Browse Interviews

  • Collection: Cleveland German-American Oral History Project
22 total

Barbara Hermes interview, 07 February 2020

Barbara Hermes was born on February 10th, 1938 in Cammin Pomerania, Germany. Barbara tells of her life prior to World War Two living on a farm and exploring the Baltic Sea (her father worked at a resort in Dievenow on the coast). She details the horrors her family experienced in 1945 when they evacuated their hometown to flee the advancing Russian forces. She describes surviving an air raid, hiding in ditches to avoid the Russian military, barely making it to safety, reconnecting with her…

Barbara Hermes and Erika Wagner interview, 02 December 2020

This interview describes the lives of these 2 sisters, Barbara Hermes and Erika Wagner from their time spent in Niedersachsen, Germany at end of World War Two, in 1945, to when they both immigrated to the United States in 1954. Their saga continues with a transatlantic journey, travels across the American midwest, to Cleveland, Ohio, where they both live successful and professional lives.

Helga Schlothauer interview, 24 June 2019

Helga Schlothauer was born in 1937 and was only 7 years old when she and her mother and younger brother escaped from their home town of Neu Schowe, now called Ravno Selo in what is now modern day Serbia. Helga Schlothauer tells of her childhood travels across war torn Europe, to Austria, and finally, in 1956, to America. Helga describes her life here in the US as a native German speaker.

Hilde Hornung interview, 01 August 2018

Hilde Hornung was born in a town in Yugoslavia named Neuschowe and lived with her father, mother, and two siblings. At the age of two, Hilde and her family were forced to leave their home, and they were forced to endure horrible conditions in three starvation camps. They were finally able to flee into Hungary and then Austria in the late nineteen-forties. Hilde and her family immigrated to Cleveland, Ohio, when she was thirteen years old. In Cleveland, Hilde would participate in a local…

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George Hornung interview, 01 August 2018

George Hornung was born February 23, 1940, in Yugoslavia. At the age of four, George and his family were forced to flee his home on horseback with only a tiny portion of their belongings. They took a train into Austria, where they worked on a farm for an Austrian family for two years. After the American troops came to occupy Austria, George and his family were relocated to refugee camps that housed over seven hundred people. They stayed in the camp for eight years. While in the camp, George…

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Gretl May Rein and Leonhard May interview, 05 May 2021

Margaret (Gretl) May Rein and her brother Leonhard Rein were born in Velimirovac, an area of Croatia and Slovenia which was in the former Yugoslavia. Leonhard was born in January of 1940, and Margaret in May of 1941. Their journey west began in this western part of the Osijek-Barnaja County, near the town of Nasice. Their father, Emanuel, as a German speaker, volunteered with the German army after serving in the Serbian army. Their journey headed west, with their mother and grandparents, to…

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Brigitte Kiemschies interview, 01 June 2021

Brigitte Kiemschies was born in 1948 in Roth Germany and had a relatively idyllic childhood. Brigitte tells of her journey, having grown up in post-war Germany, from an interesting perspective, describing her life living between the 2 divided worlds of East and West Germany. Her travels at the age of 26 took her to America, where she married, raised a family, and led a busy and successful life in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Elsa Arsic interview, 01 September 2021

Elsa Arsic was born on July 1st, 1936, in West Prussia, in a small town called Grutschno. Elsa describes her time in Germany, constantly moving in an attempt to survive the war, with her younger sister, born in 1943, and her mother. Her father served in the German military, was wounded in the battle of Stalingrad, and killed in battle in Hungry in 1945. After the war Elsa’s mother wrote to her aunt and uncle, who lived on a farm in the United States. In 1956 the family was sponsored by the…

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Hertha Hetzel interview, 27 August 2021

Born on December 24th, 1939, Hertha Hetzel grew up in Bavaria and came to the United States of America in 1952 when she was twelve years old. Her father had been a prisoner of war in England and he had two maternal uncles in Cleveland, who sponsored her family to live in the United States. She lived in a single, crowded apartment. She did not know English so she was placed in school as a kindergartener, despite having been in the sixth grade in Germany. She went to Wilbur Wright junior high…

Ema Fuchs interview, 13 September 2021

Ema Fuchs was born to a German family in Uruguay on March 25th, 1939. She moved to Brazil at a young age and described her time growing up in a German town/community in South America and the blending of cultures, languages, food, and experiences she had. She moved from Brazil to the United States in 1964 while heavily pregnant because her husband needed open heart surgery, she had her eldest child five days after landing in the United States. She talked about moving to the United States, living…

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Frank Awender interview, 18 March 2019

Frank Awender was born March 5, 1924 in Neuburg, Romania. He is one of the founding members of the Society of the Donauschwaben in Cleveland which is now the Donauschwaben German American Cultural Center (DGACC). Frank served in the German army and tells many stories about his service in the Third German Panzer Division. He was captured at near the end of the war and eventually escaped and joined his mother in Kolberg, Germany. There he learned the construction trade. In 1952, Frank came to…

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Anna Welker interview, 03 November 2018

