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My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Discussions on the German POWs, both during the war and post war, and the occupation and denazification of Germany and Austria 1944-1957.

Re: My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Postby kathy on 03 Jan 2013 15:39

It's said that only in Germany are dentists required to take a course in tooth extraction by rectal means. That's how tight lipped they are. Mother was no different. Born in 1926, Hitler was all she knew. She and her sister were BDM. Opa saw to that they kept their meetings. He did not want the SS at his door. She was of the age group that was the most difficult to de-nazify. Sixty years after the war, she still wore dirndl's, surrounded herself with german speaking friends, german military portraits, german music, german food, german newspapers . . . . .and she adamantly refused to believe that there was ever an attempt to exterminate jews. She came from the Gurs deportation district. This allowed her to say that the jews were simply relocated. Or, "it was war . . . . people die."

Among the pictures that hung on our walls were opa's reichwehr portrait and her brother's WWII portrait. Herbert was lost at Danzig and opa never gave up the hope that he would someday be returned from Siberia. NO military pictures hung in oma & opa's house.

In '58 or '59 my sister stayed with our grandparents for a week. One day she saw that oma had come out of the pantry where she had lit candles. Oma says something to opa. He calls her Sara and slaps her. The candles get blown out. My sister found hebrew books hidden in opa's library. She stole four of them and after figuring what the language and subject matter was, she began to question mother about them. She got slapped. We learned young the consequences of asking too many questions, but she was persistent. Years later mother finally said to her that oma was "one of them" and opa had purchased a baptismal record for oma. We figured that somehow his job as a customs official had allowed him to accomplish her safety.

After mother died we were sent a box of pictures. She left a million dollar estate, but we were not supposed to get any of it. Her executor must had had a heart because she sent the box to one of the grandchildren. My sister and I have been trying to figure it out ever since. It appears as though oma had lit the candles for opa. I told my sister "You can't have been the first to find the books/" Mother did to you what opa had done to her. He could not let his own children know that he was 1/4. His mother and father and brothers and sisters and their spouses all depended on it. The baptismal record he bought was for his mother.
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Re: My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Postby Annelie on 03 Jan 2013 15:56

Thankyou for sharing Kathy.

Gives me more to reflect on.
Tough times and sometimes people have to make
horrible decisions.
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Re: My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Postby kathy on 03 Jan 2013 16:50

Thank you.

Oma & opa left Passau for the Rheinfalz in '32 or early '33, and were then very close to his family (where I spent summers) but I think he kept his kids away from there until after the war. Mother did not seem to know her cousins at all. As I said earlier in this thread, She never stayed or socialized when she dropped me off and picked me up. In '68 we went back for the summer. Again, she dropped me off and picked me up.

While father had been in Korea, late in '53, an aunt and uncle came into our lives. We'd lived closer to them before '53, but the box of pictures shows me that this meeting followed a family reunion in germany. They visited us in NH. We visited them in NY. That Christmas, we met aunt Jula's brother and family. My sister remembers mother & Jula arguing in german about der Meyer a lot over the next couple of years. We would not see der Meyer again.

In '69, my mother goes back to germany for 6 months. It appears from the pictures that there was some sort of reconciliation. In one picture, mother stands arm in arm with a man I think to be der Meyer in front of the village home. We now know that while she was an aufseherin at a german POW camp, he had become a U.S. citizen Sept. 26, 1939 and was shot down '44 over Vienna and became a jewish american pow.

Jula and opa are pictured under the topic "Mein Opa."
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Re: My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Postby kathy on 04 Jan 2013 02:50

Christmas in NY '53.jpg


Aufseherin on the left, pow on the right.
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Re: My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Postby Larry D. on 07 Jan 2013 01:56

Kathy - I was in Mannheim-Feudenheim in 1958-59 and your stories all ring true, except for the 1960 parade with the Eisenhower and U-2 floats. Are you sure that wasn't a Fasching parade during Lent (in February-March)? Fasching parades make a parody of everything serious and the people dress up as caricatures of important people and ridicule them. So ridiculing Eisenhower, the German Kanzler, etc., would be O.K. and the thing to do during Fasching. You were only about 12 or 13 in 1960 so you probably did not know about the traditions and customs of Fasching.

