Elisabeth was 32 years old and already had three daughters by her husband Erwin when he was conscripted in the autumn of 1938.
From this time onwards she would learn to manage her household without her husband's guidance or help. The only time she would see him would be Christmas, and that was a concession for soldiers with wives and children at home. The only leave of absence he was allowed other than Christmas was for Lenas confirmation in 1944, by which time they had two boys and Elisabeth was to find herself pregnant again following his return to duty.
Bringing up her family during difficult times had the effect of strengthening Elisabeth's character into the matriarch she became. Elisabeth had no love for the Nazis. Although she benefited from Hitlers family allowances whilst her husband was serving in the army, she would have much preferred him to be at home and struggling on his pay as a lorry drivers mate.
Her true mettle was to be severely tested in 1945 when her homeland was occupied by the Russian army. Her daughter Lena had been sent to Country School in Pomerania 300 kilometres away. She had to flee her home in Brieg and face months of danger before things would settle down. Her husband had been reported missing in action in France and she had no idea what had happened to Lena, who was also directly in the path of the Russian advance. She must put these worries aside and concentrate on keeping herself and the other children safe.