Memories Of My Escape
By Charlotte Woischke
We had to leave our home in Neustettin, Pomerania in the spring of 1945. The Russian troops moved always nearer. Mom and Hans-Dieter, my brother were in Belgard and I wanted to try and meet them there, and perhaps abandon Pomerania with them over the Baltic Sea from Kolberg. Beforehand I would like to say that we were not successful. Six pages of my notes are lost to me. I have
written down what has remained.
With a bicycle, I went toward Belgard. Treks on the way been bombarded by Russian airplanes. The bomb-hail passed quickly. I went with Mr. Wachs, Patzwald, Schulz, Bruden, and Frau Krüger who
were already prepared for the journey. I was also soon ready and as it became dim, we proceeded by bicycle. Our goal was Bad Polzin in Belgard.
On the way, we met the Latvian SS Volunteers who were pulled out of Neustettin. Once again I met a friend, only from his voice I recognized him, Jonni. He could hardly contain his joy. I was
also pleased to see a friend. Unfortunately we could change only some words, because we were called further on and on.
It became night. I was weary to the point of falling but we had to endure. At 8:30 p.m. we had reached the goal. Everyone was hungry and thirsty, therefore we drove through to the railway station. After we had fortified ourselves, I visited my aunt Hete, who was accommodated in Bad Polzin. I was lucky, she could take Frau Krüger and me for a night.
Oh was I glad. I was so weary and fatigued. The trip continued in the morning at 7 o'clock. Four kilometers behind the city the road branched out towards Schivelbein and Belgard. Now, I was faced with a choice, over Schievelbein as fast as possible out of Pomerania, or to mom in Belgard. I could not leave mom alone, therefore I decided in favor of Belgard. Frau Krüger and Mr. Bruden drove toward Schivelbein.
The trip was bad, against the wind. We had almost always to lead the bikes. Mom was greatly astonished when she saw me. I was all for driving further together the next day. But mom didn't want
to, therefore I remained. Around Saturday March 3rd, 1945, Mom and Frau Wulff decide to travel the next day. I felt it was the right thing to do. It the evening we still sat together. All at once an air raid siren sounded.
The sirens meant "Evacuation." Everything went in a hurry. We got dressed, took utensils and blankets, and set out in the foggy night I still had my bike with me. It went forward very slowly.
Thousands of people were on foot. It was my second escape. After hours, we arrived in Köslin.
The children were tired. We were approximately 30 persons in a quite small area. After a short sleep we wanted to go further. But it was no longer possible to go beyond Kolberg or even Treptow. Now we could only wait. We went into the school where several refugees were sleeping but we could not remain there. By chance, we met friends, that made their home available to us. We had just finished eating when Russian artillery shot into the small city. Everyone hurried into the cellar. We were approximately 20 persons.
The house was very lightly built, like just all settlement-houses. One can imagine as it shook with each shot. We sat many hours in the cellar as we noticed that the Russians came nearer and nearer. We could remain in the house no longer. I was out in order to see where more solid houses were. I asked a French SS Volunteer for advice. He guessed we should try to go to another house. The Russians stood in front of the city, and could not come through the defense of our soldiers over the Persante River. I got the others from the cellar and we crpt through the city. We stopped before the house of the Dr. Schleiß. The house was right. We went in, but refugees were already there. But, the laundry room was still free. We made it comfortable for ourselves. I left my bike for a moment outdoors. When I wanted to get it, it was gone. Maybe, a soldier took it. That would be okay.
I will never forhet that night, I was awake all but 10 minutes because the tub always seesawed back and forth. But the night passed by. The morning began with cannon-thunder. Our SS Volunteers fought truly bravely. But without tanks or stronger arms, they could do nothing against the superior strength of the Russians. Evening came, and the soldiers could hold the city no longer.
As the soldiers were away, somebody knocked over a cannister of saltpeter. Everyone had leave the cellar. We had almost no air to breathe anymore. Outdoors the houses burned around us, the artillery shot continuously. What should we do? We ran here and there and landed again in the school. But hundreds of people were already there. As we came into the gloomy cellar, a quite terrible smell came towards us. But nothing mattered to us anymore. How we slept, one cannot describe. On a quite small spot, if you were lucky, you could sit on the cement floor. Children also sat in their own filth because no one dared to go out.
In another day the shooting reduced, because our soldiers answered no longer. The people were completely worn down. Everyone longed for silence and peace. White flags were hoisted in the city.
The city emerged. In the afternoon of March 6th, a Tuesday, the cellar-doors opened and we saw the first Russians. I will also never forget this moment never. German women and children had to emerge, hands lifted, and surrendered to the Russians.
The Russians asked for all watches and rings. With hands trembling from fear, everything was given. After some hours, it was announced that we could go in private quarters. We went into the small settlement house. It was hardly furnished. We noticed that we were no longer under German reign. A Russian came into our house and wanted to live there. All the houses were empty. What should we do? The children were gotten from the beds and we were homeless once again. However, we didn't easily leave the house, because the drunken Russians immediately asked for women. We were terribly afraid. I escaped a Russian under his arms and it stirred up hatred even further. At the school, we all met again.
But it was no longer so quiet as it had been previously. As we had just wanted to go, shots whipped past us. It was impossible to remain there. Again, we ran further. We knew no street, no house. Each house was locked. One however was open and we ran in there. It was already dark. Mrs. Wulff with 3 children. Mrs. Nagel with 4 children and Mrs. Bottin with 3 children remained at the school. Mrs. Poosch, Lieselotte with Detlef, Gisela, mom, Dieter and I had remained together.