Ernst Wilhelm von Graevenitz was born on December 2, 1928, in the small village of Schilde, in Brandenburg, Germany, where his family had lived on the same land for over 600 years. His childhood was idyllic but ended abruptly when he was drafted into the German army at 15 years of age. The Eastern Front literally rolled through his basic training unit, and after days on the run in the chaos between the German and Russian lines, with tanks and gunshot everywhere, he was captured and spent 4-5 months in a Russian POW camp at Sagan. He was one of the lucky ones to be released and returned home, only to find his family had fled months earlier and their home occupied by Russian soldiers. It would be several more months, and through word of mouth, that he was reunited with his family on a farm in Dankersen, near Hameln, in the British Zone of Occupation, where the family lived for the next decade.
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