Germany and Erika Erler-Talaska's Ancestry Entanglement Timeline


  • The Erlers were ethical capitalists. Erika's father was forced to go to war or be shot. Erika's grandfather encouraged her to go to America to be freer.

  • The GDR, DDR and East Germany are the same. Be mindful many cities in Europe have the same name so use care to identify correct location.


1800's or earlier Louis Erler (b. 1868) generational family bicycle, mechanical, etc. business in Schmolln, Germany

Sept. 1919.........Adolph Hitler in power over all of Germany, Feb. 24, 1920 Nazi (national socialism) party formed

April 29, 1933....Gestapo (secret police) formed in Germany

May 21, 1933.....Erika's parents, Rudolf Erler b. 1910, age 24 and Lotchen "Lotte" Oehler - age 24, married in Schmolln, Germany

Sept. 1, 1939.....World War II began when Hitler / Germany invaded Poland; Western Allies began bombing Germany

Nov. 18, 1939....Erika born in Schmolln, Germany

June 22, 1941...Germany invades the Soviet Union - Operation Barbarossa

1941..................Holocaust - extermination of Jews began (decades of anti-Jew punishment prior to)

1943..................Rudolf, an engineer, at age 33 is drafted / forced to abandon family and business indefinitely and fight against the Soviets

Dec. 22, 1944....Rudolf, age 34, presumed shot in an arm and captured in Pampali, Latvia, Soviet Union. Erika fatherless at age 4

                               Lotte declared Rudolf dead in order to obtain state assistance due to family business complete loss

April 30, 1945....Hitler commits suicide

Aug. 6 & 9, 1945 U.S. bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan with atomic bombs; controversial whether that was good or bad

Oct. 10, 1945.....WW II ended, Nazi party dissolved, holocaust ended in January, 1945

Oct. 7, 1949...…GDR constitution is formed by the Soviet Union; forced Communism, national emblem - 1955, flag - 1959

Feb. 8, 1950......GDR Stasi (Ministry State Security - secret police) is formed mainly to spy on its own citizens

June 16, 1953...Uprising against communism by the citizens of the GDR

1954..................Erika defected the GDR at age 15 by riding trains out into West Germany where she was met with hostility

May 25, 1959....Erika, age 19, married Leo John Talaska, age 22 in Bitburg. Leo is of Polish ancestry and was an Air Base photographer

1959..................Erika became a US citizen

June 4, 1961......Berlin crisis; wall substantial construction to deter GDR citizens from escaping / defecting

Feb. 23, 1973....Erika became a Naturalized US citizen at age 33 while residing in Findlay, Ohio

1974..................Erika returned to the GDR and noticed a communist stasi narc society; careful who overheard her speak

Nov. 27, 1986....Erika's older sister Doris Erler passed in Schmolln at age 50 having been never married, no children

June 12, 1987...Influenced by astrology, U.S. President Reagan flew to Germany and spoke “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Oct. 2, 1987......Erika's mother passed at age 77, Erika quickly returned for a last visit to close the estate; noticed an anti-communist society

Sept. 1988........Erika's son Eric, age 19, a US Army Intelligence agent, flew to Grafenwoehr, Germany to participate in 

                                 mega NATO exercise REFORGER Top Secret signal interception missions and to put pressure on the Soviet Bloc

Nov. 9, 1989.....GDR border opens on same day of announcement, greatly surprising the world and especially all Germans

Oct. 3, 1990.....GDR, Stasi, the wall and flags are dissolved, East and West Germany are reunited (some as of January)

May 23, 2009...Erika and Leo celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Ashdown, Arkansas

June 3, 2009....Erika passed aged 69 having endured the above, loss of a child, hostile people and decades of respiratory illnesses

Today............…Future generations are highly encouraged to learn from the above and honor their ancestors


Research and timeline written by Eric Talaska, September, 2020 while traveling in a campervan in Oregon, relatively very free, but not without a stressfully massive amount of rules, regulations, laws and occasionally harassing law enforcement (city, county, state, federal) with such "freedom" traveling. In fact the very moment this was written, Eric was being spied on by Oregon State Parks for parking overnight in one of their highway pull-outs that didn't have any signs prohibiting such. He was given a "Park Rules Compliance Request" offender warning which is filed in an office just like the Stasi filed papers for petty things.

