Flight and Expulsion
Thoughts of Fleeing Farbezin
By Werner Hornburg
When I think about 59 years ago and what we as children experienced
during the war, I have strong feelings for my home. Saturday
evening, March 3, 1945 we were told to prepare for the evacuation of
Farbezin. No one was allowed to leave before this time without being
severely punished. My confirmation celebration was planned for March
4th, but that would not come to pass.
Farbezin Church in an old postcard
Earlier that evening Russian tanks had arrived and a building had
been set on fire. We were prepared to flee but the Russians ordered
everyone to remain. The next day our village was full of Russian
tanks. The cows were herded to be driven away. The men of our
village were conscripted to accompany the cows. On the 24th of June
we were given a half hour notice that we had to leave and evacuate
Farbezin. We left with our neighbors and the owner of the estate,
Heinrich von Dewitz and his wife. She had only the family Bible wrapped in paper.
Dewitz Manor in an old postcard
The Polish led us to the Oder River. Every day our fortune was
controlled by the Polish. We arrived in Luebzin on the Oder and
waited to be transported by ferry to Poelitz. The Polish said
goodbye to us with these words, “You are here now, where you should be.”
Because of a break in the Oder River dam we had to walk two and a
half miles through backwater to Poelitz. We came a barn near
Stettin. The first train to Berlin was a freight train and we
arrived in Berlin at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Our destination
was the Juli Chorin Cloister where my aunt was a member of a
Protestant Order working as a nurse.
Dewitz Manor in 2005
She had wanted to attend my confirmation but she could not because
of the political situation. Since my aunt had been with the Chorin
Cloister for 25 years we were given a small apartment. There were
problems with our care and my mother contracted typhus. Often for
many days we did not have any bread so we had to be content with
potatoes. On 15th of May we learned from hometown friends that my
parents were able to settle in Klein Polzin.
Farbenzin church 2005
The Expulsion from Pommern and our hunger were the reasons we came
to Klein Polzin where we have rebuilt our lives here in Vorpommern.
It can be said that after the 58 years that we have lived here, we
have not forgotten our Pommern roots. We have driven to our home
village of Farbezin on several occasions. Every time we go there to
our former house it is with mixed and sad feelings. I will never
forget my Farbezin roots.
Dedicating the cemetery monument
We attended the dedication of a monument in the Farbezin churchyard
on 14th of May 2003. We were surprised by the positive acceptance
of the Polish residents of the village. Every pew in our small
village church was completely filled.
Inscription on the Monument - In memory of the many generations of
Germans who resided here until 1945 and mindful of their dead
resting in this cemetery.
The von Wendoff manor in Breitenfelde, Naugard
Our escape on March 3, 1945, and the weeks before in February were
exciting. A death sentence had been issued in Naugard for Paula von
Wendorff, a Breitenfelde landowner, under very mysterious
circumstances. Rumors still persist, many years later, and have
induced the youngest son, Dr. Gunter von Wendorff to ask questions.
Here is what is known.
At the end of January 1945, Paula von Wendorff had taken her
brother, Karl Buesing, and the child, Herrmann Bauhofer, across the
Oder River on the train. Upon her return she tried to take her
daughter in law, Gisela to the ancestral home of the Wendorffs,
Naulin in Kreis Pyritz. This attempt failed because the Russian Army
had already occupied the village.
Upon her return to Breitenfelde, she was arrested the following
morning by a police officer from Daber. She was taken by horse and
wagon to Naugard where she was put in prison. The death sentence
was not immediately carried out and Paula von Wendorff was
transferred to Gollnow. It was rumored that one of her 6 living
sons had been killed in Stalingrad. There was a plea for mercy that
was denied. There was no son of Paula’s in Pommern at the time.
Shortly before the Russian Army invaded Gollnow, an official of the
penitentiary helped Paula von Wendorff escape.
Because of her small stature, she fled on a child’s bicycle to the
city of Schwerin, where she had been born. She went into hiding and
the death sentence was never carried out. The evacuation order had
been given about 10:30 a.m. and the Russians had taken Daber by
12:30 p.m. The entire manor personnel fled through the Kannenberger
Forest. The farmers decided individually whether to flee
Breitenfelde or to stay. About 60% decided to leave and 40% for
different reasons, decided to stay. Most of those who fled went to
Kreis Dithmarschen in Holstein.
