Klaus Egon Schladetsch
Klaus Egon Schladetsch, born 26.1. 1929 is my father, who is known as Egon. He has been a carpenter/ builder all his life, and he immigrated to Australia in 1952.
Some of the memories of what Egon remembers of the early years on the farm and living in the village has already been told above.
WWII begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and Slovakia, when dad was 10 years old. He doesn’t remember any difficulties during these early years, as they had plenty of food on the farm.
Early years and War stories - WWII from 1939 – 1945:
During the war he was part of the Hitler youth as was every young person, for the fun things they did, it was a bit like Boys Scouts. It was for fun, and basically no-one had a choice anyway.
They all had plenty to eat, and for a long time, everything went on as usual.
|Lunden college, 1943|
|Ratzeburg college, 1944|
1943 at age 14 Dad went to teachers college in Lunden ( 1year), then Ratzeberg 1 year (this building is still there and very nice). At Teachers College, he had a uniform with a swastika on the arm band. Dad says he was very homesick for 12 months and did not like being away from the farm.
In 1945, at age 16, he and his fellow classmates were marched to Denmark supposedly to continue teacher training, but this was a camouflage for military training. They trained in shooting, and firing the canon, using a miniature canon.
|Add fanatical lecturer Her Gehlecaption|
|Morning assembly at Teachers College|
In Germany, meanwhile, during the last period of the German defense in the autumn of 1944 and spring of 1945, many boys between the ages of twelve and sixteen were drafted as German troops on both the Eastern and Western fronts. Many of the boys were recruited from the HITLER YOUTH, and the Führer awarded some the Iron Cross. The boys handled antiaircraft artillery, grenade throwers, and other weapons. Many of the soldiers who refused to surrender when the Americans occupied the Ruhr Valley were boys. They devised roadblocks, ambushes, and other mischief wherever they could until the final German defeat in May 1945. Source: http://incredibleimages4u.blogspot.com/2010/03/boy-soldiers-in-second-world-war.html
The War ended in summer of 1945, not many months after going to Denmark. They were marched home, on foot, from Copenhagen. As soon as he could he threw his rifle, and papers, insignia etc, into the first river they crossed. It took them 6 weeks to march, and was about 300kms. Sometimes he would sneak into the back of the wagons that was being pulled by horses, carrying the supplies, to rest and sleep. He was told to get off, as they were not allowed to ride in the wagons, but the men said, 'leave him be, he is only a boy', and so he was allowed to ride the wagon sometimes. The march was orderly. When they reached the Denmark border the English Troops took over, and regimented them into a column, and marched them with armed guards, and tanks.
They were told if anyone tried to run away they would be shot. All he had with him was a rucksack. When they got near to Dithmarchen he told them that he was near home and that he was going to leave. They told him not to go, as he would be shot, but Dad said he didn't care. He did not want to go to the POW camp. So, when a bend in the road came along with a large ditch and bushes, without any guards nearby, he quickly jumped over, and lay down, waiting for the column to march past, which took about an hour or so. He was very frightened and his heart was beating.
From here he had about 20klms to walk. He headed for Northastdt, keeping to the back fields and roads. Along the way he saw a large group of trucks and soldiers, and had to change his direction. Then, again, he saw some figures ahead of him, and he turned to hid, and then he heard the 'pings' of the bullets flying past - they were firing on him. So he turned and surrendered. He was approached by two large African American Soldiers, who had stripped off their shirts, as it was hot and were carrying their guns. They tried talking to him, asking who he was etc, but he pretended that he couldn't understand them, even though he could. They took him back into Northastded, into a ?barn? or command post, and gave him tea and biscuits. He was asked again, maybe this time in german? and he told them he had been off working somewhere. They said, "well, he is only a boy, let him go", so when he had finished his tea and biscuits, he walked off towards home, about 4 klms. When he got home the first one to see him was his sister Lesa who said he looked like a wild boy. His mother was very happy and she wondered where they would put him as the house was full of refugees. The refugees were from Eastern Germany who had been fleeing the Russians.
He said had he gone to the POW camp he might not had been home for another 2 or 3 years, as it took a long time for them to be released. He remembers people arriving back 2 or 3 years after the war from the POW camps.
|a file picture of German POW’s|