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Eugen P.

Eugen P.

by Brigitte N.-D.

 

 

Brief introduction of Eugen P., 89 years old

Eugen was born in 1931 in Yugoslavia to parents of German descent. He grew up near the former Hungarian border and was trilingual (Serbo-Croatian, Hungarian, German). After the persecutions of the Germans through partisans and an escape from an internment camp in Yugoslavia, he came to Vienna, where he completed his schooling and professional training as an engineer. His first job was at Siemens in Stuttgart. He married a woman from Vienna, had two children with her and in 1972 moved to Ulm for professional reasons. Here, besides his professional work, he was active as a volunteer in various clubs and institutions. He separated from his wife in 1988. His son and daughter live with their children in Ulm and are in good contact with both their parents. Since retirement, Eugen has dedicated himself to a wide range of activities, such as sports, games and meeting friends and nice people.

 

How has your life developed?

I grew up in Titel, on the border between Hungary and Yugoslavia, in a family of German origin and so I have been speaking these three languages ​​since childhood. During the Second World War I attended a Hungarian school that was German-friendly at the time. Since 1944, the Yugoslav partisans had been persecuting the Germans and my whole family was sent to various extermination camps. Fortunately, after more than two terrible years, we were able to escape the cruel conditions there. My mother managed to organize the escape. We dragged ourselves to the Hungarian side and ended up in a farm, where we were allowed to hide until we were able to travel to Austria,  to my father’s brother in Burgenland. Then I went to Vienna, where I found my oldest brother, who was in a good position there. In 1947, at the age of 16, I had to go in Vienna to a German school to learn German properly.

 

After finishing school, I passed the entrance exam for engineering study at a university, which I successfully completed. I had supported myself during my studies with odd jobs and received help from my brother.

 

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a job and wanted to emigrate to Canada. The papers were already prepared when I met in front of the Canadian consulate a friend from the university, who raved about his application to Siemens in southern Germany. Following his advice, I also applied there. Luckily, I got an engineering position there and moved to Stuttgart.

During one of my visits to my brother in Vienna, I happened to run in the tram into one of my old friends, with whom I became acquainted once at a carnival. Our renewed friendship took us to the port of marriage, and with a heavy heart Bärbel left her beloved Vienna to come to Germany with me. After a few years, my focus shifted to Ulm, where I moved up to a higher position, and where I still live to this day.

Which time was particularly difficult?

The extermination camp keeps coming back to me in bitter memory. The persecution by the partisans traumatizes me to this day. The separation from my father in the camp was terribly tragic for me. Each of our family members had to work in a different camp. When I met my father, he hugged me and I was deeply moved to see how dramatic the forced labour was for him. Most of the prisoners did not survive this terror. As a teenager, I managed to get us both transported to another camp. There we met by change my mother again, who arranged our escape.

 

How do you experience your youth memories?

With my eighty-year-old mother I returned home to Titel again. She was very happy to see the former home again, a beautiful inn at the time, although very much run down now.

I also went there again with my son in 2015. The buildings were almost completely gone. A former school friend, who still lived there, led me through my hometown, where my youth rewound again in my mind's eye. In the place where our lovely inn with a large garden near the Tisza used to be, a sober prefabricated high-rise building now stood. Next to it the ruins of the old town hall.
 

Also decayed were the former residential buildings of our Danube-Swabian co-inhabitants in the village. In the beer garden behind our house, people used to make music and dance every weekend, the music bands with their spirited styles internationally alternated as was usual in a border country. Sometimes Serbian musicians came, other times Hungarian musicians or a rustic gypsy band played. The atmosphere was always fantastic and happy and delighted the entire community.

Of course, there used to be also a lot of food and wine and slivovitz. Sometimes my mother played the cymbal and sang Hungarian songs. In the difficult and bitter years that followed, I was always very lucky to get past the disasters and was able to maintain my cheerfulness and openness and always looked to the future with optimism.

 

What does your everyday life look like?

My days are very varied. I maintain my health by regular water aerobics and the sauna. I always meet a happy lot at billiards, where sporting performance is also important, but I really enjoy meeting people. I like to talk to friends and strangers, and often we help each other. Fortunately, I recovered well from two knee surgeries and one back surgery.

 

Do you meet your family often?

I often see my two children without pushing them, because they are very busy. I play soccer or chess with my  9-year-old grandson Franzl. Damiano, my daughter’s little son, already plays the piano very nicely, which makes me very happy, and his younger sister goes to the Walldorf School, from where she brings very creative ideas. My son-in-law is Italian, so I am the “Nonno” for the grandchildren. Sometimes I'm simply the chauffeur for the kids.

 

Do you do voluntary work?

When I moved to Ulm, club life quickly caught up with me. In the tennis club, probably because of my cheerful nature, I was appointed as the entertainment manager. Later I got involved with the Danube Swabians as a time-witness.

At ZAWiW, I was always the reliable contact person for stands and catering at parties, exhibitions or similar occasions. I'm already looking forward to the next Christmas market when I will be serving mulled wine again at the ZAWiW stand and meet the many visitors. I also sometimes accompanied educational trips to Eastern Europe as a volunteer tour guide or an interpreter. An unforgettable experience was a trip with ZAWiW to Kursk in Russia, in which I participated as a co-organizer. I took a Russian course at the adult education college especially for this. The trip was a great experience.


We lived there in local families with whom we had great fun. We made music,  sang and danced, and there was also plenty of food and drink. Our Russian friends later came to Ulm for a return visit, and we put together a large program for them. As a member of the association "Aktivsenioren e.V." I was even able to organize a company visit program.
Together with other club members of the “Aktivsenioren”, I sometimes organized trips to Brussels to provide consultation for young professionals in the areas of business and technology. I was a volunteer in the club for fifteen years. Thanks to my Hungarian and Yugoslav language skills, I was also able to give professional advice to young people from Southeast European countries.

 

How do you see your future?

Since I separated from my wife about 30 years ago, I have been living alone in my three-room condominium, where I feel very comfortable. There is always something to do, to tidy up, to plan, to shop, and I like to continue meeting dear people. However, the lockdown during the Corona crisis frightened me, because I missed very much the personal contact with my friends and my family.

Fortunately, I have not yet moved to a senior residence. I had been already thinking about it. The poor people there were locked up for three months and were not allowed to receive visitors. That would have been bad for me. Now I hope that my health will allow me to stay a little longer in my current apartment. At some point I will probably go to a senior residence with assisted living