The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

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Baroness Anna von Waldenfels (née Klopp) – Part III

10

The Long Arduous Road to the Panwitz Estate

While World War I was still raging and devastating Europe, Anna’s husband Ludwig von Waldenfels was reactivated into the military service on July 27th 1918 and served as supervising officer at a penal camp at Oberhaus near Dachau until demilitarization in May 1919. Now already 43 years old with a modest pension Ludwig had to worry about his family’s future. After his high school graduation in Munich he had taken a three-semester training course at the forestry college at Aschaffenburg between 1894 and 1896. Therefore, he had some basic agricultural knowledge. On the northern edge of Passau the couple acquired the estate Kastenreuth. On the hilly terrain the work in the fields was not very cost effective and the harvests appeared to have been quite meagre.  Already by 1922 Anna and Ludwig sold the property to the physician and researcher Professor Dr. Wilhelm Kattwinkel.

In the same year they acquired the estate Neuhof (today Polish Garbek) in the county of Schlochau. It was located right at the border of the newly formed ‘Corridor’ between the remaining part of German West Prussia and the new state of Poland. According to my cousin Eberhard Klopp’s research my Uncle Hermann (1892-1937) had passed on the 200ha property to his brother-in-law Ludwig. As a result of the Versailles Treaty the Polish border was moved within a few metres of the estate boundary. It ran about 300 metres east of the village street alongside a pond still existing today. In a 100 m direct line of sight was the Polish hamlet Zychce (German Sichts). In 1921 the West Prussian rural bank founded ten settlers’ places in Neuhof. Baron von Waldenfels and his wife Anna acquired the remaining parcel with the even today well-preserved estate building on the left side of the village street.

In the village of Neuhof of some 200 inhabitants Ludwig von Waldenfels worked the 810ha farming property and served at the same time as mayor until 1927. “The inhabitants originated mostly from the stolen parts of West Prussia and partly from Münsterland (Münsterland is a mostly flat, agricultural region in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany).  Only 14 people were speaking Polish.” When the family von Waldenfels left Neuhof in 1927, their property was also parcelled into seven more settlements.

It is definitely unimaginable that the couple von Waldenfels accustomed to the big city life style of Metz and Berlin would feel at home in the solitude of a remote little border village. In the year of their departure in 1927 brother Ernst Klopp (1900 – 1964 my father) found employment and stay during the summer harvest. Mostly likely he participated in the preparations for the move out of the second agricultural venture. In the remote bush, heather, and meadow landscape with a few deciduous woods the family von Waldenfels managed to last barely five years.

Now brother-in-law Herman Klopp jumped into action as helper in a new government initiative. Having been the administrator of the copper mill near Meseritz, East Brandenburg (today Polish Miedzyrzcezc) he was familiar with all locally pertinent facts. He made a concrete proposal to the couple von Waldenfels, which turned out to be a stroke of luck.

Chapter 18 of the P. and G. Klopp Story – Part II

5

Joy at my Father’s Home

Right from the beginning of my visit Erna and I got along very well. Her cheerful and lively disposition did not allow me to lose myself in gloomy moods, as I was occasionally prone to do, especially during prolonged periods of idleness and aimlessness. I could even see, even though I was reluctant to admit it, that Erna was the right person for Father. She was the sunshine that had brought lightness and contentment to his sunset years. From her radiated a contagious joyous spirit that created the in-peace-with-the-world atmosphere so conducive to Father’s healing process from a torturous past, from which he only now began to recover. I definitely do not remember him as a man broken in body and spirit, as my distant cousin Eberhard Klopp described him in his book of the Klopp Family History.

Schotten - Photo Credit: vogelsbergtourist.de

Town of Schotten – Photo Credit: vogelsbergtourist.de

Erna also had a moped of the same make and the same 49 cc class as mine, on which she would travel down the steep hill into the town of Schotten to buy the few things she needed for the small household in Michelbach. When there is company, one always seems to find the time to show off the beauty surrounding one’s home turf. Without visitors one tends to delay and leave such outings for another day. Erna was no exception. Now she was eager to travel with me to the nearby-forested hills, up the scenic Nature Park around Mount Vogelsberg, down winding country roads into the lush verdant valleys neatly tucked in between minor mountain ranges. There was no better form of transportation than our two mopeds. With a lunch pack clamped to the rear luggage rack we were ready to dart off into the wonderful Hessian landscape. Father a little overweight for these light machines gladly stayed behind looking after a few chores still to be done on this mini-farm with just a few goats to feed and milk,. Just as we were revving up the engines, Father came to the road to congenially shout over the noise, “Have a good trip!” At the end of my vacations thanks to our weekly excursions into the hill country, I had acquired a solid geographical knowledge of the region. As I was internally preparing myself to leave the Rhineland for good after my graduation, I had already created a new base to drop in as son and stepson, a place I could truly call home.

