Donauschwaben in den USA

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October November December 2011 Volume 6 Number 4







Forwarded by Eduard Grünwald





          On the occasion of the presentation of a formal letter of apology from a former US Army officer to the German people for the mistreatment of German prisoners after World War II AND on the occasion of the publication of a new edition of Other Losses by James Bacque about those prisoners of war, a public meeting was held at 2:00 pm Monday October 31, 2011 in the Congressional and Monument Rooms of The Courtyard US Capitol Marriott Hotel, 1325 2d St. NE, Washington DC 20002. Tel 202 898 4000

          Merrit P Drucker (US army major, retired) has apologized to the German army for the deaths of German prisoners in US army camps after World War II. Following extensive private investigations in the US and Germany, Drucker has sent an e-mail to Lt. Col. Max Klaar (Bundeswehr retired) head of the Verband deutscher Soldaten (German Veterans' Association) regretting the lethal conditions in the US camps where according to Col. Ernest F. Fisher of the US army (retired) some 750,000 Germans died because they were denied available food and shelter. By order of the American commander, General Dwight Eisenhower, German civilians were forbidden on pain of being shot to take food to the prisoners. Drucker has also formed a committee of six people, in Germany, the UK, Canada and the US to pursue further investigations and make amends. Drucker has posted on the German veterans' website a questionnaire asking for details of prisoners' internment which has already elicited many grateful responses. Many Germans have written to Merrit Drucker to thank him for taking a heavy weight of grief and guilt off their minds. Max Klaar was flying over for the occasion to accept the formal letter of apology from Drucker on October 31st. In addition, Max Klaar presented a proposal for a peace treaty between the USA and Germany. It has 14 points.

          Other Losses, an Investigation into the mass deaths of German Prisoners of War in the hands of the French and the Americans after World War II by James Bacque, first published in 1989, became a world-wide best-seller, published in 13 countries, but has been suppressed in the US for 20 years. This edition, which contains much new information from the KGB archives in Moscow, was commissioned by Karl Siegler, the son of a former prisoner in a US army camp. Col. Dr. Ernest F. Fisher, formerly a senior historian of the U S Army Center for Military History, who supplied the eloquent foreword to Other Losses, was also present. In that foreword he wrote, "Starting in April, 1945 the United States army and the French army casually annihilated about 1 million men, most of them in American camps." The author spoke and two short films about postwar Germany were shown.

          For further information contact or James Bacque at 705 549 8148 or Merrit P. Drucker at 202 722 6716. Please contact Talonbooks for interviews

See also and and the Verband deutscher Soldaten

Photo of German prisoners rounded up by US Airborne troops in Ruhr.

James Bacque

Merritt P Drucker Commander's Responsibilities

Der Verband deutscher Soldaten

Lt. Col. Max Klaar klaar.jpg
Col. Ernest F. Fisher








Warren Buffett


Forwarded by Eduard Grünwald


Warren Buffett

"I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. "You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.


The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971 - before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.


Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land - all because of public pressure.

This is one idea that really should be passed around.


*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*


1. No Tenure / No Pension.


A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they're out of office.


2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.


All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.


3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.


4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.


5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.


6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.


7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.


Congressmen/women made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.







Parma Heights World War II Veteran

Recalls Guarding German POWs



Published: Saturday, October 15, 2011, 3:16 PM Updated: Sunday, October 16, 2011, 12:36 AM

Brian AlbrechtBy Brian Albrecht

Forwarded by Tom Farley, Mansfield, Ohio



"There are no ordinary lives," said Ken Burns of those who served in a global cataclysm so momentous that the filmmaker simply entitled his 2007 documentary "The War."

Many who served in so many different ways during World War II are gone now.

Some took their stories with them.

But not this one.


Funny how people can get along when they're not shooting at each other.


The realization struck Ted Lesniak not long after he started guarding German soldiers at a POW camp in Georgia during World War II.


More than 400,000 Axis prisoners were shipped to some 500 POW facilities in the U.S. from 1942-1945. Many were put to work in factories and farm fields, receiving minimal pay (as per protocols of the Geneva Convention).


Lesniak, now 85, of Parma Heights, was drafted right after graduating from East Tech High School in 1944.

