Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thank you St. Heribert

In 1945, my mother’s mother was shot and killed by an American soldier in Germany (assumed to have been accidental).  my mother’s father was still in a prisoner of war camp in Russia so my mother and her two brothers were pretty much orphaned (their father died in 1949 on the trip home back to Germany).   The children were sent to a Catholic orphanage in Leichlingen.  This orphanage still exists today.

Kinder und Jugendorf St. Heribert

This morning I received a copy of the original log book page that shows the details of when my mother and her two brothers entered St. Heribert’s.  I am not putting a copy of the page on the blog because my mother and one of her brothers are still living and the log contains their full names and dates of birth.

It is a bit surreal looking at this yellowed page.  Three children ages 12, 11 and 9 had lost literally everything and then they are sent to a place far from their home where they knew no one.   They were Protestant and this was a Catholic orphanage so on top of everything else that they were having to deal with they were also being converted to a different religion at the same time.  My mother was only 13 when she left St. Heribert’s bound into an apprenticeship. 

In spite of all of this, my mother and her two brothers were never bitter and all three became successful and productive members of society.  One of my uncles became a chemical engineer, the other became a successful businessman and my mother is an expert seamstress.  Of course my mother’s real claim to fame is ME Smile


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

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