Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) Part 19

Flight from the Red Army

The German management of Gutfelde under my father’s administration abruptly ended on the 12th and 13th of January 1945 with the family’s flight from the advancing Red Army. A few hours before, the attack began, which turned out to be the most massive offensive ever-recorded in international military history. Under the command of Marshal Schukow and Konjew the Soviet army groups conquered Warthegau and advanced within days all the way to Sagan, Silesia. Panic and chaos spread among the defending forces and the civilian population. The flight with as little baggage as possible succeeded in the direction of Landsberg in spite of bitter cold temperatures and icy, snowed-over roads, which were hopelessly overcrowded with people, horses and wagons.

There was an agreement between the NS leader (Ortsgruppenleiter) in Seebrück (Rogowo) and the German farmers including all administrators of the region to join together in order to escape in one single trek. My father found out that the party leaders and NS officials had secretively taken off to safety on their own. He became quite enraged over this lack of leadership on the part of the very people who through courage and fearless guidance were supposed to set an example. While the lonely three trek wagons (Klopp, Kegler, and Dwinger) were slowly heading west, my father on a fast one-horse buggy was racing from farm to farm to warn stragglers of the impending danger and say good-bye to his Polish friends.

Photo Credit: Planet Wissen

The trek managed to get as far as Arnswalde (Choszczno), Pomerania, where the family found temporary shelter in the forestry Kühnemühle. As the place appeared safe at least for the time being, Father decided to stay there longer than warranted by the critical circumstances created by the Soviet armies advancing westwards at lightning speed. Precious time was being wasted with useless discussions and playing Doppelkopf. Perhaps a trace of unfounded hope that the enemy on the eastern front could still be thrown back through a heroic effort by the German troops lingered at the back of everybody’s mind and caused them to dawdle. Suddenly in early February Red Army soldiers arrived at the forestry and took Father as prisoner of war although he was no combatant and assigned him to hard labor in the Soviet Union. In a forced march he returned to Posen (Poznan), to the very region whence he had escaped. Then the Russians shipped him by train to the Donbas area, where somewhere between Charkow and Rostow on the River Don he had to work in the coal mines.

22 comments

  1. kopfundgestalt · October 23

    Doppelkopf zu spielen, war sicher keine gute Idee.
    Mein Vater ist seinerzeit aus einem Transport nach Frankreich geflüchtet. Der Zug fuhr langsam durch eine Stadt. Man entdeckte ihn Tage später, aber wieder konnte er entkommen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · 30 Days Ago

      Ich habe gelesen dass die Franzosen die deutschen Kriegsgefangenen nicht viel besser behandelt haben als die Russen. Ist dein Vater bald nach dem Krieg nach Hause gekommen?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Amy · October 23

    Oh, my. How did the rest of your family cope with his arrest? Were you old enough to be aware of any of this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · 30 Days Ago

      I was too young to remember. But my older sister and brothers were kind enough to write down their ordeals they experienced fleeing from the Red Army.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy · 30 Days Ago

        I can’t even begin to imagine how frightening that must have been for them all.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Stella, oh, Stella · October 23

    Those were terrible times. That must have been a hard blow for your mother especially, having to get all those children to safety all by herself. My grandfather was also in a Russian prison camp (he was a nurse). They had the worst reputation. And all the poor people that fled too late.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · 30 Days Ago

      These terrible times of terror, hardship and death are not very well known and are seldom mentioned in the media.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stella, oh, Stella · 30 Days Ago

        I do remember that even about 15-20 years after the end of the war, some people were still living in Nissenhütten, which had been put up for refugees.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, no.. what a tragedy for the entire family, your father imprisoned and your mother dealing with keeping the children safe and feeding them enough food. Some of the cities names ring a bell for me, as my mother would mention them. Anxiously waiting for the next chapter, Peter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · 30 Days Ago

      What happened in the meantime to my mother will be covered in a separate post in the near future. Thank you for your continued interest in our family history, Cornelia!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ankur Mithal · October 24

    What you read in history books affects you, but somewhat impersonally. What I am reading here seems much more personal, even though I have never met you or spoken to you. Sorry to hear about the travails your father underwent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · October 24

      You assessed the events of war as reported in history books very well, Ankur. For every victim of war, soldier or civilian, there are countless others who mourn the loss of a family member.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ankur Mithal · 30 Days Ago

        Unfortunately, it seems man does not learn. Even today there are hundreds of wars and skirmishes going on all around the world, causing untold misery to millions of faceless, nameless people. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Labby · October 24

    Hallo Peter, das ist sehr spannend zu lesen. Schon alleine beim lesen bekomme ich Gänsehaut. Danke für die Einblicke und liebe Grüße ins schöne Kanada. Wolfgang

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · October 24

      Ja das war eine schreckliche Zeit für unsere Familie. Wie durch ein Wunder kamen wir alle wieder zusammen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Labby · October 24

        Hallo Peter, der letzte Satz freut mich für euch besonders. Das ist schön zu lesen. Ab und zu sieht man so etwas auch in Dokumentationsfilmen, dennoch ist das für viele unvorstellbar. Liebe Grüße Wolfgang

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Ann Coleman · 29 Days Ago

    I can’t imagine how hard that must have been on your family to have your father arrested and shipped off to a forced labor camp! And how frightened all those who were trying to feel the Red army must have been. Thanks for sharing your family’s story, Peter….even though it can be hard to hear of such suffering, it is important the the story be heard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · 28 Days Ago

      In one of the following posts you will find out how my mother coped in search of two missing children.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Steve Schwartzman · 29 Days Ago

    What horrible experiences. Fortunately we know that you survived. My father’s father was arrested when the family attempted to flee from the Soviet Union in the 1920s. Someone managed to bribe a guard and get him out; otherwise I wouldn’t be here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · 28 Days Ago

      There are so many instances in our lives that produce the same conclusion: Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. Coincidence? My own life told me otherwise. Have you been able to piece your family history together? It would be a great project.

      Like

      • Steve Schwartzman · 28 Days Ago

        My nephew has become the de facto family genealogist and has managed to track down a lot of ancestors.

        Liked by 1 person

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