L.
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Re: My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Postby kathy on 07 Jan 2013 02:19

I remember Fasching very well because it was so much fun--like our Halloween;

It was my sister's story I copied. She was almost 14 and very political and she said that it followed the U-2 shot down over Russia, which I just wikied, and that was May 1.

This is why I had so much trouble trying to figure out which forum this story belonged. Failed de-nazification, post-war resentments, aufseherin, or allied . . . . . speaking for myself, I did not like seeing the U.S. army caravans traveling the roads. I felt that 15 years of U.S. military presence was enough and any more would not be de-nazification, but americanization. I can see this type of float in a May Day parade being an expression of that sentiment.

kathy

p.s. Fasching celebration begins 11/11 at 11:11a.m. and ends at the stroke of midnight on Shroud Tuesday.
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Re: My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Postby Larry D. on 07 Jan 2013 18:04

O.K., Kathy, I can accept May Day. Yes, the anti-American, pro-East element did come out of the woodwork to parade their dislike (hatred by a small percentage) on May Day. The degree to which this manifested itself depended on the area of the BRD concerned, with the eastern area along the Iron Curtain more so than the western part of West Germany.

For those who were opposed to American, British and French troops being stationed in Germany, it should be remembered that they were there at the request of the Adenauer government and of NATO. It is universally accepted today that if the Western troops had not been there and West Germany had been absorbed into East Germany with the USSR in control, the German people would not have the prosperity they enjoy today.

L.
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Re: My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Postby kathy on 07 Jan 2013 18:55

The parade was in Pirmasens along the western border.

The sentiments were mine, coming from the village perspective. I identified with the elders and I was adverse to change. What I learned may have been skewed as I was learning the language and the customs and culture all at once. I learned that it was not a good idea to bring the toilets inside because then we might forget that we were responsible for the shit we created. And, every household should have three generations under the roof, lest we forget how to get along.

Regards,

kathy
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Re: My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Postby kathy on 07 Jan 2013 20:34

After shoveling a few tons of snow, I've had time to reflect . . . . .
The previous explanation was too simple. Some of the elders in the small towns were resentful of G.I.'s who took war brides. Maybe they lost a daughter. By 1958-60, they were concerned with the prosperity that their young citizens sought in the cities and wondered if prosperity was all that good. Who would be left to care for them? Who would tend the family graves? It was practice to turn over the plots if the next generation did not pay the fee.

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Re: My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Postby Larry D. on 08 Jan 2013 00:09

I know Pirmasens, Kathy, but I can only envision the 1960 parade as your older sister portrayed it in regard to what the floats might have looked like, what the signs and banners might have said and what the demeanor of the participants and crowd might have been. There certainly was a lot of U.S. military in that Pirmasens-Landstuhl-Ramstein-Kaiserslautern area at that time, so the sentiment of the locals may have been a little more bitter toward the "occupiers" than average. Also, the German people, especially those not living in the big cosmopolitan cities, had a long history of antipathy toward Ausländers. You would find that same attitude just about anywhere, even today and even in the United States. Your sister's Pirmasens adventure reminds me of a similar incident I experienced in June 1959 while at Châteauroux AFB in C France for a couple of days. The town virtually belonged to the French Communist Party at that time and there were frequent anti-American and anti-NATO demonstrations and parades. Some of these got quite violent and the town was off-limits to base personnel and their families more often than not. It's quite possible that leftist organizations were influential in Pirmasens, too. Your post-shoveling hypothesis is quite possible, too.

L. :)
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Re: My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Postby kathy on 08 Jan 2013 03:57

That is very interesting. I snuck off post a lot. I was just too young to understand politics. It was good that I had learned to speak the language.