"I was the angry guy in basic training," he recalled. "We all reached the conclusion it was either kill or be killed. That was the bottom line."


So when he arrived at Camp Wheeler, Ga., he initially had more than a few misgivings about guarding some 2,000 German Afrika Korps soldiers who had been captured in 1943.


Actually, a more accurate description of his role was protecting, rather than guarding, Lesniak said. "You were there to protect them from crazy civilians if somebody wanted to come and kill a Nazi," he explained.


Most of his job involved watching over POWs who'd volunteered to work in local farm fields. The nation faced a labor shortage due to the war, and "the farmers just loved them to death, they were such good workers," Lesniak said.


"The remarkable thing was that they all knew what to do. I didn't have to do anything. Just stay out of the way," he added.


Lesniak recalled spending much of his supervision time in a truck cab -- reading, writing letters or sleeping -- as the POWs worked. He stuck his carbine ammo in his pocket and left instructions to be awakened if anyone saw another Army vehicle approaching.

There was never an escape attempt. As an English-speaking POW told Lesniak, "We're not going anywhere. We're not going to swim across the ocean to go home."


Lesniak said the POWs got $1 a day for their work, and spent the money on cigarettes, recreational equipment, musical instruments and anything else that helped pass the time in camp.


Though imprisoned, the Germans maintained strict military discipline; marching wherever they went, and snapping off stiff-armed Sieg Heil salutes during soccer games. Lesniak said they saw the GIs as too casual, which they regarded as a character flaw of all Americans.


In conversations with the POWs, Lesniak said they'd hash over strategies of the war.


The Germans steadfastly believed they were going to win, to the point where they'd quiz him about his hometown; asking for geographic, manufacturing and other details.


"It was like, 'If we ever take over, we'll want to know these things,' " Lesniak recalled with a grin.


The actual situation at the front hit home when a group of several hundred German POWS who had been captured in the waning months of the war, arrived at the camp.


Lesniak remembered them as being the last-ditch remnants of the German army -- either very young or very old, beaten, battered, half-starved, "looking like hell" and smelling even worse.


When confronted with the typical culinary largesse of a GI mess hall, these newcomers who'd just been given hot showers and fresh clothing, broke down in tears, according to Lesniak. One prisoner shouted, "Are we in heaven, or what?" he said.


He recalled that when Germany surrendered, the Afrika Korps soldiers volunteered "to a man" to fight with Americans against Japan.


Lesniak said the camp commander called the POWs together and told them: "To fight for America is a privilege. The privilege is granted to citizens only. You guys are not citizens, therefore you can not fight for America."


The Germans were indignant, Lesniak recalled. "They said, 'We're the best soldiers in the world, and you're going to turn us down?'"


But soon afterwards, Lesniak said many of the POWs were asking him about how they could become American citizens.

Come time for the POWs to go back to Germany -- and many didn't want to return to their war-ravaged nation -- "it was sad, in a way," Lesniak said.


When the former guard returned to Cleveland, he brought home a wooden suitcase made for him by one of the POWs using materials purloined from various work sites -- a common practice, as guards looked the other way.


Lesniak had the suitcase when he went to Bowling Green State University and earned a math degree and a master's degree in counseling.


He kept it while he worked as a math teacher in Beavercreek, Ohio, then as a school counselor at Cuyahoga Community College and Parma High School before retiring.


His children -- three sons and two daughters that he and his wife, Helen, raised -- played with that now-battered wooden case.

And these days, when he pulls it out and remembers, Lesniak realizes that those who had to battle the Germans or lost loved ones in the war might not appreciate the sentimental attachment packed in that suitcase.


He knows how the dark memories can linger. One of his brothers served in the Marines during the war and always refused to talk about the experience -- except once, after a few drinks, when he remembered the days he spent on Iwo Jima, trapped under enemy fire in a foxhole with a dead buddy.


But to Lesniak, the war also represented a time when enemies could peacefully co-exist; perhaps not as friends, but as fellow soldiers.


As he said, "Once you got to know them, they became people, just like you and me."



Ted Lesniak, 85, of Parma Heights, says this wooden suitcase was made for him by a German POW who wanted the former prison camp guard to "go home in style," rather than return with his belongings packed in a duffel bag.

