A Three-Part Series About a Fascinating Midland County Couple
By Tom Lowrey, Education Assistant
Part Three: Herta and Siegfried Come Home to America
So we’ve heard their adventures during the war, but how did Siegfried end up meeting Herta? Well, Siegfried’s brother had reached the village of Sehestedt first, and was dating Herta’s sister. One thing led to another, they met each other on bikes and it was love at first sight! They were soon married.
After the war was over, Siegfried, his brother and their wives went back to visit his former home, which was now in Poland because East Prussia had ceased to exist. The young couple who were the current tenants of the house welcomed them warmly and showed them around. Siegfried even visited his old school and showed Herta where he had sat so many years before. Siegfried’s village was still standing, but a nearby village, which had consisted of mostly thatch-roof buildings, had been torched by the Russians.
Back in Germany, in 1952, Herta and Siegfried were raisingtwo daughters, but they didn’t have many opportunities in Germany and Siegfried’s country no longer existed. So they decided to emigrate. They had the opportunity to start new lives in Brazil, Australia or Canada but one of Herta’s old teachers had told them that America was the place to be, so they chose the United States as their new home. But where in the U.S.? A relative had moved to Texas and warned them about the stifling heat. Another man from the village had gotten a job as a farm worker in Michigan and he told them that the climate was similar to northern Germany, so they signed up for Michigan.
One of Herta’s first experiences with American food was breakfast. On the plane to New York, she was served grapefruit juice and toast, neither of which she’d had before. “This is a good start,” she thought. “They give you vinegar to drink and they burn your bread!”
After they landed, they were put on a train and ended up in Midland, Michigan! They found work on a farm near what is now the Chippewa Nature Center. They were welcomed by the farmer’s church, which already had a Sunday school with 32 Germans! Herta worked at home, raised their family, cleaned houses and was the custodian for their church. Siegfried worked for several dairies, did some construction jobs and drove a school bus before getting a job with the Midland Public Schools, where he eventually worked his way up to Head Custodian at Midland High.
Herta and Siegfried “Ziggy” Jaschinsky now have seven grandkids and ten great-grandkids. And they’re going to have their 67th anniversary this month. This would be