Our family went to an uncle in Neuenkirchen near Greifswald. In the
middle of May we returned, but we only went as far as Daber because
the Germans in Breitenfelde had been expelled from their homes and
were living in the manor granary. On June 26, 1945, our family went
to Breitenfelde with people from Daber and Breitenfelde to
resettle. In early July, after many things had been taken from us
we exchanged horses and returned again to our uncle in Neuenkirchen
near Greifswald. Many of the people from Breitenfelde settled near
us. Twenty years would pass before I returned to Hinterpommern
again, but that is another story.
By Georg Ehmke - Georg and Gerda Ehmke have resettled in Greifswald during 2006.
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 ok.
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
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
The woman of the house didn't want to help us, but knew it would be
bad for me. A German whodoesn't want to help another. We all found
space. Where there's a will, there's a way. That was also valid
again this time. Gisela and I slept on the ground absolutely wrapped
up in blankets. Luck, the Russians who came genuinely thought we
were children. We lay so, day and night.
But each human being has bad luck once. One day, a Russian came and
surprised me, as I was up. He made me understand that I should come
with him into the cellar. I refused of course. Mom was not there. I
trembled over my whole body. But it didn't help to refuse, I had to
go with. One cannot imagine what I endured. Below in the cellar, the
Russian, a brutal fellow, wanted to rape me. At the cellar-stairway,
mom stood and wept for me. But the Russian became only furious.
Therefore, I begged mummy not to come down into the room.
Fortunately, I had my menstruation. When the Russian noticed it, he
was furious and sent me upstairs. I thanked God for having protected
me. Mummy too was happy when she saw me back alive and untouched.
But one more time, I had to go with someone.
A young commissioner came at noon, lifted the blanket and
shouted astonished "Oh ... girls!" but he put the blanket down
again. A few hours later, he came back and had a conversation with
us. After a short while, he made clear that he wanted me to go with
him. Full of fear, I followed him. Upstairs, he locked me up in the
bedroom. He wanted the same thing as the other one. Oh, how
frightened I was. He said nothing but "Do what I say, or I shoot".
The commissioner already was lying upon me when the Gracious Lord
sent me his help. The Russian did not manage to prevail - I defended
myself with hands and feet. He had to give up. But I wasn't allowed
to go away. I had to sit on the bed's edge and talk with him. I lied
like never before.
But, anyway, he understood nothing, just like myself. When we didn't
know anymore what to say and I didn't want anymore to understand
anything, I was allowed to go downstairs. Everybody was awaiting me -
the first question? "What did he want?" "What they all do", could I
only reply. "So what? Don't fear, nothing happened to me". Mummy
breathed again. Will it always continue like that?" we asked
ourselves. I would rather die than yield to a Russian.
The other day, Mummy wanted to go with Dieter and me to
the "Persante" (River). Then, all that would lay behind us. I tried
a new hiding place, "in bed". Mummy and some women sat the whole day
on it. The Russians went the whole day in and out, but they didn't
discover me. Suddenly, I heard from under the bed that somebody was
speaking German. There were 2 Polish men, officers. They took care
of us, brought us something to eat and everything we wanted. Next to
our house, a fire broke out. For hours, we stood fighting against
the fire. At last, we could go into our house. Max, so was one of
the Poles' name, calmed us and said the fire would not extend to our
accommodation. The night passed calmly. The Poles and 2 Russians
slept in our house with us. On the next day, they had to resume
We stood there again unprotected. What was the date, we didn't know.
We were also already too indifferent. But we eventually gave up the
project of going to the "Persante". Later on, we were transported to
Neustettin, where we lived for months in the ghetto. I have worked
in the working service, this way I earned the food for Mummy and
Dieter. The Russians were kind to me and made it possible that we
rode on the first transport to Berlin. There were my Grandma, Aunt
Clara, Cousin Irmgard, Mummy, Hans Dieter and myself. I had received
a passport, for us not to be harassed by other Russians. After days,
we arrived in Berlin and our life as refugees began.