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Theresa's story

The Occupation

Life wasn't easy for Theresa. Things had changed a lot for the family since the Americans came to Noerdlingen. Everybody was afraid of them. You were not allowed to leave the house longer than one hour a day. They didn't have much money, because her husband, Fritz, was out of work.

Their eight children were allowed to play on the closed court. She knew that they were very reliable but you couldn't know everything that they saw and did... Like all the others her kids went to the Americans on the marketplace. The Americans were very friendly to the children and gave them coffee, cigarettes and chocolate. In the country Theresa exchanged the cigarettes for food. Nevertheless Theresa mistrusted the Americans.

Foraging for food in the country It was always difficult to get as much food as they needed; they had food tickets but Theresa had to try to get out to the villages in the country. For some time past they had been allowed to leave the house for up to two hours. But nevertheless Theresa had to go to headquarters for a pass if she wanted to leave the town.

There weren't any problems for Theresa to get passes, because she hadn't been in the party. But many other people's papers proved that they had been party members. Those were all sent to camps. In the two hours in which Theresa was allowed to leave the town she got no further than Grosselfingen, approx. 10 km away. There she had to barter as much as she could. She always got milk, some eggs or a bit of wheat. Such things, although they were few, were extremely important for the family.

The family had been allowed to keep more than 150 hares in the town. Every weekend they slaughtered two hares, so every family member had meat at least once a week. Meat was rare at that time. Only the oldest of her children and her husband Fritz got some meat regularly.

One day Theresa stood again at the window and saw her son coming towards the house. Suddenly one of the American lorries drove up to Richard and stopped. They began to talk, which wasn't really abnormal because Richard was able to speak a bit of English, but then Richard got on the lorry and drove away.

Theresa's heart nearly stopped. Hadn't she always said to her children they should be more careful with the Americans? She imagined terrible things and prayed to God that nothing would happen to her son. After some time Richard came home and told her that the American had been searching for a dry cleaner's and that he had shown him one.

The next morning somebody rang the door bell. Theresa opened the door and was astonished to see that the man at the door was the same one who had taken her son with the lorry. The American asked Theresa if she could iron his trousers. Theresa wasn't very keen on this, but she was friendly to him and ironed his trousers. When the American saw the eight children he was astonished, he couldn't believe that these were all Theresa's children. He would have liked to give her presents and wanted to pay for ironing his trousers. But Theresa didn't want to take anything and sent the American away.

Today Theresa, my great-grandmother, is 92 years old. Her husband Fritz, my great-grandfather, died many years ago. My grandfather is one of the six children who are still alive and Richard has lived many years in Australia.

Monika Beck
April 1997

Monika is a student of Kurt Wittmann at Realschule Maria Stern, Nördlingen, Germany.
You can click here to write to him.

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