Photo: Lonnie Timmons III, The Plain Dealer

Ted Lesniak originally started in the Army as a military policeman but found that his 140-pound physique put him at a decided disadvantage in trying to subdue larger, sometimes inebriated GIs, so he asked for a transfer to POW guard duty.


Photo courtesy of Ted Lesniak

Ted Lesniak, 85, of Parma Heights, guarded German prisoners at a POW camp in Georgia during World War II, and discovered they shared more than a barbed wire enclosure.








Forwarded By Eddy Palffy


"Why did I survive when thousands of others died?"

By Nancy Schertzing | Photography by Jim Luning

“Once I was old enough, my father taught me to play the accordion too, and when my mother sang along, people loved listening to us!” Hely smiles. “My grandparents, aunts and uncles all lived in Nakovo. The Catholic Church was at the center of our town and of our community life.”

“As a child, my father and his parents briefly lived in the U.S. Dad and his cousin, Frank Freimann, had been like brothers in Chicago. But my grandparents had farmland in Banat, the breadbasket of the Balkans. The farmland and the simpler way of life drew my father and Grandmother Susie home.”

“My father married my mother, and they planned to raise their children in the love of their families and faith. They were going to name me Helene after my godmother,” Hely recalls, “but my father thought it was too long a name for a little girl.”

Generations before, the Austro-Hungarian Empire had controlled Hely’s village in modern-day Serbia on the Romanian border. The emperor had awarded land to German pioneers who settled in the Donau Valley. Though life was difficult for the earliest pioneers, later generations of these Donauschwaben became prosperous farmers who maintained their German language and traditions, distinct from their Serbian and Romanian neighbors. To 6-year-old Hely, however, these distinctions weren’t important. “The Serbians in our neighboring villages were our friends, never our enemies,” she says simply.

In 1942, everything changed when Hitler declared that all Donauschwaben must serve the Fatherland. He sent forces to draft young Donauschwaben men. Nik was forced to leave his beloved family and farm.

Hely remembers, “Mother and I stayed with our family around us. My mother’s father was convinced no one would harm us, since we had never harmed anyone else. But many Donauschwaben began leaving Nakovo because of growing persecution and the threat of invasion. On Oct.5, 1944, a caravan of 150 horse-drawn wagons departed, leaving their beloved farms and pastoral lifestyle behind. My father had just come home that September and told us to hold on because he would be home again soon. That was the last time I saw my father. I was 8 years old.”

Anna and Hely waited for Nik and the unborn baby Anna now carried. On November 6, Communist forces led by Marshal Tito invaded Nakovo. They imprisoned Hely’s grandfather when he dumped his wine stocks rather than let them get drunk and run wild through the town. That day, he and others were taken away never to return. Any able-bodied Donauschwabe who hadn’t fled were deported to Soviet-backed labor camps in Siberia, sold as slaves to Serbian families or exterminated.

“By the time the soldiers came for us, the only ones left were the weak and sick. Since my mother was pregnant with my baby brother, they didn’t ship us out right away, but moved us with others into a section of town they called a retention camp.
“The soldiers stole and destroyed everyone’s belongings. We had almost nothing left. They even took our religion away by closing our beloved church and beating anyone who made the sign of the cross or genuflected as they passed by. My brother was born in the retention camp on May 5 – my mother’s birthday.

“In the winter of 1945, the soldiers forced us from Nakovo into cattle car trains bound for concentration camps. We were so crammed in that we couldn’t sit down. I remember my Grandmother Susie fought back when they took my mother, brother and me. Two soldiers beat her and locked her in a cellar as others herded us into the cars.

“We emerged from the train at a concentration camp in Rudolfsgnad, another Donauschwaben village that had now become the most brutal of the Donauschwaben concentration camps. Like Nakovo, all the houses had been emptied, except for some straw and horse blankets thrown on the floor. We never knew what happened to the families that had lived there.

“My mother, brother and I were put in a room with a great-uncle and what family he had left. They were essential to us, helping get extra food and fuel for an occasional fire. My mother was nursing my brother, Franzi, and needed more food than our daily rations. But even with their help, she was wasting away.

