It probably bears mention that my grandmother- Frieda Senger- was a woman of many verses. So given that my most recent visits with my mother have involved hearing a particular verse frequently; I thought I’d preserve it for posterity, especially since it is a verse I never heard while growing up. It’s a lively little item…
Hinaus in die Ferne
Mit Butterbrot und Speck.
Das mag ich ja so gerne,
Das nimmt mir keiner weg.
Und wer das tut,
Dem hau’ ich auf die Nase,
Dem hau’ ich auf die Schnut’,
Daß es [ihm] blut’.
It turns out to be a music composition with lyrics and so it has an associated tune (a rather lively early 1800′s tune). The verse & music was written by Albert Methfessel, 1813 (he lived between the years 1786-1869.) Here is the tune for Hinaus in die Ferne. A rough translation of the the verse into English follows:
Heading out for a journey
With buttered bread and bacon.
I like that so much,
None can take those from me.
And if someone tries,
I’ll smack them on the nose,
I’ll smack them on the snout,
Until they bleed.
I find it a curious set of lyrics. So, I looked it up and actually found numerous additional verses and versions. The composition is called the Turnermarsch (Turner March). The original score along with the most common variations may be found on the web: here it is. It seems that the work was created in reaction to Napoleon’s occupation of German lands. A fairly robust little history (in German) may be found on Wikipedia.de.
Ah, just another happy time… and another happy song!
I apologize for delay in getting our semi-irregular newletter out. Things have been a bit hectic and my network has been unreliable. Also for those who follow my writings in the various Groups within which I am a participant, you may have noticed I have been uploading a lot of information to ManyRoads. Unfortunately that becomes very problematic when the network doesn’t work well.
Once again, numerous, very thoughtful and generous folks have sent us materials to share on the web. We greatly appreciate the ‘donations’ and will make them available as we are able. If you have photos, maps, stories that you think fit with our audience and subject matter, we’d love to hear from you.
Anyway here are ManyRoads major updates for the last 30+ days:
Danzig Maps – Danziger Landkarten
Übersichtskarte von Mitteleuropa Danzig- 1902
Danziger und der Weichselkorridor
Gebiete Freie Staat Danzig
Germany until 1945
Northern Germany (Nord Deutschland)- 1910
Germany – Deutschland- 1937
German Empire- Deutsches Reich- 1937
East & West Prussia – Ost und West Preußen
Ostpreußen 30 April 1945
Ostpreussen Landkarte- unknown date
Preussen- unknown date
Preussen- 1751 (La Prusse)
Preussen Politische Uebersicht
Westpreussen- Mallek Gross
West und Ost Preussen- 1896
West & East Prussia- 1906
Ost und Westpreussen
Westpreussen und Danziger Bucht
World War 2 Maps
Allied Occupation Zones- 1945
Attack of the Red Army- Jan. to April 1945
Eastern Front- Jan.to May 1945
Generalne Gubernatorstwo- 1945
Aufteilung Deutschland- 1945
On one of the Yahoo groups in which I participate, I noticed that people seemed to be struggling a bit to understand when, where, and when Germans moved into Eastern Europe (including places like Pommerania, West Prussia, East Prussia). I have posted a VERY simple, map tutorial covering German and other Central European peoples migrations and/or locations before the World Wars.
I hope this post helps makes it a bit easier to understand and find what types of people may have lived near the areas you are researching.
The following West/East Prussia addressbooks (and now we have several from Pommern as well…) have newly been added to ManyRoads. Looks like it about time to rearrange things.
As always, I want to request any/all of you who have genealogical websites please consider reciprocal linking with ManyRoads. There is no cost and both your site and ManyRoads will benefit from the links. Simply place a link to http://many-roads.com on your site; send me an email letting me know you have made the link; and, I’ll place a link to your site.
As many of you are aware, I have been trying to decipher a Russian document that Soviets created as justification for sending my grandmother into a Gulag following WW2. To help me with my sleuthing, I have found and used the following tools:
What I did to help me in my search was to carefully look at the Cyrillic script and attempt to define each letter using the script as presented on the site at item 1 above. Once I found (or thought I found) the script letters, I entered them in using the Russian On-line Keyboard (using item 2 above). With the typed words in hand, I Googled and yanexed (Russian search engine) seeking hits on my words. In my case, they did not find anything useful.
SO next, I used the Automatic Cyrllic converter (item 3 above). Entering phonetic variations on my grandmother’s hometown (Zeyervorderkampen) in the converter, I discovered that the Cyrillic script/ typing looked an awful lot like Zeyervorderkampen. Originally it had been translated as Zecher Werder- Kosipel, but I could not find anything that matched that name or anything close to it.
Being a big proponent of following the obvious, I now assume that my Oma’s bill of indictment does not place her in a location other than Zeyervorderkampen prior to her 2 plus year incarceration in the Chelyabinskaya Gulag.
Also today, I received the following note from my friend Martin:
Mark, hier kommt nun mein Versuch zur Klärung Deiner Frage:
1. In der russischen Anklageschrift wird als Geburtsort Pietzkendorf , Rayon (Kreis) Groß Werder genannt. In dem Schreiben vom DRK München vom 15.1.2010 heißt der Geburtsort Zeyer(s)vorderkampen. Pietzkendorf liegt etwas westlich von Tiegenhof, das andere Dorf Zeyersvorderskampen liegt östlich, im Nogatdelta, aber beides im Kreis Großes Werder. Woher die widersprüchlichen Angaben kommen, ist mir nicht klar.
