Herbert Bernhard Schroeter (96) passed away November 7th, 2019 with his family by his side.
Herb or Herbie as he was affectionally called, was born on March 3rd, 1923 in the small farming town of Grosswaltersdorf, Germany near Dresden. He was the eldest of three children born to Helene and Bernhard Max Schroeter. He had many fond memories growing up in this small farming community where getting around was either by walking or cycling in summer. In winter time, again by walking or sometimes cross-country skiing when snow was deep. Herb tells the story of seeing his mother skiing to the little store not far away with his little sister Christa on her back. Herb’s family eventually was able make their home in a five-story brick apartment where 2 families could occupy 2 floors each. Sundays were a special day as they made their way to attend church services in Dresden about 10 miles away. They traveled in a small vehicle called an Opel, which had to be started by a crank in the front of the car below the front bumper.
When Herbie was 12 years old, he joined what was called “Jung Folk” which is like the Boy Scouts. Also, he along with his friends, joined the Hitler Youth Movement which was what all young boys were expected to do in Germany at the time. He learned many different skills like using machinery, building construction, and welding. At sixteen along with thousands of young men, he learned how to labor in parks, gardens, swimming pools, tennis courts, roads, bridges, and airstrips using picks and shovels. This gave them the pleasure in knowing how their work and efforts could result in a greater purpose.
As time went on and the indoctrination of the German youth was taking place, Herbert Schroeter joined the German army at the young age of 18. He took officer’s training and at the age of 21, eventually was ordered to the Russian Front, part of the Sixth Army, which moving towards Stalingrad. Unfortunately for most of the soldiers on both sides, it was one of the bloodiest and horrific battles of WWII. It was later entitled, “Stalingrad and the Death March”. There were few survivors, many who did not die in the battle simply starved or froze to death. As the ravages and great atrocities of this ugly war raged on, Herbert was captured by the Russians and sent to a prison camp in Siberia where he spent the last 4 years of the war. In fact, when WWII came to an end, Herb spent just about another year as a POW. As a POW, he had to endure some of the “worst conditions and behaviors from the guards that you can imagine” as he has explained to us and others many times. He co-authored a book about his experiences in WWII entitled “War and Redemption, a Mormon Soldier in the German Army” written by Herbert Schroeter and Gordan T. Allred.
Herb was wounded several times, was one of several thousand POWs in Siberia where only 50 came back alive, he survived. In September of 1949, he was released and returned to his home near Dresden. He weighed 90 pounds and when he arrived in Dresden, he saw the total destruction of his once beautiful city. He was searching for his his mother, but there so much destruction, he could only hope and have faith he would find her.
He happened to mention to someone his mother was a member of the LDS religion and they pointed him in the direction of a house not far away from where he was. There, he found his mother in a small apartment and she cried for joy when she answered the knock at the door. After a few seconds, she finally recognized him as her son she took for dead.
On February 11th, 1950, Herbert married his sweetheart, Rosemarie Jeske in what was Soviet controlled Berlin. They both were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and later after moving to Utah, their marriage was solemnized in the Salt Lake City Temple. A year later, in 1951 their first child Marlies was born there in Berlin. After a couple years living under the punishing government of the Soviets and the Communist party who were in control in East Germany at the time, Herb knew he needed to get his little family out somehow and to escape the oppression to be free and work and to practice their faith. So, with his wife Rosie and little Marlies tied to Herbie’s back like a backpack and her mouth taped so she wouldn’t cry out or make noise, they escaped to freedom, to the free side in West Berlin, Germany. They had to maneuver past the dodging shining spot lights and crawl under barbed wire until finally meeting up with their contacts on the other side in West Berlin who then took them to a refugee camp. Eventually, they made their way to America arriving at Ellis Island in New York City on Veterans day 1954. In October of 1955 their second child Ralph was born in New York City. In 1956, Herbert and his family moved to Salt Lake City and made their first home in “The Avenues”, which is in the area just below and east of the State Capital building. In December 1956, Herbert and Rosemarie were sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake City Temple. Herb found employment with a major steel company. Since he had earned his welding and construction certificate when he was 18 years old while in Germany before the war, it wasn’t hard for him to find work with his skill. Later, after he and Rosie had saved enough money, they bought a little home in Sugarhouse area where Herb turned his yard into a mini garden while Rosie kept the house as neat as a pin.
Once they became empty nesters, they sold their Sugarhouse home and moved to Summit Park near Park City, Utah where the scenery and homes reminded them of Germany. Eventually, this area seemed too remote for family and friends to visit often, so they sold this home and moved to a new home on the eastern bench of Bountiful, Utah. Again, Herb turned his gift to create garden landscapes to his outside yard while Rosie again made the inside like a mini palace of beautiful paintings and other pretty decorations around each of the rooms.
Herb made “The Home of Herbert and Rosemarie Schroeter” out of steel and hung it on the brick just above the garage door. They loved this home here in Bountiful and all the people in their ward. Herb was a people person, loved to meet and talk with everyone and they loved him. He always had visitors come by his home. After his dear wife Rosie passed away in 2002, there was always something on his doorstep, a loaf of bread, a cake, sometimes a dinner.
Everyone loved Herb and liked to stop and talk to him and he loved that! He had the greatest love for his family, his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He so much liked to spend time at family gatherings with both his children as much as possible even up until the last few weekends. Often someone in his ward would ask him to come to their home for Sunday dinner. Sometimes when we wanted him to come to our house, he would say “yes I will, unless I get a better offer”. But this was Herb, he sometimes mixed up some words or phrases but never meaning to be mean or rude.
Herb is preceded in death by his wife Rosemarie, his mother and father, his younger brother Helmut and younger sister Christa. He is survived by his daughter Molly Pearce (Jeff), son Ralph Schroeter (Mary), 4 grandchildren as follows: Natalie Mclelland (Ben), Heather O'barr (Joey), and Nick Schroeter (Kellie), and Ben Schroeter (Sara), and 12 great grandchildren.
Funeral Services will be held Wednesday, November 13th, 2019 at 11:00 am at Canyon Estates Ward Chapel, 965 E. Oakwood Dr., Bountiful, Ut. Friends may call Tues 6-8 pm at the Russon Mortuary, 295 N. Main, Bountiful and Wed. 9:30 -10:45 a.m. at the church prior to services. Interment, Lakeview Memorial Estates, 1640 E. Lakeview Dr, Bountiful where his body will lay next to his beloved wife, Rosie.
The family wishes to thank Barton Creek where they treated him like a king. Numerous thanks to all the nurses and nurses’ aides and other staff members and all his Angels at South Davis Hospice who were so nice to our Dad and grandfather.
Auf wiedersehen for now Dad, we love you so much! You will always be a hero to your family.
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