My pre-shoveling thoughts were also sincere. I imagine the change in the village to allow for indoor plumbing was not altogether unopposed. I look at my utility bill, the infrastructure tax, the utility tax, the water softener, the bowl cleaner, the grout cleaner, and soap scum remover, and I wonder. . . . . In '68, when I went back, the deed had been done. Not only that, but Onkel Heiner had founded a urinal company in Mannheim. Consequently this old house now had a BIDET as well. They took a lot of crap for that. :)

And as far as having three generations under each roof, forget that . . . . if the kids did stay in town, they converted the barn to an apartment, commuted to work in the city, and they were on The Pill until they could pay off the Mercedes.

I felt the concern for the disintegration of the family, the loss of the community--each little one had it's own history & customs. Who would still be alive by the time the grandkids came? Who would teach tell them where they came from?

On Sundays, we went to the graveyard and cared for the plots. They were raised beds decorated with live plantings in beautiful designs. Who does that now? Are they covered with artificial turf? I wonder.

kathy
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Re: My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Postby Stephan on 15 Jan 2013 10:56

kathy wrote: I have tiny little fragments of information that may or may not be relevant. She had boots and belt that I'd always thought were part of her uniform, but they were brown. Should they have been black? I don't know. She was shoot the balls off a mouse at 500 yards. Is that relevant? I don't know.


She was a top notch shooter?? Do I read this right? That marksman accuracy is unusual, even among good sport shooters. Especially as the standard "long distance" for sport shooters is 300 meters, I think.
So unless she tells stories of how it was a merry time in her competive sport shooting club and getting a lots of medals, she must have got a massive military or paramilitary (BDM??) shooting training. Probably to be some sort of sharp-shooter or even snaiper. Clearly a lot more training than just some Wolkssturm instruction.
If so, If she saw some real battle service we cant know, but it may be a reason why she dont tell, just spared her paramilitary clothes.

It is double interesting, as german women werent supposed to do active front duty with weapons in hand. They could participate in dangers, but they werent supposed to do the killing.
It went so far, the women AA cannon crews, should have a man who did the actual firing off "drawing the string".

The exception as I know and is known, in the last days there were some wolkssturm weapon training also for women.
(these wellknown pics where ladies gets Panzerfaust demo)
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Re: My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Postby kathy on 15 Jan 2013 18:10

Hi Stephan,

Yes, mother was a good marksman but I doubt she received massive amounts of training. I've found no indication that aufseherin were ever given any kind of training in the use of arms. She probably practiced for sport with her HJ brother. Women are naturally better able to regulate heartbeat and breathing during the shoot.

I do think at the very end of the war women were unofficially allowed to take a more active role and I would not be surprised if she spent some time in the guard tower of the pow camp.

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Re: My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Postby Mika68* on 16 Jan 2013 00:39

Larry D. wrote:O.K., Kathy, I can accept May Day. Yes, the anti-American, pro-East element did come out of the woodwork to parade their dislike (hatred by a small percentage) on May Day. The degree to which this manifested itself depended on the area of the BRD concerned, with the eastern area along the Iron Curtain more so than the western part of West Germany.

For those who were opposed to American, British and French troops being stationed in Germany, it should be remembered that they were there at the request of the Adenauer government and of NATO. It is universally accepted today that if the Western troops had not been there and West Germany had been absorbed into East Germany with the USSR in control, the German people would not have the prosperity they enjoy today.

L.


Finland lost. But Finland was the only country in the whole world which paid whole it's war debt (Finland paid to Soviet Union).
Finland didn't get the Marshall aid.
After that Finland has rose to one of the richiest countries in world per capita. Nowadays Finland is AAA-land (Standard&Poors).

Many Russians who visits in Finland nowadays are bitter that why Finnish live better than they which are the winners of the war.
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Re: My mothers experience in occupied Germany

Postby Larry D. on 16 Jan 2013 01:57

Yes, Mika68, we all envy beautiful Finland and its beautiful people. Even the Danes, Norwegians and Swedes wish they were Finns. Finland is the Number One country in the world.
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