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Old October 22nd, 2012, 11:41 AM   #1
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Personal stories from older people


As a child, did you hear from your older relatives about experiences of important events? Examples are:

* The flu epidemic of 1918
* Their early impressions of Hitler, and when and how they changed
* The early years of Communism in Eastern Europe
* Hyperinflation, such as Hungary in 1946
* "Normalization" in Hungary or Czechoslovakia
* Events outside Europe also!

We can read all the history books we want, but we should save personal accounts while we can.
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 12:12 PM   #2

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dsmichel View Post
As a child, did you hear from your older relatives about experiences of important events? Examples are:

* The flu epidemic of 1918
* Their early impressions of Hitler, and when and how they changed
* The early years of Communism in Eastern Europe
* Hyperinflation, such as Hungary in 1946
* "Normalization" in Hungary or Czechoslovakia
* Events outside Europe also!

We can read all the history books we want, but we should save personal accounts while we can.
My great, great aunt who died about 5 years ago in her mid 90s was at Pearl Harbor on that fateful day in December. Hers was a fascinating retelling of the event.
As with many of the elderly, she could remember every detail about that day until the day she died, even when she could no longer remember if she had eaten breakfast 2 hours earlier or not.
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 01:38 PM   #3

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my grandfather remembers the partisans after the end of ww2. they came to his village (in bulgaria) and camped at the edge of the village. so he climbed up to the top of a tall hay pile to get a better view of the entire camp...then he fell and broke his leg. he was a child at that time as you can imagine
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 02:45 PM   #4

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Lots of stories.

My grandfather on my mothers side travelled through Europe a year after WWII (on bike and hitchhiking). He told me he saw the destruction in Northern Germany, and everywhere on his way there were signs of the battlefield, with destroyed vehicles, tanks etc sitting on the side of the roads. In northern France he saw the concrete ramps used by the Germans to launch V1 flying bombs directed at England.

In Spain he was arrested by the police for trying to cross the Pyrenees on foot from France to Spain.

My maternal grandmother heard the shots that killed some random passerbys, fired by the Germans in her local town because the resistance had carried out a succesful railroad bombing that apparently had cost the lifes of some German soldiers.

My paternal grandmother experienced not only the German occupation of the island of Bornholm, but also the subsequent Soviet occupation, the Germans refused to surrender on account of all the German refugees staying there, so the larger towns of the island was bombed by the Soviets, and the occupation by the Soviets lasted a year, only ending in mid 1946, and there was a general fear that the Soviets would annex the island in order to have a well situated naval base at the mouth of the Baltic Sea. At the beginning, on account of all the rumours, they had been more scared of the impending Soviet invasion, but it turned out, at least to my grandmother, that the Soviet troops were very disciplined and well behaved. But of course she didn't get to experience the joy the rest of Denmark experienced on the 4th of May 1945 as a liberation, but had to wait a whole year.

Last edited by Gudenrath; October 22nd, 2012 at 03:50 PM.
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 02:57 PM   #5

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My grandmother was child at 1941. Once Hitler invaded and destroyed Greece in that year my grandmothers family moved to Rize(eastern blacksea coast of Turkey) from Istanbul. Many people moved from Istanbul because people got scared that suddenly Hitler might attack Turkey and bomb Istanbul.
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 02:58 PM   #6

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When my maternal grandfather returned from his journey he was drafted into the army, and served as an MP in Copenhagen. He had to patrol what was the red light district at the time (Nyhavn), which was full of Danish sailors and allied sailors as well as allied occupation forces on their way to various places in Europe. So obviously a lot was going on, and he told me that mostly if they could see trouble brewing down the street, they usually turned around, because they were only patrolling in pairs and had no wish to engage large groups drunken sailors or soldiers, "and after all, those men were only after a bit of fun, who were we to deny them of that?".

It should be said my grandfather was one of the gentlest and kindest people I have ever met. He could stand up for himself if he wanted to, and he did lead his own very succesful business for the most of his life, but he always thought that his time as a draftee MP was simply the silliest waste of his time he had ever experienced.
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 03:15 PM   #7

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I enjoy hearing my grandfather's personal experiences of WWII.
During the first days of the Battle of Rimini(operation Olive) several engagements took place near his family's landed estate, so he directly experienced the harshness of the war without fighting.
One day an artillery piece fell near to my grandfather and missed the house where his father and his older uncle were resting, he then discovered that the round had killed one of his cows, later eaten by the German soldiers(several of them were Ostlegionen soldiers).
I also know that after the German retreated from the front, several drunk English soldiers broke into his house and one of them held one of his relatives at gunpoint with his Webley revolver.
I find astonishing the fact that my grandfather still remembers the name of the young (he was 19) German soldier that was buried by his comrades on his property: Gerd Passavant, killed by a piece of shrapnel that almost cut his head cleanly.
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 03:23 PM   #8

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I, too, have heard many stories. Here is one, allegedly true, which happened to one man. He belonged to the US Army, 2d Chemical Co. which was stationed in Manila, Dec., 1941.

Later he was sent to Corregador to maintain batteries. To do so he drove the last operating truck on the island. As driver he drove Gen MacArthur and others the night they evacuated. He was the last to wish him well.

He was sent as POW to Horoshima were he was working with others in the brick building of the city power plant. He was there when the bomb as dropped. After the war he took the train to Tokiyo Bay where he met some US sailors in a landing craft. They sent him out to a huge ship in the bay, a BB. There he saw, at a distance, an officer he knew and sent him a note.

The officer did remember him and ordered special treatment for him. It was Dugout Dougie.
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 03:49 PM   #9

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My buddy's grandfather was in the US army and liberated Dachau. He just started crying at it's mention, not much in the way of words from him. He is in touch with other guys who were in the service with him, and they will come to their family's house and cry together.

My father (born 1948) has interesting stories about living in Southern Maryland during the end of segregation. He told me there was a group of guys in a pick up truck that would come to his neighborhood and shoot bullets at people's houses. The cops never caught them (wonder if they tried). Also he has the story of going one particular restaurant that would gladly serve him and his friends, as long as they ate in the back where no whites could see them. He didn't understand why the owner hated him until his mother explained it to him. He's also told me about the walk home from school where people driving by would throw bottles at him and call him names that I'm not gonna post.

My Uncle Tick, my father's brother, served in Vietnam and volunteered for several tours, as he had no education and that's how he made his living. He was eventually wounded in the ankle, came home for good, and never talked to me (or my father) about the experience. My father was drafted into a medical unit of the army and described seeing dying and wounded soldiers coming in to be treated or sent home.

The difficult thing with these big events involving war is that so many geezers just don't wanna talk about their experiences.

Last edited by Mike Lynch; October 22nd, 2012 at 04:01 PM.
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Old October 22nd, 2012, 05:22 PM   #10
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Great stories, thanks.

A German relative (a woman) lived in Berlin in April 1945. We knew the Nazi years were off limits for discussion. It would have been interesting what she thought of Hitler from 1933-9, and when she realized disaster was coming.
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