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

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 7:

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


Dr. James J. S. Johnson

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


Jakob & Katarina Webel family, immigrants in Austria

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

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


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

 DAUGHTER:   How many feet is that, Dad?

MOM:   About 100 yards.

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

 MOM:   Road where the wagons go.

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

 MOM:   Not a “barn” — a “stall”.

 DAUGHTER:   A stall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 MOM:   Cream.

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

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

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

 DAUGHTER:   This farmer had what? He had cows?

DAD:   He had cows, he had pigs.

 DAUGHTER:   He had chickens.

 MOM:   Oh, yeah, lots of chicken there.

 DAUGHTER:   He had an orchard which contained? Apples?

DAD:   Oh, yeah, mostly apples.

 MOM:   Apples and pears and plums.

 DAUGHTER:   What did he farm?

DAD:   Corn and everything.

 DAUGHTER:   Wheat?

DAD:   Wheat.

 DAUGHTER:   Vegetables?

 MOM:   Soy beans.

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

 MOM:   Cucumbers, lots of cucumbers. Wagons full.

DAD:   Like every farmer, whatever you could sell.

 MOM:   Pumpkins, couple acres.

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

 DAUGHTER:   Okay. Next morning you got up.

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

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

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

 DAUGHTER:   So August. About August.

 MOM:   July or August, yes.

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

DAD:   Yeah.

 MOM:   Yes.

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

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

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

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

 DAUGHTER:   That was down in town.

 MOM:   Over there, yeah.

 DAUGHTER:   Courthouse or something? Which courthouse?

 MOM:   Obersel.

DAD:   That is like a Magistrate.

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

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

 MOM:   Down the hill.

DAD:   Downhill.

 MOM:   That’s the only way.

DAD:   Only in the orchard everywhere.

 DAUGHTER:   That’s how they fertilize.

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

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

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

 MOM:   Made from 3, 4 pieces.

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

 MOM:   And make a garden.

DAD:   And go in the field.

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

 DAUGHTER:   Who took care of Rosie? Elsa?

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

DAD:   Bring her to her….                                                                       

DAUGHTER:   Because you nursed her.

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

 DAUGHTER:   Did Elsa take care of all the children?

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

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

 MOM:   On — yeah, yeah.

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

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

DAD:   Somebody had to open the gate.

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

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

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

DAD:   And he was … everything.

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

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

DAD:   About 2½.

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

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

 MOM:   Then he came home and he said-

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

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

 DAUGHTER:   But they can eat the rind.

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

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

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

 DAUGHTER:   Sow. Little baby pigs.

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

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

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

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

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

 MOM:   Like red beets, just white beets.

DAD:   Beets, big beets.

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

DAD:   They cook for the pigs.

 MOM:   They cook them and smash them.

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

MOM:   In this cooking.

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

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

DAD:   Yeah, like, yeah.

 MOM:   You know….

DAD:   That’s their washing.                                                                                         

MOM:   That’s their….

DAD:   But the . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

 MOM:   The pigs have their own.

 DAUGHTER:   Separate bowls.     ( LAUGHTER )

DAD:   That I worked as every time.

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

 DAUGHTER:   How many cows, approximately?

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

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

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

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

 MOM:   Dad cannot eat with them.

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

 MOM:   They were very upset.

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

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

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

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

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

 MOM:   No fork on the table.

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAD:   Our money run out.

 MOM:   We had …

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

 MOM:   We sell the ration card for money.

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

 MOM:   Conserva.

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

 DAD:   Yeah. Just meat, fish or so..

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

 DAUGHTER:   Sardines or something.

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

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

 MOM:   Not for money.

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

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

 DAUGHTER:   This was after you left the farm.

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

 MOM:   We on the farm.

DAD:   And so we got that.

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

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

          [interruption in interview due to changing audiotape]


MOM:   The children…

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

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

 DAUGHTER:   The water.

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

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

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

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

DAD:   You could, yes.

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

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

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

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

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

 DAUGHTER:   Make huge?

MOM:   Oh, like a softball.

 DAUGHTER:   Larger.

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

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

 DAUGHTER:   Did you stake your tomatoes?

DAD:   Oh yes.

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

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

 MOM:   All kinds of stuff.

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

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

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

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

 DAUGHTER:   Pumpkin.

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

 MOM:   On one pile.

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

 MOM:   Far apart, far apart.

DAD:   But Mom put the seed on them.

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

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

 DAUGHTER:   Watermelons, Dad?

DAD:   Maybe they see in city.

 MOM:   Watermelons and the muskmelons.

 DAUGHTER:   Watermelons.

 MOM:   Watermelons and muskmelons.

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

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

DAD:   How many, we plant them for us.

 DAUGHTER:   Did he ruin them then?

 MOM:   Yes.

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

 MOM:   For all the people.

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

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

 DAUGHTER:   Did you preserve any of these for winter?

 MOM:   No, we don’t have bottles.

DAD:   Over there was born Jacob.

 DAUGHTER:   In this place.

DAD:   In this place.

 MOM:   Katie.

DAD:   And Katie.

 DAUGHTER:   Then you were there longer than 4 years.

DAD:   We were there from ’45 to ’50.

 DAUGHTER:   Yeah.

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

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

[to be continued, D.v.]

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

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

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

><> JJSJ   profjjsj@aol.com



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

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

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

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

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

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


Volksdeutsche by the Dozen AD1951

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


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

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

Volksdeutsche by the Dozen, Part 7:

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


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.


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.]



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 )


[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.


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.)


    ><> 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)


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?


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?



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.


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.


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  (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 . . ..


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 (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?].


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.]


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.


Volksdeutsche by the Dozen AD1951

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


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


[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 .]


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).


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