Thursday, January 20, 2011

Flight From East Prussia

Photo from

    Before writing The Last Daughter of Prussia, I looked deep into my family's history and the story of East Prussia. As I did, I came across this photograph of people fleeing East Prussia in the bitterest winter of WW2 - January 1945.  I remembered my grandmother telling me that she was one of those refugees who fled west - away from the campaign of rape and violence led by the invading Russian Army

    This picture has always stayed in my mind. 

    The horses, so brave, pulled their people to safety for weeks in the harshest weather. Many starved to death or were shot and injured by falling bombs.They were the true heroes. Trakehners are all heart. What I learned in my research was that many of their owners did not believe they could make it through - the conditions were so terrible- but they did. The horses gave their heart and soul to save lives.

    Another photo of another column. These people were smarter - they left earlier - probably in the autumn of 1944. They defied Hitler's orders prohibiting any one from fleeing. Even then Hitler must have known that the Russians were right at the borders and that their army consisted of many millions of soldiers. 

    So many lives could have been saved if he had initiated the proper methods of evacuation. At that time, ships were still sailing out of the Baltic Sea ports - they could have taken millions to safety. As it turned out most people fled in the middle of the winter by which time the Russians had surrounded almost all the ports cutting off all escape routes.

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(c) Privatbesitz Gottlieb Familie

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