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