George Hornung was born February 23, 1940, in Yugoslavia. At the age of four, George and his family were forced to flee his home on horseback with only a tiny portion of their belongings. They took a train into Austria, where they worked on a farm for an Austrian family for two years. After the American troops came to occupy Austria, George and his family were relocated to refugee camps that housed over seven hundred people. They stayed in the camp for eight years. While in the camp, George passed the time by playing soccer, exploring the woods around the edge of the camp, and listening to the music played by other refugees. George came to America in 1952. He settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he continued to participate in German cultural activities through the Donauschwaben Club, where he would eventually meet his wife, Hilde Hornung.
Hornung, George (interviewee)
Hornung, Conrad (interviewer); Hornung, Tatiana (interviewer);
Cleveland German-American Oral History Project
"George Hornung interview, 01 August 2018" (2018). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 195006.
Conrad Hornung [00:00:01] Good evening. My name is Conrad Hornung, and on behalf of the Center for Public History and Digital Humanities at Cleveland State University, I am sitting next to my father, who I will be interviewing today with my daughter, Tatiana, my youngest daughter, who will be here for support and listening to the interview.
Tatiana Hornung [00:00:33] It is the 2nd of August, 2018.
Conrad Hornung [00:00:39] And we are located at my parents house, same place as we were at yesterday when interviewing my mother. And this is my father is my daughter's grandfather or opa as she calls him. And the subject of the recording will be essentially the how he remembers fleeing the Yugoslavia area where he was born and spent some time in before fleeing from the communists and to live in barracks in Austria, as I understand it. But I will let him do the explaining. And with that in mind, I would like you, Dad, please state your name.
George Hornung [00:01:44] George Hornung.
Conrad Hornung [00:01:48] And can you please just tell me and your address and what?
George Hornung [00:01:58] 37 45 Puritan Drive, Brunswick, Ohio. 44212.
Conrad Hornung [00:02:05] OK. So my, our, first question is, when were you bur- yeah, when were you born and in what city were you born?
George Hornung [00:02:29] I was born February 23rd 1940. The city was called by Mitrovica in Yugoslavia.
Conrad Hornung [00:02:41] OK. And do you how what how old were you when you left Yugoslavia? I mean, were you very small and young or mom said yesterday that she was only two years old and really doesn't remember her time in Yugoslavia. But did you remember any time, well?
George Hornung [00:03:10] Yes, I was four years old when we had to leave Yugoslavia our home in Yugoslavia. I remember odds and ends of it as a four year old. I remember the traveling of packing everything and leaving everything behind our house, our little farm that we had our animals and we fled by horse and wagon with all our some belongings to the train station in Mitrovica where we boarded a train and traveled through Hungary into Austria, where we landed in at a farm place, a small farm. And they kept us to work for them and to help them out on the farm. My dad especially, of course, and this was for a period of about two years when the US soldiers came and occupied that part of Austria. They opened up the barracks, the prisoners barracks camps, uh, to us immigrants. So we all had to leave our original place from Austria to these camps, which were also in Austria, not far from the farm that we lived in. There were probably, seven, eight hundred people, or families there in this camp. It was former prisoner of war camp that the soldiers liberated and preserved.
Conrad Hornung [00:04:59] May I ask the prisoner of wars of who of?
George Hornung [00:05:05] Of, of, America.
Conrad Hornung [00:05:06] Oh, really? Can I. I'd like to stop for a second and ask who what was the rest of your family dynamics? Did you have any what was your what were your parents names? And were they were were they born and raised in Yugoslavia before they fled and they were forced to flee?
George Hornung [00:05:42] Yes, they were. My father's name was Jacob Hornung from my mother's name was Magdaline, Magdalena Hornung. And they were both born in Yugoslavia as a Donauschwaben, then Danube Swabian, immigrant from Germany. We were allowed to settle in the Yugoslavia through the Hungarian, Austrian Hungarian Empire. They needed people to work the land. That's how we arrived from Germany to Yugoslavia.
Conrad Hornung [00:06:14] And that was generations before?
George Hornung [00:06:18] Yes, many.
Conrad Hornung [00:06:18] And here a dad came, right?
George Hornung [00:06:20] Yes. yes.
Conrad Hornung [00:06:21] OK, so when you said you fled and by horse and wagon and without you weren't able to take anything with. Is that correct or just?
George Hornung [00:06:39] Essentials.
Conrad Hornung [00:06:39] Who who forced you out? Did somebody actually come through and say, that's it, you're no longer here and that you're not allowed to stay here or?
George Hornung [00:06:50] in 194-.
Conrad Hornung [00:06:50] Did they threaten you, or?
George Hornung [00:06:53] In 1940, the war was still going on. Germany would occupied Yugoslavia was losing it. And Hitler was the one that wanted all the Germans in Yugoslavia, Hungary, and all the other territories to leave and go to Austria, or to Germany. So they, we were asked to go because of the partisans of Tito's were threatening our existence and our lives.
Conrad Hornung [00:07:23] Oh, wow. OK.
