In memory of

Willy Reinhardt

November 12, 1932 -  May 5, 2022

On May 5, 2022, Willy Reinhardt, 89, peacefully departed for his eternal home, surrounded by his loved ones and accompanied by song and prayer. He is survived by his wife Sigrid, daughter Monika (Allan) Jarvine with their children Adina, Caleb and Emily, his son Edmund (Bethany) Reinhardt and their children Josiah, Noah, Elijah and Johanna. Survived by his sister-in-law Barbara Reinhardt, he will also be remembered by his 22 dear nieces and nephews.
Born in 1932 in Mramorak, Yugoslavia to Filip and Eva Reinhardt as the youngest of 8 children, Willy's idyllic childhood came to an abrupt end with the beginning of WW2. His father and brother were taken and executed in retribution for a partisan that was killed. After the war, he spent 3 years in concentration camp with his mother. Once they were released, they joined his brother Peter in Slovenia where his mother passed away. Willy started an electrical apprenticeship there. He was involved in his sister Eva family’s escape through the Alps which ended in a jail sentence for Willy. Being unemployable after his release, he made his way to Austria as a refugee.
After nine months in Salzburg, he emigrated to Canada with his sister Eva and her family. He lived with his aunt and uncle Christian Ritzmann in Windsor for another nine months. For employment reasons, he moved to Toronto where he found a job at Phillips Electronics. He married Sigrid Mueller on October 3rd 1959 and welcomed the birth of their daughter Monika the following year. 47 Farmbrook Rd, Scarborough became their home in 1963 when he started working at General Motors in Oshawa. Edmund completed the family of four in 1965.
Willy and Sigrid were both baptized in 1967 in the Apostolic Christian Church Nazarene, where Willy would then be called to serve the small congregation on Weston Road as a minister in 1973.
Willy showed his devotion to His Lord and Saviour in his unwavering humble service to his beloved church for over 54 years. As a gentle, loving father figure, he was cherished by so many of us who were very blessed to have had him in our lives.
May we never forget his testimony.


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Darlene and Mark Huston (Niece-daughter sister Eva&V.Janca)

Entered May 6, 2022 from North Ridgeville, Ohio

Dearest Willy Onkel. The world lost a special soul that embodied the fruits of the spirit. Your gentle kindness and the loving nature in your heart could always be seen in your smile. Your heavenly family is rejoicing that you are home with them. We love you dearest Willy Onkel. We will miss you very much until we all meet again in God's perfect light.

Johanna Bayati (Niece)

Entered May 6, 2022

Gentleness and kindness personified - that was my Uncle Willy. A lover of beauty and poetry. One who loved and served His Lord with humility. A man who truly treasured his family - and that included a LOT of relatives who were blessed by his love. What a precious gem we have lost. But thank the Lord Uncle Willy leaves behind beautiful children and grandchildren who absolutely resemble him and are a real credit to him. May the Lord comfort them, and all of us, at this time, and may we experience joy in the mourning, knowing that Uncle Willy is in the glorious presence of the Lord Jesus.

Sofi & Edwin Allenspach (Attended same ACCN Church)

Entered May 7, 2022 from Hampton, Ontario Canada

"Life is a journey of sweetness and sorrow
Of yesterday's memories and hopes for tomorrow
Of pathways we choose and detours we face
With patience and humor, courage and grace
Of joys that we've shared and of people we've met
Who have touched us in ways we will never forget"*
(Hallmark: author unknown*)
Bro. Willy was born in the same town where others were born:
Mramorak, Banat, Serbia, (in former Yugoslavia)
Others who were also born in Mramorak; i.e. Sis. Sofi Bundrea;
Sis. Sofi Bundrea, wife of Bro. Petar Dudulec Sr. (both deceased
who are the parents of Sis. Sofi Allenspach, Wife of Bro. Edwin Allenspach)
To Bro. Willy's family:
"At this difficult time May you turn to Memories of all you shared with him To carry you during your darkest hours."*
Bro. Edwin & Sis. Sofi Allenspach

Wilf (Brother in the Lord Jesus Christ)

Entered May 7, 2022 from Portland, OR

My condolences to the family! Praise God for what sounds like peaceful passing of a saint who lived a life of challenges and joy in serving our risen Savior.

Janine Walter (niece)

Entered May 8, 2022 from Tucson

I will always remember dear Uncle Willy for his kind and gentle nature, his bright intelligence and his playful competitive nature especially when it came to games!
with love, Janine

Life Stories 

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Edmund Reinhardt (Son)

Entered May 17, 2022

After the Ottoman Turks invaded the Austro-Hungarian Empire and made their way all the way to Vienna, they were gradually repelled back across the Danube in 1687. The Hapsburg rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire wanted to re-populate the floodplains of the Danube to protect it from future invasions, so they gave incentives for people to settle there. The fighting soldiers were given first choice of the land to keep an eye on the Turks. Settlers were then welcomed from almost everywhere across the Empire. Most of the settlers happened to come from southwest Germany, close to the French border, such as Bad-Wurttemberg, Pfalz, Alsace, and Lothringen. To feudal serfs, this offer from the regime seemed very attractive. People were offered free land in planned communities laid out on a grid and would not have to pay taxes for an extended period.