2. in dem gleichen russischen Papier, nur eine Zeile tiefer, wird der Wohnort bezeichnet mit “Zecher-Ferder- Kaxxxx.
Ich lese das als Zeyervorderkampen. Das Y im Zeyer… hat der Mann wohl als X gelesen, das ist das cha im russischen Alphabet, also Zecher…
Ferder könnte man wohl mit Vorder.. übersetzen (wie gehört, gesprochen), und das dritte Wort beginnt zumindest mit Ka.., die weiteren Buchstaben kann nicht mal meine Irina entziffern. Dafür habe ich meinen Freund, russischer Übersetzer, morgen hier, und dann hoffe ich, dass wir das endgültig klären.
Grüße über den Teich – Martin
I may not be right, but I feel confident that I am closer to the truth today than I was two days ago when I started.
This document has been translated and reworked with additional family history
by Mark Rabideau.
The District of Zeyer was located in the northeast corner of the Free State of Danzig, in the area that included the towns of Grosses Werder, Zeyer, Stuba and Schlangenhaken. The district followed the Nogat River, starting at the village Zeyer to the Vistula Lagoon estuary. The total area of the District was about 2510 hectares (~6200 acres) of which 480 hectares (`1200 acres) were the village of Zeyer, Stuba with the village of Neudorf was about 610 hectares (~1500 acres) , Zeyersvorderkampen about 1020 hectares (~2500 acres) and Schlangenhaken another 400 hectares (~1000 acres). The total population of the district was roughly 1735 inhabitants of German descent and origin. The population was exclusively engaged/ employed in agriculture and related professions.
Up until 1945, the farms located in the area were in good condition. The majority of the farms and agricultural property holdings were small to medium sized. The lands of Zeyersvorderkampen were particularly favorable to dairies; the larger farms historically were also devoted to rapeseed, wheat, and sugar beet cultivation.
While Zeyer and Stuba were built-up areas, Zeyersvorderkampen and Schlangenhaken were so-called scattered settlements. Zeyer was considered to be the oldest settlement in the district. School texts chronicled settlement in the Zeyer village area as early as 1200; followed somewhat later by the village of Stuba. Zeyersvorderkampen, which consisted of several islands in the Nogat delta, was settled much later, around 1730. The town of Schlangenhaken was newest settlement in the district, it came into existence in 1929. Schlangenhaken was settled in the uncultivated areas of the Kampen Nogatmündung by order of the Danzig Senate.
Milk production was the key agricultural commodity produced in the district. Even during the war (WW2), a modern dairy under private ownership was located in Zeyer; while a cooperative dairy was located in Zeyersvorderkampen [Papatschen cooperative was partly owned by Richard Senger].
A third dairy, with offices in Stuba, was shut down during the war and merged with the dairy supplier in Zeyer.
In the commercial sector, there were four shops located in the village Zeyer including, grocery and hardware stores; one wind mill; a restaurant with bakery operations; a dry goods store selling clothing, footwear and dry goods. Additionally, there was a bakery and an inn (guest house).
Commercial enterprises in Zeyer included: a dairy, a butcher, a wheelwright, a blacksmith and two container manufacturers. The public sector in Zeyer included government buildings, two schools, two customs officers houses, a post office, a parsonage, and three village offices and a fire station.
The Zeyer Lutheran Church was located on the opposite bank of the Nogat in Elbing County.
On January 21, 1945, the first Russian tanks arrived unexpectedly in Elbing, just 8 km away. The population of the administrative district Zeyer received notification that night from the district office in Tiegenhof to immediately evacuate the area. Although the evacuation was prepared for in theory, it did not go according to the pre-arranged plan. The original plan was to evacuate across the Vistula but because early that morning all the roads had become congested and overrun by the fleeing population, that evacuation plan was impossible. Additionally, the rural population found it very difficult to leave their farms. At the same time, the German Wehrmacht had hurriedly constructed a front along the Elbing River behind which people felt temporarily secure. Only the population of villages of Zeyer and Stuba fled towards Zeyersvorderkampern and Schlangenhaken.
During that same time, the entire livestock of the region had been driven off by Räumkommandos (Jeeps, personnel carriers) and grain reserves had been taken, as well. All that remained in the area were food stuffs capable of feeding the population for a short time.
The church came under artillery bombardment during the course of the fighting on February 3, 1945 as did the Zeyersvorderkampen dairy, three taverns, two dry goods stores, the forge and public buildings including: a school, five town buildings and the fire station.
Local horse stocks were taken over by the army. At the onset of battle, destruction of the buildings in Zeyer was limited to those on the edges of town. Initially only 3 properties were burned to the ground. However, very many buildings suffered heavy damage from artillery shelling and gun fire. But, the greatest destruction to the Zeyer area occurred after the area was occupied by Russians and Poles.
After the occupation, those who were left behind in the area no longer had any way to escape, since the Russians had already pushed through the province of Pomerania to the Baltic Sea.
On March 8, 1945, the German army was forced to retreat from its positions on the Nogat. The remaining civilian population was forced to withdraw to the Vistula Spit, where they were met by ships, mostly brought from Denmark. A small portion of the population in Zeyer could not bring themselves to leave their homes and awaited the arrival of the Russians. Most of those remaining people were working class families, the elderly as well as farming families [including Richard and Frieda Senger, ages 66 and 46 respectively.].
