Thousands of Germans, including teenagers, were forced to toil in Stalin’s labor camps after World War II. When they were finally were released their country had been divided into east and west. Karl Heinz Vogeley and Lothar Scholz recall how no one was interested in their fate when they returned.
Father! When Karl Heinz Vogeley climbs down from the train at 3:30 a.m. clutching his old wooden suitcase, his relatives are there to greet him. He runs toward the man who stands waiting on the platform at the Haldensleben train station — and only then notices that it isn’t his father, but his uncle. His father is standing off to one side, he has grown old. And they haven’t seen each other for a long, long time. “Papa,” the son asks, “where is mama?”
“Just come on home first,” his father replies. But when Karl Heinz asks again, he says “mama isn’t with us anymore.”
Karl Heinz Vogeley had been away for eight long years, most of which he spent in a Soviet labor camp. Now, at a train station in communist East Germany, he learns that his mother died while he languished as a political prisoner. It is Dec. 28, 1953, Vogeley is 24 years old.