A normal family with Nazis, refugees and a murdered man

A normal family with Nazis, refugees and a murdered man
Maybe someone still remembers Malte Bastian’s family: Aunt Gisela, grandmother Else, Uncle Armin and his now 85-year-old mother (from left). (Private archive)

“In 1945, a small Upper Austrian community became a place of refuge for my family: Kollerschlag,” recalls Malte Bastian from Cologne, who wrote down the family history in his book “(M)y Normal Family: About Nazis, Refugees and a Murdered Uncle.” In Kollerschlag, he writes, his then six-year-old mother and five-year-old aunt were happy children again for the first time after fleeing Breslau. They lived on a large farm with a loving farming family.

“My great aunt, who is now 100 years old and was there as a young woman at the time, still remembers with gratitude the great readiness of the people of Kollerschlag to help in those dark times.” In his book, Malte Bastian writes about his eventful family history, in which Kollerschlag naturally also plays a role.

The mayor of Kollerschlag, Johannes Resch, and his predecessor, Franz Saxinger, helped him with research and pictures. The 20th century is described in the book as an exciting journey through time for a German family: Malte Bastian takes readers into an exciting and dangerous past and brings it back to life. There was a great-grandfather whose death was caused by a stubborn pig, an aunt who had to dig trenches, a grandfather whose life was saved by a briefcase, and one who traded medals for cigarettes. And there was an uncle who was murdered by Nazis 48 hours after the official end of the Second World War.

Answers to many questions

This book answers a multitude of questions that have never been answered in many families to this day: Why should an entire nation eat a vegan diet during World War I? Why did a cow cost a whole suitcase full of money in 1923? Why was a gramophone enough to put people in a good mood 100 years ago? Why did millions of people join Hitler’s NSDAP? Why were disabled people murdered? What happened in the Hamburg firestorm? Why did people flee the eastern territories? There are answers to these and many other questions – some of them make you smile, some are shocking, many make you think. And one thing is certain: your view of your own family’s history will also be different after reading the book.

The author has one hope in the Mühlviertel readership: “It would of course be great if we could perhaps also find the Kollerschlag family with whom my relatives from Silesia had found a temporary home at the time.”

Malte Bastian: (M)y normal family: About Nazis, refugees and a murdered uncle. Hardcover with dust jacket, 280 pages, for ages 12 and up. ISBN-13: 9783758310706 Publisher: Books on Demand, 29 euros. E-book ISBN-13: 9783758334139 for 9.99 euros.

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