Based upon statements from a number of the survivors of the fall of Zeyer, those who were later expelled by the Poles, we know the following. After the arrival of the Russians in Zeyer on March 9, 1945, the entire remaining population was rounded up. All men between the ages of 16 and 60 were transported to the east [for incarceration in Soviet Gulags- concentration camps]. A number of the remaining survivors were held for questioning by the Soviets and ultimately tortured to death. Shortly after the arrival of the Russians in Zeyersvorderkampen the first murders began. The following were executed by the Russians for unknown reasons:
Farmer Franz Thiessen (7O years)
Farmer Adolf Block
Hulda Janzen and her daughter Klara Eichhorn with 1 year old son/ grandson
Mr. & Mrs. A. Mierau
18-year-old Christine Wichert
Anna Braun of Zeyersvorderkampen
four-member family of farmer Fritz Dudenhöft
disappearing without a trace were Mr. & Mrs. Rathke Zvk
What remained of the population of Zeyer was forced to go to Elbing to try and find food, as none was provided.
As the Russian troops withdrew and the first Poles moved in as an adventurous, unruly rabble. They looted houses of anything that remained from what the Russians had left behind. The Russians took all surviving animals and the best furniture. Agricultural implements and machinery were gathered by the Poles, bartered and taken away. The Vistula and Nogat dikes were breeched or blown up thereby flooding the entire countryside. The withdrawing Russians built bridges and walkways as needed from the materials remaining of destroyed homes and buildings. Under the management of the Poles, the devastation continued. Buildings were abandoned due to lack of heating fuel or power; according to reports, many houses were also left without windows and doors.
The loss of life continued as many committed suicide. The remaining German population lived in Poland under the worst possible conditions; they received far too little food and were forced to do hard labor every day under severely abusive conditions.
Old, frail people; women with young children were forced to walk the 15 km [9 miles] [from Zeyer] to Tiegenhof in the freezing cold. In Tiegenhof, they were loaded into open rail cars bound for Marienburg; any baggage weighing more than 30 pounds was taken from them. From Marienburg, the journey continued to Halle in the eastern zone [Soviet Zone] of Germany where the deportees usually were force relocated. Numbers of deportees did not survive the hardships and died.
In the villages [Soviet style] collective farms were established because the Poles were not able to manage the farmlands privately.
The church came under artillery bombardment during the course of the fighting on February 3, 1945 as did the Zeyersvorderkampen dairy, three taverns, two dry goods stores, the forge and public buildings including: a school, five town buildings and the fire station.
Who says genealogy is not full of surprises? Well, not me!
Over the past few months I have had the wonderful good fortune of coming into to contact with two magnificent people (families). One of them grew up near the village(?) where my grandmother (Frieda Senger) was born and raised- Pietzkendorf. The other has been a family friend for more than 250 years and now lives in Dakar, Senegal.
I am truly amazed that this website and my genealogical efforts have introduced me to both Rainer and Hans; or more precisely, these efforts have made it possible for us to find each other. All three of us and our families truly have traveled ManyRoads, gone different directions and yet we have very much in common- a love for place, a sense of community, and a willingness to continue to help each other unravel the threads of time in our collective efforts to find out more about who and what we are.
It is truly a wonder!
A friend from the area of Pietzkendorf, which exists no more.
A friend living in Africa whose family and mine are linked together for more than 250 years in the area of Zeyer.
It amazes me… Vielen dank Rainer und Hans fuer die Bilder, Buecher, hilfe, geduld, und freundschaft.
Well it’s about time for the ManyRoads Monthly Update-Newsletter. The past month has been quite eventful.
Among the most interesting events to occur during the past month is that our visitor numbers have grown moved from around 130 per day to nearly 200 per day. I understand that for large sites, we are still pikers. However in the genealogical world, according to Genealogy.org, we are in the top 35 of the sites tracked by them.
As our readership continues growing, we are also being allowed to discuss our genealogy interests in other venues. In terms of Guest Blogging, I am no longer just a guest Blogger on http://geneabloggers.com but have also been invited to write for http://obituarieshelp.org.
Before I open this month’s laundry list of happenings, I want to request any/all of you who have genealogical websites consider reciprocal linking with ManyRoads. There is no cost and both your site and ManyRoads will benefit from the links. Simply place a link to http://many-roads.com on your site; send me an email letting me know you have made the link; and, I’ll place a link to your site.
Finally the list! Here are other ManyRoads items of note from the past month:
We have gone public and become official with our Pay it forward arrangements. Please contact us if you have information to share. To the extent possible, we make everything we receive free to our readership. The only impediment we have experienced thus far that precludes providing free access is copyright.
Thursday the 7 October 2010 was one of those spectacular days for a family genealogist!
I went to the Parker Family History Center to do research in the Ladekopp/ Pietzkendorf Evangelische Kirche records. I had no idea what, if anything I might find. What I found was both amazing and joyful. I found my grandmother’s baptismal record (birth record):
Frieda Auguste Recht
I also found the records for two of her siblings, Ella and Ernst.
Ella Selma Recht
Ernst Hermann Ferdinand Recht
Based on the information I uncovered here is what I believe to be the situation.
The Hermann Recht- Auguste Kunz family moved to Pietzkendorf, near Ladekopp, after the birth of their eldest daughter Erna in November of 1892 but before the birth of their son Ernst in December of 1893. I also discovered that a Ferdinand Kunz of Neuteicherwaelde was in attendance at the baptism of Ella Recht in December of 1896. My thoughts are that this might be either the father or brother of Auguste Kunz. The search continues!
By the end of WW2, the destruction of Germany was nearly total. Almost every city had been leveled; the remnants of families were scattered all over Germany, Europe, North and South America. Everyone had lost family members or friends. According to Wikipedia losses in the Third Reich were:
A Heimatsortskartei was set up in post WW2 Germany for the purpose of identifying and locating people in the catastrophic aftermath and destruction of WW2. Finding loved ones and discovering their fate was essential.
