St. Anna am Aigen is not a very big place. You can walk from one end of town to the other in less than ten minutes. As I've said, there's a post office, a bank, police station and The Lippe House. For generations, The Lippe family have run the grocery store, dry goods (clothing, linens), hardware, building and garden supply. Basically, it's a modern-day General Store.
Mayor Weinhandl goes inside and returns with Mr. Lippe, the grandson of the man who owned the business in 1945. My father begins to describe the shape of the building where he was housed.
Key to this memory is the chain-link fence that surrounded the compound, a fence, which followed an unusual pattern because the property was not exactly square or rectangular. As my father describes this fence, Mr. Lippe begins to nod in agreement and say "Ya. Ya." It quickly becomes apparent that the building that burned down two years ago, the building used by the Lippe family as their warehouse, was the building where my father was housed. Apparently, the Germans for use as a barracks commandeered the warehouse building, with its large open rooms. Equipped the rooms with wall-to-wall wooden bunk beds in two tiers. Apu slept on the upper tier. To his left was Gyuri and to his right another comrade slept and no space between bodies. A hanging light bulb and an iron stove completed the furnishings.
After discussing the details, my father is certain this is the place. This is significant because we are now rewriting the local history. The locals know there was laborers kept in the old schoolhouse. And they know there were laborers housed in another building a few doors down (now replaced by a sleek, modern office complex). But they did not know the Lippe Warehouse was also used as barracks. It is just a few doors down from the old schoolhouse along the same main street. Now, it makes sense: there were laborers in all three buildings! The schoolhouse was the main headquarters, but my father's bunk was in the Lippe warehouse. The Lippe courtyard was large enough to accommodate lining up 150 men. The fence, with a large double gate to allow the loading and unloading of horse-drawn carriages, is the wire-link fence my father and his buddy used to climb over to sneak out for food. The mystery has been solved! Mr. Lippe agrees to search for old pictures and we agree to come back on Friday morning.
Let just pause for a moment and reflect on a mystery:
The first group of Hungarian Jewish Slave Laborers was housed in the Old School building. People generally remembered that event, because their children did not go to the school for learning. The second group of Jewish Laborers was housed in the Kino, the movie house, which also had a stage suitable of live performances. It was in the people’s memory that during those times no movies or stage performances were shown. But generally who will remember that Jewish Slave Laborers occupied a warehouse for two months. The only ones would have remembered who tossed the food packages over the fence. Those brave souls are not alive anymore.
In the evening, we all visit a Buschenschank -- a wine-tasting bar that also serves food. We sample several bottles of excellent locally produced wine. There are many toasts.