Give constructive feedback, contribute and collaborate.



Research and translation assistance sought:

  • Stasi archive files of Erika and Lotte and their Schmolln home

  • Rudolf's resting place and what happened

  • Document translation from German to English summaries

  • Details why Erika didn't inherit the house

  • Does Erika have any living relatives in Europe?

  • Identification of photo locations, motorcycle, bicycle










The remainder of this page is under reconstruction



Erler means 'Learn' in German
Rudolf Johannes was born in Heukewald, Germany August 8th, 1910 and owned a second generation bicycle and sewing machine shop in a very nice building they also lived in. He earned an engineering degree. He may have built one if the first televisions.

Rudolf, was forced to go fight against the Russians in the German Russian War of WWII. He was not a Nazi; but a member of the IIIrd Reich (never a member of the NSDAP) and was a conscripted soldier doing his duty. He had a choice to either go to war against his will or be shot on site. He was called up in 1938/39 which would have given him a chance to be trained, served in Russia in the Winter of 41/42...and achieve the rank of Stabsgefreiter, the second highest German enlisted rank. He was in a training unit attached to Wehrkreis IV (HQ Dresden) in 1942/43 and was caught up in the Russian Steamroller.

On December 22, 1944 at age 35, Rudolf was proclaimed to be killed in action in the Eastern Front, specifically Pampali, Republic of Latvia (formerly western Russia), but very well could have been captured. The death certificate of 1965 says he was killed in action. This death certificate was requested by Rudolf's wife, Lotte so that she could obtain social security benefits.

At about the same time, the Russians retaliated against Rudolf's home town of Schmolln and ruthlessly destroyed a lot of property, stole items and committed atrocities such as rape.

During the war, Rudolf's wife Lotte hid herself and her two daughters in the basement and consumed mostly low nutrition foods such as flour. She since then raised her two daughters alone.

Lotte's house started to deteriorate and Lotte could not afford to repair it, so she made a deal with the state that if they maintained it for her, they would also own it. This is why Lotte's daughter Erika never inherited the building. Fortunately, the state remodeled the building to be very beautiful. Since the reunification with West Germany, it has been used as an electronics store "Euronics" .

Erika's son, Eric feels the building should have been given to Erika to be kept in the family. But at least it looks nice now. Rudolf had no sons to take on the Erler name and the family business was ceased. His grandson Eric desires to continue the business in the United States to continue where he left off before being forced to do something he didn't want to do.

Uniform Research So Far:
Obergefreiter or 'corporal' (under six years of service)
Collar & Botton Ribbons:
War Merit Cross 2nd Cl. 1939 ribbon (award would have been with "swords" but not shown on the ribbon) and the "Winter in Russia 1941/42" ribbon.....meaning he was trained and on active service in Russia in the 1st Winter of 1941/42 , long before 1944.
Litzen and early in the war had 2 colored stripes in the center of each one representing the arm/branch of service. The lack of colored strips in the collar litzen added to the Ost Medaille (or 'Winterschlacht im Osten 1941/42') ribbon in the 2nd button hole was awarded for service during the bitter winter of 1941/42 means this photo was taken post 1942, the other ribbon looks like a 'Kriegsverdienst Kreuz mit Schwertern' ... awarded for war service not in the face of the enemy.
Shoulder straps: Pointed implying they are pre or early war manufacture.
'44' represents the regiment in which he served, color coded to denote the branch of service. Black '44' highlighted in white meaning he served with the 44th Pioneer Regiment (engineers) training unit based in Wehrkreis IV (HQ Dresden).
This color is also shown on the inverted 'V' or 'soutache' on his sidecap.

Historian Research Questions:
•  In the above story, please suggest any corrections or additional interesting information.
•  When is it estimated Rudolf left home to enter Russia? Is it likely he knew he was on a suicide mission or would he have been misled by the Nazi leaders that they were winning and will take over Russia?
•  Is it likely Rudolf killed any red army soldiers, Russian civilians or destroyed any property?
•  Can it be confirmed whether Rudolf was MIA or KIA and how so? If captured, what environment did he likely live in and for how long?
•  What interesting facts are there about what he was doing in Pampali, Republic of Latvia?