George Hornung [00:07:25] So that's why we left. But the opening was made. We were asked those they wanted, some stayed. They didn't want to leave their land and all that. But, I, my parents in my, our, case, we left. Thank gods, and safely.
Conrad Hornung [00:07:42] From a survival standpoint, I imagine.
George Hornung [00:07:44] Yes, it was, went quite smooth. It was all arranged by the Germans army.
Conrad Hornung [00:07:50] Oh, wow.
George Hornung [00:07:50] Yeah, the train ride and everything. It didn't cost us nothing. We just were put in these cars and go, we did not know where we were going to end in Austria or Germany.
Conrad Hornung [00:08:03] Wow.
George Hornung [00:08:03] So that's how we ended up. And to being
Conrad Hornung [00:08:08] And do you remember what part of Austria that you were in, where you ended up originally at this farm place? What part of Austria that was?
George Hornung [00:08:17] This, the little, the town was called Stadl-Paura which was a small farming community. That's where we ended up after leaving Yugoslavia. As I mentioned before, for two years, we stayed at this farm, small farm, and helped then there was only a woman owner.
Conrad Hornung [00:08:46] And then that brings us back to where I interrupted you. And you said that's when the Americans came in and said, sorry, or we're going to open up these barracks to you.
George Hornung [00:09:01] They the Americans. So the Americans worked with the Austrian government to open up these camps for the immigrants that had to leave Yugoslavia. So all these camps were then free, so to speak. And we were placed many hundreds of families in our camp was called Lager Zehn Zehn meaning camp ten ten. Was our camp. There were maybe three or four camps in this area where we installed power around, in Landbach.
George Hornung [00:09:39] How many so were they one family rooms that you lived in or how many people had to exist coexist in each one of these? Will can I say, were they barracks as well in these camps, just like these one room? Places to live, if you will, or?
George Hornung [00:10:06] If you can picture a barrack is a long building with rooms on both sides of the of the hallway, one room for family is how we went in my day with my mom and my father, my mother and myself, the three of us in this one room. This was our kitchen, our living room, our bedroom and everything was in this one tiny little room. So we stayed there for fourty six years. Eight years.
Conrad Hornung [00:10:38] Can you-
George Hornung [00:10:38] Till 1952
Conrad Hornung [00:10:40] So you were four years old when you fled Yugoslavia. So that means you were in Austria from that from the time you were four to the time you were 12.
George Hornung [00:10:57] Right.
Conrad Hornung [00:10:57] And you said you were born in 1940, February 20th, 1940.
George Hornung [00:11:02] 23rd.
Conrad Hornung [00:11:02] 20- or I am sorry 23rd. Yes, I apologize.
George Hornung [00:11:09] Right.
Conrad Hornung [00:11:09] OK, while you were there, did your parents and the other folks that lived in the barracks, did they continue to refer to themselves as Germans and talk to about the Germans and or Hitler and his army? And if so positive, was it positive or negative? And were any of the people in your group conscripted into Hitler's army? Uh, can can you answer those? And those are
George Hornung [00:11:47] My father to your last question. My father was conscripted for a period of, I think he said one year or so. Then he was released due to eye problems, but didn't see too well. When we in the camp itself were many nationalities were there were Germans, Hungarians, Romanians, even some Croats. And like I said, many, many nationalities that had to leave or were asked to leave. Hitler wanted mainly to get the Germans out of Tito's hands because he knew he was going to be bad with the communism. Which it turned out to be because the Serbs, our town in Mitrovica (used a former name, undecipherable) in Yugoslavia, if I can go back, was a small town with half of it being Serbian, the other half German. And these were a neighbor against neighbor. But when the war broke out, they were enemies to us Germans. In the camp you asked whether or not we spoke all German because Austria is German. So we went we had school in the camp. My grade school was all in the camp. My high school was in the main city of Lambach which I had to walk to every day by two kilometers every day winter or summer. As a young boy, what did I do? I played soccer. I played in the woods. Our camp was surrounded by trees, by woods, and that was my playing place. We had a soccer field which we all participated with almost daily weather permitting. We even had hills because we weren't that far from the Alps. So there were some quite nice sized hills, to ski, sled. And that was our winter sports for a children for, for us kids.
Conrad Hornung [00:14:03] So you actually had the luxury of either building skis or trying to and
George Hornung [00:14:11] Inheriting skis.
Conrad Hornung [00:14:12] Inheriting.
George Hornung [00:14:12] Yes it was two boards with a little leather strip over it there you were. That was your ski.
Conrad Hornung [00:14:18] That's funny.
George Hornung [00:14:19] Yeah, it was it was an inherited type thing. And we even had lessons. And I went to high school and at the age of 12. Yeah, yeah. Eleven and a half twelve. We had the instructions for skiing in the wintertime as part of the curriculum.
Conrad Hornung [00:14:42] I'll be darned.