Landscape of Vogelsberg Hill Country - Photo Credit: vogelsbergtourist.de

Landscape of Vogelsberg Hill Country – Photo Credit: vogelsbergtourist.de

In the long summer evenings after supper we three would sit in the living room leisurely sipping homemade apple cider. We would talk until it was time to go to bed. More accurately speaking it was Erna, who did most of the talking. She truly had the gift of the gab. With the unerring memory for minutest details spiced up with colorful expressions and peppered with the melodious dialect of her village she was the born storyteller. I will never forget how she described the chaotic scene of the German Reichstag of the roaring twenties. She and her friends were sitting in the same living room forty years earlier and acted out the ugly political debates they had heard over the radio. And they did this with such exuberance, with so much mock yelling and screaming that the poor cats terrified by the brouhaha created by the inflammatory speeches sought refuge under the sofa and added to the parliamentary cacophony with much hissing and growling.

Incredible Rock Formations near the Top - Photo Credit: myheimat.de

Amazing Rock Formations near the Top – Photo Credit: myheimat.de

Chapter 18 of the P. and G. Klopp Story – Part I

7

On my Moped to Father in Michelbach

 

It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.

Anne Sexton

 

50

My Father in front of Erna’s House in Michelbach near Schotten

It had been more than five years, since I had seen Father. He had left one day looking for work at friends and relatives. Considering his poor health and age, he was faced with the dilemma of having to return to Wesel, where he would be dependent on Aunt Mieze’s financial support or else be content with the odd casual work, which barely supported his livelihood. Furthermore considering his intensive pride as a former successful agricultural administrator and the pain he must have suffered from the dismal failure of his farming venture in Southern Germany, I can understand his anguish and feelings of having become utterly worthless in his own eyes and in the eyes of his family. Pride and failure have never been good bedfellows in a man’s heart, and Father was no exception. As for me, I missed his presence a lot, but I was too timid to ask as to when he would come back and did not know what was going on behind the scenes. Much later I found out that with Uncle Günther’s support Mother had initiated divorce proceedings. On the basis of the law that required common residence and conjugal relations Mother was able to get a divorce in exchange for waiving any rights to financial support from Father. So to make this sad and depressing story short, Father after the divorce joined and not long afterwards married Erna Krämer, an old acquaintance from the Warthegau days, who lived in her rustic and cozy home in the village of Michelbach at the foot of Mount Vogelsberg north of Frankfurt.

Schotten_Uebersicht_Kirche

Picturesque Schotten – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

The last summer holidays before graduation were only a few weeks away. It was also to be the last year Mother and Aunt Mieze would reside in Wesel. Uncle Günther and Aunt Lucie had invited them to live with them in Watzenborn-Steinberg (now Pohlheim), where all four would share the rent of a brand-new house that had been built by a teacher as a retirement home in the distant future. Naturally there was a lot of joyful excitement among the three Kegler siblings having been raised together at the parsonage in Grünewald and now having the chance of living once more under one roof. There was just one problem. How would I fit into the grand plan of bringing the family members together? A transfer to a high school in another province with different graduation requirements was out of the question. The solution was an obvious one. I had to stay behind and continue my studies later on in the fall, while they would move to the land of the Hessians. The decision to finish my secondary education in Wesel proved to become one of the great milestones and turning points of my life.

34

Twenty-year Old Peter

But for now at the beginning of the six-week break from school I had other things on my mind. I had to think of visiting Father. One of my old scout buddies sold me his moped for DM 50.00, a true bargain at the equivalent of ten monthly allowances. It had a peppy engine and in spite of being quite old was in excellent shape. The best part was that I did not need a driver’s license. Having always envied Klaus for his scooter, I now had my very own motorized transportation with which I could travel to Michelbach to see Father and his new wife Erna.

