Gerhard's Top Matches
About Gerhard Wilhelmus Hospel
Gerhard was an indusrtrious man. He had been working in Holland on a farm of a relative during his early 20s. He lived close to the German border and had many contacts in Germany. He traded as a side line and during that time it was horses. They would bring them across the border into Germany. It became a dangerous (it was illicid profit) part time job so he decided to go to the USA in 1926. He worked in Milwakukee, in a foundry on the South side. He saved some money and when the economy turned in the USA he went back to Holland in 1932 and visited his contacts from before. He also met Theodora Elshoff again now a grown woman through an acquaintance, Anton Elshoff. She was running a farm with her brothers Theodor and Aloys in the German area of Elten. Well the economy was not too good here either and they started to think and Gerhard and Theodora felt like getting married after a short six week courting. He had some money and she had some inventory, horses, pigs, cows and machinery for the farm that made it possible to start a farm (Hufschen Hof) in Keeken, Germany. They did well. They had 4 sons from 1933 to 1940 and were very succesful in the farming. But the WW II and Nazi Regime caused some problems. Gerhard still was a Dutch citizen and could not purschase the farm. In 1944 all the people in the area had to move, evacuate because of potential high water from the Rhein river but also the fear that dikes of the river could be broken open with explosives and all the low land would be inundated. The German Government also requested that all the cattle and pigs and horses be moved inland because the front of WW II was about to come through. Some animals were kept and moved to Warbeyen, Theodora's home when she was a child. Her brother Theodor was managing this old family farm and invited them, saying "we have to make it possible for my sister and family to be safe". The American Airforce destroyed by bombarding the nearby City of Kleve, a 700 year old city with a Castel and great churches and about 20,000 people. These relatives from Kleve, family Bernhard Elshoff also moved into the farm living quarters, making the place a congested but safe place to be out of the range of the war, almost. The German Army and the Allied, (US, Canadian) Army exchanged attilery fire costantly with some shells hitting the houses. There were no lives lost but many a night all the families lived in a basement that had one foot of water in it. The water entered the basement because of flodding. They pumped it out , 24-7,during this period until the high water from the Rhine receeded. The beds were elevated on boxes to keep from getting wet when sleeping. The Allied Army finally occupied the town of Warbeyen, the Germans were pushed further into Germany, East, yet the danger remained high and the Occupation Forces removed all the people in the town of Warbyen to Bedburg-Hau, about 30 miles away from the front. On May 7th 1945, the German Governments agreed to stop the fighting. WW II came to an end. It was still cool but Spring was on the way. The danger was removed after some 4 weeks in camp and Gerhard and Theodora were invited to take over a farm that had belonged to a Nazzi (Heinrich van Straaten, Dueffelward) who had fled into the center of Germany. The legal ramifications were enormous and when Heinrich van Straaten came back, after the war, he was first given no rights to the farm. A new law was passed (Entnazifizierung which translates that most of the Nazzies were vorgiven) in about 1946 or 1947 which gave the Nazis the right to get the property back. It took until 1948, and another farm was assigned to Gerhard and Theodora and bought it. It worked well for 2 years and the two gave up farming, and bought a small house in Kleve. (Gerhard was 57 or 58 and Theodora was 49 years old). By now, they decided to go to the USA. It was 1950. The entire family wanted to go and they waited for 5 year until their 'quota was up'. The entire family arrived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in March of 1955. Everyone started to work and going back to school for learning American English. Two sons (Johannes and Aloys, was an officer) served in the American Army. Two sons went on for higher education and graduated from University of Wisconsin (Johannes) and University of Marquette, (Aloys). Life was getting better after all the war experience, legal problems, and poor conditions after the WW II. All the sons became succesful and the couple, Gerhard and Theodora rented a small house in Milwaukee. They traveled back to Germany for the purpose of visiting the relatives and old friends. This was great fun for them. They also enjoyed the grand children, a total of 10.