George Hornung [00:14:43] Yeah, we, I enjoyed it tremendously and we were very poor. My dad found a job as a as a bricklayer's helper and then he went and I eventually ended up to be a bricklayer. So he was the only income. My mom was a home mom and I had a brother in 1947. He was born in Austria in Wels. In a hospital.
Conrad Hornung [00:15:19] And that's spelled W, E, L, S.
George Hornung [00:15:24] Yes.
Conrad Hornung [00:15:24] Wels Austria. So how did the family get to Wels to for, Steve to or that- I'm sorry, Steve is my father's brother that I don't understand that
George Hornung [00:15:41] The doctor in this village had a car and he would transport my mom to the hospital to make a delivery to my brother Steve. This was, I seven years old at that time, and it was just a total experience for a child, as you can imagine.
Conrad Hornung [00:16:05] So, tell me, I and I don't know is if it was this and you said this is still, as you say, Lager Zehn Zehnor or Barrack's 10 10,this is in the Austria
George Hornung [00:16:22] In Stadl-Paura.
Conrad Hornung [00:16:23] In Stadl-Paura Austria. And my recollection and I just want to toss this out, because if true, I'd like to ask you to expound upon this. Is that your mom and dad, my grandparents, Jacob and Magdalena Hornung, said they had a lot of fun, regardless of how poor it was and that there was a lot of music and laughter there. So can you expand upon that and then how you ended up on the musicians circuit? I'm very curious about that.
George Hornung [00:17:12] Well, like my son says, this camp was my God, it turned out to be a lot of like a family. There were quite a few from the same [indecipherable] of Yugoslavia that ended up in the same camp. And we made friends with all the other people because that's all we really had was each other. No one had any value of any [indecipherable]. However, with all these people there, the musicians came, some played the violin, some played on the accordions, some played a sax, drums.
Conrad Hornung [00:17:49] Really?
George Hornung [00:17:49] And we had one hall a big hall that dances were held for the people every Saturday night.
Conrad Hornung [00:17:55] In Austria?
Conrad Hornung [00:17:57] In the camp.
Conrad Hornung [00:17:59] Oh my gosh.
George Hornung [00:18:00] And we I was curious as all hell. I watched, I went there and looked through the window. I wasn't allowed inside. I like music. I like music a lot. My mom, she's sang very a lot. A lot to us. And my dad was happy, a good singer and a good love music. And the point came, we had one musician. His name was Gregory, who played a little button box. And he would if you had a birthday, you'd come to your house and play and they would have maybe a little schnapps if it was available. And I would follow him all over the place in the Lager just to hear him play.
Conrad Hornung [00:18:42] That's nice.
George Hornung [00:18:42] That's how I fell in love with an accordion. Then my always was my dad knew I wanted an accordion. I wanted to play. So he had the chance to visit an Uncle in Wels on one visit. And lo and behold, he comes home with a small accordion for me. And I had the opportunity to take that accordion and take accordion lessons in Stadl-Paura by music teacher for about a period of almost four years.
Conrad Hornung [00:19:16] No kidding. So you were quite young when you started?
George Hornung [00:19:20] I was eight years old when I started.
Conrad Hornung [00:19:23] Wow.
George Hornung [00:19:24] And I just we didn't have a radio or anything. So if anybody heard a song or the older people, younger people that went to dances, you know, and like me watching them dance and listening to the music that stuck in my head and that's I just had to play it. And the music teacher, the music was totally professional, like classical, hardly any, normal music that you might hear on the radio or so. It was mostly all classical right from the beginning from the get go, even though my music teacher was a drummer in a brass band.
Conrad Hornung [00:20:07] Wow.
George Hornung [00:20:08] So I would follow them. That was all, where there was music George was there.
Conrad Hornung [00:20:13] That's neat.
George Hornung [00:20:14] And the beautiful part was the big surprise is that my dad was able to get this little accordion with which we didn't have any money at all. Yet he surprised me totally. The music lessons were free.
Conrad Hornung [00:20:28] Really, oh my gosh.
George Hornung [00:20:29] Yeah. It didn't cost us nothing. The government, the state pay for it. So I did that for four almost four years before going go to America, I took lessons there.
Conrad Hornung [00:20:41] Interesting.
Conrad Hornung [00:20:43] In the Siegverein (victory club)
Conrad Hornung [00:20:46] While you were there. Did you recollect or reminisce how badly the Serbs had been to you to force you to come out or or were there was there help from the Soviets that maybe resultantly also helped the Tito's partisans to force you out? Or was it just the Serbians? And if so, did did you ever think or do you recall as a boy whether or not the older people, I can imagine as a boy probably didn't even think of give it too much thought, but did the older people talk about it and how nasty they might have been, or?
George Hornung [00:21:45] I do remember having to hide at night from the partisans because they literally killed Germans.
Conrad Hornung [00:21:55] Wow
George Hornung [00:21:55] They were part of Tito's army, even though my father said my best friend told me, get the hell out or I'll have to kill you. My dad told me that as a good friend, he told him get the hell out. But we left voluntarily because of the, what Hitler said, you have to you should move out, you have to move out leave everything. And they was not forced by the Serbians persay, you have to go.
