Erich Senger was born in Zeyersvorderkampen, West Prussia on 10 Dec 1921 to Richard and Frieda Senger. He spent his youth growing up on the Senger farm along with his sister Luise.
Erich was a mischievous, precocious and inventive child. As a children he and his sister Luise walked from their home across the Schulweg to attended a small public school in the village of Zeyer. When they were out of school they both helped work the farm, as best they could. However as with most children their love was with their pets, a chicken and a little dog named Fifi.
Among his early childhood adventures, Erich built a small electric generator to power a radio and other small electric devices on the farm; the generator power was obtained by conscripting his little sister, Luise, to sit on a modified bicycle and peddle. Without a battery to store the generated electricity, things only worked while Luise peddled. It was a project that pleased Erich but frustrated Luise.
Perhaps Erich’s most audacious escapade involved Erich and his best friend Willi Foellmer building an airplane out of left-over construction lumber. They dragged the plane to the top of the barn, got it out onto the roof and were going to ‘fly’ it off the roof. Onkel Rudolph (Senger) who was in his room (upstairs in the house) saw them on the roof getting ready to fly. He went and got Papa (Richard Senger). The men rushed into the barn and up on its roof and stopped the boys before they launched the plane; saving both Erich and Willi from severe bodily injury.
By 1939, Erich had been enlisted into the Deutsche Luftwaffe. As a Luftwaffe enlisted man, he rode as a rear gunner on a Stuka fighter. Early on in the war he was stationed in the East, first in the Georgian Soviet Republic and later on the Eastern front itself, ultimately obtaining a severe and lifelong injury from freezing in Stalingrad.
After he recuperated from his frostbite injury, he was sent to fight on the Western front; again as a rear gunner on a Stuka. In 1944, his plane was shot down over France. He was captured by the British and as a Prisoner of War (PoW) he was transferred from France to England to serve in a PoW Camp. While in transit on a British PoW truck through Paris, he was machine gunned in the back by members of the Free French. The wounds he received in this incident were ultimately the major contributing factor to an aneurysm from which he died some 35 years later.
After being wounded, Erich was transferred to England for recuperation and incarceration. He spent the next 3+ years in a Prisoner of War camp in England, mostly working as a cook.
Finally in late 1947 or early 1948, Erich was allowed to return to Germany, joining with his parents and sister in Murnau, Bavaria. When Erich returned to Germany he needed a job. Luise (his sister), who was working as a secretary to the US Military Community Affairs officer went to her boss Frau Pichler and asked for her help. Frau Pichler located an American Army Captain (we believe his name was Captain Knight) who was married with three children and was looking for a nanny and household help. Based on Frau Pichler’s recommendation, Erich was given the job, where he rapidly became the Hausmeister and basically ran the household. He took care of the three children (who loved him dearly), did the gardening, and generally kept the household running smoothly. He did his job so well, and the children were so attached to him, that when Captain Knight was given orders to go back stateside he tried to convince Erich to go with them.
After the American family went home, Erich again, needed a job, Luise and Frau Pichler were able to help Erich find a job working in the US Army motor pool as a mechanic.
In 1949, he married Jutta Goldbrunner and adopted her 7 year old son Robert. Due to his frostbite injuries, Erich was never able to father children of his own.
In 1956, Erich rejoined a reconstituted Deutsche Luftwaffe as an air traffic controller. Most of his post World War 2 service took place in Penzing Air Field near Landsberg in Bavaria. He was finally forced to leave his beloved Air Force in 1974 due to age. By that time Erich had attained the highest rank available to an enlisted man in the Luftwaffe.
Sadly on the 26th of June 1981, Erich Senger died of an aneurysm; one caused by the wounds he had received those many years before in France.
this account is a composite of stories related by:
Luise Rabideau, Fred Rabideau and Erich Senger to:
Mark Rabideau and Linda Ziegler