Reports & Contributions | Trip to Hadad
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Written by Ann (Pretli) Bezaire
109 Kael Crescent
Harrow, Ontario    CANADA
(daughter of Michael and Annie [Loscher] Pretli)

What began as a childhood dream became a reality when on July 6, 2009 my son Brandon and I flew to Austria to see the birthplace of my parents and any other areas that my parents may have been associated with before moving to Canada in the late 1940’s.  We were met by my cousin, Erich Hotz and his sister Mary. From that day he made my dreams come true. 

On July 7, 2009 Erich had taken us to see Bindermichl where my parents lived in a camp after fleeing Hadad in 1944 from the Russians.  We had the opportunity to see some of the older buildings still visible there.  We saw the area where the soccer field used to be, where they used to go and watch the games being played, as well as the gully where they use to play.  We had walked the same path as they used to take to go to school and everything we saw, we were in awe.  He then took us to Hummelhof to view the area where the school used to be.  They had turned it into a beautiful park.  In my mind I tried to picture everything - my parents taking the path to school, the school still standing and children all around.  I tried to picture them sitting watching the soccer games as well as them playing in the gully.  It was like I was there with them.

The most important part of our trip began on July 8, 2009 when with the help and generosity of my cousins, I was able to go to the birthplace of my parents (Annie [Loscher] and Michael Pretli).  That birthplace was Kriegsdorf (also known as Hadad) in Romania.  We had started out early that day, Erich Hotz, my son Brandon, George Erdei, Herbert Hotz, his girlfriend Dogmar, Renate Hotz, her daughter Marlene, Anna Jakob, and I, in a rented mini van.  We stopped first in Iklad where we visited a cemetery which contained past ancestors.  Although I myself was not familiar with whom those past ancestors might be, we saw many headstones  bearing the last names of those familiar to me.   We then stopped for a meal break and then headed on our way to Romania seeing many beautiful and interesting sights along the way.  When we got closer to our destination, we approached signage to Hadad and stopped to have a picture of my son Brandon and I taken in front of the sign to show my parents.  It is difficult to explain the feeling I had just to see the signage, a mixture of happiness and excitement, but when we looked down from the side of the mountain and I saw Hadad, I was in my glory.  There below me lay the birthplace of my parents and my heart was full of joy seeing this scene in front of me.  I couldn’t wait to get into the town and images of my parents and grandparents living there came to mind.  We were then told I had to wait until the next day to go there, which was difficult because I was so close.  We continued our drive into Szilagycseh, but unfortunately I didn’t realize the importance of this town until it was too late and we were gone.  I wish now that I had taken pictures of the town but those images are still fresh in my mind and I don’t believe I will ever forget.  When we left, after a couple days, it was made known to me that Szilagycseh was the same place my grandfather had brought his fruits to sell at the market, which was the way he had made a living to support his family.

Finally, on July 9, 2009 we made our trip into Kriegsdorf (Hadad) and I can still remember the excitement I was feeling.  We went to the Town Hall, where the Mayor was, and I remember continuing looking down the streets leading down into the town and just wanting to keep going.  They pointed out to me where the market used to be and we even saw the home of Wesselenyi, which although was not in very good repair, it wasn’t difficult to imagine what it was like back in its day.  We then visited the post office, which unfortunately had no postcards which I thought would have been fun to send back home to my parents and family.  We stopped at a small store and I purchased a silk rose which I wanted to put on my grandfather’s grave.  This was a promise I had made to my mother before leaving and because there was only one rose, I took it as an omen , I would find my grandfathers grave. 

We finally made our way down the streets of Hadad, and I remember being so excited.  To my astonishment I had noticed that the streets were good, one even paved, and there were some newer homes there.  This went against what my niece had told me.  She had been there less then two years before me and the streets were so bad that no carts or cars could pass and it was difficult for them to walk.  When we continued I noticed a Café and the Baptist Church which was in good shape. I then saw my parents church and I couldn‘t believe what I saw, it was being repaired, which again went against what my niece had told me that it was not being repaired and was in complete shambles when she had seen it.  My heart melted once more and we climbed the steps up to the church and I could have cried, I was so happy.  Across the street was the old school and beside the church was the new school (kindergarten) and I was sad to see the state they were in.  We then went into the church and it brought such happiness to me, as well as tears.  I took several pictures of the same blue pews my mother had spoken of, the choir loft, the old chandelier, the baptismal font, music stand and even the priest’s pulpit.  I got a picture of the front of the church with a beautiful portrait - all the original things that were there when my parents were younger.  I pictured them being baptized, being confirmed and being right there with me.  It was a wonderful experience.  We even had a chance to meet the pastor of the church, Pastor Wagner.  I made sure I had a lot of pictures to share when I got home and I knew my parents would be very happy to know that their church was being repaired and restored.    We continued our walk and I noticed several homes in a bad state of repair and realized just how much the town had deteriorated.  I could tell that there were some repairs that were done to make the homes more livable but realized more could be done.  I wished better for the people still living there, but knew it was something they had grown accustomed to.  I noticed several children and hoped that their future would bring them much happiness and a better way of life.  I was shown a home that was believed to have belonged to my father.  Again tears of joy came to my eyes.  I had then learned that it was not my fathers home and  I was disappointed.  However, when I showed the picture to my mom when I got home, she did confirm that it was actually my godfather’s house, George Pretli, who had lived there.  We then made our way back towards the Town Hall and walked down a side street to where we were given lunch.  What a lunch it was - just like my mom still makes; bean soup, potato noodles and cucumber salad, it was excellent!

