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 comments

  1. Stella, oh, Stella · 18 Days Ago

    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

    • Peter Klopp · 17 Days Ago

      So many yet untold stories of the plight of German and other nationalities in the Soviet prison camps!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stella, oh, Stella · 17 Days Ago

        That was his reaction, to bury the memory deep down in his soul. I wonder how many people ended up with PTSD in that war. At that time, nobody cared. Men had to be able to deal with stuff like that. But they can’t, some of them get really weird, understandably.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Amy · 18 Days Ago

    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

    • Peter Klopp · 17 Days Ago

      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

      • Amy · 17 Days Ago

        What a scary experience that must have been! Your mother also must have been horrified. Such terrible times those were.

        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

    • Peter Klopp · 16 Days Ago

      Thank you, Cornelia! More details about my mother and the children will follow in subsequent posts.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Des · 17 Days Ago

    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

    • Peter Klopp · 16 Days Ago

      When looking back at my own life I still marvel today at the miraculous event of our family being reunited in those chaotic conditions after WW2.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. kopfundgestalt · 17 Days Ago

    It’s amazing that your features are unmistakable in the photo.:-)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ann Coleman · 15 Days Ago

    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

    • Peter Klopp · 15 Days Ago

      Thank you, Ann, for your compassionate comment on my father. I am very proud of him.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ankur Mithal · 15 Days Ago

    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

    • Peter Klopp · 15 Days Ago

      When reading these tales of horror one comes to the inevetible conclusion that evil is deeply rooted underneath the thin veneer of human civilization.

      Like

  8. Anonymous · 15 Days Ago

    Dankeschön wunderbar

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Steve Schwartzman · 13 Days Ago

    The 20th century had the double scourges of Nazism and Communism, with the latter in the Soviet Union, China, and other countries. What good fortune your family had in surviving both plagues.

    Liked by 1 person

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