The story of this photo is like a small miracle for me. The scene touches me deeply because it shows a piece of family history. But I'm even more touched by how this photo came about and how it ended up in my hands.

My mother stands behind the tractor with the pitchfork. She was in her early 30s at the time, even though she looks significantly older in the picture. She was a Danube Swabian and came from Banat in the former Yugoslavia. At the age of 23, she was already a widow and a single mother to a then three-year-old daughter. At the end of the Second World War, the Danube Swabians were driven out by Tito's partisans, many were mistreated and murdered.

Life in wooden barracks

My grandmother and my mother were separated and sent to different camps where thousands upon thousands died. My grandfather was missing in Russia. Unlike my grandmother, my mother survived the camp with my sister, who was badly scarred, and fled via Hungary to Austria in 1947 with my father, whom she met there. They got married and I was born.

We lived in wooden barracks with other displaced people. My father was seriously injured in the war. My mother worked on a farm near Linz.

A railway line ran past where she was harvesting hay. A photographer was sitting on a train and was so fascinated by the scene of people working in the fields that he got out at the next station, ran back and took the photo. This is what he later told the farming family to whom he gave the picture.

The local historian

About ten years ago my wife and I visited the place. There are no traces left of the barracks camp, said a local we met on the street. But she knew a local historian who had information about the camp. Another message came from him in 2019. He had come across a photo in which my mother could possibly be seen. It was this photo, it was indeed her!

I went to Austria again with my wife. The local historian led us to this farm. The woman we met there was one of the children from when my mother worked there. She still remembered them.