Monday, December 29, 2008

A Little Family History

I came across this web page from the Czech Radio Service discussing General George S. Patton. Some people are not aware that he and his 3rd Army penetrated into the Czech Republic, a few hundred kilometres east of the German border.

A few months ago I learned from my Uncle Horst, the younger brother of my dad, that Patton is the reason for my very existence!

My dad and his family are ethnically German but he grew up in a region called Silesia, most of which was ceded to Poland after World War 2. In 1945 he was just a young teenager. When the Russian Army was advancing towards Germany, all German civilians were moved further west, toward the center of Germany.

My uncle told me how they were moved by train from town to town. They eventually made it to a town called Haid, in the Czech Republic (it is now called Bor). There, one of my uncles, Gunter, was killed. He was just eight years old.

Eventually the family - my grandmother and her 2 remaining sons and 3 daughters - were brought to a town called Mies (since renamed to Stříbro), also in the Czech Republic.

Uncle Horst explained how they kept looking towards one road coming into Mies from the east, expecting the Russians to arrive at any moment. But suddenly a string of military vehicles entered from the west. It was Patton's Third Army! If this had not occurred, their fate would have been much worse and I would have never been born.

My dad's family were able to catch one of the the last few trucks out and were taken right to downtown München. Six years later, he saw little future for his homeland so he boarded a freighter and came to Canada as a refugee.

Here's a famous speech of Patton's, though spoken by actor George C. Scott:
He was tough and probably unfair at times, but he sure got things done!

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