"The air raids were so bad. We were terribly frightened and hid under the highway bridge at night", 83-year-old ilse foegelle from heiligenstadt tells the story. The senior citizen is on the board of the ebermannstadt seniors’ association "55 plus, who carries out some actions together with students of the middle school ebermannstadt.
This time teacher claudia engemann asked the chairman of the seniors’ representation, wolfgang mehrer, if a contemporary witness could tell something about the time around the second world war, since this was a topic in the history lessons. Ilse foegelle agreed to do so and told the attentively listening young people about her life.
The senior was born before the second world war and lived with her parents in a suburb of leipzig, engelsdorf. 1942 she came to school. "We have always witnessed the attacks on leipzig. Our village was not attacked, because here stood a crude military hospital with a crude red cross on the roof", ilse foegelle remembers.
To escape the war, the family moved to upper silesia for a year to live with relatives. But in 1944, with the help of russian prisoners, deep trenches were dug there, so that the family moved back to leipzig.
"We were afraid and slept at night in full monture. When the sirens went off we quickly went to the cellar. There were bunk beds with straw mattresses", tells the senior. In april 1945, the attacks were so bad that the family hid under a highway bridge at night. Visibly moved she remembers: "the sky was blood red. It was very, very bad."
Reports from the front
Unlike today, the family had only one radio back then. And that had also only two channels, on which was reported about the war. "The women then sat in front of the radio receivers and listened to the reports about the losses and whether their husbands and sons were there. They also always waited for mail to know that the manner was still alive", remembers the senior. Her mother always had a small bag with the most important documents ready to hand when she had to quickly seek shelter with the two children.
"In 1945, my father came back from the war wounded. His arm was shot through. My mother fell over the hedge at the funeral because she was so happy", reports ilse foegelle. When the russian army came to leipzig, her father was subjected to a number of repressive measures.
"He always tried to organize something edible for us. It was sometimes very dangerous and we were always afraid, the senior explains to the young listeners.
After the war, ilse foegelle attended another school until 1950. "It was then the GDR and I wanted to become a fashion designer. But it was not so easy. At the employment office, they wanted to offer me an apprenticeship as a locksmith or a mason, reports the senior. She was lucky and found an apprenticeship at the leipzig city library. "Everything was so fine. But I only had two dresses myself, she looks back.
Politics lesson in the GDR
Then there came a new boss who was an adherent of communism. So on mondays there was a political lesson and you were no longer allowed to voice your opinion. Ilse foegelle had to learn russian and read communist books.
"On vacation, my brother and I went to schwabach with my parents. My parents decided that we should stay here", tells the senior citizen. The parents went back to leipzig, where the father was arrested by the police. Later, her parents also came to schwabach. Ilse foegelle worked in a factory at the time and had to feed the family on her salary. Later she made a career in an international company.
Because of her experiences in childhood she appreciates her life today. After her testimony, the schoolchildren want to know whether she was ever not afraid, whether there were any substitutes or toys, and how she experienced the fall of the berlin wall. "There were no substitutes and no toys. And the fall of the wall was great", answers ilse foegelle and receives a bouquet of flowers from the schoolchildren.
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