Conrad Hornung [00:22:25] I see.
George Hornung [00:22:25] We went because the German army said you should leave. Yeah, you should leave.
Conrad Hornung [00:22:32] OK, so I was headed somewhere with this, now, now, I can't think of my train of thought.
Tatiana Hornung [00:22:39] Well, I have a question.
Conrad Hornung [00:22:40] Go ahead.
Tatiana Hornung [00:22:42] I remember we found a picture of you and your parents and you were in a full, you were young, but it was you were in a full, like, German army uniform in this picture.
George Hornung [00:22:54] No.
Tatiana Hornung [00:22:55] Well, it has the, a swastika on the hat. OK.
Conrad Hornung [00:23:02] Yeah, so my dad just left the room to grab a photograph of him as a very young child.
Tatiana Hornung [00:23:09] Yes, this picture.
Conrad Hornung [00:23:10] Where and Tatiana, why don't you describe the photograph?
Tatiana Hornung [00:23:17] It is just you and your two parents and you're wearing a simple, like, button down shirt, but you're wearing a hat that has a swastika on it and it looks like a pin
George Hornung [00:23:32] And an eagle.
Tatiana Hornung [00:23:32] Yeah.
Conrad Hornung [00:23:32] It's a German eagle, yeah.
Tatiana Hornung [00:23:34] Yeah. So what-
Conrad Hornung [00:23:38] Or the Austrian eagle, I don't know.
Tatiana Hornung [00:23:39] Yeah, I don't-.
George Hornung [00:23:39] Yeah.
Tatiana Hornung [00:23:39] But, where did you get this hat? I thought that
George Hornung [00:23:44] We had the fortune when the German army came and occupied part of Yugoslavia, the German people would accept a soldier to live with them, to stay with them while they were in Yugoslavia. In my, in our, case, we had an officer that stayed with us for I do not know how long
Tatiana Hornung [00:24:10] But this was all the way back in Yugoslavia?
George Hornung [00:24:11] Yes, this is.
Tatiana Hornung [00:24:12] Okay.
Conrad Hornung [00:24:12] Oh.
George Hornung [00:24:12] This is like maybe 1943, something like that.
Tatiana Hornung [00:24:16] Okay, yeah, that's where I was confused because I figured they wouldn't have stayed in your in your barracks.
George Hornung [00:24:21] No, no, no.
Tatiana Hornung [00:24:23] That wouldn't make sense
George Hornung [00:24:24] This is also in Yugoslavia. Was we still at the house at all. And the partisans were not as active yet.
Tatiana Hornung [00:24:32] Ok.
George Hornung [00:24:32] OK, so Germany's still occupied. The German army. But anyhow he was a young lieutenant and he had a son at home back in Germany. He loved me because I was so small. Remind him of his son. Right, yeah. And he gave me the hat. The clothes, my that's my parent's clothes and mine. This is just a regular.
Tatiana Hornung [00:24:58] Yeah, just a shirt.
George Hornung [00:24:59] Yeah, outfit yeah. But the hat was through him. As you can see, I was blond in the whole scenario. And this lieutenant just loved us
Conrad Hornung [00:25:08] Very Aryan.
George Hornung [00:25:08] Yeah.
Tatiana Hornung [00:25:08] Yeah.
Conrad Hornung [00:25:08] Looking there.
George Hornung [00:25:11] He, he just loved because I reminded him of his son back home. So that's what he did. And he helped us a lot as far as telling us to go. Time to go. And you don't have to worry about transportation or anything. So he was very helpful to us.
Conrad Hornung [00:25:29] OK, so let's go back to Austria, where you we kind of got up to the date where your mom had another child it was a son, and that the doctor actually came and picked her up with the vehicle, his vehicle, and took her to the town of Wels, Austria,.
George Hornung [00:25:52] Where the hospital.
Conrad Hornung [00:25:53] Where the hospital there and where she had, uh, my dad's brother, Steve or Stefan. And then how did you end up or you started to talk about coming to America? How how did that transpire? What what gave you the impetus or what made you think about coming to America and leaving all the people in this 10, 10 Barrack or Barrack's ten ten to come to America? And why did you choose Cleveland?
George Hornung [00:26:35] The scenario went like this after a certain period of time. Like I said, we stayed in the camp for eight years. We, the Americans and the Austrian government, the American government and the Austrian government, Canadian government and Australian government opened their doors to immigrants, which is what we were because we were homeless. We had it was called the DP's what the.
Conrad Hornung [00:27:08] Displaced person.
George Hornung [00:27:08] Right, so that's what we were OK because we had to leave, but then we had to apply to these governments that we want to move, whether to either one of these countries. We lucked out by far that the Americans had an opening, so to speak, because there was maybe, oh, my God, over a thousand that went they came to America on a troop transport to over the Atlantic for twelve days until we reached New Jersey shores. But the whole idea was we had to as an immigrant, we had to supply to the American government. It was all run by soldiers, by officers. We had to supply a sponsor, the sponsor's job was to give the family a roof over their head, a job. And food, of course, yeah, so without that, you were not allowed to go anywhere.
