Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) – Part 2

My Father’s Childhood and Adolescent Years

Church in Elsenau (Olszanowo)

Widow Emma moved to West Prussia to take up farming in 1903/04. Thus, Ernst spent his childhood and adolescent years with his remaining five siblings in Elsenau (Briesen County). There and in the neighbouring town of Schönsee, he attended the elementary school from 1906 to 1914. An agricultural apprenticeship followed during World War I. At the beginning of 1918, Ernst was called up for military service to receive basic military service at Kassel. Fortunately, he was not sent to the front. The war to end all war was over.

Ernst, now 19 years old, joined the Free Korps (Freikorps), which was fighting in the Baltic region against Bolshevik intruders. Probably the news reports in January 1919 about violence perpetrated by Polish insurgents prompted him to make himself available to this paramilitary organization. His main objective, however, was to acquire a settler’s parcel of land in Latvia and to make a living by farming it. This plan never materialized since Germany had lost political control over the entire development in the eastern section of the Reich.

Baltic States (1920 – 1939)

To understand Ernst’s involvement within the historical context of the Germany’s military operations in the Baltic states, I provide a quote from Wikipedia: “The Freikorps had saved Latvia from capture by the Red Army in the spring of 1919. However, the Freikorps’ goal of creating a German dominated state in Courland and Livonia failed. Many of the German Freikorps members who served in the Baltic left Latvia with the belief that they had been “stabbed in the back” by the Weimar Republic, under President Friedrich Ebert. Hundreds of Baltic Freikorps soldiers had planned to settle in Latvia, and for those who had fought there, the land made a lasting impression, and many of them longed for the day that they could return there. The Baltic Freikorps characterized their struggle against the Reds as the “Drang nach Osten”, (the drive towards the East), and some Freikorps units returned to Germany and planned for the day of their return.”

In the early 1920s Ernst Klopp returned to the Berlin area. The only certain information we have from this time is that his sister Jula Steuer strongly advised him to throw away his gun. Carrying a weapon in those turbulent times would have put him into immediate danger.


  1. Amy · June 26, 2020

    Fascinating, Peter. Do you know if your father shared those feelings of disappointment and a sense of having been betrayed? Did he want to stay in Latvia?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · June 26, 2020

      I am sure that he would have liked to stay. If he had stayed, it would have been an entirely different family story.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy · June 27, 2020

        Yep. Every path we choose leads to unknown and different consequences. I often think about those what ifs..

        Liked by 1 person

  2. bernhard1965 · June 26, 2020

    best regards

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Robert Parker · June 26, 2020

    Very interesting, Peter. I’d heard of the Freikorps, but never knew about their campaign in this area. In college, I took a very interesting class about raiders & traders in ancient times around the Baltic, and learned a bit about the Hanseatic League, and this in turn reminded me, that I recently was amazed to learn the Teutonic Order still exists, although now strictly as a charitable/honorary group.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · June 26, 2020

      So you know more about the history of the Baltic area than most people, Robert.


  4. Stella, oh, Stella · June 26, 2020

    I did not know about the Freikorps and Latvia either, so thanks for the history lesson!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pastor Cathy · June 26, 2020

    After our aunt did some searching, we are from Prussia. Not much is discussed among us , yet great to know .

    On Friday, June 26, 2020, The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project wrote:

    > Peter Klopp posted: ” My Father’s Childhood and Adolescent Years Church in > Elsenau (Olszanowo) Widow Emma moved to West Prussia to take up farming in > 1903/04. Thus, Ernst spent his childhood and adolescent years with his > remaining five siblings in Elsenau (Briesen Count” >

    Liked by 1 person

  6. GP Cox · June 26, 2020

    Your family has certainly had an interesting history. I can well understand why you’ve been chronicling it here.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pure Glory · June 26, 2020

    Peter, thank you for sharing. The twists and turns of your family and your father’s life is very interesting. I can understand that your children, grandchildren and nieces and nephews would find this information invaluable.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ann Coleman · June 28, 2020

    One of the things I like best about your blog is how much history I learn from it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · June 28, 2020

      All personal events should be seen within its historical context. That approach gives meaning to both history and the personal story.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Steve Schwartzman · June 29, 2020

    Does Schönsee live up to its name?

    The inhabitants of the Baltic countries have unfortunately had to fend off attacks for a long time. It seems the Russians would gladly take over the region again if they could.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · July 1, 2020

      Fortunately, the Baltic countries feel pretty safe now being under the under the umbrella of the EU.


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