After leaving the Herzogenburg, Austria, refugee camp in February, 1945, we traveled to Weimar, Germany, where one of Mom’s sisters lived with her family. We arrived the day of a bombing raid.
By permission of Constantin Beyer http://www.constantinbeyer.de/
The book has a short chapter about those in our extended family who did not escape communist Romania. A 22-year-old cousin, Hanna, was arrested and taken from her home in the middle of the night and sent off to Russia in January, 1945. She became a slave laborer.
In her memoir she describes an event not long after arrival at her prison camp:
“It is winter, 1945. It is terribly cold. The cloth we wrapped around our mouths and noses to ward off the cold is frozen stiff from our breath; frozen on our cheeks. Our lips are tight and split and in our noses we have ice buildup. We are outside all day in the extreme cold, carrying loads of heavy stones with our handbarrows.
As we work we encounter a man. What does he look like? He is covered with hoar frost. Our clothing too, our head covering and hair underneath are white. But we do not look so ghostlike. Or does it only seem so? After all it is extremely cold.
The man is close to us. He is also slave-laborer, but one who seems to be already broken. He walks like a marionette with stiff frozen joints and his face is covered with hoar frost. But his beard – his long beard – is an icicle. We are shaken. His eyes seem to notice nothing. We are very close now; he does not see us. We have now passed him. The man is walking alone through the huge compound in the opposite direction.
What group is he with? We do not know. He seems older than we are. Maybe he has a family at home; wife and children, people who hope. For him hope seems to have died here.”
Dad was sick and starving, had a full beard, was very weak, and looked like a walking skeleton. He weighed 95 lbs. He was 27 at the time, but appeared much older. Because of his weakened condition he was released from Focsani, Romania, on August 28, 1945. It was an emotional moment for me when I found the original Certificate of Release document in the records my parents had saved.
On the Certificate of Release, written in blue ink toward the top in Cyrillic script is “Maroscher Gustav”. His birth year “1917” is two lines below. One can also read that he was prisoner number 17223. Above his prisoner number is his release date.
Much earlier in the writing process I laid out 185 pages on the floor. Seeing only two pages of the time on the computer screen made it difficult for me to be sure that the order of the book or the order of the chapters and the stories was organized properly.
Laying the pages on the floor in the family room was a perfect way to get a good overview and it actually resulted in a few changes of organization.
The pages grew to about 220 but it is still organized the same way.
Mom, my brother, and me (the short one) in Russian occupied East Germany, not long after the bombing raids stopped.
This is most likely the house where, not long before the picture was taken, a bomb came crashing through the roof and two floors and stuck in the dirt of the cellar, but did not explode.
At the time Dad was a POW of the Russians and Mom did not know if he had survived the war or not.
Before World War II Dad was drafted into the Romanian army. Dad is shown on his horse while serving. Dad was in a Romanian mountain troop battalion. In spring, summer, and fall he rode his horse. In the winter cross country skis were used.
The Romanian military was the first of three armies Dad served in during WWII. In August, 1940, the northern part of our Transylvanian homeland was annexed to Hungary.
Dad was drafted into the Hungarian army not long thereafter, and fought on the Russian Front. The contrast between how Americans fought in WWII and how our dad fought is amazing. His unit in the Hungarian army had horse drawn wagons, and dad told me his allotment of mortar shells was two per mortar per week. Americans and Russians, supplied by American industry, had considerably more ammunition and mobility. Dad had to carefully husband his ammunition.
Dad is shown with some of the soldiers in his platoon. Dad is sitting on the left, eating something. The soldier in the rear left is resting a mortar round on Dad’s leg.
Just before the total breakdown of Axis resistance Dad was drafted into the German army.
Before World War II our life in Transylvania (part of Romania) was an idyllic rural life. My brother Gus (called Günter at the time) had seen his mother and the milkmaid milk the cows. He decided to milk the pig named Wunzu.
Gerhard’s mother and father, Gustav and Helene Maroscher, were married two months before the start of World War II.
The Maroscher family name comes from the Transylvanian county of Maros and the river that borders it is also called the Maros. The Romanians call it the Mures.
Since the last name “Maroscher” is derived from the Transylvanian geography rather than an person’s occupation or physical characteristic, I assume Dad’s ancestors were likely among the early German settlers in Transylvania.