In the afternoon we walked up to the cemetery in search of my grandfather’s grave.  There was no lane way, as my mother had mentioned, but we walked through open fields to get to the cemetery.  There were two sections with a brush area in the middle.  Part of the group went to the left and Brandon and I went to the right in search of my grandfathers grave and that of my aunt and uncles, the three siblings of my mother who had died in their early years.  The cemetery was very overgrown which made our search very difficult and the names on the headstones were on the back of the stones instead of the front as is the custom now.  My son, made every effort to find the graves with no luck; we even searched in the brush area and after quite a bit of time had gone by I had asked him to stop searching and come down before he was injured.  Brandon knew from the look on my face that I was disappointed in not locating the graves and continued searching for me, but after a while I again urged him to stop before he got injured.  It was at that time that  tears welled in my eyes from not being able to locate the graves and make good on the promise to my mother about leaving a rose on her father’s grave for her.  I looked at the cemetery and wished that it had been taken care of better and we walked back to the town but my heart ached.  I was later told that the cemetery would be cleaned up and made a request from my cousin Erich that should that happen to please place a rose on my grandfather’s grave, take a picture and send it to me.  I would be most grateful.

When we returned to the town, we were welcomed into the home of relatives of Anna Jakob and were treated with pastry (which my mom still makes) and home made wine.

We then returned to our vehicle and went back to Szilagycseh, but was told we were returning the next morning at which I was thrilled as I still had not seen my father’s house nor the land that once contained the house of my mother and grandparents.

On July 10th, we returned and made our way once more down into Hadad in search of the street my mother used to live on and my father‘s house, as well as other homes belonging to ancestors of the members of our small party.  We found a home, which looked like it would have been the most beautiful home in Hadad at one time.   It had belonged to Erich’s grandparents, another Pretli house.  We continued our walk and met several people, one women born a Pretli (but I believe of no relation)  and another one who called herself Maria Henkel.  When I was speaking to this women, I tried to explain to her who I was and she finally mentioned the names my parents were called at that time and she did indeed remember my parents.  I was ecstatic.  I finally found someone who remembered my parents.  But unfortunately I had forgotten to get her maiden name so that I could tell my parents who she was.  I had shown them the picture I had taken of her, but unfortunately they could not remember her.  The women had continued on with us during the remainder of our time there.  We came to a street, which was no more than a wide pathway and I was told this would lead me to where my mother’s house use to be.   We walked to the end of this street past a single house and came to a wooded area which use to contain the home of my mother.  Unfortunately, the home was long gone.  I later learned from my mother that the single home remaining on the opposite side of the street had belonged to her father’s brother.

As we continued on, there in front of us lay my father’s house.  Still standing and still inhabited.  They even had a satellite dish.  I was overjoyed to see it, just knowing it to be part of my father’s past. My heart melted once more. Although there were signs of repair, it still needed much more.  However, when I showed my niece the picture when I got home, she indicated that the same house was in such poor shape when she had seen it two years earlier, the house I had seen was actually much better.

It was time to leave Hadad and I was sad to leave.  I know I will never forget my trip there and cannot say enough of how grateful I am to my cousins for making it a trip of a lifetime.  My dreams had been made to come true.

We continued our trip to Arad where we spent some time sight seeing and on July 11th continued to Engelsbrunn where we met with  Pastor Walther Sinn who was kind enough to show us some of the homes of the people who had come from Hadad.  He also had taken us to Semlak where he had shown us his church and made us welcome in his home. 

On July 12th we continued our trip back to Linz and on July 13th we had a quiet day to unwind from our recent travel.

On July 14th, Erich had another surprise for us and had taken Brandon and I to Eggerding where my parents came to work for the farmers after fleeing Hadad from the Russians in 1944.  He had taken us first to the Town Hall where we spoke to a gentleman who had actually located my father’s record card and had given a copy to me.  The card indicated when my father arrived, where he worked and when he had left Eggerding.  Unfortunately, the kind man was unable to locate my mother’s record.  Erich then drove us to the farm where my father had worked.  The original house of the owner was still standing, as well as the original barn.  We met a man named John Penninger, who was in his late 80’s, a few years older than my father. He may have been the farmer my father worked for,  or perhaps his son, but I am uncertain.  He allowed us to take pictures of the farm to show my father.

We drove to Andorf for lunch and then took a drive to see the Danube, which unfortunately was not blue.  It was however a beautiful sight to see.

On July 15th Erich took us to see the Alps.  How beautiful they were.  We spent the night and the next day went up to the top of the mountains by ski lift.  The sight was breathtaking and the visions remain in my mind.  We then drove to the end of the valley where we had a wonderful lunch and then drove back through the mountains to return to Linz.

Our journey came to an end on July 17th when we returned home to Harrow, Ontario, Canada.  Once again, I can’t say enough how grateful I am to my cousins for everything they had done to make our trip so wonderful.  I will never forget how they made my hopes and dreams become a reality - especially seeing the birthplace of my parents, where they worked, and where they lived when they fled Hadad.  Perhaps some day I could return and perhaps at that time Kriegsdorf (Hadad) will have been fully restored and I could go to my grandfather’s grave to visit.  Until then, I have my memories which will stay with my always.

Last Updated on Sunday, 27 September 2009 12:40