Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) and his Family – Part 26

Report Written by Peter’s Brother Karl (1929 – 2019)

Preface

How was it possible that parents and children were going to flee from different places? Father Ernst Klopp had been ordered from our original residence in the Pomeranian county of Belgard into the Land of the Warthe to hand over expropriated Polish estates to Baltic Germans, who had been resettled primarily from Latvia. My brother Adolf and I were boarding with a family in Belgard to attend a secondary school. From there began on March 3rd, 1945 the flight into a westerly direction.

To what degree do memories committed to paper reflect the truth? This document limits itself to the presentation of direct impressions and experiences and sparsely delves into explanations. Therefore it avoids them unless absolutely necessary.

Due to the regrettable loss of a diary that I had kept since my early childhood days, most likely lost in a hay barn on the trek to the West, it is impossible for the sequence of events to be authentic.

Refugees 1945 – Photo Credit: The Conversation

Also subsequent inserts of military and historical value, or attempts of this nature were unproductive. The Wehrmacht reports, which one can read in the archives, and the historical works by authors based on the former – as far as they could be controlled by personal, absolutely authentic facts – lagged behind the events and even jumped ahead of them.

Memories of the Flight (March 1945)

The Incredible Journey

On March 3rd at 6 o’clock in the evening ‘Tank Alert’ rang out in Belgard. Why did the defence and party headquarters choose the evening to evacuate the civilian population? The family Meißner-Kulmann, two women, five little girls and the Klopp brothers moved under the howling sounds of sirens and the wild perpetual ringing of our church to the designated area, where transportation facilities were supposed to be ready, which was not the case. Without any further discussions the group marched in the direction to the exit road leading to Kolberg in order to reach the coast. Halfway there we stopped in the middle of the night for shelter in the village of Leikow. Some luggage was in the handcart, on which also the children were sitting. Soon we realized that the family did not want to go farther. I was sent back the following evening to Belgard on a bicycle that I had been pushing to get a briefcase with documents belonging to one of their grown-up boys out of the house at the Schidlitz. In us grew the decision to separate from the family, who attempted to stop us by saying, “Fine Hitler boys you are!” I should mention that the march of the trek led us past familiar native places of our early childhood, which slid by in the dark night like shapeless outlines. We recognized how close the front line was by the fire in the village of Lülfitz, which was located north of the Kolberg road, which led in a westerly direction to the coast. In that direction stood also a train recognizable by the stream of sparks: Certainly the railroad line had already been cut.

I always liked to tell that early on my birthday I still got a cake – whether Frau Meißner had baked it in the simple quarters in Leikow or in her own oven in Belgard, I did not find out. March 6th was the day of separation from my room and board mother, who later had walked back to her house in Belgard with her daughters and grandchildren.

To be continued …

21 comments

  1. Robert Parker · December 11

    Imagine baking a cake in the midst of this chaos! I suppose it was not only to create a nice gesture for the recipient, but the familiarity of the process was comforting to the baker.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · December 12

      This is a good observtion, Robert. It seems to me that women find comfort in baking during difficult times. My wife has been baking Christmas cakes and cookies more than ever before. And our children and grandchildren cannot even come and visit us and eat all these treats.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Stella, oh, Stella · December 11

    I guess it was not such a good idea to go back to Belgard …
    Luckily your mother was more realistic.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amy · December 11

    I can’t imagine being that young and that brave. And your brother, like you, has a wonderful gift for language (I assume that you translated? Or did he write in English?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · December 12

      My brother Karl, who passed away last year at the age of 90, had a good knowledge of the Englsih language, but he submitted his report in German. Yes, I did translate his amazing story for the blog. Have a great weekend, Amy!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy · December 12

        Thanks, Peter. I am sorry for your loss. I hope you find comfort in translating and publishing his memories.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Clanmother · December 11

    I am enjoying your family history.

    Like

  5. Peter, sometimes my heart breaks, like when reading your brother’s hard times and your sister’s recently. Back than in Germany my family didn’t have to go through anything like your family, although they had to flee from Prussia, watching their own house burning down.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · December 12

      Seeing one’s house burn down is a horrible event in one’s life. But at least your family escaped and managed to get to the relative safety they found in West Germany. So many people didn’t.

      Like

      • Thank you Peter for your heart warming respond. Indeed it was hard for my grandfather since he was an architect. Safely they arrived at my father’s and mother’s house. Enjoy the third of Advent this Sunday.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Steve Schwartzman · December 12

    What a shame that your brother’s early diary disappeared, and so much specific information with it. I looked up Belgard on a map to see where it is. In the process of searching for it I found there’s a Belgard paving company in San Antonio and a Belgard Heights in Dublin. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence of sounds, but the name looks like it could come from Old French and mean ‘beautiful view.’ It was hardly that for your brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · December 12

      Nor was it for my mother who searched for my two elder brothers as reported on a previous post.

      Like

  7. kopfundgestalt · December 12

    Going out on your own takes a lot of determination. Presumably the adults were too tired to go on.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ann Coleman · December 12

    I’m so glad your brother was willing to share his story! It’s an important reminder of just how hard war is on everyone, not just those who have to fight them.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Des · December 13

    Hi Peter, Especially in light of your comment to kopfundgestalt, one thing that strikes me is that sometimes children see things more clearly than adults who can lose sight of the big picture. It amazes me that Karl and Adolph had the courage separate from the adults and continue on their own. What a courageous (and probably wise) decision!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · December 13

      What a dangerous and life-threatening journey it was you will see in the following episodes, Des. You are right about your assessment of the young people still being aware of what is really important in life and that is life itself.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Ankur Mithal · December 20

    Moved by your travel and travails. Belgard? Is it the same place that is known as Belgrade?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · December 20

      Belgard (today Bialogard) is a town in the former province of Pomerania. Belgrade is the capital of Serbia. The two cities are several thousand km apart from each other.

      Like

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