Many months from late 1944 and onward were, to Elle, a mixture of temporary stays in abandoned barracks and other buildings while moving place to place to avoid the war. Elle remembers living in a convent when the war ended. The nuns cheered and danced with joy.
Elle’s father was lost in the war. Either he was killed or the Russian army captured him.
Many times they were sprayed with DDT to eliminate fleas and lice. Barracks had no privacy. Families would string blankets to segregate living areas for some privacy.
Elle, being older, had to find new clothes as she grew. Her old clothes went to her younger sisters.
Footwear was a problem. Elle wore boots, which she outgrew. Nonetheless, she had to continue to wear them because of the cold weather. They gave her foot problems that lasted the rest of her life.
Elle had memory dropout for several months. The only memory of that time was once, when her mother and others were trying to get her to talk. She didn’t know why they were trying so hard. She didn’t feel like talking.
Elle was one of a few children chosen to travel to Sweden for three months, due to malnourishment. While there, she was given as much as she wanted to eat, of anything she asked for.
After months of travel and life in barracks, Elle and her traveling party arrived in Geislingen Steige, southern Germany, American zone. The American soldiers moved a family out of a house, moved Elle and company and another family into the house, which they had to share. Many Estonian refugees had been moved to Geislingen. The Estonians set up a primary school that Elle and her sisters attended.
They lived in Geislingen for five years, in the Schlossalte neighborhood.