My newly-found cousin Doris Winkelmann Sonntag sent me these remarkable photos. They show the Hermann Winkelmann farm in Posen about 1930. Hermann Gustav Adolf Winkelmannn (1880-1961) was Doris’s grandfather, and was the nephew of my 3x great-grandmother Wilhelmine Winkelmann. Hermann married Emma Pauline Denzen in 1904 and apparently took over the Denzin family farm. The caption from Doris says “The Denzin Family had four girls and no boys, so Hermann took control of the farm when he married [Emma Denzin].”
The farm itself was located in the village of Stieglitz, Posen, Prussia [Siedlisko, Poland today], which was about a mile and a half from Gornitz, where my 3x great-grandfather Carl Friedrich Schmidt lived with his wife [the afore-mentioned Wilhelmine Winkelmann] and six children until 1892.
The last photo shows Paul Winkelmann, Gerhard Herrmann, Ida Winkelmann, Hedwig Herrmann, née. Winkelmann, Helga Herrmann and Gertrud Winkelmann (l to r) on the farm. Paul was my cousin Doris’s father.
Unfortunately, not much is left of the farm today. Doris also sent me photos of the farm from 1969 and 2009, when the family went back to visit there, and it was not maintained and left to fall apart. The Winkelmann family, like so many other German families from East Prussia, was forced to relocate to Germany following WWII. The former German/Prussian provinces like Posen, Brandenburg, Westpreussen, Pommerania (Pommern), and others were given back to Poland and millions of Germans living in those regions were forced to leave everything behind and flee. They were sent to resettlement camps in Germany and then relocated into German towns. Doris’s grandfather Hermann eventually resettled in Groß Schönebeck, Germany.
Doris’s father, Otto Paul Winkelmann [1922-1982] was captured during the war, and upon his release from captivity he was informed he could not go back to the home where he had been born and raised. He had to find his way across Europe and try to find where his family had been relocated.
You can read more about the fate of the former East Prussian citizens in this Wikipedia article.
It seems odd to me that we don’t learn anything about the reprisals against the German people after WWII in our history classes. It’s not something I’ve ever heard mentioned, and I’m a pretty avid fan of History in general. It has been eye opening to learn the degree to which the non-combatant German populace suffered in the wake of both WWI [as shown in this letter] and WWII.