Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) and his Family – Part 24

My Sister’s Horrific Experiences

In January of 1945 everything came to an abrupt halt. Refugees started pouring in from neighbouring provinces, fleeing from the encroaching Russian front. They were mostly old people, women and children. There was lots of speculation about how this all would develop, some people moved westward on their own, others stayed in the city, hoping that they may return some day. The evacuation order came in early February and trains were ready to take us to safety and by now we could hear the guns in the distance. My family hesitated, there were discussions, but finally common sense prevailed. And our little group left on the last train out; later on we learned that all Russian soldiers entered the city the following day. Our train compartment was very crowded, one toilet, a small hand basin with only cold water for all of us meant long line-ups throughout the day. Food and drink were provided for our journey. The winters in East Germany are very cold, the land covered in snow, not much for us kids to see. Twice the whistle blew, the train stopped and we were ordered to step outside and move away from the train and stand still. When the whistle blew again, we were to get back on the train immediately. These were brief episodes when Allied planes came and went quickly not interested in us at all as they had bigger fish in mind. However our last stop along the way was different, as we were now ordered not to leave the train. We were all wondering what this was all about. Soon it became apparent that Dresden, the beautiful city, had been bombed, the sky was aflame to tell the story. Later we learned that thousands of people had perished, many of them at the main train station. This was the reason for us to be rerouted a day later. Our Tante Margot survived, as they were in another part of Dresden.

Dresden after the Devastating Bombing Raids

Our little group eventually made it to Mark Brandenburg, a place so far untouched by the war. Our major problem was that we were always hungry. Us older kids left daily on food-begging trips. Thus we managed to survive. Often I went on my own. Once while crossing a forested area, I came across the body of a German officer, eyes and mouth open providing a feast for tiny creatures. Another episode was more frightening. Three German teens in uniform, not knowing that the war had ended, shot dead a Russian soldier on patrol. These kids were caught and executed in the courtyard of the farmhouse where we stayed. It was horrifying to hear those shots. Another experience stands out for me. As I was approaching a large farmhouse, the hausfrau saw me coming, yelling at me to leave or she would sic the dog on me. Scared I turned to run off, when a Russian soldier took me by the arm and motioned me to follow him into the root cellar. Here the farmers kept their food. From the shelves the soldier took bread, cheese, a piece of bacon and handed me the goodies, which I put into my bag. I was out of there in no time never to come back to that place again.

Erfurt Cathedral – Wikipedia

Eventually my host family was able to contact an uncle of mine in Erfurt. He and his wife took me in and my life began to normalize again. I loved the family, the school and the beautiful city. However, I often wondered where my parents and siblings might be. My mother and the two youngest brothers were finally located. In the meantime the two older brothers also arrived in Erfurt.

22 comments

  1. Stella, oh, Stella · November 27

    That reminds of my mother’s adventure. They had been evacuated to Bavaria and she and another girl tried to get back to Hamburg to their families, when they heard that the British army was closing in. They were fired at quite a bit. Usually they left the train and hid in the ditches. They were about 17 years old by then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · November 28

      As Amy said above, war is hell, especially for the young children.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stella, oh, Stella · November 28

        That’s right, they don’t understand at all what is happening. And when they are born during a war, they think that is normal.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pure Glory · November 27

    War is so devastating for all involved, winner or loser. The protection of God on your sister and your other immediate family members in the midst of danger and peril is evident.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Robert Parker · November 27

    It’s good to hear, in the midst of all that death and destruction, of acts of kindness to an enemy by individual soldiers

    Liked by 2 people

    • kopfundgestalt · November 27

      Such wonderful stories are repeated over and over again. Probably because the rule was different.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Robert Parker · November 28

        Yes, probably most of us tend to focus on the occasional gleam of light in dark times.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · November 28

      Indeed. These acts of kindness allow us not to lose faith in humanity.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. crowcanyonjournal · November 27

    Wow, scary times for your sister!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Peter, thank you for sharing your sister’s horrible experience, I wonder if she kept a diary about that time or it was handed to you in talking about. Wuensche dir einen schoenen 1. Advent diesen Sonntag

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · November 28

      My sister wrote down from memory her experiences not too long ago for my blog. Auch dir liebe Grüße zum 1. Advent!

      Like

  6. Amy · November 28

    What a nightmare for such a young child. I bet she had PTSD about that for many years—seeing the dead soldier and hearing those boys executed. War is certainly hell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · November 28

      For the next post my brother Karl wrote down for me his experiences how he and his brother Adolf escaped from the hell of war in March 1945.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy · November 28

        I look forward to reading it, hard as it is to read these stories.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Steve Schwartzman · November 28

    The fact that these happenings were so horrid probably accounts for why they’ve stayed in memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ann Coleman · November 28

    Your poor sister! I’m glad that she met at least one kind soldier who must have helped her keep a bit of faith in human nature during those awful times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · November 29

      Such acts of kindness as the Russian soldier has shown to my sister reveal the positive side of human nature.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Clanmother · November 28

    A profound and moving post, Peter. Thank you for remembering the stories of your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ankur Mithal · November 28

    Understand perhaps, but I wonder if a reader can ever truly empathise with the person who underwent this trauma. Brave of your family to share their experiences with strangers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · November 29

      Perhaps it is possible to feel true compassion if one has gone through similar experiences.

      Liked by 1 person

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