“The next spring, we were joined by my Oma (my mother’s mother) who was caring for my cousin Nik. His mother, Lisa, had been sold as a slave to a Serbian family. I was 9 by now, and Nik and I tried to help too. In the attic, we found grains of wheat and other scraps between the floor boards. Just as in our village, the Rudolfsgnad farm families had stored their harvest above their living space. It wasn’t much, but the few kernels of wheat or corn helped supplement a bit.

“One day, a Serbian soldier came into our camp – and my mother and I recognized him as one of the villagers who had helped my father with our harvest. He looked shocked when he saw us. That night, he came to our house, bringing food and words of thanks for how well my father had treated him in Nakovo. After that night, I never saw him again.

“But no matter how hard we worked to get food, my mother kept wasting away. Typhoid fever and tuberculosis were ravaging her body as she kept trying to nurse Franzi. Eventually, she had to go to the house for the dying. On May 23, my oma called me to my mother’s bedside.

“I went to her and she looked up and said simply, ‘Hely, that is all I have.’ She reached up weakly and hugged me saying, ‘Please take care of your brother so that when your father comes home he can see his son.’ In a few hours, she was dead.

“I went back to my baby brother, who was 1 by then. Franzi was smiling up at me. As I bent down to hug him, he reached up and grasped my braids in his frail little hands, trying to climb up. I whispered to him that I would take care of him as our dear mother had asked. I didn’t know it was a promise I could never keep.

“In less than a month, the soldiers took me away to an orphanage. I last saw Franzi in my oma’s arms. By October, he had joined my mother, starved to death in the Rudolfsgnad concentration camp.

"Years later, I learned that my father had been captured with his regiment of German soldiers in Slovenia. As they were marching across the landscape, his captors announced that the war was over. They instructed my father and others to take their POW clothes off and put on new civilian clothes they would provide. My father and others were delighted and stripped right away. As soon as they had removed their clothing, the Serbian soldiers mowed them down with machine gun fire. My uncle escaped. My father died in the massacre that day.

“As I boarded the train for an orphanage in Zagreb, I was utterly alone. I think when you live constantly with death, fright becomes part of your daily life. You don’t have a choice, so you just function with it. You sort of get this courage within you that says ‘I am going to survive.’ And somehow you do.

“I was 10 and spoke only German, surrounded by Serbians and Croatians. As the only Donauschwaben child in the state-run orphanage in Zagreb, I quickly learned to speak Serbo-Croatian. I went through the first through fourth grades in one year, and became very good at chess. I even began playing the accordion again.

“We were housed in the mansion next to Tito’s Zagreb residence. As time went on, I became more identified with my fellow Young Communists. My German language, Catholic faith and Donauschwaben heritage were fading from my memory. Tito visited us sometimes, and occasionally I was invited to perform for him as an example of the gifted Young Communists of his new regime.
“In a couple of years, I moved to an orphanage for older children in a section of Zagreb called the Upper City. I attended high school classes and learned Russian as my second language. Serbo-Croatian was my primary language.

"I was 12 the Christmas of 1948 when Paula, a friend of my Grandmother Susie, appeared at my orphanage. She told me Grandmother Susie had escaped from our village and made her way to Austria, reuniting with her daughter, Jolan.

“Paula had found me with my grandmother’s help, and had come to take me to Christmas Mass. Though I hadn’t attended Mass in years, I went with her gladly, delighted to see someone who had known my family.

“Sitting there in church beside Paula – even now I get chills remembering! It was like I was reborn there. The words and music of the Mass swept me back home to my early life in our lovely Nakovo. I returned to my orphanage that night, knowing my life could never be the same again.

“In the new year, my Aunt Lisa came to take me from the orphanage and reunite me with my surviving family. Oma and Nik survived Rudolfsgnad and had moved to a farm labor camp to join Aunt Lisa after she had been freed from enslavement to a Serbian family. My mother’s other sister, Susie, had been exiled to a Siberian labor camp, but her daughter, Annie, joined us in the farm labor camp. Together, we worked the fields and lived in one room of the old farm house.