The Heimatortskartei provided hope and was the resource. Although these files may not be readily accessible in Germany because of the infamous Datenschutz -data protection laws; they are available through the LDS Church Archives.
And now a personal history of the Heimatortskartei use…
Date: 1998/05/30 20:16:45
From: W. Fred Rump [email address removed]
Many months ago I promised Wolfgang N[...] a report on what is to be found in these films [Heimatortskartei]. Below is a sample of the contents of the film available at the LDS for two particular houses in Elbing, West Prussia as of January 1945.
The following residents were found in a film obtained from the FHC in Salt Lake City entitled: Heimatsortskartei Danzig-Westpreussen. It particularly references certain streets in Elbing, Westpreussen among which is the one I was born on, namely Tannenberger Allee. Some background and recollections are included in this report which I just wrote while traveling across the US.
In my visit to Elbing in 1995 I found #97 still standing and in need of some maintenance like most other houses in the area. The old red brick which I still remember was now gone and again, like most other houses, was now stuccoed which patchy gray cement. I don’t have too many memories of my childhood or Elbing. This is rather strange to me since I lived there from my birth in December 1937 until our sudden exit in January 1945. By then I was eight years old and should really have very vivid recollections of earlier times. What exists is not fluid but rather come in bits and pieces mostly of times when I got into some kind of trouble. Other memories are confused as to whether they are from stories told by my mother, other relatives or from pictures I’ve seen. It bothers me greatly that I don’t have better recollections of my pre-1945 childhood. Time seems to have started with our flight from the Russians and everything before that is very blurred and fragmented. I suppose what I know is a mixture of things. I will never know what is real from my experiences and what came to me from other sources later in life. In any case, my youth and size influence the pictures I have formed at the time. Things simply used to be much bigger and more impressive from what I saw in 1995.
I remember the front steps. I sat on them quite often and the individual steps were much higher. I had to climb up three individual steps to get into the house. Today these same steps went down. They were also very normal in size. The street had been raised as the rubble of the destruction of the city was simply used to elevate many streets of the city and then resurfaced by the new occupants of the city after the war. The big chestnut trees were also gone and smaller trees now stood in different locations. Those chestnuts provided much fun as my sister and I created little figures out of them by joining various sizes with little sticks and carving eyes into them.
The other major change to my view of the street was the missing house next door (#95) where my Aunt and Uncle, Erna and Fritz Gro[ss] lived among other residents. Their children, Waltraut (Traute)+ and Erwin, today live in Eschweiler near Aachen. I suppose that house was bombed or burned and never restored. We lived right across from a railroad freight yard and I expect that quite a bit of fighting was going on there along with bombing of the railroad. There used to be a path, the width of a small driveway, which permitted access to the rear of both properties. It was in back of #95 where our huge garden was located. How small it had gotten.
The garden is where the Stachelbeeren (gooseberries) grew. There were fruit trees back there and many delicious items could be retrieved in the summertime. I had always dreamed of this vast garden of my childhood and here in 1995 it was but a small patch of nothingness. It is possible that a couple trees still standing dated to pre-1945 but they looked nothing like the large trees of delicious magic which I thought had stood there. The garden was a big, big disappointment to me. What did they do to my garden?
Turning to the rear of #97 there was another set of steps there. This time they still went up just as I remember them. My grandfather’s work shed was still there too but it used to be so neat and always seemed to be freshly painted. There was no evidence of any paint ever having touched it left. Back to the front of the house I look up to what used to reach to the sky. Three stories of windows had shrunk to just a normal house. An old lady with one gold tooth looks out the bottom floor window and smiles. What a view!
It is difficult talking to her but I suppose she knew why we were there. Most people know that the Germans who come to visit used to call this home. The current residents are almost embarrassed at the set of circumstances but are friendly and open to the situation. We get a drift of complaints from our one- tooth lady. Nothing is ever fixed in the house. It belongs to the city now. We try to get away from her as communications is not going well. I walk down the front steps into what is the Treppengang (stair entrance to the various apartments).The tiled floor is still the same. That seems odd to me. I rush up the steps just to see if the door to our place is where I thought it was. It’s still the same. I try to take a picture but the camera does not want to flash in the dark and I’m too nervous to fix the problem. I have to leave and go away.
I shoot some outside pictures and promise myself to reconnoiter the railroad on the other side. That’s where the near empty drum of tar used to be were I just had to climb in to see what was there. One of those eventful happenings a boy tends to never forget. Of course there are many other recollections mostly of the ‘getting into trouble’ kind but these will be written up in a section of my growing up.
My mother inherited both properties from her father upon his death. My parents paid the other children their appropriate shares as my grandfather had wanted. My parents were deeply hurt when after the war some of my mom’s sisters had casually forgotten these payoffs and now claimed equal shares of the little money my parents received from the German government under the term: Lastenausgleich. The idea was to provide a small amount to start anew and also to relinquish what was now in Polish hands. Luckily the legal papers were found and the entire matter was cleared up but the hurt remained. I had often wondered as to who all the people were who lived in our houses. My parents often spoke of such and such and I never paid too much attention then.
From a friend I met on the internet (Wolfgang N[...]) I found out that the LDS has films of the Heimatortskartei which were collected by the various refugee groups in order to find lost relatives. I ordered these films back in November of 1997 and did not get to see them until May of 1998. I do not know if the list includes everyone or is just a listing of those who had an inquiry posted about someone.
