On October 6, 1939 I listened on the radio to Adolf Hitler’s address to the Reichstag. Strangely, it never occurred to me that the planned repatriation could also include us Baltic people. Our tradition had always been to hold on to our homeland that we had fought for and to the small piece of earth that was still ours after the expropriation in 1921. Thinking of German ethnic groups in the East, only the people from Galicia, Wolynia and Bessarabia came to mind. I never thought that we might be included.
The next day, I had some business in Talsen, our district town. As usual I dropped in on my dear friend George von Heyking who gave me the shocking news that we were first in line for repatriation. Pastor von Taube had gone to Riga to get the latest news and was expected back on the evening train. During the drive home I had plenty of time to think about these problems and to organize my thoughts. Although at that time I could not comprehend the ramifications and the practical execution of this monumental task – to move a whole ethnic group – I concluded that an undertaking like this would only be attempted if there was a very serious reason for doing so. This reason must mean a threat to the very existence of our group. It was quite useless to ponder whether to join the repatriation or to decline.
Over supper, I discussed the news I heard in Talsen with my family. All of a sudden George von Heyking walked through the door bringing us the following message:
Repatriation of the Baltic Germans to start now!
The German minister of foreign affairs, von Ribbentrop, is negotiating this matter in Moscow.
Since it is uncertain how these negotiations will go, and the Russians are at the border, ready to invade, we have to be prepared to “trek”. The German Cultural Council in Riga will notify us.
The neighbourhood has to be alerted immediately in order to prepare. Telephones are not to be used. All messages are to be delivered in person by reliable messenger.