Irmi's parents
Gera, Germany  (June 10, 1949)
Left:  Rosemarie Henny (Schulze) Scharna  (1928)
Right:  Herbert Günther Scharna  (1924-1973)
Herbert Scharna served on the Russian front during World War II and became a prisoner of war there in January, 1945.  As a POW,
he lived mostly outdoors, in damp conditions, where his legs retained too many fluids and ballooned in size.  In May, 1947, Russian
authorities released him on medical grounds; and he rejoined his family in the city of Gera, in the German state of Thüringen, where
it took nearly a year for his health to return.  In Gera, he met and married the former Rosemarie Henny Schulze, daughter of a local
butcher.  Meanwhile, Herbert had obtained employment as department head and chief customs inspector for the nearby city of Greiz.
In the coming years, Herbert and Rosemarie gave birth to four daughters: Marion (1950-1981); Elisabeth (1952); Adelheid (1953); and
Irmhild (1956).  In 1953, communist authorities fired Herbert, because a religious brochure, left behind by a local priest, had been 
discovered on a countertop in his department.  No longer eligible for state-sponsored employment, Herbert found work in the offices
of a large brewery, supervising deliveries and other transportation requirements.  When that job ended, in order to feed his family, he
performed menial tasks around town until, in 1960, he and Rosemarie decided to flee to the West.  To accomplish this, the youngest
daughter, Irmhild, was surreptitiously sent ahead to Rosemarie's Uncle Ernst in West Berlin.  Three  weeks later, believing the story
that Irmhild had remained behind in Gera with her grandparents, border authorities allowed Herbert, Rosemarie, and the three other
daughters to cross into West Berlin.  There, Irmhild rejoined them, and the family continued traveling westward.  For two long years,
they moved from one refugee camp to the next, settling eventually near Stuttgart, in the town of Gerlingen, where Herbert's brother,
Lothar, had already established residency.  There, Herbert worked as head of the finance department in City Hall, and the Scharna
family blended into the local community.  In 1973, at age 49, Herbert succumbed to a heart attack while leading a city sponsored
bus tour.  Rosemarie then took a job at City Hall and worked there twenty years, finishing the job of raising her daughters alone.

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