Klaus Hammerlik

* 1954

  • "Well, at first my mother arrived. And it was a bizarre journey, because she is… as the war was coming to an end and everybody thought, she would suffer, when the Russians came, she and my father’s friend took a fire engine. They were supposed to go via Dresden to Riesa. And he fell asleep as he was driving, so they overturned. They were lucky because this way, she was not in Dresden on the 13th of February, because of this accident. And every time, when he came to visit on her birthday on the 6th of January, this friend started apologising after a few shots and beers, and she thanked him."

  • "They were like the majority: mother was a member of the League of German Girls and without further ado, was made assistant of an anti-aircraft gun where she operated rather poorly the radio communication for the protection from air raids. And my father went from the labour service directly to the army. And I always thought he had been in the Wehrmacht. I started to question this when I saw the wedding photo, where he is wearing a pale green uniform. And on one of his sleeves was a symbol or something scratched out. So I asked him, when I saw this A4 picture in a pile of loose photos. And this was the only time that he talked about the war. And he explained to me that he had been in a police unit and he met his two older brothers occasionally, because he recognized their secret symbols on the fenders of these special-purpose vehicles. So one of my uncles had a picture of antlers on his car. This is all he said and I’m not sure whether it was one of these vehicles transporting gas, or whether it was a special signal vehicle. But it does suggest that…"

  • "My father was born in 1919, trained to become a distiller by a Jew, a merchant called Knorre. He was lucky. Before his boss was allowed, through bribery, to emigrate to the US, he made him take an exam to become a merchant. He obviously liked him. And then my father was drafted to the labour service. And because his instructor, who was a Feldmeister, did not want him to get sent to the Poland campaign, to the invasion, he failed him in his vehicle test. And my father had to wheel a replacement tyre through the whole city. And he was two weeks later and did not go to the front."

  • Full recordings
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

At home, the war was not discussed

Witness Klaus Hammerlik in 2022
Witness Klaus Hammerlik in 2022
photo: Photo by Dominik Janovský

Klaus Hammerlik was born in 1954 in Riesa. His father, Kurt Johannes Hammerlik, grew up in Silesia and was twenty years old when Germany invaded Poland, subsequently starting the Second World War. He was drafted almost immediately as part of the Sicherheitspolizei which operated behind the front lines. Later, he was ordered to the front. During the Battle of Stalingrad, he was severely injured and one of the last people to be flown out before the 6th army was annihilated. He returned to his wife in Silesia and was assigned to the local air-raid protection. With the Red Army approaching, Kurt Hammerlik sent his wife and infant son to Riesa where his uncle lived. He himself got taken prisoner of war by the Soviet army. In November 1945, he found his wife and son again after having escaped the captivity. On the day after his arrival, Kurt Hammerlik joined the SPD [Social Democratic Party Germany]. In 1954, the second son was born and named Klaus. He joined the NVA (East German army) and later studied Marxist-Leninist philosophy and became a teacher. In 1989, he joined the New Forum, an East German movement that strove for reforming and reshaping the GDR. He was active in various initiatives supporting people with disabilities and is committed to social work in his local church.