The uprooting of seven million civilians – women, children, and elderly men – from their homes in the German provinces of East Prussia, Pomerania, and Silesia following World War II is largely unknown in the United States.
Weeds Like Us is a gripping true adventure story about the author’s own East Prussian family. The author’s earliest years were spent in relative comfort on his grandfather’s farm in East Prussia during World War II. For him, life in Hitler’s Germany was the natural order of things. Then, in January 1945, just after the author’s seventh birthday, the Russians rolled into East Prussia. Full of unexpected twists and turns, Weeds Like Us tells the story of what happened over the next six years, as the author’s family tried to make its way safely to the West.
The moonlight shone on a row of tall thin poles which poked out of the ice at regular intervals. Like guideposts, they led us slowly forward. Sometimes the ice creaked, threatening to give way. Sometimes a layer of water floated on the surface, coloring it black. Partly submerged wagons and the carcasses of horses jutted out, the broken crust of the ice refrozen around them. A thin layer of snow lay on top. The scene was unearthly.
Far to our right, we heard occasional faint hissing sounds. The glow of flares illuminating the sky spooked our horses. Each time, Opa and Ilse struggled to regain control.
"Now what?" Oma grumbled. "First they warn us to travel under cover of darkness and then they turn night into day."
"Perhaps it's the Russians," Mutti whispered.
After that, no one said a word as we moved on; we listened instead for the drone of approaching Russian airplanes. The wagon wheels ground against the ice. The horses snorted as their hooves rhythmically tapped the hard surface. Once in a while one of the animals slipped and my heart skipped a beat. I had seen what happened to horses with broken legs. It was agonizing to watch their slow progress; how much worse it would be if we were forced to abandon our wagons and travel on foot.
As my eyes scanned the starry sky for the moving lights of Russian fighter planes, a hand tapped me on the shoulder from inside the wagon. Oma slipped me five cubes of gingerbread. I stashed four pieces into my coat pocket and popped the fifth one into my mouth. The gingerbread was frozen solid and I sucked on it until it was soft enough to chew.
Gunter Nitsch was born in Königsberg, East Prussia, in December 1937. By the time he was thirteen years old, he had lived in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and in both the Soviet-Occupied Zone and the British-Occupied Zone in Germany. After he came to the United States in 1964, he obtained a Bachelors degree from Hunter College and an MBA from Pace University while studying at night. For most of his professional life, he worked as a marketing consultant to American and German firms at the German American Chamber of Commerce, followed by eight years at Bayerische Vereinsbank AG in New York City. Since his retirement he has devoted his time to writing. He and his wife live in Chicago, Illinois.
Ein Buch das einem zeigt wie es Damals war, in all seiner härte gegen die Menschen. Jedoch erhebt der Autor keine Vorwürfe, was umso besser ist. Dieser Günter, seine Oma und seine Mutter sowie auch sein Bruder kommen einem sehr nah. Und ich denke auch an Dorchen und den Opa. Vielen Dank!