Week 5: Student Story from Hans Lietz

by Memoir Mentor on November 26, 2008

Hans Lietz has attended my classes for a number of years while steadily working on the story of his family’s harrowing experience in Europe during World War II. In this excerpt, Hans describes in chilling detail the fear and deprivations his family experienced when the Russians and Poles took over the lovely seaside town of his boyhood and moved into his home.

By Hans Lietz

Not long after the end of World War II, a new city government was created in Leba, the resort town we resided in on the Baltic coast in Pomerania. Russians and a few German Communists led the government, called Comandantur, and established headquarters in one of the nicer buildings in town. A park with large trees stood in front of the building, and this soon became the new Russian cemetery. Each grave was marked with a red star. It grew fast. Each time a drunken soldier shot another one, he was executed.

For us and the many refugees from the eastern Baltic States, life eventually became more orderly. A shortage of food did exist. Previously all farms were raided by Russian soldiers, with livestock taken away or killed. The few food markets experienced a similar fate. Luckily, we lived in a small community and not in a large, destroyed city. Canned and preserved food was still to be found in vacant houses. Gardens with fruits and vegetables existed too. Besides, we were surrounded by water with plenty of fish. Some houses stood vacant, however, because the owners left before the Russians came in. Some who didn’t leave had committed suicide.

The nightly commandos of drunken Russian soldiers looking for women continued. Women stuck together and created hiding places, though many of them were found and often gang raped. Some became pregnant, and even more attracted venereal diseases.

(Click HERE to read the rest of the story.)

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