Her Name Was Emilie

Holling destroyed the church records in 1946, taking my family history and leaving more questions than answers. I knew my great-grandparent’s names, but no birthdates or date of death. My mother always spoke about her step-grandmother and how much she loved her, and vice versa, but I didn’t know her name. My mother passed away in 2008, my husband never got to meet her. When I told him that her family left Hungary in 1946 after the war, he said, “the war was over in 1945”.  I questioned what happened during the time in between, all my own understanding of my family history now challenged.

I searched online unsuccessfully for Holling, Hungary.  My next step, to scour the boxes my brother stored for me, all the things I wanted to keep from my parents’ home, but didn’t have the space myself.  One after another, we looked through a box, and then replaced it and started another.

I opened a box, and found a copy of her Hungarian birth certificate: Janka , her father Lorinc and  mother Ilona.  Holling was German speaking, so it was strange to learn their Hungarian names. Halfway through the box, I pulled out a curious document, with discolored pages but in good shape.  With my elementary German proficiency, I could read some of it.  Our family’s names jumped off the page, and Larry and I thought this was a family document of some kind.  He scanned a copy, and I took the original, along with many pictures back home with me.

The next morning, I opened my online translator and began my research.  “Bei der Vertreibung in Jahre 1946” I knew my family left Holling in June of 1946.  I recalled my husband, “why in 1946?” I never questioned why before , I just accepted it as fact.   I hit “translate” and EXPULSION flew off the page.

Expulsion?  Wait, what?   I googled expulsion, and read everything I could.  I cried for the 13-year-old girl, forced to leave everything behind.  My siblings and I didn’t know half of the story, not even close.  I was confused, and I didn’t understand why I didn’t learn this from my mother?  Why weren’t they bitter?  I don’t understand.

I read somewhere that “Germans were wonderful list makers.”  This list documents, occupations, 127 total households, with father, mother or a grandparent and includes all the children. 717 people total for the village, 159 that remained in Hungary. Also noted, some who died in the war and some that never returned. The village had two schools, a stable, and 697 animals, mostly ox and cows.  15 people left prior to the expulsion, my great-grandparents probably were part of this group, I learned later my great-grandfather knew enough of the Russians.

I began an amazing journey.  I found my grandfather’s obituary in with the pictures I had taken, and I began to translate it.  I knew his mother died when he was six, but I had no idea his father – my great-grandfather had been a Russian P.O.W for seven years in WW1.  My great-great grandparents raised my grandfather and his sister, Luise during this time.

I located a picture of my mother standing in front of the Holling/Fertoboz sign on her first return trip to Holling in 46 years. Now it made sense, and I began searching Fertoboz, our village came to life for me!  Fertoboz was mentioned in a Burgenland Bunch newsletter, and I became a member.  Through this group, I connected with my distant cousin in Germany!  Her grandfather and my grandfather were cousins. I remembered meeting her grandfather several times when I was with my Opa.  We exchanged emails, and pictures. She shared with me family history out of a book about Holling.  I have so much more information, dates, and the names of my great-great-grandparents.  One name that still eluded me, was the name of my step-great grandmother.  I returned to my document – and there it was!  Emilie, her name was Emilie.

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