Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) Part 21

Release from the Soviet Forced Labour Camp

As already mentioned earlier, my father Ernst Klopp and thousands of other German citizens were captured by Red Army soldiers and as a non-combatants were deported with full approval of the other Allied powers to forced-labour camps in the Soviet Union. At Wikipedia we read: “The capture and transfer of civilian ethnic Germans to the Soviet Union began as soon as countries with a German minority began to be overrun in 1944. Large numbers of civilians were taken from countries such as Romania, Yugoslavia, and from the eastern parts of Germany itself.”

At this tragic juncture, the Ernst Klopp family was scattered all over the eastern provinces of Germany. My mother was left to fend for herself. From Arnswalde she travelled north with four orphans, my brother Gerhard and me in search of the older sons Karl and Adolf to Belgard (today Polish Bialogard). There, they had attended the local high school and had boarded with family friends.  But the 16-year and 14-year old brothers had already taken off to escape from the approaching Red Army. For the longest time, Mother did not know their whereabouts.  Furthermore, my sister Erika attended school at Hirschberg, Silesia, where she stayed with uncle Bruno’s widow and her children Hartmut, Elisabeth, and Jürgen. Writing a cohesive account of all members of the family during the postwar years is very difficult and has to wait until I have concluded my father’s life story.

In the meantime Father had a major accident, while he was working in the coal mines in the Donbass region of the USSR. He received treatment for his head injury and would have been sent back to work, if he had not feigned continual headaches. Thus, he succeeded in getting an early release and was sent back to Germany. When he arrived at Uncle Günther’s place in Erfurt, he heard that the entire family had survived the war. He established contact with Mother and the children and in 1947 moved to Rohrdorf, a small village in Southern Germany between the River Danube and Lake Constance. There he found employment with the regional branch of the Fürstlich-von-Fürstenberg forest administration. Eventually the entire Klopp family was reunited. Although now extremely poor, often hungry, and dispossessed, the family was finally together again and could attempt a new beginning.

First Photo of the Reunited Ernst Klopp Family in Rohrdorf 1950

18 thoughts on “Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) Part 21

  1. I think I remember having read something about that in your German history, about how you were trying to find your brothers. It really is a miracle that you all found each other in the end.

    Russian prison camps had the worst reputation. My mother’s father was a prisioner in Russia, he was a nurse. He never ever said a single word to anybody about that time. It must have been awful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope you will write more about how your mother and siblings coped and how they found each other. I know you were just a baby during that time, so I assume you have no memories of the experiences. And that is a lovely family photograph. What a striking resemblance among all the children—but I can’t tell whether you all take after your mother or your father because they also seem to resemble each other at least in this photograph.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed, I was too young to remember. But when my mother, my brother Gerhard and I were deported from our home province Pomerania in 1946, I remember a traumatic experience of being almost left behind at an overcrowded train station and a friendly soul managed to pass me through the train window to my mother mother. I will include the story of my mother and my sister and older brothers in the next couple of posts. Thank you so much for your genuine interest in our family history, Amy!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Peter, it all seems to me as a miracle how you all got reunited, maybe you can write a bit more about that. I can’t even fathom your father’s and mother’s anxiety to be separated from their children. What a blessing that your father found employment with the Fuerstenberg Forest Administration, as I recall this as a quite wealthy clan.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Incredible story, Peter… and I agree with Amy about the family resemblence in the children. I’ve been wondering how the family could ever be reunited again. What a special photo that is!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You father was a very resourceful and strong man to survive the labor camps and figure out a way to get sent home! It’s horrible to think what both of your parents went through at this time, with older children missing and young children who needed care during such a dangerous time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Miraculous! Am reading ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ by Amor Towels, that is set in the period of the Bolshevik Revolution and a little beyond Stalin. There are several references to Siberia and camps and labour that send a chill up the spine. And your family history is that much more personal.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.