60

Philosophical Discussions with my Father

At a maximum speed of 50 km/h it took me all day to reach the scenic hill country around Mount Vogelsberg. Father and Erna gave me a warm welcome alleviating immediately all fear that Father might have turned into a stranger. I had departed from Wesel with these somber feelings, which had been building up due in part to our long separation, but also due to Mother’s bitter and regretful remarks that she had sometimes made about the divorce. So it was a great relief to be greeted so cordially and be welcomed as son and friend into their cozy old farmhouse. Here then I was going to spend the next six weeks, would become reacquainted with a rural environment slightly reminiscent of Rohrdorf, would get to know Father more closely through our philosophical and historical discussions, would begin to like his wife, would be introduced to her friends and relatives in the village, would taste her hearty meals albeit a little too rich in fat, in short I was here to relax and feel completely at home in an atmosphere of genuine friendliness and camaraderie.

Chapter IX of the P. and G. Klopp Story – Part II

0

Progress at School with Father’s Help

Our school and its yard was surrounded by a brick wall about two meters high and looked more like a prison than a place of learning. The huge iron gate would open fifteen minutes before school started. At eight o’clock sharp the janitor locked the gate and any late student would have to ring the bell at the main entrance, over which was chiseled in stone ‘NON SCHOLAE SED VITAE’ (NOT FOR SCHOOL BUT FOR LIFE). The janitor would then take the delinquent scholar to the vice-principal’s office, where he had to explain the reason for his tardiness. After a severe dressing down and reprimand, he would receive a slip of paper signed and stamped which allowed him to enter his classroom.

15flip

Berlin Gate at Wesel 1956

My second year at the Wesel High School turned out for me to be a very happy one. Having been placed back to the first high school grade the year before helped me overcome my deficiencies in Latin and made me feel superior in all other subjects, especially in Math. I quickly made friends with three other students. Being one year older and quite a bit taller, I took on the delightful role during recess and lunch breaks of the big, bad wolf and chased my friends, the three little piglets, all over the schoolyard. In the German comic books published under the worldwide license by the Walt Disney Company the wolf’s name was Ede. From this time on my nickname had been Ede for all those who belonged to the inner circle of my friends.

Berlin Gate at Wesel 2012 - Phot Credit: wikipedia.org

Berlin Gate at Wesel 2012 – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Great was my joy, when Father arrived. After two years of living only with Mother and Aunt Mieze this was a welcome change for me. What I didn’t know at the time was that my parents were drifting apart due to circumstances beyond their control. Mother having no employable skills had allowed herself to be bound completely to Aunt Mieze’s generous arrangement by taking over housekeeping duties in exchange for room and board, all expenses for herself and me. Father suffering from periodic back pains and other health issues could no longer find meaningful employment. His former administrative talents in agriculture were not in demand, especially not in the city of Wesel. Mother expected him to take up any employment. Even sweeping the streets or working for the sanitation department would have been all right in her eyes, she once confided to me. So as time went on, Father was facing a dilemma, either to continue to depend on Aunt Mieze’s charitable hospitality or to seek work completely out of line with his agricultural expertise.

But while he stayed with us, half a year or more, he did his best to create a sense of togetherness between himself and me, a kind of late bonding between father and son. He took great interest in my studies at the high school. He had heard of my difficulties in Latin and devised a motivational scheme to help me with grammar and vocabulary, which he himself had never learned. He also noticed that if I did get into trouble at school or at home it was primarily due to the fact that I, often wrapped up in my dream world, lost track of time. His plan, which I immediately embraced with great enthusiasm, was that I should earn my very first watch by studying Latin with him. For every exercise from my text-book, for every successfully completed vocabulary drill, for each translation into Latin he awarded me one point and recorded it meticulously with date and type of work into a little writing booklet. Once I had obtained the grand total of 500 points, he would give me the promised brand-new watch. When he left, I was not only the proud owner of a watch, but also more importantly my marks in Latin had soared to the second highest level one could get on the report cards. Moreover, I had accumulated so much knowledge that I was coasting along for four more high school years before slipping back to the more common satisfactory standing. It was also during Father’s short stay that he taught me how to play chess. His legacy was not only that I had developed a lasting passion for the ancient language of the Romans and the royal game of chess, but also that I harbor only the fondest memories of and feelings for my father. Little did I know that I was not going to see him again for six long years.

