Q: How did you get to be a prisoner of war and how did you experience the end of war?
A: After fighting really hard, we had to surrender in Tunis. The machines were dumped in the sea and we were made prisoners of war. In 1944, we were shipped to Norfolk in North America and later brought to Huntsville/ Texas. At first, we were treated quite nicely. After the war ended, however, everything changed. We had to work a lot harder and only got minimum nutrition. Mainly, we had to work in the forests and on cotton plantations. Later, we were brought to Le Havre, France, by ship. My boss was an Austrian Gentleman, who had convinced me that I should try to pass as an Austrian citizen. Because as a Volga-German, the Americans would have handed me over to the Russians. That would have meant death for me. In Le Havre, I was sorted out with the Austrians and was sent to Salzburg.
Q: So how did you end up here (southwest of Germany)?
A: In XXX, I jumped off the train, with no reason. It was a mere coincidence. I simply wanted to stay in the American Occupation Zone (read about it here). I had to report to the American Commandant and this is where I got really lucky: his parents were Volga-Germans as well and he offered me his protection. He also got me a job at a local farm, which was really important, so I would have food and a place to live.
Q: How did you imagine your future?
A: I really hoped, that I would find my family again and was thinking about emigrating to America. I had found a farmer there, who was willing to sponsor me. I would have had to work for him for 2 years and after that, I would have been free. I did not think any further than that.
Q: How did you end up here, in the village you’re still living in?
A: The farm was pretty close to here and I had to come here quite often to have the machines fixed in the local blacksmith’s shop. And we also transported material for the local craftsmen with our tractor. And I was also nursed back to health by the wife of the local doctor, after I had an accident at work. People were very nice to me, right from the beginning and I made a lot of friends with guys my age.