Conrad Hornung [00:28:17] So you again. Did I hear you say you had to apply for sponsorship? So who did you know here or. I'm sorry I interrupted you.
George Hornung [00:28:28] That's good. We had an aunt and an uncle that had moved from a town in Austria called Hirschegg several years prior to our being. So they lived. He had an aunt here in Westlake, Ohio, who owned an apple farm. Adam Bennett was his name.
Conrad Hornung [00:28:54] And this is who's aunt?
George Hornung [00:28:57] His wife was my mom's sister.
Conrad Hornung [00:28:59] Oh, my God.
George Hornung [00:29:00] My mother. Sister.
Conrad Hornung [00:29:02] Bennett
George Hornung [00:29:10] And our sponsor's name was Mrs. Aschberger.
Tatiana Hornung [00:29:17] Did you have to apply more than once?
George Hornung [00:29:19] No, but it took several years from the original application until we had to know even where we're going. You know, like some of my relatives were in Australia, and some in Canada, and we because of their sponsorship and all then they the United States government said, OK. And she, of course, lived in Westlake, Ohio, which Cleveland is your first station. When we as I said before, we sailed for 12 days from Bremerhaven to New Jersey Shore where we landed. And let me tell you to see the Statue of Liberty after 12 days on sea, you could have kissed every part of her. From there, we went by train from the from the harbor by train overnight to Cleveland, Ohio. That's where Mrs. Ashberger picked us up, then took us to her house. And she lived she lived her farm was on center, center Ridge Road in Westlake, Center. She had a beautiful apple farm.
Conrad Hornung [00:30:34] No kidding.
George Hornung [00:30:35] Yeah.
Tatiana Hornung [00:30:35] I've heard a little bit about it, but I'd like to hear more about how your boat ride was over here.
George Hornung [00:30:42] Oh, miserable.
Tatiana Hornung [00:30:44] Yeah.
George Hornung [00:30:44] Very bad. That little boat was a troop transport. It was loaded from top to bottom with people. I and my brother was lucky. He was only four years old. He was able to sleep in a cabin with my mom. I had to sleep with the men down in the bottom of the boat and it's like seven bunk beds high.
Conrad Hornung [00:31:07] Oh, my gosh.
George Hornung [00:31:09] Oh, it was it was totally miserable. Oh, my gosh. Not to their fault. They had the best food you can think of, the best everything. But everybody was so sick. This was in the month of March. The the ocean was just awful. All I saw when we went there, they let us out for exercise. We saw sky, water, sky, water. You didn't see nothing else. The ship just went straight up and straight down, and it was awful. My dad was sick from he's as soon as he stepped on the boat till he stepped off the boat, he couldn't handle it at all. I was I was OK maybe for three, four days and I was OK. But it was a rough trip, very rough. Although, like I said, the Navy who sailed the ship were very oh, they would give us oranges, they would give us apples, they the children. So there was it was wonderful. They had everything available, but the people were so sick and they just couldn't participate in what was available there. So anyhow we finally landed in America. I remember it was like at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning and the statue was lit up. Everybody came out on board to see that.
Conrad Hornung [00:32:28] Nice.
George Hornung [00:32:28] Finally landed
Conrad Hornung [00:32:30] That's amazing. What a what a feeling that must have been.
George Hornung [00:32:32] Ohh.
Conrad Hornung [00:32:33] Oh, my God.
George Hornung [00:32:34] And mind you, no shower, no nothing for twelve days.
Conrad Hornung [00:32:37] Oh, my gosh. I didn't think about that.
George Hornung [00:32:40] You, and people sick and.
Tatiana Hornung [00:32:41] Oh
Conrad Hornung [00:32:42] Oh my gosh.
George Hornung [00:32:43] It was awful. They would give us bags so we don't just have to throw up everywhere. Sea sick being sea sick. It was, it was terrible.
Conrad Hornung [00:32:55] OK, so they, you off boarded then at the train station and not at Ellis Island?
George Hornung [00:33:04] No in New Jersey, not at Ellis, New Jersey Shore. I don't even know if it was New Jersey. We landed in New Jersey. I know, in a harbor in New Jersey.
Conrad Hornung [00:33:13] OK.
George Hornung [00:33:14] It wasn't Ellis Island no.
Conrad Hornung [00:33:15] Do you remember the name of the boat that you came on?
George Hornung [00:33:19] Yes. General Sturgis, S, T, U, R, I, G, Sturigis G, I, S.
Conrad Hornung [00:33:25] Yeah. S, T, U, R, G.
George Hornung [00:33:27] All these boats that deliver the immigrants were a General of some sort General Langford, General, and everything was all troop transport. In other words, when the army, the American army would send their soldiers with these boats to Europe because they occupied Germany and Austria, then the boat was empty. Then the immigrants came back with the boat, with the empty boats. So that's how this and you were sponsored by it didn't cost us a dime. My parents, they were sponsored by NCWC, National Catholic Welfare Organization. They paid for the whole trip. So they played a big role in completing all of this.
