Katharina’s Story: Chapter 12 – A Refugee Family Settles in

Our aunt Dori — my Mutti’s (Nora’s) sister — took us in for the first few days. She lived on a farm; actually, it was more an estate, a complex with buildings and walls all around a large courtyard, and a tall solid gate like a fortress. There was a large garden; there were milkContinue reading “Katharina’s Story: Chapter 12 – A Refugee Family Settles in”

Katharina’s Story – Chapter 11: The Allied Occupation

The fact that the Podack family had arrived intact in Austria after leaving our comfortable life at Opa’s farm in Kalthof, arrests my attention to this very day. The credit for our survival goes largely to my mother, Nora Podack, who was brave enough and tenacious enough to take the risks necessary for our survival.Continue reading “Katharina’s Story – Chapter 11: The Allied Occupation”

Katharina’s Story – Chapter 10: Becoming Refugees

In that winter of 1944, an awareness began to steal over me that soon we would have to leave Opa’s farm in Kalthof. Yes, we could hear the grumbling of the Front, and at night, we could see the sky lit up by artillery fire over the horizon. The community was abuzz with talk ofContinue reading “Katharina’s Story – Chapter 10: Becoming Refugees”

Katharina’s Story: Chapter 9 – After the Air Raids – Summer’s End

I did not know at the time how dangerous it was to listen to the BBC… Kalthof. We are back, having moved in with Opa and Oma – August and Hedwig – after our apartment in Königsberg was destroyed. I am in fourth grade, again attending Falkschule as I did in the second grade whileContinue reading “Katharina’s Story: Chapter 9 – After the Air Raids – Summer’s End”

Katharina’s Story: Chapter 8 – The Bombing of Königsberg : August 1944

The noise was deafening. I covered my ears with my hands, but they were still ringing. Then I heard it again. The incredibly loud bang seemed to repeat itself again and again, a resounding echo under the bridge, finally fading away. Papa was talking to Mutti, but I could only see their lips moving. IContinue reading “Katharina’s Story: Chapter 8 – The Bombing of Königsberg : August 1944”

Katharina’s Story: Chapter 7 – A Child’s Wartime Christmas

In late 1942, Katharina’s family lived at Luisenallee, in Königsberg, and it was in this year that Walter Podack was conscripted into military service with Hitler’s German Army. Katharina, the eldest child and now nearly eight years old, knows only that Papa has gone to war. It happened matter-of-factly, like another day off to work,Continue reading “Katharina’s Story: Chapter 7 – A Child’s Wartime Christmas”

Katharina’s Story Chapter 6 Omi and Opi – the Eberhardts

Marie Eberhardt Katharina and I have been for a quick, brisk walk on this November morning, and now sit in warm comfort together on her plush burgundy sofa. She has a box of photos open on her lap. As she shares them with me, slowly extracting one after the other, she pauses for some timeContinue reading “Katharina’s Story Chapter 6 Omi and Opi – the Eberhardts”

Katharina’s Story – Chapter 5

Summer on the Baltic Sea It is an uncharacteristically hot day in October when I arrive at Katharina’s home in the Salt Lake Valley. Apropos to her industriousness, Katharina is preparing to make home-made ice cream in her old-fashioned ice cream churner. Already, she has whisked the sugar and eggs with the freshly-scraped vanilla beanContinue reading “Katharina’s Story – Chapter 5”

Chapter 4 — Mutti and Papa’s Early Years

Nora and Walter Nora’s plan was to become a teacher, instructing girls at a Lyceum (girls’ high school) in mathematics and physical education. She had already earned her teaching certificate at Albertus University in Königsberg but turned down an offer for a position in favor of accepting Walter’s marriage proposal. *** Katharina sits at herContinue reading “Chapter 4 — Mutti and Papa’s Early Years”

Chapter 3 – The Podack Women in Conflict

…Nora became familiar with her mother-in-law’s shape; sort of a hollowed back, wide hips, sloping shoulders and the forever corseted middle… Hedwig Clara Hedwig Packhäuser was born early in 1890, on a farm in Pravten, a rural village to the North and East of Königsberg, that capital of East Prussia. She was probably the second-bornContinue reading “Chapter 3 – The Podack Women in Conflict”