Thursday, February 4, 2021

Pieces From The Past - The Blockade

Willi Baruschke Berlin-Tempelhof Nov 10, 1948
Friedrick-Wilhelm Street 88

To: Schleich Family
Trinidad-Model (Colorado) USA

Very honored Schleich family:

Can you remember the group of German POW officers, who in the summer of 1945 worked on your sugar beet farm?  It was the group who, at the end of the work, presented you a small picture as a Thank You and a memento.  I am one of that group.  

I have often thought back to the lovely days spent in your family circle.  Unfortunately, only just now am I able to write to you, because then, as we left Trinidad in January 1946, the journey did not lead, as I hoped, to my home and family, but rather on the road to Russian-held Berlin and then deep into Russia in the Caucasus to the toughest work camp.  Only now have I come back, very sick.  And as for being able to recover my health, the first need is good food.  But as you have well heard, I am sitting here in Berlin, a blockaded city, in which rations at this time are very, very scarce.    

Then I think back to your words back then, if any of us is in need, that we should contact you.  And that is what I am doing now, with the big request of if you can perhaps spare a small care package for a sick survivor of a Russian POW camp now in blockaded Berlin.  I can pay you back by sending you other things by return package that would please you over there.  Very honored Schleich family, in the hopes that this request is met, I wish you all the best and send you my warmest regards, your Willi Baruschke.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Willi Baruschke

handwritten ~ And to you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

From - "Following World War II, Germany was divided into occupation zones. The United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and, eventually, France, were given specific zones to occupy in which they were to accept the surrender of Nazi forces and restore order. The Soviet Union occupied most of eastern Germany, while the other Allied nations occupied western Germany. 

The German capital of Berlin was similarly divided into four zones of occupation. Almost immediately, differences between the United States and the Soviet Union surfaced. The Soviets sought huge reparations from Germany in the form of money, industrial equipment, and resources. The Russians also made it clear that they desired a neutral and disarmed Germany." 

With this letter from Mr. Baruschke, we hear again of an unfortunate German soldier who only wanted to return home, yet fell into the poor conditions of a POW camp controlled by the Russians and released only because of his failing health.

"On June 22, 1948, negotiations between the Soviets, Americans, and British broke down. On June 24, Soviet forces blocked the roads and railroad lines into West Berlin."

"For a few tense days, the world waited to see whether the United States and Soviet Union would come to blows. In West Berlin, panic began to set in as its population worried about shortages of food, water, and medical aid. The United States response came just two days after the Soviets began their blockade. A massive airlift of supplies into West Berlin was undertaken...  Russia looked like an international bully that was trying to starve men, women, and children into submission...  On May 12, 1949, the Soviets officially ended the blockade."

Willi Baruschke included two sweet postcards, probably for the boys, but possibly as a small "down payment" of his promise to "return packages that would please you".  

Handwritten on the back of each card were well wishes to the family.

Because of the Russian Blockade told of in the letter, this beginner block, The Blockade, is the pattern I selected to accompany this story.  I had a bit of a challenge in writing the pattern for this block since the printed templates included mis-sized pieces.  Errors happen, I get that.  But I cannot help but wonder how many "beginner quilters" got frustrated with this pattern in 1938?
Rest assured, the final pattern has been tested by myself several times, as well as a few pattern testers that have been a joy to work with.  

Now is the time to download the pattern for free - link is above (highlighted name).  Don't forget to come back when your block is complete to link up for the opportunity to win a free fat quarter.  Be sure to use the hashtag #PiecesFromThePastSewAlong and tag me on IG - @MelvaLovesScraps or on fb at Melva Loves Scraps.  I love seeing all of your blocks!

With the completion of this block, you can assemble row #2.  You will need four 2-3/4" x 9-1/2" sashing strips to be sewn into place between the blocks.  You can also add a sashing strip 2-1/2" x 54" to the bottom of the row, and join row 2 to row 1.  Oooooooooh!  We are getting SO close!  Just one block left!  I can feel the excitement... Can YOU?

Now, before you run off, leave a comment telling me...

