Monday, 15 April 2013

WHY are the Fischers going to Ostpreussen?



Margarete (Gretel) Mathilde Schakat
March 14, 1923 (Königsberg, Ostpreußen) 

May 3, 2012 (Ottawa, Canada)

Arno Walter Fischer
April 12, 1904 (Klein Engelau, Ostpreußen) 

September 21, 1982 (Ottawa, Canada)

Our mother is the author of 


Her personal memoirs of growing up in Königsberg, East Prussia (Ostpreußen) and then moving to the country to live with our father on a prosperous farm in the small village of Klein Engelau.

She recounts the heartbreak of losing her twin brother, Hansel, to illness as a teenager and shares the frightening story of how, in her early twenties while our father was a prisoner-of-war, she gathered their two small sons and her mother and escaped the encroaching Russian army on a horse-drawn wagon in the middle of winter.

Her story is not the only example of heroic women who stayed behind in Ostpreußen while their husbands fought battles in WW II. There are thousands more just like this. But Margarete is our mother, and she wrote her story as a legacy for her family. We will never forget her and we will love her forever.

This journey is for you Mutti. Toi toi good luck.

From "Where Hoffman Told His Fairytales" [Page 127]...
As soon as the band struck up its first tune, the brother that Tante Grete had described as a farmer came to ask Gretel to dance. Gretel was taken aback, but accepted his offer and had a chance to discretely assess him. He seemed a bit older, and cut a good figure in his well-tailored, dark pin-striped suit.

He told her that he had taken lessons at a dance school in Wehlau, which Gretel didn’t doubt, because he led her expertly in a brisk waltz, changing the step forward from natural to reverse, and from one end of the hall to the other as if he owned the place. He swung her around so jauntily that she practically got dizzy, but he held her tightly as if intending never to let her go.

He was keeping up a conversation at the same time. He seemed pleased when Gretel told him that she was from Königsberg and that she was completing her service year at her aunt’s place in Groß Engelau. A bit later, he asked for another dance, and this time began to flatter and compliment her. He boasted that he owned the largest and best farm in all of Klein Engelau. When he sensed that this failed to impress her, he added that he had just purchased a new car and that he would like to invite her for a drive. Would the following Sunday be convenient?

At this point Gretel stopped abruptly in her tracks. She pulled away, gave him an indignant look and asked, “Herr Fischer, tell me, where exactly is your wife?” 

He laughed, unfazed, and reached for her again. “Don’t you know? I’m holding her in my arms!” 

He tried to resume the dance, but she pulled free once more, turned and left Herr Fischer standing, dumbfounded, on the dance floor.

WHO is going to Ostpreussen?

The Fischers

Klaus Dieter
Hans Arno
Heide-marie (Lavier)
Ursel Margarete (Bond)
Rose-marie (MacLean)

From "Where Hoffman Told His Fairytales" [Page 16]...
She did not grieve alone. Her ‘international family', as she liked to call her children, was by her side. Her two sons, born back in East Prussia and with whom she had fled her home. The always unassuming refugee child Heide-Marie, born after the war. And her two Ottawa-born daughters Rose-Marie, born in 1957, and Ursel Margarete, born in 1958, both Canadian citizens before even their parents had the honour. 

From "Where Hoffman Told His Fairytales" [Page 18]...
Over the years, her children in Canada would bring her pencil and paper, begging her to finally write down how it was back in Königsberg and East Prussia. This is therefore dedicated to them: “Every word a lonely hour, every thought a memory!"