To the Person of Selim Humbaraci Andreas Wunn (Born 1975) is the Director and presenter of the “ZDF-morning magazine”, and “ZDF-midday magazine”, and was previously a South American correspondent. In his book, “mom’s escape”, he describes the joint trip with his mother in the Region of their Childhood.
Suddenly, the barking of dogs in the sunflower field. Boots RAM their way through the dry earth. August 1947: Hungarian border police are hunting for German refugees from Yugoslavia. My great-grandmother and her two grandchildren are asleep in the shadow of the sun flower heads, Wake up my grandmother, then a young woman in her late twenties.
By the Green of the leaves she sees the muzzle first. The dog gets closer to sniffing, step-by-step. Now he’s standing right in front of her and stares at them. He is in a feeding frenzy, otherwise makes no sound. A single Bark, and it would be over. They would be discovered and sent back. My grandmother is convinced that this would mean death. She sees the dog in the eyes, and not moving. They stare at each other. Endless Seconds.
And then he makes a turn and trots away. No one discovered my family. You can set the escape. In The Direction Of Germany.
I think whenever the escape of my mother, I see the sunflower field in front of my eyes. And imagine my sleeping mother as a child and the dog, and the border guards. Actually, my mother has never told really from the past. From her Childhood as a German in Yugoslavia, the escape, from you when you Arrive in Germany. For the village in 1941 was born in a lost place. And now we will go exactly to this place, in the village of Setschan in the Northern Serbian Region of Banat.
A trip, exactly 70 years after
the fate of the Danube Swabians in Germany to date, little is known. Around 550,000 lived up to the Second world war as a German minority in the former Yugoslavia. Their ancestors, mostly artisans and peasants, had emigrated 250 years ago there. With the Second world war, everything changed for the Danube Swabians. Many of them sympathized with Hitler. For this they were persecuted after the war by the Yugoslav partisans.
historians believe that in the last two years of the war, more than half of the Danube Swabians was expelled, tens of thousands of the remaining died in Yugoslav internment camps, including many children; many starved to death. My mother and most of her family survived after 1945, two years in Yugoslavian Camps until 1947, the escape over the border to Hungary. Today in Serbia only around 4000 German to live-born.
“I said, and I wrote down, as we are, at the time, escaped,” my mother on a cold February day in 2017. Out of the dark Berlin Winter stormed. You gave to me seven hand-written pages, in their teachers ‘ writing rates. She had noted the few experiences of your escape, you may remember. According to the refugee images on the television it became clear that they had come on the same way to Germany: exactly the Route that was in the summer of 2015 as the Balkan route from Serbia through Hungary, Austria and the Alps to Bavaria.
they also showed me a little slip of paper that I saw for the first Time: Painstakingly, my grandmother had recorded the stations of their escape, with places and exact dates. From these sketches and many questions, the idea of a journey – a journey back into the past of my mother, on the month, exactly 70 years after their escape.
Can be a place of home, one hardly?
we Started our journey in the small Palatinate village of Hauenstein, where my mother’s from the 1950 grew up with. Then we drove to Bavaria and Austria, on the trail of her first years as a child in German refugee camps. We climbed the 1700-Meter-high purtscheller house; the hut in the Berchtesgaden Alps, stands exactly on the Austrian-German border, where my mother, her mother and grandmother, and her little brother on the run Station had made.
We were traveling along the Hungarian-Serbian border, and saw Viktor Orbán’s border fence. In Serbia, we stood in front of an abandoned factory building with broken Windows, probably my grandfather of Yugoslav partisans and was shot.
escape route: In 21 days across Europe
We places visited, where earlier the camps were, where my mother as a child, Hunger had suffered. We saw the ruins of the mill of my great-grandmother. We visited the dilapidated birthplace of my mother, the former pharmacy of my grandfather.
There we met a former resident. He gave us old, dirty, pharmacist, phial, which he had found in the attic, and claimed they were from the pre-war time, my grandfather had used. In the neighboring village, searched and we found the house of my great-grandfather, the old post-station; it is luxury renovated and is today a multi-million dollar business woman from Bucharest.
Our journey in the Serbian late in the summer was a trip full of Surprises and Unlikely. Deeper and deeper we penetrated into the family history of my mother. A story of Idylls, war, displacement, escape, home, and silence – but also about the nature of memory.
The Silence in the family
“you don’t Find that strange that you don’t remember anything?”, I’ll ask my mother sometime. “In the run, you were almost six years old.”
she considered. It is every Time hard to talk with me about the Past. She wears her Inside like to the outside.
“I don’t know it. My memory only begins in 1947 in Germany.”
“Maybe it’s an automatic protection that you have suppressed?”
“I don’t know. Or maybe I’ve seen anything that has shocked me.”
“And your brother? Could he not remember?”
“I don’t think so. But I don’t know. We have never talked about it.”
“you two have never spoken to each other about it?”
“I don’t know.”
As always, I can’t get at your more – there’s a vault door in your head: it closes everything that happened prior to arrival in Germany. You don’t know what is hidden behind the door, holds it firmly closed. And you do not want to know.
Displace and Silence that she learned from her mother, it runs in the family. In so many families.
DISPLAY Andreas Wunn:
On the trail of a lost home
Ullstein Hardcover; 256 pages; Euro 20,00.
And then we stand in front of a sunflower field on the Hungarian-Serbian border. It extends almost to the horizon. The sun is hot and oppressive in the country.
“let’s Go,” I say finally.
“Really?”, asks my mother.
“of course,” I answer.
I slide the thick plant stalks and make us a way. The flowers seem hard and dry, their heads inclined towards the ground, the petals are burned out in many Places brown. Soon they will be harvested.
“It’s a good place to hide”
Now we are right in the middle. The flower-filled me up to the neck. You tower over my mother.
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“so Now here we are,” I say and go in the knee, my mother does it to me. Now we are sitting in the field, are completely immersed. Around us the green stalks and buzzing insects.
“is Actually a pleasant place. Since we were so tired, we slept. Only the mom was watching,” says my mother.
“The story of the dog did you get often told, is it?”
“Yeah, that’s because it almost was a miracle that the dog didn’t betray us.”
“Somewhere in here you could have hidden you.”
“It’s a good place to hide,” says my mother.
“Can you find your escape now better imagine?”
“It must be bad. To be the fear that We caught were so small. For my mother, and my grandmother was certainly not easy. It was up to us children that we were progressing so quickly.”
We talk a lot. It is strange that we are both now here in this sunflower field. It feels staged and real at the same time. Finally, I would like to make a photo. Exactly in this Moment, a helicopter flies in an arc rather low over us, as to the control. Border police. I wave briefly in the air.
at that Time there was no helicopter. Only Dogs. A Stroke Of Luck.