|My Mother ( with cigarette ) and Father behind her.|
Hitler made the decision to turn Poland into a purely German area within 15-20 years during WW II known as The Germanization of Poland. Various plans regarding the future of the original population of Poland was made with the deportation of Poles to Western Siberia and the Germanization of four to five million, although deportation really meant that Poles were to be put to death. There were millions of Displaced Persons ( DP'S) in Germany during WW II , most of whom were brought in for forced labor and used as slave laborers in factories and farms in Germany. Many of the DP's from Eastern Europe did not wish to go back to their country of origin at the end of the war fearing retaliation by the communist regime. There were Ex-Pows, displaced persons, former slave laborers and concentration camp inmates in Europe of which 2.5 million were in the British Zone of Germany. DP Camps came into existence after the German capitulation in 1945. there were thousands of DP Camps in Germany from different nations.
In the British Zone was camp Rehden, a labor camp that my parents were living , as well as two of my brothers Eugene and Henry. My brother Frank died as a baby and is buried in the Rehden cemetery. My brothers Eugene and Henry were born in a DP camp in Diepholz , which was on the grounds of the military airfield Fliegerhorst, that had been badly damaged by the bombings in February 1944. Air strikes took place on the air base which 78 bombs fell. I remember my parents talking about the bombings and how part of the plant they were in got hit and my Mother's leg was badly injured and scared for life, a memory that stayed with her every time she looked at the long scare on her leg. The bombings were a large scale attack with 90 four-engine bombers of the Americans and the plant was destroyed to a large extent. My parents from here went to Rehden Camp, it was a former German Army Camp that held a large ammunition depot which was scattered over a huge forest area with bunkers mainly underground. The Army personal was housed in low stone buildings and the labor force , mainly forced labor , in wooden barracks in a separate area from the Army buildings. The location of the compound was about 3K from the village of Rehden. This camp became one of the many camps my parents lived. The main occupants were Poles, but there were some Lithuanians, Latvians,and Ukrainians at the beginning but soon were transferred to other camps because of constant friction among each other. Rehden became 100% Polish and administered by the British as it was in the British Zone. Within a short time camp Rehden became the Polish center for Higher education for all Polish DP camps in Germany using the Polish system with the equivalent of high school education and eventually was called Polski Oboz W Rehden KR. Diepholz. When I was searching for information on Camp Rehden, I came across a gentlemen who lived in the camp at the same time my parents did and was nice enough to send me photos as well as his description of the camp. Erwin lived at the camp from 1945-1950 and had an excellent memory of Camp Rehden and has been very helpful on my search of the camp.
I think of my parents often, the more I look at the old photos from WW II , I admire the strength, endurance and the fight for life they had. I was a child protected from the cold careless world. Through all the trials and tribulations that they have faced and endured let not their spirit be restless , for they are always here with me.