“Within six months, we moved into the nearby town of Gakovo, where Aunt Lisa found a job. Each day, Nik, Annie and I rode the train to attend high school in the nearby town of Sombor – another former Donauschwaben town. Each night we returned home to our family and a meal Aunt Lisa provided through her work at the government-run food kitchen.

“As time went on, our lives changed thanks to the wonderful work of the Red Cross. I cannot say enough about how the Red Cross helped us and other families across Europe, reuniting loved ones and letting families know what had happened to those who were missing!

“Aunt Susie was released from the Siberian labor camp and moved to Germany, reuniting with her husband, who had been a Scottish POW. Annie soon joined them. In 1949, my Grandmother Susie, Aunt Jolan and her family emigrated to Chicago – the place Grandmother Susie had left so many years earlier when my father was young.

“Grandmother Susie’s nephew, Frank Friemann, had been like a brother to my father in Chicago. Now Chairman of Magnavox Corporation, Uncle Frank had been using his resources to find and rescue family members who had survived. Eventually, he brought 14 of us to the U.S. Though I didn’t know it, Uncle Frank had been working with the Red Cross and the Croatian Embassy throughout my entire ordeal, trying to get me out of Europe.

“In 1953, I got passage on a Red Cross Children’s Transport train from Gakovo to Germany, where Aunt Susie picked me up. Uncle Frank had determined that I should establish German citizenship so I could emigrate to the U.S. in two years. Soon, Oma, Aunt Lisa and Nik joined me in a two-room apartment where Nik slept in the kitchen and Oma, Aunt Lisa and I slept in the bedroom. We shared an outhouse with the entire building. Aunt Lisa and Oma were very frugal so we had enough to eat although we were very poor.

“In 1955, my immigration papers came through. I boarded a PanAm flight to take me to a new life Uncle Frank had arranged. I would stay with my Grandmother Susie, Aunt Jolan and family in Chicago and then attend school through St. Mary’s of Notre Dame.

"I will never forget my first days in Chicago! The first time I visited a grocery store, I almost couldn’t take it. So much to absorb! I had never seen such abundance of fruits and breads! It was frightening really, almost utopian and overwhelming.

“In January 1956, Uncle Frank arranged for me to meet his friend, Father Ted Hesburgh, the new president of the University of Notre Dame. Uncle Frank had asked Father Ted to be my guardian. He accepted, and enrolled me in St. Mary’s Academy in South Bend, Indiana.

“Aunt Jolan took me to the Palmer House in Chicago to meet Father Ted. I wore my best pink suit and carried a dictionary since I spoke German, Serbo-Croatian and Russian at that time – but no English. Father Ted spoke some German, but with the help of the dictionary we did fine. At the end of our meeting, I boarded a train to South Bend with Father Ted.

“At St. Mary’s Academy, Father Ted introduced me to Mrs. Olga Mestrovic, who would take me shopping for new clothes. He asked Mrs. Mestrovic to help me because of our shared language and experiences. Her husband, Ivan Mestrovic, was a world-famous sculptor who had last lived in The Upper City of Zagreb before the war. He had been imprisoned by the Communists, but was released from a Croatian prison through the intervention of the Vatican. After his release, he brought his family to the U.S. Mr. and Mrs. Mestrovic practically adopted me when I was at St. Mary’s Academy, then St. Mary’s College at Notre Dame.

“But my guardian was always Father Ted. What can I say about the role he has played in my life? I cannot overstate it. He has been my guardian for more than 50 years. When I am facing a challenge, I call him. He always makes time for me and my family to visit. And even though he hasn’t ever been a spouse or “official” parent, he always has the right answers.

“My life has been shaped by these wonderful people, along with all the ones who went before and everyone since. I have so many components; everyone has had a hand in me!” Hely laughs.

“My children – Michael, Nik, Peter, Ted, Thad, Matthew and Anna Schork – they are my best friends and, really, they are why I am here today. When their father, Tony, and I divorced after 24 years of marriage, they were there for me and came through it all so powerfully! I consider myself the proudest mom I could be of them and of my 14 grandchildren and two great grandchildren!
“I constantly asked God, ‘Why me?’ During my divorce, single-parenting or my husband Bruce’s stroke, I would even get angry and ask, ‘Don’t you think I’ve been through enough already?’

