Escaping Berlin: Area resident recalls fall of German Capital


Special to the Press

Part I of II

Into the past Brunhild Rajaniemi is shown holding “Two Escaping The Last Battle,” a book she authored in which she reflects on the events of World War II. (Photo by Freddy Jimenez)

The number of people alive today who remember World War II decreases by the week. One such person whose memories are very much alive is 94-year old Brunhild Rajaniemi, of Weslaco.

As Russian armies closed in around Berlin, Germany in the spring of 1945, she and a girlfriend, Gitta, barely
made their escape from the city. Traveling together, most often on foot, they made their way west. They were far from alone. By the hundreds of thousands, German civilians tried desperately to stay ahead of the advancing Russian forces.

Along the way, they were often welcomed into the homes of strangers, sometimes slept in barns or out in the open and, in part, lived the adventure of a lifetime.

In some ways, Brunhild said, “It was the best time of my life.”

By April of 1945, it was clear that Nazi Germany was losing the war, and it was only a question of when the shooting would stop. A dozen or more Russian armies, totaling two-and-a-half million men were closing in from the east. From the west the American armies led the assault and Berlin was caught in the middle.

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