Rosa Hartig Obituary Trinity Home Kitchener

Photo Gallery Welcome

Extended Hartig Family Tree

Rosa Ginter [1919-2012] was married twice: once to Zoran Isailowitsch in what is now known as Serbia and once to Michael Hartig in Austria. We are talking about turbulent times, not only for the World War II years from 1939-1945, but also for relationships during those times.

When I was young, Mom Rosa told me that her folks and dad's were "Flchlingen" during World War II, which means people who were fleeing, i.e. refugees or displaced persons (DPs, a term also used in Canada as a pejorative). Mom's ancestors had been living in Yugoslavia for hundreds of years invited in by Queen Maria Theresia in 1740 to reclaim marshlands and farm it. Mom was part of a German speaking people called the Donau-Schwabians with the right to keep their language and religion [mostly Roman Catholic] there.

Mom spoke 5 languages. Dad Michael probably spoke as many. Russian, Ukrainian and Serbian were all similar. Mom and Dad, of course, knew also Hungarian and German, since that whole area once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Mom and dad had several choices when they wanted to talk about things they didn't want the kids to hear.

Spain, France, eventually Canada and the United States did similar things with the promise of free land to bring settlers into the New World in America. My wife, Marjorie's ancestors, the Mennonites, are another example of such settlers [some Dutch, some German] who were invited into the Ukraine to populate and farm it by Tsarina, Catherine The Great, beginning in 1763. The Mennonites made the Ukraine into the bread basket of Russia and then, of course, everything, that they had worked so hard for, for over a hundred and fifty years, was taken away from them with the Russian Revolution in 1917. Likewise, after World War II, the Donau-Schwabians left everything they owned in Yugoslavia and sought refuge in Austria. History can be benign to different groups in one century and cruel in another.

The Siebenbürgen-Saxons had a parallel experience in Romania but much, much earlier in their history. They originally hailed from the Rhineland in Germany and moved East to Transylvania as early as 1150 AD. They were invited into Romania because they were good at farming and mining and so could develop that region economically. My father's folks fled Romania and lost everything when the Communist armies pushed west.

Rosa Hartig Photo Gallery Welcome

Mom Rosa met Zoran first before World War II in Banat [a region now within Serbia]. My half sister Nellie Isailowitsch was born in 1938. Mom lost track of Zoran during the war and fled to Austria. There she met her second husband, Michael Hartig, my dad. I was born in Lager Asten in 1946. A Lager was a camp with barracks used as a military base during the war and as a refugee camp after the war. My sister Renate was born in 1948 but I'm not sure which of the Lagers, Reni was born in. We lived in three of them during those post-war years: Lager Asten, Lager Haid and finally Lager Wegscheid. My kid brother, George, was born in Canada in 1956. So mom had 4 kids in total, including my dear half-sister Newenka [Nellie] from the first marriage.

Mom Rosa told me once she came from a family of 9 siblings. I only remember two names from my childhood in Austria, my mom's sister, Mary, and their brother, Johann, whom they always referred to as "the Brother" , [der Bruder]. Mom and Aunt Mary brought Oma, Barbara Ginter, to Austria with them when they fled Serbia. Mom used to call her, "die alte Babba", which I think means "the old Grandma." Aunt Mary met Steve Marton [Bischta Bachi] in Austria just after the war when the family had already settled in Lager Wegscheid, the refugee camp, just outside of Linz. Uncle Steve was a full-blooded Hungarian, always proud of his ability to eat hot peppers. Aunt Mary and Uncle Steve had two kids in Linz: my cousins John in 1952 and Theresa in 1955. The word Tante means Aunt in German. I don't know why but as kids, we threw the name for the relationship behind the first name, not the other way around like they do in English. So Aunt Mary wasn't Tante Marie, but "Marie Tante". A friend suggested that this usage was peculiar to the Saxon or Schwabian traditions.

My Hungarian Uncle Steve recalled several other siblings in mom Rosa and aunt Mary's family. There was a sister name Regina and another one called Anka. Anka Tante lived in Belgrade and Regina in Zrenjanin,Yugoslavia. Uncle Steve's son [my cousin John] said he and his parents visited these other two aunts in 1968 when he was 16. According to Uncle Steve, there might have been another brother, Mike, but he's not sure, since he can't remember. The surviving brother that the family knew about was, Uncle John [Onkel Johann], who moved to Saskatchewan and married a lady named Lily who might know the names of the other siblings, but as my cousin said, "How do you locate them now after all these years?" Fortunately, my brother, George, and his wife, Shelley, did locate the names of two more brothers in their research who were German soldiers, Nickolaus and Matthias, but they've both passed away.

The family has come up with 7 names of the Günther siblings: Mom Rosa, Aunts Mary, Anka, Regina, and Uncles Johann, Nickolaus and Matthias.

On the Hartig side, it was Oma and Opa who came to Canada first, in 1952, sponsored by the Lutheran Church. They travelled by train from Austria to northern Germany where they boarded their ship, the Anna Schellane, at Bremerhaven headed for Halifax and Canada! No jets for them in those days! They brought with them their kids [our aunt and uncles], i.e. Aunt Sofie and the twins, George and Martin. Once established, Oma and Opa Hartig sponsored us to Canada in 1954. There were 5 of us: their son, Michael [my dad], Mom Rosa, my half sister, Nellie [Newenka Isailowitsch], me John [Hansi], and Reni [Renate]. George was not even a twinkle in dad's eye yet. The 5 of us moved to Kitchener where we stayed in Oma and Opa Hartig's basement for a bit. Then, in turn, we sponsored the Martons, i.e. Marie Tante and Uncle Steve to Canada in 1956 along with my cousin John, age 4 at the time, and Theresa, age 1. They lived with us a while until they found a place of their own. That's how things were done in those days, a sort of refugee tag-team match sponsoring other family members into this new land of opportunity in the 1950s. Although my father was a soccer player in Austria, he became a fanatic hockey fan in Canada. He was born in 1926 in Romania and I'm sure, he never dreamt that he would one day live and die in another country far across the ocean. Dad died in Kitchener in 1980 at the all too young age of 54.

My older sister, Nellie [1938-2005], married Paul Kuppek [1933-1991] in Kitchener and they had a family of three girls: Silvie born in 1963, Monika born in 1965 and Sandra born in 1969. My younger sister, Reni, married Dave Schultz, also in Kitchener in 1969 and they had a family of two girls: Tricia [1974]and Kelly [1978].

That basically takes care of the more immediate off-shoots of Mom Rosa's family tree, otherwise with grandkids and great grandkids... well you know...a written run-down could go on forever...like a geometric progression.

My Welcome Page launches you into 4 photo galleries here, simply because my collection of pictures fell into these 4 bundles. There's the Hartigs, the Kuppeks, Reni's family and the Martons. Over the decades, I've noticed an interesting transition from black and white photos to colour. My how the faces have changed! Remarkably, I noticed that the only perpetually young looking face in all these pictures was me! Well, that's my standard joke...as long as I look like Brad Pitt, I don't care how old I get. Enjoy the galleries!
Rosa's oldest son,
John Hartig

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Rosa Michael Hartig Photo Gallery
Rosa Michael Hartig Photo Gallery