“But I know I have a guardian angel watching over me, and a sense of purpose guiding me. There’s not a day I don’t think about my mother and her example of taking care of others. She instilled in me a sense of responsibility I have always tried to honor. When I look at my children and grandchildren, I see my baby brother. I hope I have done my very best and in some way kept my promise to my mother.

“For years after I came to the U.S., I wondered ‘Why are people around me so normal?’ In Europe, I was not much different from the other survivors. But from my first days in America, I’ve known I was different from the people around me. I never wanted my children to feel their mother wasn’t just like everyone else, so I didn’t tell them about my childhood. I told myself I would not dwell on the past.”

“But now, at 73, when I sometimes ask God, ‘Why me?’ I believe the answer lies in telling others the story of my life. I cannot change the atrocities I witnessed that were inflicted on my people. I can’t regret, nor will I forget, any part of it. Regretting makes you dwell on the negative and makes you unhappy. Instead, I hope my story can honor the thousands of Donauschwaben who died with my family and those who survived with me.”

“I have a great heritage! Now it is time our story to be known. I feel the Lord has guided me to this goal.”


Hely Merle-Benner lives in Ann Arbor with her husband Bruce. She is an International Travel Agent with the Conlin Travel Agency.

In 1999, Father Ted Hesburgh and Hely traveled to Kosovo as part of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees team to witness the relocation of refugees during the Kosovo War. In 2005, Hely, her son Peter and daughter Anna, traveled to her beloved Nakovo for her first visit since 1945. In 2008, she and her son Ted traveled to Germany to attend her first reunion of Nakovo survivors of the Donauschwaben genocide.



Nancy Schertzing

Writer - Faith Magazine

Jim Luning

Photographer - Faith Magazine






Spotlight on Unsung Heroes


Forwarded From German Cultural Society, St. Louis



This dedicated member was born in Liebling, Romania in June, 1931. His father passed away when he was an infant, so he was raised by his mother and step-father. He has vivid memories of his childhood in Liebling. However, in November, 1944, when he was just 13 years old, military occupation forced many to flee Liebling. The family fled Liebling, and lived as refugees in Feldkirchen, Austria. They traveled by wagons, and the living conditions were difficult with very little food. In Austria, he went to school and worked with the farmers in the fields.

In March of 1950, he, his parents, and half-brother Peter boarded the S.S. Washington for the trip to America. The family arrived in New York; His second cousin, John Hea, met the family and drove them to St. Louis. In St. Louis, he found a job at a rope factory. He went to school at night to become a machinist. He learned English and became a U.S. citizen. He enjoyed going to the Liederkranz with his friends and other family members. It was at the Leidertranz that he met his beautiful wife of 54 years, Lisa. They were married in September 1955, and raised three children.

Henry Erk truly is a great man with a big heart. He used his talents to help family, friends and neighbors make repairs on their homes. He enjoyed coaching and playing soccer. He built a Lionel train village, complete with city and airport, with he enjoyed with his children, Henry, John and Kathy, and grandchildren Daniel and Lisa. Family is very important aspect of everyday life to Henry. He always made time for family everyday and during the holidays.

Henry always puts all of his energy into everything he does. He volunteered to work at fests, helping with setup, tear down, and working at the Strassenfest and the V.P. Fair, usually all three days. He makes videos of the dance performances for the verein library. He works with the Thursday group, making repairs at the hall. We are grateful to have this member and his years of dedicated service. He also was a bartender for many years.

He loves to go trout fishing with some of his friends from the German Hall. He is a great gardener, growing vegetables, peaches (which he cans) and rosemary, specifically for Kirchweihfest. He is also a great cook, spending hours in the kitchen. He loves spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren.

Henry greatly enjoyed his fifty-four year marriage to his beautiful wife, Lisa. As all good Donauschwaben do, Henry and Lisa worked very hard to build a new life in St. Louis and raise their family. Tradition was important to Henry and Lisa. They taught their children and grandchildren good values. Henry was devoted to his wife, Lisa, their whole life together. For the last ten years of Lisa’s life, Henry woke early each morning to help her get ready, and drive to and from her dialysis appointment three times a week. He took very good care of her.

