Obituary: Rudolf Krueger

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Rudolf Krueger, affectionately known as “Rudi” by his family and friends, was born on Feb. 16, 1920. He died on April 3, 2012, near Frankfurt, Germany. A funeral service is scheduled at 11 a.m. on Aug. 8, 2012 at the United Methodist church in Meeker, Colo. Following the service his ashes will be laid to rest at the Highland Cemetery.
He was delivered at home at 4 p.m. according to his birth certificate. His hometown was Genthin, about 60 miles west of Berlin, Germany.
His mother was Elsa Krueger, a homemaker, accomplished cook and gardener. She came from a family of guesthouse keepers and vine growers.
His father was Helmut Krueger, a schoolteacher from a long line of teachers.
Rudolf had an older sister named Adelheid. He was then followed by three brothers, Karl Heinz, Helmut and Gunther. Adelheid and Karl Heinz have preceded Rudolf in death.
Rudolf had a happy childhood in Genthin. His most favorite activity was spending time outdoors. His father was an avid hunter and Rudolf learned a lot about hunting, rifles and hunting dogs. His most favorite activities, however, were hiking, camping and singing with the local Boy Scout troop. His disappointment and anger was great when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 and disbanded the Boy Scouts to include them in the Hitler youth organization called Hitlerjugend.
Rudolf was graduated from high school right around the start of World War II. Since he had a strong desire to be on the ocean he volunteered to join the Germany Navy in 1939 and served the entire length of WWII until April 1945. He was in ongoing training and was very fortunate not to be involved in any combat. When he finally was promoted to be a “U Boot” commander, Germany had run out of boats due to the devastating losses caused by the allied forces. Just about that time he also tied the knot with Inge Ilse Pauls who was quite pleased not to see him go out to sea anymore. As the war was winding down he and his new wife were living in Danzig (Gedansk). That area was cut off from the German mainland by advancing Russian troops. Inge and Rudolf managed to flee by boarding a large ship and sailing to Kiel under the constant threat of the Russian navy. Just a few weeks prior, a passenger ship, the Gustloff, was sunk by Russian torpedos, taking the lives of more than 9,000 refugees.
He was a prisoner of war with the British who immediately placed him on a minesweeper detail to help clear sea mines placed by the Germans prior to the end of the war. Once released by the British he crossed from the British sector of occupied Germany into the Russian sector to be united with his wife Inge and newborn daughter Gabriele who was born July 7, 1945, in Tangermuende. At that time the Russians were rebuilding a bridge over the river Elbe. American troops had advanced to the area but retreated according to the treaty of Potsdam.
Life during the first year after the war and having a brand new baby was very difficult for the young couple. Fortunately, Inge was trained as a teacher and found employment immediately. This helped them to acquire housing in a small village near Genthin. Finding sufficient food was a challenge, and Rudi and Inge dealt with starvation. The government rations were not sufficient. It was difficult to get enough food for their newborn, especially milk and eggs.
Rudolf wanted to go to a university and study. He was not allowed to do so because he had been an officer in the war. He started working as a bricklayer and helped to rebuild houses. Soon, after working very hard, he was allowed to study and enrolled to become a civil engineer. In August 1950, Gabriele’s baby brother Martin Richard was born. He was a healthy little boy who was only allowed to live for about three months when whooping cough and limitations of medical care took his life. This was devastating to the family. However, everybody was very happy when Albert Rudolf was born in 1952.
The first few difficult years gave gradually away to life in better housing and sufficient food. Gabriele and Albert were thriving and doing well. Rudolf was happy and proud to purchase a small sailboat, allowing for unforgettable outings on the lakes around the Potsdam and Berlin area. There are quite a few early childhood memories for Gabriele and Albert, especially when the boat capsized and the whole family was rescued from the cold water. Inge still remembers the bills of Deutsch mark pinned on the clothesline to dry. Rudolf finished his studies and started to help engineering roads and water storage projects.
As communism took hold in eastern Germany Rudolf and Inge felt more and more suppressed in that system and could not imagine children growing up under those circumstances. Rudolf left eastern Germany in 1955 and found civil engineering work in the Frankfurt/Main area. Inge and their two children followed in 1956. Leaving East Germany was still possible until the wall and the fortified border were erected in August 1961.
Life in West Germany provided for freedom, work and opportunities. Traveling and seeing the world were strong desires for Rudolf and Inge. The first great vacation was the family bicycle trip from Frankfurt to Paris, France. Gabriele had to pedal her own bicycle, brother Albert had the privilege of sitting in front of dad facing the handle bars. The family had to walk up the steps to the Eiffel Tower as the tickets for the elevators were not affordable.
Rudolf obtained his first driver’s license at age 27 and the family was soon the proud owner of a Ford 12 M. This was the first Ford sedan build in Germany. It was somewhat modeled after the Studebaker Champion. Many family vacations were taken in this vehicle to all over Europe.
Rudolf opened his own civil engineering office and ended up doing the calculations for some quite tall buildings in Frankfurt. The tallest building is the Holiday Inn in South Frankfurt with more than 25 stories. Most mathematical calculations where done with a slide ruler, and only towards the end of that project did he purchase a programmable HP calculator.
Rudolf retired at age 73 and stayed busy maintaining care of the house and yard. He stayed in touch with family and friends. He studied history and was very fond of classical music. He and Inge traveled a lot. They enjoyed their spring trips to Italy to do sightseeing and to buy paintings and wine. They frequently visited both their children, who had moved to the U.S., and took wonderful road trips through the southern, western and northwestern parts of the country. Rudolf and Inge came to see Albert and Mary K. and kids in South Africa and Indonesia. Some of those trips led to additional excursions to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia.
Rudolf and Inge enjoyed their seven grandchildren and Rudi (Opa) spent a lot of time with them enjoying art, walks or telling stories, teaching poems, songs and even assisting with math homework.
He spent his last two years in a nursing home near Heusenstamm. Dementia and a stroke took a growing toll on his health and his ability to take care of himself or to be taken care of at home. He died peacefully after living a long and full life. His family has good and fond memories of him and he will live on in their hearts and minds.
He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Inge Krueger of Heusenstamm, daughter Gabriele Lane (Michael) of Decatur, Ga., son Albert Krueger (Mary K) of Meeker, Colo., brother Helmut Krueger (Lisa) of Genthin, brother Gunther Krueger (Helga) of Bad Freienwalde. His seven grandchildren are Anne Wisely (Michael) and Victoria Lane in Georgia, Sara Lane in New Mexico, Iva Lee Lane in Arizona, Hanna Borchard (Kevin), Martin Krueger and Elly Krueger in Colorado and great-grandson Tristan Borchard of Colorado Springs.