A Walk Through Wolmirstedt, Where Ernst Klopp Was Born (Written in German)

0

Bericht über Wolmirstedt und die Klopp’s

von Dieter Barge – Chart II a – IV

Also Chart I – I & II

Als ich in Peter’s Bericht über die Klopp’s das Bild der Seilerei Friedrich Klopp in Wolmirstedt gesehen habe, interessierte mich sehr, wo das wohl war.
Edda und ich lebten doch selbst von 1980 bis 1990 dort.
Ich hatte ein Buch von Otto Zeitke und habe mir noch 2 weitere Bücher antiquarisch besorgt, diese hat Otto Zeitke gemeinsam mit Erhard Jahn geschrieben. Die Beiden haben sich als Heimatforscher sehr verdient gemacht, Otto Zeitke ist 1924 geboren und versteht es gut, die Berichte der älteren Leute interessant wiederzugeben. Erhard Jahn ist um einiges jünger und hat in Wolmirstedt ein Ingenieurbüro für Architektur.

Im ersten Buch “Das alte Wolmirstedt” fand ich dann vermeintlich die Seilerei Klopp !
Um sicherzugehen, habe ich bei Erhard Jahn angerufen, habe ihn nach Klopp’s gefragt und da kam sofort die Frage zur Seilerei Klopp zurück. Ich habe ihm einiges erzählt und ihn gebeten, mal das Bild in einer Mail zu betrachten und meine Vermutung zu bestätigen.
Das hat er auch getan und mir bestätigt, daß das Gebäude links neben der Druckerei Grenzau die alte Seilerei Klopp ist. Beide Gebäude befinden sich in der Friedensstraße, das ist der neue Name für den nördlichen Teil der ehemaligen Magdeburger Straße Er kannte auch das Bild von der Seilerei schon. Daneben ein aktuelles Bild von Herrn Jahn mit dem ehemaligen Seilereigebäude in der Mitte.

Ich stelle hier ein Google-Earth-Bild mit der Friedensstraße ein:

7 Bild Google-Earth

Herr Jahn hat mir auch erlaubt, Bilder aus den Büchern im Blog zu benutzen und erzählte, dass Anfang der 90-er Jahre ein etwa 60-jähriger Klopp bei ihm in Wolmirstedt war, nach Durchsicht seiner Aufzeichnungen fand er heraus, dass dies Eberhard Klopp war, also der Klopp, der das Buch:

“Ein Brief an die Nachfahren der Familie Klopp aus Altendorf/Brome und Wolmirstedt”
Teil 1   400 Lebensläufe zwischen 1590 und 1990
1997 Verlag Trier

geschrieben hat. Herr Jahn stand mit Eberhard Klopp an der Hindenburg- bzw. Magdeburger Brücke und dieser hat mit der Hand auf die Stelle gezeigt, wo von 1900-1912 die “Seilerbahn” der Klopp’s war. Inzwischen weiß ich, daß Eberhard der Großcousin von Peter Klopp ist.

Aus den 3 Büchern habe ich einen kleinen Abriß zur Geschichte von Wolmirstedt gemacht:

——————————————————————————————–
Das kleine Städtchen Wolmirstedt, 14 km nördlich von Magdeburg gelegen, wurde erstmals 1009 urkundlich erwähnt.
Wahrscheinlich während der Völkerwanderung bildete sich eine geschlossene Siedlung, die “Walmerstidi” genannt wurde, diese befand sich am Zusammenfluss von Ohre und Elbe und bildete unter “Karl dem Großen” einen östlichen Grenzort des großen Frankenreiches.
Am Ende des 13.Jahrhunderts änderte die Elbe ihren Lauf in Richtung Osten, heute mündet die Ohre bei Rogätz in die Elbe.
Im 30-jährigen Krieg wurde Wolmirstedt 1642 völlig zerstört, 1642 fand eine öffentliche Hexenverbrennung statt!
Einen Aufschwung gab es für den Ort nach der Besetzung 1807 durch die Truppen von Napoleon. Die Leibeigenschaft wurde abgeschafft, es gab mehr Freiheiten für Handel und Gewerbe und weniger Privilegien für den Adel!
1890 hatte Wolmirstedt 3868 Einwohner, nicht mitgezählt wurden die 50 Beschäftigten auf dem Junkerhof.
Die Magdeburger Straße, dort wo sich die Seilerei Friedrich Klopp befand, wurde 1365 noch als “Steinweg” benannt, sie war eine wichtige Durchgangsstraße von Magdeburg nach Norden. Die Passage über die Magdeburger Brücke der Ohre muss “sehr riskant” gewesen sein. Ein Fuhrwerk benötigte damals einen ganzen Tag, um nach Magdeburg und zurückzukommen.
1667 wurde die Torakzise (Wegezoll) eingeführt, das “Magdeburger Tor” wurde errichtet, 1812 wurde die Torakzise abgeschafft.
In der Straße siedelten sich Kaufleute, Handwerker, Fabrikanten, Handwerksmeister, ein Apotheker, ein Schmied und ein Kantor an. Die Straße war “420 Schritte” lang und endete am alten Rathaus, einem Renaissance-Bau.
1925 lebten 170 Familien in der Straße.
Die “Magdeburger Brücke” hieß zeitweise “Hindenburgbrücke”.
Markante Gebäude waren das Polizeiamt, die Buchdruckerei Grenzau, die den “Allgemeinen Anzeiger” herausgab (daneben die Seilerei Klopp), “Schau’s Hotel”, die Gaststätte “Schwarzer Adler” (1971 abgerissen), die Alte Schmiede, das Fachwerkhaus des Schlossermeisters Jänicke, die “Wildemanns Gaststätte und Pension”.
Einer von Wolmirstedt’s Originalen war der Wirt des “Schwarzen Adler’s, Kurt Güssefeld.
————————————————————————————————
Der heute über 90 Jahre alte Otto Zeitke ist ein toller Erzähler vom alten Wolmirstedt und seinen Bewohnern, da gibt es viele interessante Dinge zu lesen:

-Er berichtet, dass der Wirt einmal plötzlich sagte “Das kann’s doch nicht geben, wie der Schinder die Braunen hetzt”, dann lief er zum Fenster, sah auf die Straße, , schüttelte den Kopf und brummte unverständliche Flüche gegen den
Kutscher”.
-Auf dem Hof des Rathauses gab es den Karzer, das Gefängnis. Die Frau vom Polizisten Meier betreute und versorgte die Knastbrüder, der Volksmund sagte zu den Insassen, sie sind im “Cafe Meier”.

Ich habe mit Otto Zeitke lange nett telefoniert, er wirkt noch sehr jugendlich und berichtete mir, dass er die Kanuten in Wolmirstedt organisierte, er ist auch der Meinung, dass die Seilerbahn der Klopp’s am Ufer der Ohre gelegen haben muss.

Am 11.3.2015 war ich mit Edda in Wolmirstedt, wir haben die Friedensstraße von der Ohrebrücke bis zum alten Rathaus abgewandert und Fotos gemacht.

Ich stelle nun einige der Bilder neben den alten Aufnahmen aus den genannten Büchern ein. Den Anfang macht das Bild von Eberhard Klopp, das mir Herr Jahn freundlicherweise auch geschickt hat. Ich habe rot eingezeichnet, wo sich vermutlich die Seilbahn Klopp befand.

Vom ehemaligen Magdeburger Tor ging es dann aufwärts nach Wolmirstedt hinein.

Der nächste Abschnitt beginnt mit der Ecke “Schwarzen Adler”, führt am Haus der Seilerei Klopp und dem Polizeigebäude vorbei bis zum ehemaligen “Schau’s Hotel”.

Nun geht es im nördlichen Teil der Straße bis zum alten Rathaus.

Zum Schluß noch 4 sehr schöne alte Fotos aus dem alten Wolmirstedt.

The P. and G. Klopp Story

0

Conclusion of Chapter 6

Chart I – III

My very first memory goes back to the tumultuous time, when Mother, my brother Gerhard (Gerry) and I were on a train crammed with refugees. I do not remember any specific details, such as the name of the railroad station, where we must have stopped, the town, the time of the day, etc. What I do remember is that I was standing at the edge of the platform with hundreds of people frantically milling about. I do not know why I was standing there in a strange, noisy station surrounded by strange, noisy people. Then quite unexpectedly the train began to move ever so slowly at first. Panic stricken I looked around and searched in vain for Mother. In agony I cried out for her. While the train on its way out of the station was gradually picking up speed, the fear of being left behind, the feeling of complete, utter abandonment struck me like a ton of bricks. Suddenly I felt being lifted up from behind and passed through the open compartment window into my mother’s arms. This traumatic event left such a vivid impression on me that even though it was devoid of concrete details the inner experience was so real that I have not forgotten it to this very day.