Henry resides in the Hampton Village area of South St. Louis. He enjoys working in his garden daily and still helps out at the hall on Thursdays. He also enjoys visiting with friends at festivals and spending time with his granddaughter, Lisa. He and Lisa still run the Lionel train set because it’s so much fun.

Submitted by Kathy Stark

Henry Erk








Otto von Habsburg Dies



Forwarded From Trenton Donauschwaben



Otto von Habsburg, the oldest son of the Austria-Hungarian Emperor, died at his home in Pöcking, Germany on 4 July 2011. He was 98.

Otto settled here in the 1950s and became a member of the European Parliament and a member of the Bavarian Christian Social Union. He was also a member of the Pan-European League from 1979 to 1999. He helped organize a peace demonstration picnic on the Austrian-Hungarian border in 1989 which allowed 600 East Germans to flee communism before the fall of the Berlin wall.


His son, Karl, will now run the family‘s affairs and is head of the House of Habsburg. Otto was buried July 16th in the Emperor Tomb in Vienna at the Capuchin Church. Source: AP.

Trenton Editor‘s note: The Habsburg‘s ruled over the Donauschwaben region during the 18th century until the end of World War I.



Otto von Habsburg in 1936

Photograph: Imagno/Getty Images



Otto von Habsburg Obituary

Dan van der Vat

Otto von Habsburg, who has died aged 98, bore the oldest and most eminent dynastic name in European history and could, according to genealogists, trace his ancestry back to the sixth century. The pretender to the defunct thrones of Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic), he pursued a democratic postwar career as a member of the European parliament and a fervent advocate of European union.

Spending time in German diplomatic and political circles, as I once did as a correspondent, you meet men who introduce themselves in the formal German manner – a brief bow from the shoulders followed by an unadorned name straight out of Germanic history. But I never quite got used to shaking hands with a stranger who flatly introduced himself as "Bismarck" (diplomat), "Hannover" (banker) or "Rommel" (mayor of Stuttgart). Or indeed "Habsburg", whom I met briefly at a party conference in Munich.

Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius von Habsburg was born at Reichenau an der Rax, Lower Austria. His father, Charles, would become Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary. Otto's mother was Zita of Bourbon-Parma. His great-uncle, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination in 1914 would trigger the first world war, stood in for Otto's ancient godfather, the Emperor Franz Joseph, at his christening. Otto's father succeeded Franz Joseph in 1916, whereupon Otto became crown prince.

Otto von Bismarck had excluded Austria-Hungary from his united Germany of 1871 because of its large and diffuse non-German population. After 1918, it duly broke up into independent states including Czechoslovakia and Hungary. The rump of ethnically German Austria became a republic too. Charles went into exile with his family that year, and they later moved to the Basque country, Belgium and France. In 1919 Austria finally dispossessed the Habsburgs, although they kept their private fortune. Charles died in Madeira in 1922, whereupon Otto became head of the house of Habsburg, the titular Duke of Lorraine and pretender to four thrones, at the age of nine.

Noble titles confer no status or privilege in the four republics of which Habsburg held citizenship, but while Germany – where he spent most of his later life – tolerates their use, in Austria they are banned by law. So in the country of his birth, the eldest son of the last emperor of Austria was officially styled Otto Habsburg-Lothringen (Lorraine) – even the simple aristocratic prefix "von" was outlawed. Habsburg, always a loyal Catholic working for better understanding among Christians, Jews and Muslims, went to the Catholic University of Leuven, in Belgium, to read politics and social studies. He graduated in 1935.

Still believing in his right to the throne, Habsburg as an Austrian patriot opposed the country's absorption by Hitler into the Third Reich in 1938, and was sentenced to death by the Nazis. He fled France with his mother to neutral Portugal and then Washington DC in 1940, just before the Germans took Paris. After the war, Habsburg spent several years in France and Spain.

In May 1961, he formally renounced his claim to the Austrian throne and announced that he was a loyal citizen of the republic. As a result, two years later, an Austrian court lifted the ban on his visiting the land of his birth – a decision that proved unpopular in some quarters, precipitating the "Habsburg crisis" in Austrian politics. He was allowed to cross the border in 1966. Towards the end of his life, he admitted that his heart had not been in the renunciation, which he made out of sheer pragmatism.