Anna Welker was born on February 17, 1934 in Neu Schowe, Yugoslavia. In December of 1944, Anna’s family, along with the remaining townspeople of Neu Schowe, were removed from the town and began their long, harrowing journey as refugees. Anna and her family endured many hardships in their two years at the Jarek internment camp. In 1946, Anna and her remaining family were moved to Krusevlje. In early 1947, Anna, her aunt, her mother and her cousin escaped Kursevlje. Anna’s journey included many…

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Reinhold Federmann interview, 05 June 2019

Reinhold Federmann was born August 12, 1939 in Kischker, Yugoslavia. Reinhold’s father was a baker. Mr. Federmann was 5 years old when his family fled Kischker in October of 1944. Reinhold describes, in remarkable detail, his journey from Kischker to Flattnitz Austria and eventual placement in a refugee camp in Salfelden, Austria. His family was then place with a farmer near Salzburg, Austria. They stayed in Salzburg for 4 years. When the refugee camp in Salzburg dissolved in 1950, Reinhold’s…

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George Welker interview, 10 September 2018

George Welker was born on January 9, 1934 in Schajkasch-Sentiwan, Yugoslavia and died March 12, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. He lived in Sentiwan until late 1943 when his family fled to Hungary as Russian troops advanced. His family eventually was placed in a working plantation with other refugees in Austria. They eventually settled in Buchenau, Germany. George came to Cleveland at age 18 in 1952. He became active with the soccer club in Cleveland that eventually joined the Society of the…

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Emil Wagner interview, 04 March 2021

Emil Wagner was born in 1938 in Landshut, Germany but moved to Eger (now Cheb), Czechoslovakia. At the start of the war, he and his family were forced to evacuate to Vilsbiburg, Germany, where he remained until the age of nineteen, when he emigrated to the United States. This 2021 interview details his struggle to adjust to life in Cleveland, Ohio, serving in the military, becoming a member of the Donauschwaben, and working as a master cabinet-maker.

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Luisa Owen-Lang interview, 08 April 2021

Luisa Owen-Lang was born on September 22, 1935 in a small village in Yugoslavia, and emigrated to the United States at the age of sixteen in 1951. In this interview, Luisa discusses her childhood during the expulsion and subsequent ethnic cleansing of ethnic Germans. She also recounts her experiences as she was separated from her family and forced to endure harsh conditions in multiple concentration camps at the age of nine and her life after she moved to the United States. Luisa Owen-Lang also…

Maria Huppert interview, 18 September 2021

Born on January 20th, 1942, Maria Huppert was born in Transylvania but moved to Germany at a young age where she worked in farms until adolescence when her family was sponsored to come to the United States in Cleveland, Ohio. When Maria Huppert first arrived in the country she was suffering from mumps and had to spend a short period of time quarantined in a hospital. She did not speak English at the time. She and her family grew up in the United States with close ties to the Lutheran Church.…

Heike Haddenbrock interview, 18 November 2021

Born on January 28th, 1965, Heike Haddenbrock grew up in Germany and currently resides in Copley, Ohio. She met her husband in Germany, who had gone to an American university and wanted to pursue an MBA in the United States of America. They moved to Nashville, Tennessee. She worked from home for a German automotive newspaper as a foreign correspondent. Her husband works for Goodyear and their relationship has given her the opportunity to travel throughout the country. In Dallas, Texas, she met…

Horst Hoyer interview, 29 September 2021

Reverend Horst Hoyer was born on February 27th, 1930 in the city of Gotha, in Thüringen, Germany. Initially, Horst was told he was unqualified to join the ministry because of his poor public speaking skills, however, he went to Berlin and joined a church association. In order to study theology, he needed to be certified in the ancient languages and crossed from East to West Germany over the iron curtain using a military pass. He came to the United States via a scholarship in 1954 to study…

Krista Fuchs interview, 01 October 2021

Krista Fuchs was born in Poland on October 26th, 1937. Krista lived in a Polish children’s home until she was five years old then her, her mother, and her stepfather moved to Germany. She worked on a farm in East Germany and studied agriculture until she was 16 years. After this her and her mother illegally traveled to West Germany where she worked in a hospital. During this time, she applied to the United States after being sponsored by her mother’s sister. Her aunt intended to adopt her…

Michael Baumgartner interview, 23 October 2021

Born on November 6th, 1961, Michael Baumgartner has travelled and worked across the world in his field of musicology, studying the history and impact of music and cultures throughout time, specifically in regards to story-telling. He grew up in Zürich, Switzerland but heard the music and experienced lifestyles of numerous cultures from around Europe. He currently resides in the city of Cleveland as a professor teaching at Cleveland State University, living under a green card. His experiences…

Ernest Biebel interview, 07 November 2019

Ernest Biebel was born on October 12th, 1941, in Uivar, Romania, and migrated to the United States in 1955 to pursue a new life after World War II and the aftermath. In this 2019 interview, Biebel discusses the experiences of his childhood in Europe, his family's move to the United States, and his life in the United States as a native German speaker.

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