Conrad Hornung [00:34:18] Did you have to I mean, did they how does it happen again? When? People from other nationalities come and they want to come to America and live in America. Did they ask you what your name was and make you change your name or. I didn't ask mom that.
George Hornung [00:34:44] I, I just. I remember being interviewed by a, must have been the captain or some army officer, that interviewed us before we went on board up on board.
Conrad Hornung [00:34:55] On the train?
George Hornung [00:34:57] On, no. You know in Germany, in Bremerhaven.
Conrad Hornung [00:34:59] Oh.
George Hornung [00:34:59] Before we left Germany to come to America.
Conrad Hornung [00:35:02] I see, I'm sorry.
George Hornung [00:35:03] We have to go by train from Austria to Germany. In Bremerhaven which was a big port.
Conrad Hornung [00:35:08] Right.
George Hornung [00:35:09] OK, and then we boarded the ship, but he would interview us before we even left Stadl-Paura and he would ask my dad, questions what he does professionally and stuff like that.
Conrad Hornung [00:35:23] I see.
George Hornung [00:35:24] And my mom, then he heard the oh Hornung. Do you know what that name means? And I had learned it in school. So I said the old Germanic tribe had a holiday called Hornung. They would honor the moon or some object in the sky. Also, Hornung was before the Germamic tribe Hornung was feb- feb- instead of February it was called Hornung.
Conrad Hornung [00:35:53] Right. And that I can safely say, because I did some research on that, that was under Charlemagne's Charlemagne for some reason, decided to name the month of February or make that synonymous with the name Hornung.
George Hornung [00:36:13] Right.
Conrad Hornung [00:36:15] And so that's that's a unique piece of history there. But OK, so when I thought when you come to America, I'm just thinking about how when you go to any other country, they say, OK, you're here for how long is this? This is your passport, blah, blah, blah. Do you have any type of identification? Did you have to provide any of that?
George Hornung [00:36:47] You had to show identification before you even left.
Conrad Hornung [00:36:49] Oh I see.
George Hornung [00:36:50] Birth certificates my parents marriage, vow, certificate. Any papers that we possibly had that we worked yeah we had to show all that.
Conrad Hornung [00:37:02] Wow.
George Hornung [00:37:02] And you went to America as a permanent resident.
Conrad Hornung [00:37:07] I see.
George Hornung [00:37:07] OK, that's how not just on vacation or
Tatiana Hornung [00:37:11] So you never had to apply for your citizenship or did you?
George Hornung [00:37:14] Oh, yes. Oh, yes. After five years, you were able to we came with what was called a green card I'm sure you.
Tatiana Hornung [00:37:20] Yeah.
George Hornung [00:37:20] I think that's still out. Every one of us had one of those issued to us. That's the only way you could really come into America. And after five years, you could apply for citizenship. And I didn't apply until my wife Hilda I got married and we applied in 62, I believe it was.
Conrad Hornung [00:37:42] Oh I thought it was in, much later, because it seems like I remember in the 70s,
George Hornung [00:37:46] I would have to look.
Conrad Hornung [00:37:48] That I helped you with the, uh, taking the test or anything.
George Hornung [00:37:53] No, no, don't forget, no no, my son.
Conrad Hornung [00:37:55] OK.
George Hornung [00:37:55] We went to school here.
Conrad Hornung [00:37:58] That's right.
George Hornung [00:37:59] Yeah, we knew the American history as much as I knew German history. Yeah.
Conrad Hornung [00:38:02] Where did you go to school? Why don't you share that?
George Hornung [00:38:04] I went to school first in Westlake. When we arrived to this Mrs. Ashberger's farm they, I was put in the fifth grade due the lack of English. Uh. I went there for maybe a year and she had a home houses on West 24th Street by the market, small homes that she would give one home or we would rent one home from her from for my family and the other family Mr. Bennett, my uncle and the other house. So we left the farm in about two years time. So in other words, from 52 to 54, we were then living on West 24th Street. And by the market there was this schools, St. Emeric's Church. That's where I went to grade school all the way to eighth grade. And from there, I went to St. John Cantius, for high school. And that was it with my schooling, my wife, she told yesterday, probably.
Conrad Hornung [00:39:15] Actually.
George Hornung [00:39:17] What schools she went to.
Conrad Hornung [00:39:19] No, we never touched upon that.
George Hornung [00:39:20] She went to West Side with.
Conrad Hornung [00:39:28] Yeah I think so.
George Hornung [00:39:28] But no, we all went to school here. As a matter of fact, many of the people that came over had to go to English school. Way on the east side I forgot, mom would know the name of the school, but she would and many of her friends to learn English. I didn't do that because I lived on this farm and they just send me to school. I was lucky. I had a friend sitting next to me was Hungarian, but spoke German. Right.
Conrad Hornung [00:39:57] Interesting.
George Hornung [00:39:58] And the other part was loving music. We had music in school, my first song Home On the Range.