In any case, for the sake of history here are the listed residents of #95 and #97 Tannenberger Allee. We start with what was found in house number sequence for #95:
Ausgestellt (submitted) 3.4.53, (by) Erna Gross, nee Robiller; born 4.3.04 in Elbing, nach (went to) Finow/Mark (Brandenburg), Kastanienallee 23; dann (then) Emden, Auricher Strasse 23, dann Eschweiler/Kr Aachen, Kreichsburg 16. Sucht (is looking for) Gross, Fritz, 24.3.05, Elbing, Maschinenschlosser bei Schichau. +31.12.45 ?
Ausgestellt 1.6.56, Erwin Gross, 9.11.31 Elbing, dann Ludwigshafen-Friedenheim, Hindenburg Str 2, Suchdienst fuer Fritz Gross am 19.3.45 von Polen verschleppt.
Today while I was reviewing at the locations of the ManyRoads readers I came across, what for me was, a rather large surprise. ManyRoads had a reader from Chelyabinsk, RU. For those who follow the site closely, you will note that this is the same town where my Oma (grandmother) was forced to work for several years in one of Stalin’s Gulags as a slave laborer (then refered to as a mobilized German).
I am very pleased to welcome the Chelyabinsk reader to ManyRoads. добро пожаловать!
I hope they find the information presented here interesting and informative.
Erich Senger was born in Zeyervorderkampen, 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
For those of you who keep track of such things, here’s a quick list of our latest discoveries and happenings.
The German Red Cross wrote and provided a wealth of information on Frieda Senger’s internment in the Soviet Gulag system after WW2. This information has been more than 60 years in coming. Click to read more.
Because of the aforementioned documents, we have identified additional information about the particular Gulag. Click to read more.
We are making good headway on the John Deyo mystery. Actually this mystery has now turned into one about his father Joseph Deo/Deyo/Dion. Click to read more.
We placed a user poll on our site. Please let us know what you think!
This next week promises to be eventful in our genealogy space…
This write-up is my effort to document the circumstances and images surrounding the Gulag complex to which Frieda Senger was assigned and interned after World War 2 by the Soviets For more information see:
Chelyabinsk was the location of a Soviet Gulag. Chelyabinsk ITL (Work Improvement Camp) was in existence from November 1941 until October 1951. At its height, it held 15,400 persons who were employed building a smelter used for Industrial, Highway, Civil and Residential construction, as well as in open-cast mining.
Additionally there was a Prisoner of War Camp #68 for German POWs in Chelyabinsk. Severely ill POWs were treated in POW Hospital 5882. A German POW mass grave was found about 12 km (8 miles) East of the city.
Today when I arrived home a letter from the Deutsches Rotes Kreuz- Suchdienst awaited me. I have to admit the contents were, for me extremely exciting!
19 August 2010 Update: Thanks to my good childhood friend Sharon we now have a translation of these records.
Based upon the Suchdienst records, we have identified photos from one of my Oma’s camps (see below). More information on the Camp is also available at: Gulag Memorial DE.
Here are the documents (with the translations I have in English and German).
(See bottom of page for the complete text.)
Frieda Senger before her incarceration in Soviet Gulags, circa 1940.
German, member of fascist organization (abbreviation in the left corner)Dossier/Document
about Frieda Senger German Civil Air Defense.
Start: 17th of March 1945
End: ….. 19…
40 176 876
Anfang 17. März 1945
Hr. Kireev Manager of the operations Group of the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs- Stalin’s Secret Police) in the Region of Chelyabinskaya and a Major responsible for National Security. 07.Juli 1945
Hr. Kireev Leiter der operationellen Gruppe NKWD (Volkskommissariat für geheime Angelegenheiten)im Region Tscheljabinsk, Major für nationale Sicherheit genehmigt:
Bill of Indictment:
I, a worker of the operations group Concentration Camp number 507 under the command of NKVD Lieutenant Hr. Makarov, sentence, with the complete authority of the NKVD of the USSR, number 00315 Frieda Senger born in the year of 1898 in Pietzkendorf Kreis Großwerder and currently living in the village of Zeyervorderkampen into the 48th Army “Sideras” category Gulag effective 18 April 1945.
Ich, Mitarbeiter der operationellen Gruppe des Bewährungskonzentrationslager Nr. 507 der NKWD Leutnant Hr. Makarov, verhafte mit Bevollmächtigung der NKWD UdSSR Nr. 00315, Senger Frieda geboren im Jahr 1898 in Pizchendorf Kreis Großwerder, wohnhaft im Dorf Zeyervorderkampen, von 18. April 1945 an die 48. Armee “Sideras” Kategorie Gulak.
That Senger Frieda was a member of the German Civil Air Defense, a Fascist Organization, since 1935. Her husband was a member of the NSDAP.
Mark F. Rabideau
711 Nob Hill Trail
Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika
Senger, Frieda, born: 19.03.1898 in Zeyervorderkampen/Werder
Dear Mr. Rabideau,
Thank you for your inquiry of 07 September, 2009.
The research in our archives, which included the records received from The Central Archives of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation on German prisoners of war and civilians in Soviet captivity, revealed the following record for Mrs. Frieda Senger:
She was taken a prisoner by the Soviet Army on March 17, 1945.
Since 1935 she was organized by the Empire antiaircraft union [ger.Reichsluftschutzbund (RLB)].
