A life like a movie script
Her life story reads like a movie script. Born in a war-torn country, she was taken from her family at an early age, indoctrinated with Communist teachings, smuggled to freedom in a mailbag, and eventually found love and happiness despite a language barrier.
Her name is Linda (Adamitz) Hogan, a resident of Paris, and she has told the story before, but is willing to share it once again. "It seems like a lifetime ago," she said. "It's like a totally different life in a different place, but it is my story. I don't mind telling it."
Linda's story begins in Poland near the end of World War II. Her father was Polish; her mother German. She was the youngest child of seven in her family with the eldest sibling nearly 20-years older. Her older siblings were married and gone by the time she was old enough to remember.
Her father, a conductor, was killed during a bombing attack on the railroad in the last days of the war. Her mother, wanting to return to her native Germany, was forced to go to work to earn enough money for the move. Citing that her mother could not properly care for her, the government stepped in and removed Linda from her home, placing her in an orphanage.
During her time at the orphanage, Linda experienced the Communist teachings of the era. "This was under the time of Stalin's rule," she said. "They taught things like there is no God and there is no church." She stayed there from second grade through fifth grade before the government decided she was old enough to stay home alone while her mother worked.
After several years of saving money, her mother applied to emigrate from Poland to East Germany indicating that the family wanted to be closer to Linda's older sister who lived in the region. In December 1958, the two were given permission and made the move.
In April 1960, her mother applied for a visa to visit another daughter who lived in Stuttgart, West Germany during the Easter holiday. The government, concerned that the family might be fleeing the country, issued only her mother a visa requiring Linda to remain behind in East Germany with her sister. The mother packed a single suitcase for herself and left.
Just after her mother's departure, as Linda walked home from school, three hooded men appeared suddenly and kidnapped her. "I was extremely scared," she said. "I had no idea what they wanted or what was going to happen."
The men were actually friends of her mother and they told Linda some incredible news. Her mother was actually an underground agent working with the Radio Free Europe organization and had been planning to escape to West Germany for several years. She had hidden her plans from Linda, fearing that she (Linda) may be questioned at school and the two caught before they could leave.
The men were to see Linda delivered to her mother. She was sedated and blindfolded. They taped over her mouth to keep her quiet. She was then placed in a mailbag and the bag put in the mail-car of a train headed toward West Germany. The same train, she would discover later, that carried her mother. At the border, armed guards checked several of the mailbags, poking them with their bayonets. "I was half out of it," Linda said. "I could hear them, but it was all a hazy blur because of being drugged. Luckily, they didn't touch my bag." Mother and daughter were successfully reunited in West Germany.
The two applied for asylum to be able to stay in the country. They were sent to an immigration camp where they questioned by NATO agents. After the 10 days, they were granted West German citizenship and given train tickets to a placement camp near Wiesberg, Germany.
In late June/early July 1960, Linda's life again changed when she met her oldest sister for the first time. The sister came to Heidelberg, West Germany to live when her husband, an American military officer, was assigned there. After the reunion, her sister convinced their mother to allow Linda to live with the sister's family in Heidelberg to continue her education at the Berlitz school.
In April 1961, Linda was set up on a date with a young U.S. Army soldier named Roy Hogan from Paris, MO. The fact that she couldn't speak much, if any, English and he couldn't speak German did not stop the two from hitting it off right from the start. They brought along dictionaries and a notepad to help them communicate. The date was to see a new movie, "Where the Boys Are" starring Connie Francis. During the movie, Roy left momentarily and returned with a small box. "I thought it was a present," Linda said laughing. "I kept it close to me and took it home after the movie. My sister explained to me that it wasn't a gift, it was popcorn."
Roy would ride a bicycle 10-12 miles one way just to see her. He helped her with her studies, especially English spelling. "It was so hard to learn," she said. "English has words that sound the same but are spelled differently and words that are spelled differently but sound the same." Her skills improved through her study and through babysitting.
Linda and Roy were married November 16, 1961 and will celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary Saturday. They are the parents of three children and the proud grandparents of eight grandchildren.
The couple moved several times throughout their marriage including a military duty posting at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Linda, who became a citizen in 1965, is proud of Roy's military service. "Serving in the military is a family tradition," she said. "We have five West Point grads in the family – nephews and nieces."
In 1995, the couple made a special trip to Poland where Linda was reunited with all of her brothers and sisters. Following Roy's retirement from Ameren UE, the couple moved back to Paris in 1996. While the couple does travel, they have no plans to live anywhere else. "Missouri is now home," said Linda.