Conrad Hornung [00:40:08] No kidding.
George Hornung [00:40:08] I sang that for a million years.
Conrad Hornung [00:40:11] I love it. That's great.
George Hornung [00:40:13] And riding on a school bus in Austria, everything was walk. And we didn't hardly ever ride except maybe by train like go to.
Conrad Hornung [00:40:21] Yeah.
George Hornung [00:40:21] But mostly it was walking now the school bus to me was a thrill. Oh, let me tell you. To me, all of America, was just the country with gold apples flown on the streets, I love it. And I do to this day.
Conrad Hornung [00:40:40] The way you describe it. I don't even want or need to ask how what was it like being an immigrant in America? Because you're painting a very colorful picture there and it sounds like you were very happy to be here and had some just great experience.
George Hornung [00:40:58] Good friends, I learned. And good people very, very helpful people.
Conrad Hornung [00:41:03] Going to school in the Catholic system. Yeah?
George Hornung [00:41:06] Yeah.
Conrad Hornung [00:41:07] It's amazing.
George Hornung [00:41:09] Yeah.
Conrad Hornung [00:41:09] Was there. Did you feel that there was any animosity in the schools against you because you were German and because of Nazism or Antinazism?
George Hornung [00:41:27] No, as a child no. Or the my friends no.
Conrad Hornung [00:41:30] Ok.
George Hornung [00:41:32] Maybe my parents did. I don't think so. No, not all believe that I would say, oh, you might get a wise remark from a kid that didn't know what he's even talking about as far as Nazism. Because we weren't.
Conrad Hornung [00:41:53] Yeah.
George Hornung [00:41:53] You know? We weren't Nazis. The no, no, I would say no. Mostly the funny part was when we arrived and like when we lived on West 24th and my mom would go shopping and what little things I finally learned and she didn't know any and to go shopping and called say onions in such a weird name, weird way that the owner would say what, what, what?
Conrad Hornung [00:42:22] Ah that's funny.
George Hornung [00:42:22] Because he didn't speak German, although he knew we were new, knew he was Italian of traditional Italian.
Conrad Hornung [00:42:30] I'll be darned.
George Hornung [00:42:30] Right. But so he that helped. And then most of the shopping was at the Westside Market, which you didn't need to talk much. And everybody talked different languages.
Conrad Hornung [00:42:42] Right.
George Hornung [00:42:43] At the market. So there was no problem there. No it went quite smooth. My dad got a job at Ford Motor Company of which he retired. So there was little covered. Well, taking care of my mom also worked for a long time while we were at school. I was babysitting my brother forever until he was old enough. And it went quite well for us. It helped a lot. My dad bought a house on West 73rd. And between Clarke and Dennison, where, we live till 60. 61? Yeah 1960, then he bought a new home in Parma Heights.
Tatiana Hornung [00:43:34] That's when you were born? (refering to Conrad)
George Hornung [00:43:36] Yeah in 1960, he was born. Yeah. So you were in Parma Heights already.
Conrad Hornung [00:43:42] Right.
George Hornung [00:43:42] Yeah, and your sister was born two years later.
Conrad Hornung [00:43:47] Right.
George Hornung [00:43:48] Alright 62. Right, so
Conrad Hornung [00:43:53] So tell me a little bit about how the the Danube Swabian Club here or what how did you find out about the club and how did that become to play a part in your life here in the Cleveland area? Or if there were other German clubs? How you or what kind of circuit did you play, if you will? Not not so much meaning music, but where did you hang out?
George Hornung [00:44:27] They, uh, it all started, the simplest way to put it is birds of a feather flock together. My parents would go to friends that were Germans that they learned about that were in town or to work or whatever. So they knew of places where they had dances like the German Central in Parma on York Road. That's where they would hang out, but mostly was association with other families.
Conrad Hornung [00:44:58] OK.
George Hornung [00:44:58] OK. The Donauschwaben part because we are Donauschwaben. Didn't really start a club till 58, 57, something like that, it was called the Banater Club, on 140th and Lorain. Off of Lorain.
Conrad Hornung [00:45:17] But you were not Banater Donauschwaben.
George Hornung [00:45:21] No, we were Donauschwaben. But we were allowed to join this club, Banater Club.
Conrad Hornung [00:45:25] OK.
George Hornung [00:45:25] Because we didn't have the Donauschwaben didn't we didn't have enough money yes or anything.
Conrad Hornung [00:45:30] I see.
George Hornung [00:45:31] So we actually bought out the Banater Club.
Conrad Hornung [00:45:36] Oh, OK.
George Hornung [00:45:38] Eventually. And then, of course, as you know, we've built this beautiful place in Olmsted Falls off of route 252.
Conrad Hornung [00:45:48] Previously known as Ritter's Farm?
George Hornung [00:45:50] Ritter's Farm. Correct. And then we build a beautiful hall and soccer fields like you wouldn't believe. And and we called it the Donauschwaben.
Conrad Hornung [00:46:01] Yeah.
