How did the war effect your family

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
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Post by Timo » 16 Sep 2002 15:53

Grandfather was forced to work in Berlin, lived through both the Allied bomb raids and survived the Battle for Berlin. Locked up in a Russian camp in Wittenberg until proven he was not in the SS and came home in late July 1945. He never talked about it until a few years ago.

Other grandfather did some minor (but not underestimated) work for the local resistance and volunteered as a fireman. Seeing how they took away the Jews from his neighborhood (and his Amsterdam neighbourhood was very "Jewish") left a lasting impression as only few came back after the war. Until his death he disliked the Germans, to put it mildly.

But there are things I can't mention

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Post by de-gouden-ridder » 16 Sep 2002 17:33

My family thougt that Germany would win the war. But that wasn't truth, so after the war it wasn't so easy for my family anymore. :|
Anyhow, my grandfather survived the bloody war and I am happy because of that.

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Post by Tolga Alkan » 16 Sep 2002 17:46

My grandfather(74 years old and alive) was student(i assume in his 17-20 years old) in Erzurum city,very east of Turkey,Soviet border.When Germans came to south Russia and Bulgaria;he said,he and his friends fear and leave from their school.He travelled to homecity in very uncomfortable trains.He stayed in home city until war ended.

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Erik E
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Post by Erik E » 16 Sep 2002 18:14

On my fathers side My grandfather joined the resistance in Copenhagen.
We don`t know what he did there, cause he didn`t speak much of it when he lived..... We do know that he and a friend were captured at some point, my grandfather managed to escape, and fled to Sweden. His friend as not that lucky.... He left me some great stuff which he "lifted" from his actions.

On my mothers side, my grandfather worked in an forced-labour unit called "Arbeidstjenesten (AT) in Stavanger.
My grandmother lived close to the coast, and she witnessed a great deal of convoy attacks and planecrashes. Her uncle was killed on a trawler which cougth a mine in the trawl!

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Post by Xanthro » 16 Sep 2002 19:17

The war didn't change much on my families side.

My paternal grandfather was in the Coast Guard and partoled the coast of Texas on a horse. Not much action there.

My maternal grandfather was a pilot in the Pacific, but because he was a test pilot before the war didn't see combat. He flew Halsey and others around.

I didn't have any great uncles around to fight, and the rest of my male relatives were either to old or to young.

My wife's maternal family was from the Sudatenland in what is now the Czech republic, so they were all forcibly removed after the war. Somehow, her grandfather and all her great uncles survived.

For them, the afterwar period was actually worse than the war. Food was very scarce.


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Post by Victor » 16 Sep 2002 21:53

My grandfather graduated first at the artillery officer school in Timisoara in 1932 and was sent to the Artillery School at Fontainbleau (France, in case you don't know) from which he graduated among the first in 1935. When he returned home he was assigned to the 2nd Heavy Artillery Regiment. In 1941, he had the rank of lieutenant and was an artillery battalion FOO. From what I read in his evaluation reports (by superior officers) he distinguished himself in the fights around Freudenthal and Dalnik (near Odessa). After the end of the 1941 campaign, he was sent to the War School (military academy). After graduating in 1942 he was assigned to the General Headquarters, Section 3 Operations and promoted to captain. This is were he remained until February 1945, when he was again sent to the front, this time as a staff officer of the 2nd Corps (4th Army). He again was very active, being almost every day in the front line and coordinated several attacks. At the end of the war he was promoted to the rank of major. In 1947 he was fired (like many royal army officers) and until 1948 he worked in a farm. He was recalled in the army to teach in the Military Academy. In 1956 he retired and went to work in the civilian sector (he already obtained an economist decree and an electrical engineer decree). he died in 1983.

He also had a brother in the Navy that died sevenl years ago.

My grandmother (his wife) fled fropm Bessarabia in 1940, when the Soviets invaded. her family owned much land, vines, cattle and sheep, but together with her mother and sister were forced to flee with only two carts. The rest of the family stayed behind. Her grandfather and grandmother died soon after that, in misery. Probably the shock had been too much for them. Others were taken away and never seen since.

On the road the three women barely escaped rape by Soviet troops, but lost their remaining belongings. They were taken in by some relatives in Iasi.

The other grandfather was in military school during the war and did not get to see any action. My other grandmother lived in an area which was not touched by war.

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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 16 Sep 2002 22:23

My grandfather was in the resistance movement - other than that, my family wasn't effected to any effect...


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Post by Karl da Kraut » 16 Sep 2002 22:32

My grandfather (maternal side): Regular officer, served with an Infanterie-Division. Last rank: Lt.Col. Participated in the Polish and French campaigns. Since 1941 Eastern Front. Fell 1944 in the area of Pleskau at the age of 32. He never saw his youngest daughter (my mother).

He had four brothers, two of them never returned from Russia as well. One of my grand uncles was an extremly lucky guy, though. He served with the Kriegsmarine, first as a gunnery lieutenant on the heavy cruiser “Blücher”, which was sunk in the Oslo-Fjord during the invasion of Norway. In October 1944 he survived a second sinking of his ship (a small escort vessel) in the Baltic Sea. He also managed to escape from British captivity after the end of war.

