Ruth Hart nee Roesler
by Daughter Heidi Hart
German Displaced Person
March 11, 1949
Refugees stayed in a previously used prison camp just outside of Hanover, Germany to be medically examined. The Canadian Red Cross provided clothes at the camp for the immigrants prior to boarding. My mother at the age of 23 was bussed to the ship. She left Bremerhaven on the Beaverbrae the end of February or beginning of March to arrive in Halifax, Canada mid March.
The ship was originally used for transporting grain. Bunk beds were set up in two of the rooms, one side for women and children, the other for the men. There were just fewer than 1000 displaced souls on board.
Food was served three times daily. Breakfast usually consisted of cereal, lunch was eggs and soup, and at supper they occasionally had some meat. Pink meal cards were given to each individual, each time a meal was eaten the card was punched. My mother’s card only had a few holes in it. She had seasickness so often that she ate very little. Seasickness was very common. The people were provided with seasickness bags that were then to be thrown in a large garbage can with a lid after use.
My mother said that there was heat in the rooms but what kind, she is not sure.
The trip was to take 12 days but became 14 days in duration. During the voyage, they ran into a severe storm that lasted three days. The storm put them off course. A French crewman told my mom that they were welding the ship all through the one night because the storm had cracked the ship. My mother’s sister in Germany recalls the news broadcasts over the radio reporting about the seriousness of the storms and that the ships were calling out "mayday". As a result of the high seas, the rocking of the ship upset the garbage that held the seasickness bags and they were rolling all around the rooms.
The people on the ship were destined for places all across Canada, most to Ontario. The people were mostly of German descent but came from other European countries.
My mother arrived in Halifax; she believes, either March 11 or 14, 1949. She was then transported to her final destination, Minitonas, Manitoba via train, which took over 3 days. There she met up with her sponsor, her sister and brother-in-law. Her sister’s husband sponsored her to come over to Canada at a cost of approximately $230.00.
She found the weather unbearably cold and felt isolated even though the community was primarily German. She spoke no English upon arrival, was shortly thereafter married and had her first child of five. She delivered her first child in the Swan River hospital, not understanding a word that the excited medical staffs was saying during her very difficult birth.
Her mother had the foresight to arrange for her to come to Canada, as she believed that the immediate future in Germany was bleak. My mother is thankful she had made the journey.
My mother now resides in Swan River, Manitoba, a small community of approximately 4,000 people. Three of her five sisters have passed away now; most of them lived in Germany.