Love after war

While we were moving I found this picture of my grandparents. It sits now in my dining room and they look at me and my life and though I cannot hear them I am sure they are happy for me and what I do. They sacrificed their youth to find love and become a family.

My great grandparents moved from the Eastern part of Europe to the Ruhr area of Germany. My great grandfather was a pitman and in the years around 1900 a lot of them found work in this area of Germany. When my great grandmother died my grandfather was just 11 years old and he had to move for the first time in his life. He moved to a farm where his older sister married the farmer as his father was already too sick to take care of him. When he was 14 his father died, very poor in a little room that he rented for himself in a big house where other pitman used to live. By the time his sister died he had to leave the farm – the farmer got married again and the presence of my grandfather was not welcome anymore. Farms needed many helpers back then and so he went to another farm to have a warm place to sleep and earn a little money. The war arrived in Germany and didn’t stop from recruiting young men to fight for the country. It didn’t stop before my grandfather either and so he went into war at the age of 17. He was never a person who would hold a weapon so he did his drivers license during that time and learned everything about repairing cars. That moment as a young man in the second world war his passion for bus driving was born.

He came back after four years at the age of 21. Coming back to the farm he worked before the war, he quickly realized that the farm life wasn’t for him. So he went to the local bus company and became bus driver who drove the one and only bus from the village to the next bigger city. And this is where the love story begins.

My grandmother comes from a farm – when I look through old images I see her helping on the fields with the whole family and driving the tractor. Though she could drive a tractor she never did her drivers license and without a car the bike and the bus were the only ways to get around the rural area.

They met in the bus and became friends. One day in summer they went with some friends to a canal close by for swimming. My grandma got into trouble and almost drowned when my grandfather rescued her and from this day on they were officially together as a couple.

They married in 1950 and lived in a little 2 room apartment until their first child was born. Family was the most important thing for them – as she grew up in a family surrounding and he never felt the comfort of having a family. Having felt to have nothing and nobody the love rescued him. They built their house when my father was born and that is where my story starts as well as I grew up in this house as well.

When you have nothing love is everything that counts.

That might sound cheesy but I don’t mind – this is where it all began. My grandparents sacrificed their youth to fall in love, build a family and become my grandparents.


This image shows a little note from my grandfather to my grandmother saying

In memory of a happy being together – yours Josef

Your trust and my strength

jennifer hejna photography_901