Taking up residence in Germany, whose citizenship Habsburg also held, he joined the Christian Social Union (CSU), the rightwing Bavarian sister party of the Christian Democratic Union party (CDU), active in the rest of Germany. He was elected to the European parliament for the CSU and sat for 20 years from 1979 as MEP for Bavaria, becoming the equivalent of "father of the house" as the oldest member. He was already president of the international Pan-Europa Union from 1973, retiring only in 2004, strongly favouring political union and the eastward expansion of the EU to countries once ruled by his ancestors. In 1988, Habsburg clashed with the Rev Ian Paisley, then an MEP, after Paisley called the visiting Pope John Paul II the antichrist. A year later Habsburg helped to organise the "pan-European picnic" on the Austrian-Hungarian border in the summer of 1989, one of the events that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Soviet communism.

He married the German Princess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen in 1951; she died in 2010. They lived near Lake Starnberg in Bavaria and had five daughters and two sons, who survive him. The eldest son, Karl, becomes head of the house of Habsburg.

Otto von Habsburg, politician, born 20 November 1912; died 4 July 2011





In the 1950's

Many Donauschwaben came to America

and experienced American Music



Watch These Videos

Same Vocal Group

Almost 50 Years Apart !



"The Diamonds" topped the charts

with "Little Darlin'" in 1957

In 2004

the original members were invited to sing in Atlantic City

for "Magic Moments- the best of 50's Pop" (PBS)






One Light Bulb at a Time


Forwarded by Magdalena Metzger



This is the direction we all need to go!

Let's start now

One Light Bulb at a Time?

A physics teacher in high school, once told the students that while one grasshopper on the railroad tracks wouldn't slow a train very much, a billion of them would. With that thought in mind, read the following.

This past weekend I was at Kroger. I needed 60 W light bulbs and Bounce dryer sheets. I was in the light bulb aisle, and right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off-brand labeled, "Everyday Value.. " I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats - they were the same except for the price. The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that GE was made in MEXICO and the Everyday Value brand was made - get ready for this - in the USA at a company in Cleveland, Ohio.

So on to another aisle - Bounce Dryer Sheets. Yep, you guessed it, Bounce cost more money and is made in Canada . The Everyday Value brand was less money and MADE IN THE USA ! I did laundry yesterday and the dryer sheets performed just like the Bounce Free I have been using for years and at almost half the price!

I was in Lowes the other day for some reason and just for the heck of it I was looking at the hose attachments. They were all made in China. The next day I was in Ace Hardware and just for the heck of it, I checked the hose attachments there. They were made in the USA. Start looking!

In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else -- even their job.

My grandson likes Hershey's candy. I noticed, though, that it is marked made in Mexico now.

I do not buy it any more.

My favorite toothpaste Colgate is made in Mexico . Now I have switched to Crest.

You have to read the labels on everything.

My challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in the USA - the job you save may be your own or your neighbors.

If you accept the challenge, pass this idea on to others so we can all start buying American, one light bulb at a time! Stop buying from overseas companies!

Let's get with the program. Help our fellow Americans keep their jobs and create more jobs here in the U.S.A.







Forwarded By Sgt. James S. Thornton



The information below is from the Drudge Report.


The Drudge Report:

Remember: No Cost of Living Adjustment for Seniors for two years?

2011 Report to Congress on White House Staff


Since 1995, the White House has been required to deliver a report to Congress listing the title and salary of every White House Office employee. Consistent with President Obama's commitment to transparency, this report is being publicly disclosed on our website as it is transmitted to Congress. In addition, this report also contains the title and salary details of administration officials who work at the Office of Policy Development, including the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council -- along with White House Office employees.

The Drudge Report

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Drudge Report is a news aggregation website. Run by Matt Drudge with the help of Joseph Curl[2] and Charles Hurt,[3] the site consists mainly of links to stories from the United States and international mainstream media about politics, entertainment, and current events as well as links to many columnists. The Drudge Report is often considered conservative in tone, though the sources cited and linked run the gamut of political leanings.

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