George Hornung [00:46:01] Verein (club), so with the Donauschwaben, I've been involved since age 14. All my life to this day.
Conrad Hornung [00:46:12] Yeah
Tatiana Hornung [00:46:15] Literally.
George Hornung [00:46:15] Yeah. To this day, and I'll probably die that way because it's my heritage. The Donauschwaben, as you might know or might not know are called that, because when they left Germany to settle in Yugoslavia or Romania or Hungary, they all went by boat on the Danube River. The Danube being the Donau and we were Schwabians, which is part of Germany. That's how we were called Donauschwaben added put it together, Donauschwaben. And it will always, stay that way.
Tatiana Hornung [00:46:53] Yeah. And Oma talked about two different clubs, the the one that you mentioned, the
George Hornung [00:47:01] Baneter Club.
Tatiana Hornung [00:47:02] That one. And then also another one.
Conrad Hornung [00:47:04] The German central,.
Tatiana Hornung [00:47:07] OK. Was it?
Conrad Hornung [00:47:09] That was the other one. But I also, you know, I wanted to ask you, though, too, there was another sect of Germans, I don't know if that was around at that time already, but I kind of remember you saying at one point that, oh, yeah, because, mom, yesterday was saying on Saturday nights there were always dances at the Banater Club. And on Sunday nights it was at the, no, it was the other way. On Saturday nights it was at the German central and then on Sunday nights it was at the Banater Club.
George Hornung [00:47:48] Right.
Conrad Hornung [00:47:48] And that's how you two met.
George Hornung [00:47:51] Right.
Conrad Hornung [00:47:52] Is that Correct? Can you confirm that story.
George Hornung [00:47:52] We actually met on a soccer field yeah.
Conrad Hornung [00:47:56] On the field?
George Hornung [00:47:58] Yeah, but I got involved with her on the soccer field.
Conrad Hornung [00:48:01] That's funny.
George Hornung [00:48:01] I knew her several years prior from the dances and so.
Conrad Hornung [00:48:07] OK.
George Hornung [00:48:07] But ah.
Conrad Hornung [00:48:07] But to say the field that just
George Hornung [00:48:12] Because we played soccer or our club, which was call- sponsored by GBU organization, the insurance company, they had build a team they would buy them uniforms and all.
Conrad Hornung [00:48:25] Nice.
George Hornung [00:48:25] So you go on Sunday afternoon, you'd go watch soccer Saturday, you go dancing Sunday afternoon, you go watch soccer Sunday at five o'clock at the Banater hall dancing until 10 o'clock.
Conrad Hornung [00:48:39] My gosh.
George Hornung [00:48:40] You know, this is our weekend for many, many years.
Conrad Hornung [00:48:44] That's how you stayed so skinny. I see.
George Hornung [00:48:48] Yeah, but we had other German clubs as you know the Sossenheim.
Conrad Hornung [00:48:53] And that's what I was going to ask,
George Hornung [00:48:54] Which was, that one was on the west side and the big one on the East side.
Conrad Hornung [00:48:58] Really?
George Hornung [00:48:58] Yes. They had two clubs which also had dances and stuff. So.
Conrad Hornung [00:49:04] So and these were people from the,
George Hornung [00:49:08] Transylvania
Conrad Hornung [00:49:09] Transylvania actually Germans, Germans that lived in Transylvania with.
George Hornung [00:49:14] Romania, which is part of.
Conrad Hornung [00:49:16] A very unique bunch of people. And.
George Hornung [00:49:19] Yeah.
Conrad Hornung [00:49:21] Fun as well.
George Hornung [00:49:22] They all spoke German.
Conrad Hornung [00:49:23] Yes.
George Hornung [00:49:24] In their own dialect. But they still
Conrad Hornung [00:49:27] Yeah, very unique that dialect yeah.
George Hornung [00:49:33] It was it was great and from Parma Heights, Hilda, my wife and I and the children. Oh, I mentioned about Monica being going to 1962, so then we left, we lived with my parents for two years and in 1962, when my daughter was born, we were able to buy this house and on the 30th and in Brunswick. Now, the parkway, so we were there and my children went to school within walking distance.
Conrad Hornung [00:50:09] Yeah, all the time.
George Hornung [00:50:11] All the time, yeah.
Conrad Hornung [00:50:12] Winter, summer, and spring. Well, that's the summer but yeah.
George Hornung [00:50:17] So that's how we ended up then. And we've been in Brunswick since 62. And this is right now. My granddaughter says the most beautiful place.
Tatiana Hornung [00:50:28] Yep.
Conrad Hornung [00:50:29] Yeah. Well, very good. Is there anything else you'd like to say in closing? Because this has been a so far, a great interview, I think, and.
George Hornung [00:50:40] I am proud to be a German American.
Conrad Hornung [00:50:44] That's awesome. That's great. That's fantastic. All right. With that, I'm going to close up this interview and upload it to the cloud at some point this evening. So thanks, Dad, for your time. Thank you, Tatiana, again for yours and helping me out on some of the questions today. And this is Conrad Hornung, interviewer signing off.
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