April 16th, 1951

Journal,

 

I am with my family on a train headed for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We arrived safely in New York and made contact with a Catholic organization. I was given the name of a priest who could help us out and discovered that he has a sister living in a small town outside of Pittsburgh. It is called Coraopolis. She is the Mother of a convent and they are in need of a bus driver and general handyman. My wife will help in the kitchen and with the housework. We have agreed to a one year contract and will be living in a small house on the grounds of the convent. It will be a good life. We will be provided for and can live quietly in our own little home. I look forward to a new start. Will write later,

 

Henry

 

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:22 pm  Comments (1)  

April 8th, 1951

Journal,

 

My family and I are currently on a ship, heading for America. Joanne was finally released from the hospital a few months ago. The British knew of my desire to leave and offered me employment in England. My friend from Hoboken, however, informed me that I could move to the United States with my family and we could sail there for free. I prefer America to England, since I have a grandfather in America. He immigrated in 1800 with his younger brother and they eventually settled in Philadelphia. I would like to be near family. There was a long list of Germans waiting to be allowed to immigrate to the United States and my family and I were low on the list. But my friend allowed us to jump ahead of 60,000 people and receive our visas from the consul.

 

We were booked passage on a United States Naval ship. I agreed to work as a policeman on board to cover our fees. The trip has been rough so far, with high seas and heavy wind. Many are sick down below, which is why I have chosen to spend so much time on deck. With everyone sick, there is little need for a policeman. Staying on deck has kept me healthy, I think. I can eat well and breathe the fresh air. There are so many refugees crowded in below deck. We’ve been at sea for about one week. I believe we are halfway to our destination, New York City.

 

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

December 1st, 1949

Journal,

 

Very bad news.  Joanne has fallen out of her bed and injured herself last night.  We took her right away to the military hospital where the doctor told us she broke her hip.  He sent us to a specialist who was kind enough to take our case for a very low sum of money, only 50 cents.  She must spend a year in the hospital, recovering from her injuries.  I will continue to work for the army, although I have been thinking of leaving Germany.  There must be greater opportunities elsewhere in the world, places that have not been torn apart by war.

 

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

November 22nd, 1948

Journal,

 

I have a daughter. She was born only a few hours ago and we have named her Joanne. She is a beautiful little girl, strong and healthy. My wife is doing well. I am so very happy.

 

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

October 15th, 1946

Journal,

 

I have been remarkably busy these past few months. I have become a courier of sorts, moving around from camp to camp throughout Germany, going wherever my services are needed. I am usually in Hamburg or Lübek and I stay mostly in the north. Sometimes I will go as far west as the French border, but this is unusual. However, my travels allow me to buy and trade things for a nice profit. There is a thriving black market trade in this area and certain supplies are in demand. I’ve begun trading cigarettes and buying fine shoes and clothing. Sometimes I can get extra fuel and I can sell that on the market in exchange for other goods.

 

I have met a young woman, a practical nurse in one of the camps in Hamburg. Her name is Anne and she is very beautiful. We are to be married in a few days time and my profits from trading will allow me to provide for her. My father, mother and sister have recently arrived in Hamburg as well. My family fled our home years ago, when the Russians were moving into western Germany. They lived on various farms throughout the war until the fighting was over. It is a blessing we all survived, although my family has nothing more than the clothes on their backs. I was able to steal some old German uniforms and dye them a simple blue for my father to wear. I will continue to trade and sell materials until we can all live comfortably.

 

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

August 2nd, 1945

Journal,

 

Driving ambulances has not only provided me with wages but I have made a few excellent contacts within the ranks of the British and American military.  I have met a man from a place called Hoboken, New Jersey.  He works for an American intelligence agency and is gathering information from Germany and Russia.  Sometimes he rides with me if I am delivering supplies.  Other times he has me drive him to the Russian embassy, dressed in civilian clothing.  I’ve even gone with him to the edge of Germany, near the Russian border, where he just sits and listens to any conversations he can hear.  I’m not sure what he listens for, but he is an important man in the government so I help him out whenever possible.  I have also been doing a good deal of translating recently, especially with all of the prisoners passing through.  Thank God I am not one of them.

 

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

June 20th, 1945

Journal,

 

Joseph and I arrived in Hamburg yesterday. We have gone our separate ways, each of us looking for a job and some money.  It seems the only place I will find employment is in one of the many refugee camps throughout Germany.  I spoke with a British officer this afternoon who was impressed that I could speak and understand German, Polish and English.  He has hired me to work for the British as an ambulance driver and interpreter. I will always be riding with a doctor and we will travel around northern and central Germany.  No one questions my background.  They all believe I am simply a Polish refugee of the war. 

 

Henry 

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

May 19th, 1945

Journal,

 

We have escaped! Two nights ago, Joseph and I convinced the guard we were Polish refugees and they allowed us to walk out of the POW camp. Hopefully it will be a few days until the British realize we are missing.

We are currently traveling towards North Central Germany. We’ve been traveling on the side of the highway, walking in ditches that keep us out of sight. Anytime a jeep or a motorcycle drives by, we scramble to hide until they have passed us. Luckily, they are so noisy we can hear them from a mile away. We have been sleeping on farms and in haystacks at night, stealing or begging food from the farms along the road. Joseph grew up in the city and does not know much about farm life. I can milk cows since I spent so much time on my grandmother’s farm. And I know how to carefully take the eggs from under the hen without disturbing her. Joseph has been pecked many times. Last night, he tried to steal some eggs and woke up the hen. She began to squawk loudly and the farmer came dashing out of the house with his gun. We ran as fast as we could and the farmer chased us all the way down to the road.

 

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

May 15th, 1945

Journal,

 

We have been living in a Prisoner of War camp for over a week now and it is miserable.  I refuse to remain here and so my friend Joseph Price and I are planning to escape.  I don’t want to be sent to England as a prisoner.  Joseph and I have both managed to secure civilian clothing by trading for the supplies we have left.  We will leave our German uniforms behind in the camp and sneak away from the British.  Joseph is Polish too and we will simply claim that we were Polish citizens caught up by mistake with the rest of the prisoners. I pray that this works and I will see my family again.

 

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

May 5th, 1945

Journal,

 

It is over. Germany has been ordered to surrender all of its armed forces. We have been told that Hitler killed himself a few days ago. Admiral Dönitz, the Commander in Chief of the German Navy, instructed all German ships to surrender to the nearest British or American forces. We are to avoid surrendering to the Russians at all costs. Those ships at sea are to come to the nearest port, while others ships already at port, such as ours, are to stay there. We are docked in the far north of Germany, near a city named Klixbull close to the Danish border. We will become Prisoners of War under the British, although no one is sure what will happen to us.

 

Henry

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 4:18 pm  Comments (1)