Expulsion from the Eastern Provinces - Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org

Expulsion from the Eastern Provinces – Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org

We arrived in Schleswig-Holstein at one of the many refugee camps set up for the thousands of displaced people from the eastern provinces. But it was only a temporary stay. The authorities urged the newcomers, after they had recovered a little from the ordeals of their long journey, to move on to areas in Southern Germany, which had been less affected by destruction and would more readily have accommodation available for us. So Mother, Gerhard and I traveled into the French occupied zone to Freiburg, where my father’s sister, Aunt Meta, lived with her husband Professor Vincent Mülbert. On a stopover in Offenbach, Baden-Würthenberg, Mother made arrangements for me to be baptized. I often pondered later in my adult life on the reasons why it had taken more than four years to receive my baptism, one of the essential sacraments in a Christian’s life. I see an important lesson for all of us, who have grown up in the rapidly changing era of modern Western civilization with its great emphasis on materialism. The root of evil is not money itself, but, as the Bible states so clearly, it is the love of money. It is the desire to find happiness in the acquisition of material things. Looking back at Gutfelde with this critical perspective in mind, I cannot help, but observe a drifting from the true faith, in which Mother had been nurtured in her father’s home, away to a faith-like trust in the security offered by material possessions. We lived in a mansion that did not belong to us. Father was a good administrator of the lands and fields of dispossessed Polish farmers. Yes, he was kind and helpful to all the people working under his authority. But it does not detract from the rightful charge that the farmland was worked in a system that heavily relied on a master-servant relationship in order to make it work. With the collapse of the Third Reich that was supposed to last a thousand years and the loss of our beloved Gutfelde came the sober realization that their little ‘paradise’ in the east had been nothing but a pipe-dream, a house not built on rock, but on the shifting sands of man’s earthly aspirations.

Freiburg City Center 1944 - Photo Credit: City Archive

Freiburg City Center 1944 – Photo Credit: City Archive

We received a warm reception at my aunt’s place in Freiburg, a city with a population of over 100,000 inhabitants before the war. By the end of the Second World War 80% of the city lay in ruins. An air raid as late as November 27th, 1944 made 9,000 out of 30,000 apartments uninhabitable, killed 2,000 people and all that was left of the city center was the cathedral. The Münster of Freiburg was built across a span of several centuries and exhibited a range of architecture from late Romanesque to Late Gothic and even a tad of Rococo. Its single tower with a lacy spire was the first of its kind. The building remained mostly unchanged since its completion in 1513. Miraculously, unlike so many great cathedrals and churches in Germany, it was not entirely destroyed during the severe Allied bombing of Freiburg and its ensuing firestorm, although the whole area around it was reduced to rubble. The city fathers had expected an aerial attack, even though strictly speaking Freiburg was a non-industrial town and practically useless as a military target. So they put their heads together to find a way to save the cathedral from destruction. My aunt told me, when I came to visit her later as a ten year old, that they had fir trees attached to the pinnacles and other high points of the cathedral so that like Christmas trees they would with their bright green colors of hope alert the pilots to the city’s urgent plea to spare the 500 year old precious piece of architecture. I could not verify the story, but I too found it amazing that everything else in a large diameter around the building was completely flattened by the Allied aerial attack, but the church itself had remained virtually unscathed.

Coal-mining Spoil Tips along the Kalmius River

Coal-mining Spoil Tips along the Kalmius River – Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org

In the meantime Father had a major accident, while he was working in the coalmines in the Donbas 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, we were together and could attempt a new beginning.

St. Peter and Paul Church Rohrdorf - Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org

St. Peter and Paul Church Rohrdorf – Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org

There were indeed very few refugee families who were fortunate enough not to have lost any family members during the horrible expulsion from their eastern home provinces. Volumes have been written on the topic of the greatest mass migration in modern Western history. I will relate only the bare facts as they pertain to my own family. Father belonged to that segment of civilian population that was deported in large numbers to the Soviet Union to do as it was called ‘reparations labor’. The German Red Cross estimated that 233,000 German civilians were deported to the USSR, where 45% were reported either missing or dead. As to Mother’s expulsion from the eastern provinces, the numbers are truly mind-boggling. The movement of Germans involved a total of at least 12 million people. Official sources, like the German Federal Archives, estimate that at least three million people perished in their flight from the Red Army, in labor camps, through starvation and disease, through murder in retaliation and revenge for atrocities committed by the Nazis during the war years. I mention these gruesome statistics only to emphasize the great miracle of the survival of the Ernst Klopp family amid all the odds stacked against them.

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