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The Travelling Story of Heinrich W. Fietz

The Museum reviews and accepts donated personal or family memories and histories into its collection. As a learning institution, the accounts help us understand how individuals recollect, interpret, or construct meaning from lived experiences. The stories are not modified by Museum staff. The point of view expressed is that of the author and not that of the Museum.

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Heinrich W. Fietz

Letter home January 7th or 8th of 1952:

All My Dear Ones:

When you hold these lines in your hands, I will already be in Sarnia. O Lord, how happy I am that this sea voyage is behind me. It was a terrible and nerve racking experience.. Until today, we had storms every day, sometimes severe, sometimes lesser so, always between grade 8 or 9 and yesterday, graduating to 12. Tremendously high waves causing a terrible racket throughout the ship, making me think more than once that she was going to sink.

It started out in the Weser River Estuary, when the ship got stranded for 3 hours on a sandbank. After that a severe storm led to a sudden scary awakening in the morning. First a loud bang as if the ship would break apart and then the sound of rushing water. I never in my life got faster out of my bed.

Outside the cabin in the gangway, knee high water sloshed back and forth depending on the ships erratic up and down movements. Dressed only in my pajamas, I tried to climb the nearest staircase when a huge load of ice cold seawater knocked me down. But in spite of a slightly injured knee, I managed more dead than alive with fear to reach an upper deck. Below on my C-deck passengers were screaming, wadding through the water in their life preservers.

I tried to ready my friends the Winde’s on an upper deck where nothing had happened except that the passengers had heard the rushing waters. When they saw me dripping wet and shaking from the cold in my pajamas, they also took to their life preservers. I did find my friend, Gerhardt green in the face from seasickness on the way to the washrooms to sacrifice to the God Neptune. The whole problem with the flooding of the lower deck occurred because the ship’s miserable crew inadvertently did not close and secure a large hatch cover. As the storms fury increased, the breakers crashed overboard and found their way down into the C-deck.