, snowing…

 DAD:   Then we go in a motel [in New York], and then we arrive the next day here [in Medina, Ohio].

[The interview ends at page 183 of From Vinkovci to Medina.]

statue-of-liberty.ad1951-closeup

This wraps up the immigration chronicle of the Webel family, from Vinkovci (Yugoslavia, now Croatia) unto Medina (Ohio), as refugees (“displaced persons”), ending with a successful landing and resettling in America, with some of their future offspring (Nate and Luke Webel), descended from young Robert Webel, to eventually arrive on planet Earth — as God’s providences in Webel family history continue —  as native Texans.

Webel-dozen.newspaper-photo

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen AD1951

In particular, that same Robert Webel (born in Yugoslavia, as a baby, with his family later fleeing Tito’s Communism) is the father of Stephen Webel, who is father (by his wife Erica) of sons and daughters, including brothers Nate and Luke Webel, the two native Texans.  (Thus Robert Webel, born in WWII, is the paternal grandfather of Nate Webel, Luke Webel, and their sisters.)

During January of AD2018 this author visited Chaplain Robert (and Marcia) Webel, in St. Petersburg, Florida, where they have lived for many years. Chaplain Bob gave me a book, then, which I since have read —  STINGING NETTLE, by Carola Schlatter & Kendra Ramsier (Westview, 2014; 284 pages), which chronicles many tragic adversities and survival adventures of Vladimir Fortenbacher and Margaretha Wittmann, who both became refugees from war-torn Yugoslavia, experiencing the heinous horrors of Tito’s Communism there immediately following World War II.  (Margaretha’s memories of living in concentration camps in Yugoslavia, after WWII, is a testimony to God’s sustaining grace – as many of her family were barbarically starved, tortured, and killed by Yugoslavian Communists (who hated anyone with any kind of German connection – including the German-speaking Swabians of Yugoslavia).

Vladimir and Margaretha both fled to Canada; they met there and married, and parented 12 children (10 daughters and 2 sons), whom they raised in the same Apostolic Christian Church (Nazarene) group that the Webels belonged to.  [For more on this Anabaptist group, see  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolic_Christian_Church_(Nazarene) .]

Webel.Jakob-Katarina-faces

So, for now, this series concludes 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.

birding-chez-webel.bob-and-jjsj

Chaplain Bob Webel & JJSJ at Webel backyard, birdwatching [photograph by Marcia Webel]

><>  JJSJ     profjjsj@aol.com


Below is Chaplain Robert Webel (who was 8 when his family came as refugees to America) with his wife, Marcia Webel, now residents of Florida. Chaplain Bob supplemented and clarified his sister’s transcribed interview of their parents (titled From Vinkovci to Medina) as quoted hereinabove.

Webel.Bob-with-Marcia


EFERENCES

[1] The 7 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);  (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);  (7) “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Seven:  Surviving on an Austrian Farm (and Elsewhere) After World War II: Jakob & Katarina Webel Family, Hoping for a New Home,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 39(4):389-418 (winter 2017).  This 8th episode has been published as:  “Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part Eight:  Refugees in Austria, Fleeing Post-WWII Europe for America—The Jakob & Katarina Webel Family Journey to a New Home,” Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 40(1):38-54 (spring 2018).

[2] This crisis is mentioned, as an example of identity-context confusion, in James J. S. Johnson, “The Gap Theory: A Trojan horse Tragedy”, ACTS & FACTS, 41(10):8-10 (October 2012), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/gap-theory-trojan-horse-tragedy .



 

 

 

 

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.


 

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)