I was honoured to have met Great Uncle Wolf back in 2003, and he told me a bit of his amazing story. It was captured in other places – in a book written by his son Peter, and also in Nithsdale at War by Isabelle C. Gow.
They both tell the story so well, and here is my synopsis. Wolf was born in 1927 in Dresden, dropping the (IMHO) interesting name “Ottomar”. His life became caught up in the whirlwind of war and his mandatory presence in the local Hitler Youth program eventually led to him figuring out that he had better volunteer to be in the air force before being conscripted into the SS.
He trained in what is now Gdansk, and he was stationed near Dresden, being present during the horrific bombing of February 13th and 14th, 1945. From there he was sent to the Western Front, and on 10th April 1945 found himself surrounded by tanks and flamethrowers in Holland when a nearby soldier surrendered.
As a prisoner of war he ended up first at Kempton Park Racecourse and then learned that the war in Europe had ended. Nevertheless he was put to work in East Yorkshire and then to York. In 1948 he was free to choose his destiny – to return to a shattered Dresden under Russian occupation, or to stay.
He chose to stay and moved to Scotland, where he first worked as an interpreter and then as a farmer in Auldgirth, where he met Mary Boyse whom he married in 1949 at the United Free Church manse at Closeburn Village. He went to live on the Blackwood Estate as a forester.
The Blackwood Estate is immense – over 1200 acres of which over 500 acres are woodland. As well as the huge 10 bedroom house, there are 8 cottages on the grounds – one of which Wolf and Mary lived in. Wolf continued his tenure for two decades, becoming head forester.
In 1971 he went to work for Jardine and Malcolm in Dumfries as he had a keen interest in hi-fi and music. He retired after a further two decades of service there, and I met him a decade later. He passed away in 2014.