The Otto und Ella Wedhorn history is unusually sad one. It is also one of resilience. Otto and Ella were Luise Senger’s Aunt and Uncle (Ella was sister to Frieda Recht). Our families had basically been lost to each other until 2011 when Norbert Grohmann contacted me here on ManyRoads.
- Otto Wedhorn was born on October 17, 1878, location under investigation.
- Ella Recht was born in Pietzkendorf, West Prussia on born: 21 Dec. 1896 – baptized: 21 Feb. 1897
The Wedhorn’s and their family, like the Senger’s, were severely impacted by World War 2; many did not survive. Here is what we know:
- Otto Wedhorn Senior was fortunate and survived the conflagration. Otto and the surviving members of the Wedhorn Family, with the exception of Frieda, lived in the German Democratic Republic (DDR- Deutsche Demokratische Republik; the Soviet Zone of Germany). In 1963, Otto Wedhorn (Sr.) died in a hospital near Fichtenwalde, a few days after having a stroke (Gehirnschlag). He was 84 years old. His daughter Kaethe was with him up to his end; but his daughter Frieda, could not visit him any more after the Berlin Wall was built in 1961.
- Ella Recht was raped by invading Soviet troops in her home in Orlofferfelde. In that same time period, Ella Recht’s deportation to the Russian Gulags was not undertaken because she had contracted typhus. The Russians let her go due to the risk of spreading infection. Ella died in a hospital in Elbing on May 18, 1945. It was her silver wedding day.
- Like so many German women, Frieda geb. Wedhorn was deported into a forced (slave) labor camp (Gulag) in the USSR in 1945. Frieda managed to survive the ordeal and in 1947 was finally released to a reception camp in Frankfurt/Oder.
- Willi was killed in battle on the last day of World War 2, in Italy.
Otto Wedhorn and Ella Recht were married in Ladekopp, West Prussia. The date of their marriage was May 18, 1920. Their marriage was unhappy and produced four known, named children:
- Willi Wedhorn (son)- killed in action in Italy.
- Otto (According to Frieda geboren Wedhorn: In 1945, Otto Wedhorn, Jr. was together with his mother Ella in an assembly camp where the Germans to be deported were rounded up; but due to [a] typhus breakout in that camp, the Russians didn’t want Otto even though he was not infected and so they told them to go away. Otto Wedhorn (Jr.) when relating his Vertreibung ordeals to Frieda mentioned that the Soviets acted as if they were almost afraid of him, a 15 year old boy. In truth it was probably because he came from the typhus infected assembly point where Ella Recht died. Later after the Soviets discontinued their initial deportation program of German civilians, they even gave him bread to eat and treated him almost nicely. But Otto Jr. had to be very careful with the Poles who were rather aggressive when they discovered he was German. Otto Wedhorn (Jr.) remained in Elbing until he had buried his mother Ella, and then he went home to find his father and sister.)
Research is underway in the ev. Kirche Ladekopp to determine what, if anything, can be found. This history is based upon a verbal history from Luise Senger Rabideau as told to Mark Rabideau. As noted above, on 6 October I was contacted by Norbert Grohmann, Frieda Wedhorn’s son. He, his sister Monika and I have been actively sharing stories with an eye towards more accurately describing what happened to the family during and after WW2. Below are the photos I have of the family from Norbert & Monika Grohmann.