On July 7, 1945 she was transfered from the camp 507 (Cheljabinskaja region/ Satkinskij district/ village Bakal) to the working battalion No.1083 (Cheljabinskaja Region/City Kopejsk/ Station Potanino) of mobilized germans.
She was discharged for repatriation on July 1, 1947.
Unfortunately, further data are nonexistent.
According to our record cards dating back to the post-war-years, the last known address of Senger Frieda was from January 9, 1955: Lindenburgweg 202 (or 262), Weitheim/Murnau.
Enclosed, please find a copy of the file in the original Russian language. Due to the quantity of the documents, which come to us to work off, we cann’t unfortunately translate these records . We ask kindly to excuse us.
At present we dont have any other records from The Central Archives of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation on your other relatives: Richard Senger, Frieda Senger, Erich Senger und Luise Senger.
The information from our record cards you will receive in a separate letter.
German Red Cross
Tracing Service Munich
Zentrale Auskunfts- und Dokumentationsstelle
Tel. (089) 68 07 73-0
Fax (089) 68 07 45 92
www.drk-suchdienst.org [email protected]
Recently I received an set of email messages from a very helpful reader (Vielen dank, Hans!). I have taken a risk and translated the gist of his correspondence into English. I have blended his materials along with my research to reconstruct a view of Pietzkendorf. I will add more information as it comes to light. Hopefully this “accumulated view” will paint a small picture of what Pietzkendorf once was… the neatly mown fields of today’s Poland not withstanding.
In days gone by, Pietzkendorf residents attended schools and Churches in nearby Ladekopp. The population was small, just a few families and homes were located in the village. The area was peopled largely by simple farm families. The Pietzkendorf, and Ladekopp area had been settled by German families as long ago as the 1500s. To quote Gameo:
By 1772 there were some 400 Holländerdörfer established in the Vistula region, but not nearly all were occupied by Mennonites or by Dutch settlers. Felicia Szper (p. 110) lists for 1676 the following villages as “Holländische Hufen” in the two Werders of Marienburg occupied by Dutch Mennonites: Platenhof, Tiegenhagen, Tiegerweide, Reimerswalde, Orlofferfeld, Pletzendorf, Orloff, Pietzgendorf, and Petershagenerfeld.
Horst Penner lists for the 18th century the following villages with a predominantly Mennonite population: Altebabke, Altendorf, Beyershorst, Blumen-Ort, Einlage, Freienhuben, Glabitsch, Gross-Plehnendorf, Gross-Walddorf, Halbstadt, Herrenhagen, Heubuden, Klein Mausdorf, Kozelicke, Ladekopp, Marienau, Neuendorf, Neunhuben, Orloff, Orlofferfelde, Petershagen, Pietzkendorf, Poppau, Pordenau, Reimerswalde, Rosenort, Rückenau, Scharfenberg, Schönhorst, Schönsee, Schmerblock, Schönau, Tiege, Tiegenhagen, Tiegerweide, and Wotzlaff.
The villages located on the Vistula were also characterized by being established in swampy areas that had to be drained. Ditches and canals led to the river at the elevated end of the land. Homes were located along the street, which at times followed the windings of the river. Villages established according to the old “German right” did not have the residence, barn, and shed under one roof, as did the Dutch villages, in which the barn was directly connected with the residence and the shed was attached to the barn, the whole in some cases forming a triangle. At some places the dwelling had an addition for the retired parents called Endenkammer. The porch added to this structure in many cases was of Prussian and not Dutch background.
In some instances the land of each farmer adjoined his yard. This would indicate that the pattern was related to the “Hufendörfer” practice. [...] This village therefore more nearly resembled a Hufendorf. However, it developed peculiarities of its own. For this reason it is best to identify this type of village simply as Holländerdorf.
The streams and nearby river provided swimming activities for those from nearby villages and towns such as Ladekopp. It was a green, verdant area with trees, water, and a very wet environ (the area was 4-12 feet below sea level, even then). Windmills pumped water from the ground and into the drainage streams, keeping the land reasonably dry and arable. When the lowering of the ground water levels by German settlers began some 500 years ago, the main mechanical assistance was provided by windmills. Windmills provided the power to operate water wheels (early simple pumps) to scoop water from the lowest and wettest lands moving it up to areas behind constructed dikes.
In the early 1900s, steam engines in `kalteherberge` performed this task and replaced the original windmills. Toward the end of the Second World War (1945), the entire area was flooded in a valiant but vain attempt to slow and repulse invading Russian artillery and tanks. Today the area is again ‘nearly’ dry but it is much lonelier and emptier than before. The entire village of Pietzkendorf is gone except for its cement roads (see photo below).
The name of the village itself is derived from an old German word “pietzker”. In German, a Pietzker is a member of the fish-family ´schmerle´ which in English is known as ´loach´. Pietzkers are a tasty, flavorful fish that lives in the mud or muddy water of a slow moving river. The Linau running through Pietzkendorf is just such a river. The Pietzkers, in days gone by, were plentiful.
The residents of pre-World War 2 Pietzkendorf attended churches in Ladekopp; Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Mennonites, alike. My family (Recht und Wedhorn) attended the Lutheran Church (Evangelishe Kirche) in Ladekopp. I have found both records of Recht and Wedhorn family births and weddings in the ev. Kirche Ladekopp.
It is worth mentioning that there was at least one Baptist family in Pietzkendorf; almost every Sunday, they bravely and devotedly walked nearly 12 kilometers through Ladekopp to the Baptist congregation in Neuteich. Their names are lost in the mists of time.
