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Oscar's story

The flight from vengeance

I spent my childhood in Stargard, in pre-war Germany's eastern district Pommerania, southern of the Baltic Sea, now belonging to Poland.

The war against Poland began in 1939 and we saw each week the newest war movies - courageous laughing German soldiers, "Stukas" - nose-dive bombers, burning houses, unshaven, wild looking old Russian man, and weeping kids --- and I remember my grandpa murmured a warning: "If the situation will change, (it will become terrible, and we will discover what we have done)... !!!" But we did not listen.

 

Winter 1944, December, age 13. My mother took my hand and we drove to Stettin, the province's capital, for Christmas shopping. At that time many houses existed only as rubble, the ruins open to heaven. The air raids by the bombers of the western allies had done their work. Within a warehouse stood many hundreds pairs of white painted skis! These were from the "Wehrmacht" (German forces), which now, when beaten by the Russian Red Army and on the retreat, were no longer needed. And my mother purchased for me a pair. What a happy boy I was.

 

Back to Stargard as soon as possible I went skiing ... Many German people were arriving in our town, farmers with cars and horses, some of them with a cow or two, all from Eastern Prussia and Poland. In my third grade junior high school class were also arriving more pupils. first we were 25 pupils , then 45, then 50. We didn't like them. Angrily we asked: "Why did you leave your home?" In the late evening my grandpa "crept" to the hidden radio receiver, listening to the BBC and "Radio Moscow" to get information about the military situation. That was very dangerous. If anyone was betrayed by the neighbors and then caught he was sentenced to death and shot to death next day!

 

We had never had an air raid against the town. There were many air alerts, but nothing more. Precautionary, all people had packed sacks and bags and suitcases with clothes in case of emergency, in case the house would be hit by a bomb. Then suddenly in January 1945 many soldiers were in the town, cars, equipment, even the heavy sixty ton "Tiger" tanks. Most of the soldiers belonged to the "Waffen-SS". We couldn't understand them when they spoke: We called them "Letten", from the Baltic states, or Belgium etc.! Sometimes we could hear muffled sound of gunfire. "Never mind, far away - a hundred miles!" they said. A hundred miles? No, later we got information that there were Soviet T-34 tanks only five miles away!

Then the situation changed completely, and you can read about it here.

Oscar
January 2006

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