Can We Talk?

Et cetera

Can We Talk?

Full Circle

It all started here.  My protector, Hansi.  My “older brother”, Hansi.  He had a gentle nature and lived with my family from 1941 until 1945.  He was my grand-parents’ foster child.

His father had died in a work-related accident. His mother had nobody to look after the young boy while she worked. The German government wanted to place him with a German-speaking family and that’s how he came to live with us.  I’ve been told those were very happy years for him.

This picture was taken some time in 1944, one year before the world we knew ended.

The country was called Yugoslavia at that time.  Before WW I, it had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and is still referred to as Lower Styria by the Austrians, of course.  The hamlet was called Lugatz.  That same country is now called Slovenia and the hamlet is now called Lokavec.

Our family had owned and lived on the farm at # 7 Lugatz for many generations.  But all that was of no import for what was to come.  In times of war home, country, assets, ownership, family – nothing matters.  It is all razed as though it had never existed.  The looters take what they want, happily tossing the rightful owners aside.  Well, if you’re on the losing side, that is.

And so it was that Spring of 1945, my family and I were rounded up and thrown into a concentration camp in Sternthal, our home and land seized, our family and the life we knew, in tatters.  And so it was that Hansi was separated from us.  But life goes on.

One evening, while watching television with my husband, the phone rang.  I answered.  I heard a voice asking if this were Erika.  I said “Yes”.  He said “This is Hansi”. I knew immediately who it was for there was only one person called Hansi that I ever knew in my life.  Of course, I remembered him only through stories my mother told me and through family pictures.  We corresponded from that moment on.  When he asked if I would come to his 50th Jubilee as priest, I answered “Yes”.  Sixty-four years had passed since we had last seen each other. Read more…

September 23rd, 2008 Posted by | Zacharias - The Story of a Family | no comments