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Martin Heinrich

In the wee hours of a rainy Wednesday morning, I took the first breath of my life. It was 13 May in the year 1936. I was the second child of Robert and Rosa Heinrich who resided in Nürnberg.

When I was three months old, our family moved to Cadolzburg, which was 20km distant in the country, 10km west of Fuerth.

There I grew up in a life of freedom. Local traffic was negligible and we kids spent most of our time outdoors, playing with many others in the neighborhood. From May to September, we ran around barefoot, which was custom in the country. As early as I can remember, there was always a shortage of everything, including food, and naturally toys. By the age of four, I noticed that there was a war on. There were no streetlights anymore and inside the house, blankets covered every window, that no light was detectable from the outside. In summer 1942, I started school in Cadolzburg. Since there were many distractions and a great number of things to do, my scholastic performance was not outstanding, but enough to get by. Paper was in short supply and it was standard practice to write with a slate pencil on a slate plate. If the teacher or mother considered the appearance substandard, a water soaked sponge and a dry rag took care of several hours’ diligent labor. From the years 1943 to 1945, we suffered continually increasing numbers of air raids. First only at night, later day and night.

Daytime raids were usually around noon. For this reason, we had only two hours school per day, from 7.00am to 9.00am. The last few weeks of the war, there was no school at all. After the war, there were not enough teachers available, which delayed the start of grade four to 1946.

Naturally, the quality of teaching had to suffer, because in 1947, after I entered high school, there was also a shortage of teachers. These were mostly older men, past retirement age, or young women with very little experience. After six years, I left and entered an apprenticeship as Auto Mechanic, because I wanted to go to college and needed the practical years.

In 1958, I met Helene who became my wife in 1961. Later this year our son Thomas (Tom) was born and in 1963 our daughter Gisela (Gisi). Since my High school days, I was dreaming about Canada, the wide-open spaces and the good life.

In March 1967, we left Germany for Canada and a new life. We arrived in Winnipeg on March 21, where I found work immediately.

The customers of my employer were satisfied with my work, which resulted in a job offer by Kohler. After moving to Toronto, I started to work at Kohler in 1971. In summer 1976, Kohler closed the Canadian operation and they moved our family to Wisconsin. After twenty years at Kohler, I received a job offer from Polaris, which I accepted, and consequently moved, to Warroad and later to Baudette, where I watched my grandchildren growing up, and starting families of their own.

I even have a great granddaughter Elsie now, which makes me a very happy great-grandfather.

Martin is survived by his wife Helene; children, Tom (Joan) Heinrich, Gisela “Gisi” Smith; grandchildren, Chris (Demetra) Heinrich, Madie (Chad) Anderson, Kaitlin Smith, Erik Smith; great-grandchild, Elsie Anderson; sisters, Herta Zinc, Isolde Schmidt, Lis Wolfe; special friend, Dennis Topp.

He is preceded in death by his parents.

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