Königsberg, 8 June, 1944. Gas and electricity bill from the Königsberger Werke und Strassenbahn G.m.b.H.
Frau Helene Sokoll's utilities bill is an interesting look into the different ways in which the regime sought to remind its citizens that they were at war. Especially in Königsberg, which until the summer of 1944 had not been bombed by the Royal Air Force, war could seem far away. The bill, however stresses that "Everyone has to join in!" "Save electricity and gas. Thriftiness means victory!" "Those who save electricity and gas - help the front!"
Königsberg, 31 August 1944. Ersatz-Ausweis of Helene Sokoll
This emergency passport was given out to Helene Sokoll, 64, after she was bombed out. The passport, which bears the seal of the Oberbürgermeister der Stadt Königsberg (Pr), shows that she lived on the Weidendamm 2, in the Ortsgruppe Kneiphof. It also shows that she received 1 Lebensmittelsonderkarte (special car for foodstuffs) and 1 Urlauberkarte für 3 Tage (a euphimism: this is a card for "holiday-goers," allowing them to change their rations throughout Germany - by this stage of the war this card was more often used during flight), as well as 10 RM pocket money. Königsberg was bombed twice that week by the Royal Air Force, the first attack took place in the night of 26-27 August 1944, and the second in the night of 29-30 August. Frau Sokoll was incredibly lucky not to be among the roughly 4,000 casualties of these two bombardments, since the Kneiphof district where she lived was virtually completely destroyed by explosive and incendiary bombs.
Königsberg, 26 January, 1945. Anmeldung bei der Polizeilichen Meldebehörde of Erna Gorgol
On 26 January 1945, a certain Erna Gorgol from Berlin visits the Sokoll household at the Weidendamm 2, consisting of mother Helene and daughter Margarete Sokoll. Erna Gorgol and Margarete Sokoll are likely to be old aquintances (perhaps because of Frau Sokoll's work, as she travelled a lot throughout Germany) and Frau Golgol's trip must have been quite an endavour, and she went against the direction of refugee stream, at the height of the Soviet offensive.
Most remarkable about the document is the fact that, in the midst of the unfolding chaos, Königsberg's Polizeirevier (police station) still seems to function normally.
Berlin, 10 February 1945. Anmeldung bei der Polizeilichen Meldebehörde (180. Polizeirevier Berlin)
The purpose of Frau Golgol's trip to East Prussia becomes apparent through this registration. It is the registration of Frau Sokoll and her mother at the house of Frau Golgol in Berlin, and Frau Golgol thus seems to have encouraged the Sokolls to leave Königsberg. They reached Berlin from Königsberg by 10 February 1945, which means that they managed to leave Königsberg either just before the city's encircement on 28 January, or during the encirclement. Both options would have been incredibly strenous for the women, especially for Frau Sokoll's mother, who was 64 at the time.
Berlin Schöneberg/ Friedenau, 25 September - 9 October 1945. Certificate of vaccination of Helene Sokoll
Millions of Germans were on the move in 1945, and the fear of the spread of infectious diseases was therefore understandable. We see that during her stay in Berlin, Helene Sokoll is vaccinated three times against typhoid, and also received three tablets of Typhoral, which treats, controls, and prevents typhoid and typhoid fever.
Berlin-Tiergarten, 31 October 1945. Certificate for refugees, orFlüchtlingsbescheinigung, of Helene Sokoll
The document illustrates the cooperation between the eastern and western Allies, as it is printed with both the English and Russian language on it, as well as having a German heading. The ad hoc nature of the occupation authorities is particularly evident through the stamps on the document: the English part is stamped with a denazified stamp with the eagle and swastika removed, but which still reads "Reichshauptstadt Berlin", while the Soviets already brough in their own stamp, reading "City of Berlin, Rayon Tiergarten".
Durchgangslager Friedland, 6 November 1945. Refugee registration card of Margarete Sokoll
In November the Sokolls move from Berlin to Aschendorf-Osnabrück, passing through the famous Friedland transit camp, which lies on the border of the British occupation zone (Niedersachen), the American occupation zone (Hessen), and the Russian occupation zone (Thüringen).
Rationing was still taking place in Germany by this time, and the refugee card indicates that Margarete received her ration cards until 11 Novemeber.
Osnabrück, 8 November 1945. Refugee registration card of Margarete Sokoll
Refugees had to register themselves upon arrival in a new city at the local authorities.
Among the questions we find:
- Nationality: German Reich (which by November 1945 does not exist anymore)
- Left from where: Königsberg/ Ostpr.
- Last permanent residence prior to the capitulation: Königsberg/ Ostpr.