My grandfather (paternal side): Lt. 1st class (OLt.) of the reserves, last rank maj. Since he was already in his mid-forties (he had been a front officer in WWI, though), he was assigned to staff duty. Later on, he he held rear commands in France, Italy and Russia, finally to return to staff duty in Germany. He was captured by Americans in late April 1945 and was released after a year. So my grandfather spent 10 years being at war and a year in captivity.

My uncle: rank: private. He was drafted into the Luftwaffe right after his 17th birthday, despite having a weak heart, in August 1944 and served as an aa-gunner. In April 1945 his unit received marching orders for the Eastern Front for infanteristic use. They had already reached Halberstedt when they were spotted by a Luftwaffe general named Schmidt (Schmitt? Schmid?) who, God bless his soul, handed out papers of dimissal to the youngsters, though he he stated that those papers might not suffice if they were controlled by SS or MPs. My uncle then rode on a bicycle to relatives in Bremen, where he waited until the front-line had passed the city. On his ride home, he was captured by British soldiers who didn’t accept his papers but allowed him to keep his bike. As there were no guards on the backside entrance of the POW camp my uncle rode simply into the camp and left through the back entrance (he just LOVED to tell this story).

My father wasn’t that much affected by the war; at least not in the way the realtives above were – he was nine when the war ended. The only aspect really worth to mention ist that my grandmother wouldn’t allow him to go to school since March 1945. Three of his fellow students had been machine-gunned by an low-flying enemy aircraft on their way to school. :cry:

Well, this is only a part of what I could think of how my family was affected by WWII. But I guess this has already been more than anyone could possibly be interested in.

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Matt Gibbs
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Post by Matt Gibbs » 17 Sep 2002 00:24

Grandfather [mothers side] fought with BEF and was shot by machine gun in France, invalided out at Dunkirk and three years convalesing with metal plates after his shoulder was rebuilt. Grandfather [fathers side] reserved occupation but was I believe an ARP warden. Saw bombing in Hull.
Great Uncle Ted in RAF but killed after being shot down, was bomber pilot. Another relative of my fathers was in the Costal Command flying Swordfish torpedo bombers. [not sure of connection] Great Uncle Alan reserved occupation, engineering firm director supplying secret submarine parts to the Admiralty.

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Phil V
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Post by Phil V » 17 Sep 2002 02:19

Grandfather was in Royal Navy. Captain of LC1 landing crafts. Service in Atlantic, Pacific, Mediteranian. Wounded number of times. Sunk once.

Rest of relatives fought for Germany in various roles.

Grandfather had German name and looked very German - needless to say he became Navy boxing champion pretty quicky. :D

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Dan W.
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Post by Dan W. » 17 Sep 2002 03:02

I've read some excellent stories on this thread.

My Grandfather was an E-8 in the U.S. Army and I remember two things about being around him as a small child. One was his appearance. At around 6-3 he had a crewcut and a gravelly voice that would scare me whenever he spoke. The other was that "he liberated the death camps in WWII".

Sadly, he died in 1982 before I was old enough to acquire my current fascination with world history and WWII. I don't know what unit he served with.

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The Desert Fox
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An Excellent Thread indeed!

Post by The Desert Fox » 17 Sep 2002 09:17

Dan Weakley wrote:I've read some excellent stories on this thread.

My Grandfather was an E-8 in the U.S. Army and I remember two things about being around him as a small child. One was his appearance. At around 6-3 he had a crewcut and a gravelly voice that would scare me whenever he spoke. The other was that "he liberated the death camps in WWII".

Sadly, he died in 1982 before I was old enough to acquire my current fascination with world history and WWII. I don't know what unit he served with.
Yes I will second that Dan, some of the stories have been excellent. It certainly makes us thank our lucky stars for being born in this generation and not that of 1930s/1940s.

It must have been a horrific experience for your grandfather to see what he did in those camps. I find the documentary footage bad enought without seeing anything live.

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Post by Matt » 17 Sep 2002 12:42

Desert Fox

What unit did your g-grandfather serve with?
My mothers father also served in the ANZACS (11th Battalion) and landed on the 25th. (my uncle said he was in the first boat to land, and saw the first casualty drop dead in front of him on the way to shore) He was twice wounded, the second time losing his leg in an action that won him the DCM. My uncle has a commendation signed by Churchill.
My fathers father survived 3 years in France (artillery), also twice wounded. We still have silver cuttlery he managed to procure from a French castle.
I am happy they both managed to survive!


gabriel pagliarani
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war in my family

Post by gabriel pagliarani » 17 Sep 2002 13:23

Better to avoid almost 3 pages of personal report! My father story is enough for me. I think there is big difference from Nation to Nation. Only lucky Swedish or Swiss could report no effects of war on their families. Some Nations were touched more than others, and some Nations partecipated to a lot of wars. (I am thinking to my own..both cases.)

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Daniel L
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Post by Daniel L » 17 Sep 2002 13:29

World war two affected all people in Europe, even those who lived in neutral countries. I think you were very rude when you said that "lucky swiss and swedish families were spared"!

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