Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) Part 16

Cousin Hartmut Kegler’s Vacation Report

This is the third part of the guest post written by my cousin Hartmut Kegler, who also wrote the children’s seminary on Albert Schweitzer I published a few months ago in the original German. I waited until now because it throws some additional light on my father Ernst Klopp and on the happy years in Gutfelde (Zlotniki).

The Hunting Firearm

Finally, still vivid in my memory is another experience that was connected to a visit by my uncle Gerhard Kegler. [In January 1945, he was sentenced to death for disobeying Himmel’s insane order to defend the fortress and town of Landsberg, where thousands of innocent townspeople would have lost their lives. His story can be found here.] He was a colonel on the eastern front at that time and was on vacation in Gutfelde. One day, he asked me if I could shoot with a gun. Since I carried on my shirt the shooting badge of the German Youth Organization, I proudly answered yes. My problem, however, was that as a cub I had only been using a light pellet gun. But my uncle entrusted me with a heavy hunting firearm. At my uncle’s visit I was eleven or twelve years old but went full of pride out into the field. Then I spied a riot of crows which were sitting on a high poplar tree. I loaded the gun, raised it, aimed and pulled the trigger. The recoil of the firearm and the loud bang almost knocked me over. The crows flew away. I had not hit any. Since then I have never touched a gun, and never needed to nor was I forced to use one.

Generalleutnant Gerhard Kegler – Gutfelde 1944

The relationship of Uncle Ernst and Aunt Erika with the Polish personnel was, as I recall it, fair and respectful. I believe that they owe their successful escape from the Red Army to the proper treatment of the Polish personnel. The farm workers prevented through their cooperative actions that Uncle Ernst was captured by the Soviet soldiers. Through a series of adventurous moves he managed to safely make it to West Germany. [The actual tragic events that my cousin Hartmut Kegler did not know will be published on a later post.]

1943 Family Photo – My mother on the right with me on her arm

While at the fronts and the bombarded German cities, in concentration and POW camps innumerable people found a horrible death, we children enjoyed happy days during our vacation in Gutfelde. Much later I began to think about the darker sides of life. At any rate, I am thankful to Aunt Erika and Uncle Ernst for their hospitality and for giving us the freedom to romp around at our hearts’ content.

End of Hartmut Kegler’s childhood memories