Pietzkendorf bei Ladekopp Foto
Milchbude Lage und Pietzkendorf Landkart
The following photos provide images of the area that used to be Pietzkendorf as it appeared in 2010. This is the same area where Frieda Senger was born and raised in the early 1900s. Today nothing remains of the buildings and village that was Pietzkendorf.
In late winter of 1944/45, the Senger’s farm was overrun and occupied by a command of the advancing Russian armies. The family furniture and possessions were stolen by non-Germans; the lives and history of the Senger family were unalterably, irretrievably changed.
Only the Senger farm and two other farms in the village of Zeyervorderkampen remained standing following the Soviet invasion and bombardment and artillery attacks which accompanied the destructive attack. Ultimately, the Senger farm was left as the sole ‘undamaged’ farm in Zeyervorderkampen. At first, the farm was used to house Soviet commanders; ultimately, possession of the farm, lands, buildings and few remaining possessions were given over to a Polish family.
By the middle of 1945, it was no longer the Senger family farm and lands. The farm had been confiscated by the occupying communist troops and retribution was never offered by either the invading armies or subsequent settlers; nor was any accepted by Richard when it was finally offered by the post-war German Federal Republic government. To his mind, there was simply no compensation adequate to cover the loss of his family’s lands and history. Ultimately, the German government did provide Richard a pension for both his WW1 and WW2 ‘participation’.
Having lost ownership and possession of his farm to the Russians in 1945, Richard was forced, at gun point and under explicit threat of death, to work as an involuntary servant (knecht) or ‘slave’ on his long-time farm. During this time, his wife, Frieda, was captured, incarcerated, and forced by the Russians to leave their home and was interred as a slave laborer in the Gulags of the Central Asia in Chelyabinsk ITL (Work Improvement Camp). Frieda was arrested and enslaved by the Soviet Army on March 17, 1945 (Her 47th birthday was two days later on 19 March 1945.). These hardships and travails were to continue for more than two years.
During this same time period, unbeknownst to Richard, his son (Erich Senger) was interred in an English prisoner of war camp; his daughter (Luise) had survived the war’s end and was working in the American Zone of Germany, in Bavaria.
Finally one day in June of 1947, at the age of 68, Richard could tolerate his situation and servitude no longer. He resolved to leave or die trying. To his mind he had nothing to lose; so far as he knew he had already lost everything except his life. He packed his few papers and possessions into a coffee can and set off on foot, to reach the West German border. As he left what had been his farm, Russian soldiers shouted, pulled their rifles, took aim at his back, and threatening to kill him. Unwilling to suffer his situation any longer, he walked on into his uncertain, unknown future.
He trekked alone on foot across ‘the new’ communist Poland, and then through the ‘new’ communist East Germany. During the weeks and months he walked, he survived by eating uncooked potatoes and vegetables he gleaned from harvested fields. In Poland, his official identification papers and bank books were confiscated by ‘officials’ at the checkpoints he encountered. Finally after an almost 600 mile ordeal, Richard arrived at Murnau in Bavaria (the American Zone).
Shortly after his arrival in Bavaria, Richard began a search for his son Erich via open letters he placed in German newspapers. He only searched for his son Erich because he thought Erich might have survived the war; he was certain that Frieda (Richard’s wife) had died in the Gulags and that Luise (Richard’s daughter) had been ‘lost’ in the final defense of Munich (where Luise was serving as a Lieutenant in Munich’s Air Defense with Deutsche Luftwaffe- Luftkommando 7.). Fortunately, Erich, having returned from his incarceration as a British (Prisoner of War) PoW in 1947, read one of his letters and they were reunited. During late 1947, Luise found and rejoined her family through the good offices and assistance of her employer- the American Army.
Late in 1947, his wife, Frieda weighing a mere 60 pounds, returned from her two plus year ordeal in the Russian gulags. Miraculously, the family had found each other.
Along with their son Erich, the Sengers built a new life for themselves in Bavaria. While in 1950, Luise went on to live with her American husband (Fred Rabideau) and their soon-to-be new family in the United States.
a composite of verbal stories related by Luise Senger Rabideau to her children Linda & Mark, as well as Russian, German and American Documentation
As the Russians invaded West Prussia near the end of World War 2, they rounded up abled bodied Germans to ‘work’ a slave labor in their Gulags. These ‘unlucky’ Germans (some three million) were shipped by train to forced labor camps in the far East. Frieda Senger, along with her friend and neighbor, Edith Ebel, were among those shipped by rail into the Russian Gulags; in her case trip was to prisons some 1700 miles or 2700 kms east. She, like many others, was deported from her and her husband’s lands (which were now in the hands of the Russians) and forced into slavery; she was not seen or heard from again for some 2 and one half years.
She was taken a prisoner by the Soviet Army on March 17, 1945. She had been a member of the Reichsluftschutzbund (RLB) since 1935 (see note 1 below).
On July 7, 1945 she was transfered from the camp 507 (Cheljabinskaja region/ Satkinskij district/ village Bakal) to the working battalion No.1083 (Cheljabinskaja Region/City Kopejsk/ Station Potanino) of mobilized Germans. She was discharged for repatriation on July 1, 1947. Her diligence, hard work and energy made it possible for her to be one of the first Germans released from the camp. Her friend Edith Ebel was not so lucky- Edith died in the camp. Frieda’s two plus years were spent mining rock salt, cleaning the camp floors with broken glass (an activity which left her hands permanently scarred). Her diet consisted of water, cabbage and potatoes.
