Gerda Neu Heinz: A Childhood Interrupted
Imagine being fourteen,  growing up in a farming village surrounded by aunts and uncles and cousins.  A nice home, your school, lifelong girlfriends and the familiar comforts of a secure childhood. Then take every one of those things away.

Frau Heinz may have been born miles from Berlin, but she experienced Hitler's military buildup personally when her village was taken over as a training area. 
You can read Frau Heinz's story about  Erzweiler on the Baumholder page, "Baumholder and Erzweiler in the Early War Years".




Following the dissolution of the village, her family used the government payment to buy a house in Sand, about 45 minutes from her previous home. It was a fine house but she missed her friends and relatives terribly, now scattered across the miles  instead of down the street.  Frau Heinz grew up in the Sand house with her parents, and later lived there with her husband until building a modern home on the property in 1978. After 39 years, the old house became a rental, and in 1994 my family moved into Frau Heinz's solid old home. We treasure the stories - the goats in the cellar during the war,  the 1948 wedding dinner, the birth of their daughter upstairs,  the bomb damage to the roof over where I sleep.  The plum tree planted the year they moved in still bears fruit most summers.

The yearly reunions of Erzweiler expatriates have shrunk with time, but Frau Heinz is a faithful attender. She says her friends are mostly either gone or too old to drive now, and depend on grown children and grandchildren to bring them. About the time the lilacs bloom, they'll gather again to remember.  
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