Today, I will write a story I do not want to write. But I simply have to. Many tears will be shed before the end of the story, but it has to be done. I just owe them. Them that is Martin, Erika and Meta.
On July 26, 1907 in the small village of Benkendorf, Rosa Gerhardt nee Teichmann gives birth to a son. Her husband, the forester Paul Gerhardt, is delighted! The child will be baptized by the name Karl Paul Kurt. And there will be one more child, Frieda Rosa Luise, born two years later. Needless to say, that Kurt will follow in his father’s footsteps and become a forester. Frieda gets married first; she marries another Kurt, Kurt Krause, a young police officer who later will become an officer in the German Army. Kurt Gerhardt waits with getting married until he finishes his education and finds a job as a forester. He is lucky, he soon gets a job as a forest officer in Lenzen. He is a civil servant now, the future lies clear ahead. He weds Erika Emma Henriette Pein from close by Köritz on January 15, 1938. It is a cold and windy day. And there are dark clouds over Europe already. Very soon Erika Gerhardt gives birth to their first child, Martin Paul Wilhelm on October 13, 1938, soon they become parents of a daughter, Erika Elisabeth, born February 2, 1940. But there is a war going on, Kurt is a soldier now, his brother in law Kurt Krause has fallen in the first days of war already. Their third child Meta is born on September 22, 1941 in Wittenberge, in the hospital, not like her siblings at home, in the forester’s house. In June 1944 Kurt comes home for rest and recuperation. He is stationed in Russia, looks exhausted and sad. They take pictures, a happy family. But Kurt has to go back to the front line. It will be his last visit, the last time the children see their father. Only a few weeks later, on July 12, 1944 he dies in the Ukraine. Erika is alone now; she stays were she is, in the forester’s house, outside of Lenzen, all by herself, in the forest. The Russian Army comes closer and in Mai 3, 1945 they have reached Lenzen and Erika and the children.
On Mai 4, 1945 around 9 a.m., Martin, 6 years old, Erika, 5 years old and Meta, 3 years old, were found dead next to the house. They had been shot by their mother. On May 7, 1945 around 3 p.m. their mother was found dead at the same place, she had committed suicide sometime between the evening of May 4 and May 7. What had happened? Of course we do not know for sure. But as for so many other women, she might have been severely traumatized after being raped by a group of Russian soldiers. And she was so alone.
They were all buried next to the house, no gravestone, nothing that could help remember the place they were laid to rest. Was there a pastor? I do not know. Their aunt Frieda did not talk about it, their cousins forgot their names. Only the pictures, taken in June 1944, still exist. Pictures of a happy family.
This is for you, Martin, Erika and Meta. You are not forgotten.