Why Leave Germany?

The Braunlingen Tur in Stefanie's hometown.

Growing up in wartime Germany was not easy. When Wini thinks of his youth, he remembers always being hungry. As a small child, he and his sibling used to walk across the border to Austria to beg work from a farmer there. If the farmer had work (and enough food) he would pay them by feeding them. Things were not much easier for Stefanie, but she at least lived on a farm, so had something to eat.

Stefanie: I was the middle child and second daughter so I knew any money spent on a wedding or a new house would go to my older sister and the family business would go to my younger brother. But I was smart in school and had ambition. I wanted to create more for my life. So, when my aunt and uncle invited me to come to the United States, I jumped at the chance.

Wini: I was working in a carpentry shop in Wildhaus, Switzerland. One weekend, I rode my bike back to Germany to visit my mother and one of my uncles was visiting from the United States. He told me that if I wanted to come over, he would sponsor me. I was really not interested, but my mother told me to go and send home money because we were building a house at that time. My uncle said I could make a lot of money in the United States because the exchange rate was $1.00 USD to $4.25 Deutche Marks.

Wini biking around Europe with friends

Wini is born in Balderschwang Germany

4-year-old Wini in Balderschwang
Wini as a boy

Stefanie in born in Braunlingen Germany

4-year-old Stefanie with her sister, Friedhilde