"May 1945 in Leitmeritz

The occupants of Haus Grigar are crouched together almost day and night. We are nearly completely cut off from the outside world. The worse the situation becomes, the more the influential friends of Mrs Gregor dwindle […] On my arrival I tried to persuade Frau Grigar to go to safety with a man, but she declined, and has decided to stay on the property her Husband worked so hard to acquire, and with me. […]"

* phew, nearly missed the Prague train, because my connecting one was late...just got on

Even managed to get a seat in a compartment - the train is packed!
8th July

I travel to the start point by train, stopping for a night in Nuremberg.
Travelling through Bavaria, I always enjoy being surrounded by the soft southern accent. To me it feels like home. Funny – none of my family carry the accent any more. It must be coded into my DNA.
9th July

In Prague, I meet my mother, and we take the last leg of the journey together.

First view of the outskirts of Litomerice
We arrive in Litomerice in the rain.

After checking in, we head out into the evening to take stock of the place.

We drink Czech beer and talk about our family – about her parents, my grandparents. Look out over the journey ahead.

Litomerice is unexpectedly opulent, and big.

On route
"The big Grigar factory is deserted. In the main house, the people who remain are the Master with his wife and daughter, an old married couple from Silesia, the Czech cook with her daughter and former sweetheart […] The mother and sister of Herr Grigar live in one of the old office buildings, along with a young woman from Berlin and her two children […] "

"Suddenly a vehicle stops outside the gate. Exhausted, Frau Grigar and I fall into Herr Grigar’s arms. […] His vehicle was shot down, and is now lost, along with everything that was on it. […]Herr Grigar and the Master work like crazy, and in short time they manage to make a lorry with a trailer roadworthy. Time is short. […]Finally, I’m sitting in the forester’s car. […] Herr Grigar hooks our car to his vehicle, gets in, hits the gas - - our car breaks off, the rusty chain didn’t hold…! ! We can’t breathe for fright. When a cry finally leaves my lips, Herr Grigar is already far ahead. The others on the lorry also don’t notice anything, and the heavily loaded trailer blocks their view. […] We are alone. […]"
"The cook’s man takes us to the old air raid shelter. The others are here as well. The banging outside gets louder. We all lie on the floor on sacks, straw and old mattresses. […] In the town and at the nearby Elb-bridge, the crashing gets louder. […] We are spared. He has hoisted a white flag and announced that the owner is away. […]"
"A terrible night draws to a close. During the day, Leitmeritz is attacked by planes. I have no idea whether or not they are enemy planes. We lie on the edges of the factory grounds, under bushes, heads pressed to the ground. But this day too passes. Former prisoners of war and convicts pass by in hoards. This night we all sleep together in the living rooms."
It has large town squares, grand façades, theatres that seat thousands, and beautifully wide streets. Though this evening, the streets were eerily empty.

It is unexpected – we thought this place would be small, and remote – a village. Instead we have found ourselves in a vibrant town – almost a city.
The Elbe river flows through here. I hadn’t realised this before. The Elbe is the river that also runs through Hamburg. My grandmother was following the river home.