Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964) and his Family – Part 30

Karl and Adolf’s Perilous Journey March 1945

Karl’s Report – Part 4

When we arrived at the town on the evening after the attack, where we had wanted to stay overnight, visibility was almost zero, the stench horrific, most certainly the smell of corpses. How we got over the relatively wide arm of the River Oder, by the name of Swine, I cannot recall. On account of the smoke I was unable to see.

In the middle of the night we reached Ahlbeck and found some rest in a vacation guesthouse, where a compassionate woman with a little son took us in. For the first time in ten days we slept in a real bed. Only now we began to discuss to which destination we should proceed. There were relatives, whose addresses we had in our heads due to a very active correspondence, in Freiburg and Erfurt. The latter was closer. Therefore, we decided to pedal on in a southeastern direction. Since we had neither maps nor compass, we did not choose the direct way, kept on pedalling six more days all the way to Neubrandenburg, where we became sick and tired of biking. We needed a rest, because the most recent journey went over the Pomeranian ridges, over hills and through valleys and into our bones.

We used a savings account booklet filled with entries from our saved pocket money to buy train tickets to Erfurt and pay for the shipping of the bikes. The savings account organization had made life easier for the refugees with the set-up of a generous transaction policy. It was a strange feeling to sit in a train, where to be sure there was incredible crowdedness, to be able to watch the landscape, to read the names of the cities of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, of Brandenburg, and then of Saxony-Anhalt, places whose names until now had been unknown to me or about which I had a different perception.

Once in a while the train stopped in a hollow to await a bomber formation. Often enough low flying aircraft attacked trains or blocked the route in order to target troop transports. A friendly place-name sign ‘Wolmirstedt’ indicated to us that we were passing through the birthplace of our father Ernst Klopp. Slowly we were approaching Thuringia, where Uncle Günther and Aunt Lucie lived. It was an unknown place to us. A long trip in our childhood, especially during the war, was out of the question. Then came the giant railroad station that destroyed all small town Pomeranian perceptions, then the walk to the probable town section, the search in the long street with the name Nonnenrain and the confusion about the house number, 70 instead of 17. Aunt Lucie was speechless. Of course, she could not answer our first question about the whereabouts of our parents. That we looked like dirty pigs must have affected her rather badly as it would have anybody else. At mealtime there was information on the conditions in the city, above all on the almost daily aerial attacks and on the air raid shelters. Besides the American front was approaching from the west.

Erfurt after a Bombing Raid
Erfurt after a Bombing Raid – Photo Credit: TLZ.de

At first we did not heed the warnings of the aerial attacks, until a powerful explosion of a bomb taught us otherwise. Uncle Günther, who was at the time hospitalized due to health issues going back to WW1, was sent home, and we met again, himself looking quite worried. With the arrival in Erfurt the flight had come to an end, and the thread to our homeland and to the parents was totally cut off. What came next was completely different. End of Karl’s report

21 comments

  1. Des · January 22

    I wonder how often Karl and Adolph reminisced with each other regarding those events. I would think it would help form a very tight bond between them. What an incredible story this has been, Peter!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Peter Klopp · January 22

      Indeed they were very close to each other. I am sure that they talked about their experiences and their miraculous survival very often.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Steve Schwartzman · January 22

    Did any governmental agency or other institution ever establish an archive where people who wrote memoirs about this period could deposit those memoirs to create a history of what happened?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Stella, oh, Stella · January 22

    The stories of your family are testimony for the terrors of war as lived through by civilians. My mother had similar experiences on her way back from Bavaria to Hamburg when she was a teenager. I cannot even imagine the horrors (and don’t want to). Nobody should have to experience this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • kopfundgestalt · January 22

      “and don’t want to”
      What else can save us from future experiences like this???

      Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · January 22

      I am totally amazed at the resillience of people who had gone through the horrors of war. Some people suggested that all these stories need to be collected.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Stella, oh, Stella · January 23

        But some people do that or write books about some of them. The problem in wars is that atrocities are being committed on all sides, and those who suffer most are the children, they are marked for life.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. crowcanyonjournal · January 22

    Karl’s report was breathtaking!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Amy · January 22

    I am still dumbfounded that two teenage boys pulled this off. Biking without maps so many miles in a hilly region? Wow. Very resourceful and brave.

    Liked by 2 people

    • kopfundgestalt · January 22

      Not only brave. The only option.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Peter Klopp · January 22

      For my two brothers there was no choice but to stick it out no matter what the danger. I am so glad that my brother Karl put his experiences down on paper before he passed away.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. kopfundgestalt · January 22

    Was ich in der Kürze mitbekam. UNGEHEUERLICH!
    Was waren das für Zeiten.
    Und DASS dennoch Menschlichkeit prevailte, ist nochmal erstaunlich.

    Die ganze Geschichte hier erinnerte mich an einen Aussage eines Historikers KÜRZLICH, dass die Lehren des 30-jährigen Kriegs VOLLKOMMEN verloren wären. Ebenso wird es uns ergehen mit WW2.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Klopp · January 22

      In jedem Jahrhundert, so scheint es mir, werden dieselben Fehler gemacht. Aus vergangen Erfahrungen wird nichts gelernt. Es ist eine traurige Geschichte, die sich immer wieder aufs Neue wiederholt.

      Liked by 1 person

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