What was a stand out item in this letter?

Piece Happy!


Linking with:

Put Your Foot Down at For the Love of Geese
Needle & Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Off The Wall Friday with Nina Marie
Brag About Your Beauties at From Bolt to Beauty
Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More
Friday Foto Fun at Powered by Quilting
Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
Scrap Happy Saturday at Super Scrappy
UFO Busting at Tish’s Wonderland
BOMS Away at Katie Mae Quilts
Oh Scrap! at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework
Sunday Stash at QuiltPaintCreate
Patchwork & Quilts at The Quilting Patch
Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Colour & Inspiration at Clever Chameleon Quilting
To Do Tuesday at Home Sewn By Us
Mid-week Makers at Quilt Fabrication
Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter
Stitch Sew & Show at Life in the Scrap Patch


  1. What a blessing your family was to these men, Melva. Looking forward to seeing the entire quilt on the next installment!

  2. I can’t believe we are neatly done with this incredible journey! Thank you again, Melva, for sharing your family’s experiences and the soldiers’ stories, along with these beautiful blocks.

  3. These letters where they talk about ending up on the Russian side are really sad. How many requests did your family get for care packages? Unbelievable!

  4. Reading this letter made me wonder about all the other people living there who didn't have anyone they could appeal to for help. I wonder how many may have committed suicide as a result. How sad it all is. This is the part of history everyone should read about.

    Your grandparents were a blessing to all those prisoners. This makes me think that they must have been a great blessing to the people of their community in general.

    I have learned so much about WWII and especially about the years following just from reading these posts. If only history had been presented in school like this, I would have learned so much more then. History as presented in school, at least when I was young, was mostly just memorization of names, dates and events, and that bored me. Therefore, I hated history until I went to college and discovered that history could be fascinating.

  5. I'm so pleased that the German POWs came away from the US with such a favorable opinion of us. I wonder if world opinion is still the same.

  6. I’m preparing to teach the blockade next week, so the timeliness stood out to me

  7. I agree with Sharon about how this helps bring the war home, helping to understand the conditions of the people following the war. Looking forward to seeing the quilts finished from this sew along!

    1. Have you been making the blocks along the way? I'd love to see yours if you have. :)

  8. Oh that is just the perfect block for this piece! what a letter - and what conditions to live under! wow....

  9. Six years ago Tu-Na Helper and I visited Berlin, Germany. We saw the tiles on the ground representing the wall which divided the east from the west as it meandered through the city and even through buildings. We saw the remains of the beautiful church which were left after the bombing so that the world would not forget. It is hard to think of going hungry when we live in an age of abundance. We do need reminders including these letters to remind us to be kind and generous to others lest we find ourselves reliving history.

  10. It's a good reminder that wars don't end with everything going back to normal. Suffering can continue for many years and decades. My Dad served his National Service at the end of the 1950s in West Berlin - before the wall was built but when tension at checkpoints was high. He's never forgotten the stark contrast between conditions in the Western sector and across the line in the bleak Soviet sector.
    My Mum's Dad spent part of WW2 in the USA (he was RAF ground crew) and his letters are full of praise for the generosity of the people he met and their kindness when they heard just how hard the rationing was for families back in the UK.

  11. Just one block left, how exciting it is! Pretty quilt!
    Thank you for linking up today ;)

  12. It has been so wonderful following along, reading the letters and posts. Can't wait to start seeing the beautiful quilts created. Thank you for linking up to Put your foot down.

  13. Hi Melva! I can't believe this is the second-to-last block in Pieces. Waaa! I don't want it to come to an end. I can see now that you must have used the Baptist Fan quilting design on your quilt - is that correct? I love the movement in this block - we still have to select our fabrics and get it sewn. This weekend, I suspect. Thanks for linking up! ~smile~ Roseanne

  14. That he was lucky to get back into Berlin from a Russan POW camp! Even sick and going hungry in Berlin would be better.

  15. Very interesting block. I like the colors and fabrics you used. Thank you for sharing in my linky party ... :) Pat

  16. Wonderful block! Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.