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WWII

Ok, Well I guess it’s time to start discussing the family’s role in WWII. As the Henriss family were Volksdeutsch most members of the family served in the Waffen SS. That’s because the SS was trying trying to build up numbers.

I’ve posted a picture here of Niko Henriss who served in the 3rd SS Panzer Division. He served in the band first and later as a truck driver. At the end of the war he was captured and sent to Moscow as a POW (Prisoner of War). I will provide a full account of his experiences as I interviewed him extensively before he died in 2011.

I am working on coloring many of the photos from the family.

The one in this post is my first attempt.

Niko Henriis in WWII. He was a member of the band of the 3rd SS Pz Div Totenkopf (Deaths Head). He later served as a truck driver. He was captured in 1945 and returned to his family in Vienna in 1949-50. My second attempt at colouring a BW photo.

Niko Henriss in WWII. He was a member of the band of the 3rd SS Pz Div Totenkopf (Deaths Head). He later served as a truck driver. He was captured in 1945 and returned to his family in Vienna in 1949-50. My second attempt at colouring a BW photo.

regards
Chip

The first to leave

Herta, Jeanni and Matt in Vienna

Hertha, Jeanni and Matt in Vienna

My father’s sister Hertha Henriss married Mathias (Matt) Drotleff after the war and they moved to the US in 1949. Matt was a Transylvania Saxon (that is explained in earlier posts and there are links here too) and had served on the Russian front in the German military.

Matt was a trained stone mason and all of us who knew him knew that he loved to work. His dedication to work and his skill as a mason were legendary within and outside of the family.

The series of pics here were taken just prior to Matt and Hertha and their baby daughter Jeanni leaving for America. They are of a family who knew they would be separated and not have much contact for what could be many years. You can also tell that Jeanni was the centre of the world. My Dad Siegfried Henriss is also in some of the pics in his boy scout uniform, which he loved. Just after the family left for the US Hertha’s brother Niko returned from POW camp.

The family settled in Salem Ohio, where Transylvania Saxons had lived since the 1800s. Matt and Hertha were indentured to a family there and Hertha told me many times how cruel they were to them. I’m not sure if this was due to anti-German sentiment after the war or if they were just that way. Hertha told me how the woman they worked for would buy ice cream for her own child but none for Jeanni and give it to that child right in front of them.

Hertha suffered a lot during the war and those first few years in the US. It may be that her anxiety from those experiences never left her.

Jeanni withe her Oma Adolfine Henriss (Seneca)

Jeanni withe her Oma Adolfine Henriss (Seneca)

Jeanni and her mother Herta Drotleff (Henriss)

Jeanni and her mother Hertha Drotleff (Henriss)

Jeanni, Herta and Matt in Vienna.

Jeanni, Hertha and Matt in Vienna.

Baby Jeanni

Baby Jeanni and rabbit/human doll

Jeanni Drotleff

Jeanni Drotleff

Siegfried the Scout (Pfadfinder) with baby Jeanni and his mother Adolfine

Siegfried the Scout (Pfadfinder) with baby Jeanni and his mother Adolfine

From left: Herta, Siegfried, Matt. Front is Adolfine Henriss (Seneca) with baby Jeanni.

From left: Hertha, Siegfried, Matt. Front is Adolfine Henriss (Seneca) with baby Jeanni.

Coming to America

Leaving for US

Just before leaving for the USA. November/December 1960 in Vienna.
Hermine Henriss (Adhofer) (pregnant with Janet), Silvia Henriss and Siegfried Henriss.

This pic was taken very soon before my parents and sister Silvia migrated to the US at the end of 1960. My mother was pregnant with my sister Janet who was born in January 1961. They came to America by ship on the SS Breman. None of them could speak English. Silvia who was four at the time was the first to learn and would interpret for them.

My Mother said that when my sister Janet was born they used anesthetic to knock her out as she couldn’t communicate with the hospital staff.

Aboard the Breman coming to America. Christmas time 1960. Silvia still has the bear.

Aboard the Breman coming to America. Christmas time 1960. Silvia still has the bear.

Sad passing

Rest in peace to Hertha and Niko who passed away recently.

Siegfried, Nicko and Herta Henriss (Herta Drotleff)

Siegfried, Niko and Hertha Henriss (Hertha Drotleff)

Henriss Family 1920s

Here’s a pic of my grandparents and children from about 1925.  The baby, Erna, was killed during the war as she was physically disabled. This photo was taken before the final child Siegfried was born in 1936.

Walter and Adolphine’s family about 1925 in Romania. From left: Nicodemus, Adolpfine (nee Seneca), Erna (baby), Hertha and Walter

Siegfried, Nicko and Herta Henriss (Herta Drotleff)

Siegfried, Nicko and Herta Henriss (Herta Drotleff)

This pic was taken at the wedding of Siegfried’s grandson Adam Stephens. Adam is the son of Janet Henriss. The three pictured are the surviving children of Walter and Adolfine Henriss. All were born in Watra Moldowitza.

Cover of id book.

Cover of Wiorel Henriss's id book.

 

Below are some pics sent to me by Edy Henriss in Germany. Edy is the grandson of Oskar Henriss who was the half brother of Walter Henriss.

I’ll add more info when it comes in. Oskar and Walter are the sons of Karl Henriss. Walter’s mother was Rosa Geitz. Oskar was the son of Karl’s second wife. Do you know her name Edy? That would be your great grandmother.

In his post to this site Edy wrote:

“I’m a Henriss too from Bukovina Romania. I’m born in Vatra-Dornei 31.Jan.1975. My grandpa was Wiorel Henriss born 11.Aug.1926 in Watra-Moldowitza. His fahter was Oskar Henriss born 18.Jan.1907 Watra-Moldowitza.”

Wiorel Henriss's id book.

Wiorel Henriss's id book.

Wiorel Henriss in HJ uniform

Wiorel Henriss in HJ uniform

Document naming Oskar's children

Document naming Oskar's children

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