Ingetraut Tabaka

* 1929  

  • "My mother took me from the host and then I got sick. I worked, but I had lots of strange pain. All these women matters started. Well, she was afraid of my puberty. I wanted to be a nurse and work around the villages so she went to the office to ask. The nurse had learn everything, she had to even know how to milk a cow to replace the housekeeper in case she was sick. I could also be a kindergarten teacher, you need to learn everything, even in the hospital, everything, you need to go through everything to be the nurse. Then you would have a choice whether to stay in the village, or go to the nursery or kindergarten where the smaller children were, or go to the hospital, to be a nurse. But before you could make a choice you were obligated to stay two years in household residence. I worked for the Red Cross at the train station, helping mothers and children, it was April and May. It was so quiet, so weird. It was something abnormal. I was less than 18. Woman who looked after us said: You know what, you go home and sit in the house, haven’t you heard on the radio that the Russians approaching? were You better stay at home, be with your parents. I remember many people left, some in the direction of the Czech Republic, the went to the west. They all came back in two weeks, children were sick. If you knew what they went through! Some of them never came back. I don’t know what happened to them. I just remember that. I came back home then. My parents asked: Why are you here, what happened, where the Russians are? I went out in the street and I saw that the German Army leaving. Army marches in the relatively wide line, an officer rode a horse. They walked and behind them there were women with prams, elderly people on wheelchairs, people with the prams…. but also with children and older people pulling some tracks. They stood up and told people to gather and join them, they said the Russians approaching and we all escape in the direction of the Czech Republic, and then go west. So I run home with shouting. My dad was in the house and I said: Mum, move on, move on! The officer told to escape, to go with the army! My mum said we were not going anywhere, we would stay at home, and nobody would bite our heads off. Then somebody began to shoot, we heard grenades on the other side. We hid it in the basement, but nothing else happened, only this double shoot. The roofs in the barracks across the street were damaged and that was all. Well, we went up to the apartment. We lived on the second floor in that time so the whole street was visible through the window. Well, no one moved, and I look and I saw two motorbikes, Russians motorcycles. There were some communists here as well, they were invisible but they were. I sow the motorbikes in front of our house, I do not know how to explain it. If you would get out of our yard, you could see the other side of the street, near ours. I do not know how it was called. We used to say Schmalle Seite. The spinning factory was there. Where the street divided there was a square, quite large. Three of our people stood there outside the buildings. My dad was looking as well and then he said: Well the neighbours are communists. They welcomed the Russians, those older did, they were about 60 years old. They just stood there, kept nothing in their hands, but three of them, yes, three... The Russians came up to them and these from the village extended their hands. Germans as a typical Germans had some chains tacked and the watches. So the Russian immediately pulled them out and just pocketed. Then the Russians mounted on their motorbikes and went away. The others, these from our street went to the houses, so it was welcome to them".

  • "Unfortunately the war was over in 1945 and the world was knocked upside down. At least for me. The Soviet Army entered here to Wałbrzych on May8th. It happened on May 8th. There was no shooting here, maybe two shot in front of our street, just one square was damaged and that was all. Night was terrible. It was impossible to sleep. We lived not far from Podgórze housing estate. There were just single-family houses but the scream I heard was horrible, I was so scared. Horror. Our parents hide us in the attic and we stayed there less than a month. There were a few of us, a few girls 16 - 18 years old. We sat in the attic. Later on it calmed down, we could even show ourselves on the street. Nothing really bad happened to us".

  • "We had a big yard because our house was far from the road. There was a building and a large grocery store near the street and we lived behind this building. Kind of wayside was there. It was a really big yard, our building and a backyard. We had so much space to play! There were a lot of children, because many families lived there, it was two story house. Each family had a one room – quite big but just a one. Four families lived downstairs on one side and four on the other side. Front and back of the house and the stairs in the middle – I am right, am I? At the first floor there where the entrance and one more room but smaller. Just one person used to live there. There were nine families on the second floor. Nine families lived on the second floor. There was also a big attic and two families lived there. They owned some storeroom as well. The washing was usually hanging higher, above the attic. The building was large and each family used to have three - four children. There were many of us kids and we never fought or argued, always had fun or played tap or hide and seek. Sometimes we had kind of tops or we made mud pies and we had a great time. Boys used kind of wheel and a piece of stick and they rolled it. We played together. We dig holes in the ground. We had clay balls. If someone had more money they often bought color glass balls. We enjoyed so many things. We jumped, we drew the cubes. We had rope and we jump rope, two of us kept the rope and the rest was jumping. We played ball as well. We often played in a cluttered home, there wasn’t much space, was it? When it rained, it was the worst time to play for us. In winter we used to go ice skating, sledding, skiing. If the weather was good in the winter, I used to go to the New Town. There was an ice rink in the New Town. It didn’t cost a penny".

  • "The child had a right to a pint of milk a day, and to a cube of a butter a week I think. This was what we had when we worked on the farm. Even though we were about 16 years old and all we had was butter and milk, that were what kids had. We probably used to get something at school as well. My dad got vitamin C tablets every day. It was easier for those whose father worked in the mine, we got notebooks and books for free. At the end of the school year we had to give them back to the teacher and they had to be fully filled. The teacher checked if there were no blank pages. Then I used to get another exercise-book – the arithmetic chequered notebook or the line notebook to write in it. Then during the war the things were given to the numerous families, families with many children as well. They got what we used to get. I do not know who financed it".

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    Wałbrzych, 11.09.2012

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The war was over in 1945 and the world was knocked upside down At least for me

Ingetraut Tabaka
Ingetraut Tabaka
photo: Pamět Národa - Archiv

She was born on October 6th, 1929 in Podgórze (Germ.; Dittersbach, district of Wałbrzych). Her father was a miner. Maternal grandfather died quite early so her mother - Werne Anna Bertha (nee Wagner, born in 1983 in Seitendorf, Poniatow today, district of Wałbrzych), had to take up a job on the railroad. She got married on October 25th, 1918 to Carl Jules Werne (born in 1888 in Weissstein, Biały Kamień today, district of Wałbrzych), and after that she was employed in a porcelain factory. Carl Werne served in the German army during the World War I, but he did not take part in the battles personally (he stationed in Vilnius). Snuff Ingetraut was a sixth-born child. Her eldest brother - Heinrich, was born in 1919. Two of her brothers died shortly after birth. The World War II was a traumatic experience for her siblings. One of her brothers - Walter, died in the Battle of Stalingrad. Heinrich, who was a sapper in a military unit stationed in Swidnica, had his hand amputated and became disable. Another brother was captured in Stalingrad cauldron by Soviet. He returned to western Germany in 1949.Ingetraut Snuff attended a German school in Wałbrzych between 1938-1945. After the war she worked briefly in spinning factory. She met her husband in 1946. He was a policeman in Wałbrzych. His job and nationality stood on the way of their marriage. Finally they got married in 1953. Ingetraut Snuff twice hardly avoided deportation to Germany. She moved to Wroclaw in 1947, but she did not like the city. Her parents were deported from Walbrzych to East Germany in the same year. Together with the family Ingetraut Snuff moved to Żelazowa Wola not far from Strzegom where her husband worked as a driver. Then they moved to Ksiaż near Wałbrzych. They moved again in 1958 and lived in State Agricultural Farm in Czarny Bór near Kamienna Góra. Since 1958 she worked as a weaver in Kamienna Góra. She gave birth to her three children. Her husband died in 1987 at 61. From the late 70s until today she is involved in the German Society for Social and Cultural Wałbrzych activity.