On 9 October 2011, I received an additional insight into this time from the niece of Frieda Senger, Frieda geboren Wedhorn: [Frieda Wedhorn] [...] mentioned that the deportation of Frieda Senger might have been the result of a mistaken identity, that the Russians were looking for some other Senger, but they went to the wrong farm where they found Frieda Senger and they did not want to continue searching. Frieda Wedhorn remembers her Tante Frieda telling her that the Soviets probably were looking for Johanna Senger who was also called “Tante Hannchen” because she supposedly had not been nice to some Poles. Johanna was the wife of Julius Senger who must have been neighbors of Richard and Frieda Senger. The Soviets just went to the wrong house and discontinued their search because they had found a woman with the name Senger. This Johanna Senger later died of “Fischvergiftung” (fish poisoning) while still living in Zeyersvorderkampen, Westpreußen.
The photo is of Frieda Senger in 1951 following the marriage of her daughter Luise to Frederick Rabideau. She is wearing a coat sent to her by Leona Rabideau, mother of Frederick Rabideau.
The Reichluftschutzbund was placed under the authority of the Luftwaffe and performed mainly non-combat support roles such as ground crew training and search and rescue. The group remained relatively small and, as a paramilitary organization, was overshadowed heavily by the National Socialist Flyers Corps.
During World War II, the Reichluftschutzbund performed in air defense support manning anti-aircraft emplacements in Germany’s major cities. In 1945, the Reichluftschutzbund ceased to exist with the fall of Nazism. The Reichluftschutzbund, however, was not condemned as a criminal organization since the group was technically a branch of the Air Ministry and not a paramilitary group of the Nazi Party proper.
Although, we now know with certainty that Frieda Senger was not interned in Perm-36 Gulag; it does represent a Gulag proximate to her location. The photos in this article represent a good approximation of the Gulags in Chelyabinsk. More
einst Bauer in Westpreußen, feierte 90. Geburtstag
Schnittblumen, Blumenschalen, köstliche Getränke und weitere Präsente schmücken das Wohnzimmer im Hause ‘der Familie Senger in der Schwiftinger Siedlung. Vor wenigen Tagen feierte der „Senior” des Hauses, Opa Richard Senger, seinen 90. Geburtstag. Anlaß genug für dieMitbürgerschaft, um Schwiftings derzeit altesten Mitbürger zu ehren und zu erfreuen, ihm ‘ die herzlichsten Glückwünsche für den weiteren Lebensabend mitzugeben.
Richard Senger stammt aus Westpreußen. In seinen Adern fließt urwüchsiges bäuerliches Blut. Am 2. Februar 1879 wurde er in Zeyersvorderkampe bei Danzig geboren. Wie seine Eltern Bauern waren, so wurde auch Richard Senger Bauer, um einmal das Erbe seines Vaters, einen Stättlichen Hof, zu übernehmen. Mit mehreren Geschwistern wuchs der Jubilar in seinem Heimatort, der über 40 ansehnliche Bauernhöfe zahlte, auf. Im Jahre seiner Eheschliesung, 1920, übernahm er von seinen Eltern den Hof, um ihn mustergültig, in zäher, unermüdlicher Arbeit und in Verbundenheit zur heimatlichen Scholle weiterzuführen und bewirtschaften. Seine Gattin Frieda schenkte ihm 2 Kinder, einen Sohn und eine Tochter. Ueberstand Richard Senger den ersten Weltkrieg als aktiver Teilnehmer heu und gesund, so karnen mit dem zweiten Weltkrieg und den Nachkriegsjahren schwere Zeiten auf ihn zu. Im Herbst 1944 besetzten die vorrückenden Russen Ost- und Westpreußen, auch der Hof von Richard Senger wurde von den sowjetischen Truppen beschlagnahmt. Senger selbst mußte als Knecht auf seinem eigenen Anwesen arbeiten. Seine Gattin wurde von den Sowjetzt in ein Arbeitslager hinterm Ural ge-steckt, von wo sie erst 1947 in die; Heimat zurückkehren durfte. Ohne von den Schicksal seiner Familie etwas zu wissen, machte sich Richard Senger eines Tages auf, von seinem Hof zu fliehen und die deutsche Grenze zu erreichen. Er konnte es nicht mehr ertragen, als einstiger Hofbesitzer von den Russen als gedemütigter Knecht auf eigenem Besitz behandelt zu werden. Im Alter von 68 Jahren begab sich Senger, stets rüstig auf seinen Füßen, auf den Marsch, der ihn über Polen und Schwerin nach Westdeutschland und dort nach Murnau am Staffelsee führte. In Polen sind ihm dabei sämtliche Ausweis-und Wertpapiere, darunter auch die Sparkassenbücher, abgenommen worden. Richard Senger war aber unverzagt und fand dann im Oberbayerischen wieder eine feste Wohnstätte. Die Tochter, die heute in den USA verheiratet ist, bemühte sich damals erfolgreich um die Wieder-Zusammenführung der Eltern. Im Jahre 1963 siedelten Richard und Frieda Senger von Murnau nach Schwifting über, wo die Familie des Sohnes, der auf dem Tower des Flugplatzes Penzing tätig ist, ein Eigenheim erbaut hat. Unter der Obhut von Sohn und Schwiegertochter verbringt der Jubilar mit seiner Gattin nun einen geruhsamen ebensabend.
Zum 90. Geburtsfest stellten sich auch Bürgermeister Kaindl, zweiter Bürgermeister Nuscheier und der evangelische Pfarrer Uhl mit Gattin als Gratulanten ein, um die offiziellen Glückwünsche zu überbringen. Das „Landsberger Tagblatt” schließt sich diesen Gratulanten herzlichst an.