Tag Archive | Germans

Community and Collaboration – World War II History

Written by Lorel Kapke, Sort Your Story Founder

When dad was sharing his WWII experience I realized he was about to engage in a war with Germany, spring of 1943. His direct ancestors (Kapke) left Pomerania, Kriess Kammin and arrived in this country fall of 1843. When and where after emigration did the break of his “German ancestry connection” occur?

After creating the Kapke timeline card and writing a brief synopsis of his line (father, grandfather, GG and GGG emigrant grandfather), it appeared to me, the one who left the farm and moved to a town nearby to work in a trade, may have altered the farm family “tight community?” This was in 1878. However, I understand after WWI (1918) this war left the “German community” in Wisconsin in a shambles and after WWII, the damages brought to the German community was the ending of a tight community (per family stories and copious amounts of written data.)However, my father born in 1923 did speak German for a few years. His older brothers born 1914, 1917 and 1919 did speak German.

To explore the past is to understand the present. How can we collaborate with family members and bring up touchy subjects and open communication without offering opinions? How do we avoid upsetting family members when we talk about subjects such as ethnic communities and discrimination?

Can this be accomplished?

© 2013 Sort Your Story, Sonoma, California


Military Monday – World War II German Communities

Written by Lorel Kapke, Sort Your Story Founder

My father was interested in the arts and was heading in the direction of becoming a commercial artist when World War II broke out. He insisted on joining the service as he felt it was “his duty.” However, choosing what area of the military to join was a bit difficult. (Ray was always considered a “gentleman” and not a “fighter” yet he enjoyed sports as he played basketball in high school -at 5’10”- he was quick on his feet !

The military questioned his intent and asked him if he wanted to kill the enemy. Ray felt no animosity towards “any group of people” and he did believe it was his duty to serve (with full knowledge of the political climate at that time.) Ray was placed him in the Navy as a gunner on the USS Davison and Minesweeper.

Historically, where Ray Kapke lived in Wisconsin, it was a tight German community. At that time in Wisconsin the impact both World War I and World War II had on this German community” was experienced by our German ancestors. I understand many, many cultures dealt with similar stories. I feel sharing these stories may be beneficial to understand “discrimination” was felt by “many, many groups of people in this country from early 1500’s and so on!

So our question to you today: Did your ethnic group suffer any discrimination during World War I or II in your community? How did that shape your family’s history? How are you preserving YOUR family’s war stories?

© 2013 Sort Your Story, Sonoma, California