In the 1700’s, many accepted this offer and headed down the Danube in boats called Donauschachtel (Danube boxes). When they reached their destination, they dismantled the wooden boats and built their new homes. The picture painted by the regime did not prepare them for the mosquito-ridden swamps they encountered. It was so bad that a poem in
German summed up the experience this way, "The first generation had death, the second generation had great need and the third generation had bread." Eventually there were settlements of only Germans and others were mixed with Serbs, Hungarians, Slovaks and Romanians. Amongst the settlers were also Italians, French and Spaniards. The settlements were North of Belgrade as far as Czerwenka. Willy was born in the town of Mramorak.

It was known that Germans were hard-working, and they prospered until after World War I. Before WW II, the Germans in this part had their own schools in the German language. In 1941 when Hitler invaded the area, Banat and Serbia became occupied by the Germans. The duchy of Batschka was occupied by Hungary and Croatia had Srem. Croatia at that time was an independent country. The German speaking inhabitants of this area did not receive protection from Germany, but rather forced to serve in the German army. The conscription was "strictly voluntary", but whoever did not cooperate faced the death penalty. Willy's brothers went into the army. In 1944, the Partisans and Russians came, and any German was considered an enemy. This led to many atrocities committed against innocent German families.

The end of the war left the ethnic Germans labelled as enemies. On October 20, 1944, the partisans came to Mramorak (a town of about 3000 Germans, 1500 Serbs and 1500 Romanians), and took 105 German men to Bavaniste and shot them. This group contained Filip and
Fritz Reinhardt (Willy’s father and brother). In April 1945, all Germans were put into a concentration camp for about 6 months. Then they sent the old and very young to Knicanin. Knicanin was designated as some sort of a starvation camp where those not capable of hard labour were sent. The weak and feeble would eventually starve to death. Willy and his mother were sent there. Willy’s mother gave her food to Willy to make sure he survived. They were given a little cooked corn-meal without salt in the morning and a small portion of bug-infested dried peas for lunch. In the evening they had a very coarse and hard cornmeal. In 1948, when the concentration camps were ended, there was work. Children that were incarcerated with Willy remember that he was a good storyteller and would paraphrase classic books to the other children. In this setting they were allowed to sing and even at times hold church services. The concentration camp was surrounded by barbed wire fences and guarded day and night. One account from a man in that camp goes something like this...

" the room next to us lived the Nazarenes. They were supported by brothers of their faith, who lived outside the camp. (In the case of Willy and company these were Mina and Christian, Christian was half Serbian and therefore not in the camp). However, Mina (Willy's sister) would often come all the way from Kikinda, only to be turned away.) There were contagious diseases such as typhoid in the camps, so visitors were not allowed in for fear of spreading these diseases to the outside world. Their brothers brought them food whenever it was permitted and then they weren't as hungry. Sometimes they ate white bread and then they would sing

"Always joyful, always joyful, everyday is sunshine.
Full of beauty is the way of this life.
Let us be joyful always".

Sometimes the sunshine was not there, and then they sang,

"No, no, no, no, not here below.
With Jesus above is the home that we know."

For now, however, the body was in Knicanin and the stomach would not be filled by singing. But when they got the word that more parcels had arrived, they would sing as beautifully as ever with more voices,

" Precious light, precious light,
Sun that breaks through cloud and night."

Actually, the Nazarenes were always singing. They sang when they were happy and had white bread. They would sing especially when they were sad and had nothing to eat at all. Their songs always impressed me. Most of the words I remember even now by heart. I remember in our room at times, I would hear some ask to be taken away from this earth." The man that wrote the above excerpt was Robert Kuska who was in the camp.

The church in Mramorak consisted of German, Romanian and Serbian members. There were no ethnic tensions in the church. When the Germans were taken away, the other brothers and sisters tried to help as much as they could, but not much could be done if a guard prevented entry to the camp. But there were members that risked their lives to help the brethren. Sophie Ursu risked her life on numerous occasions by trying to smuggle supplies to the brothers and sisters in the camp. She was at the Reinhardt house when they were taken away and made it her mission to help them to the end.

It was in this camp that Willy met Sigrid. Sigrid was about 5 years old. Actually, they had met earlier on a farm when Sigrid was about 2 or 3 years old. But in the camp, Sigrid's mother was very sick, and Willy's mother came to visit. This is how they met. They would play hide and seek together. As they grew older, Willy stayed with his own age group.

After the concentration camps were dissolved, they sent groups to work in places with the hardest of jobs, such as mines where nobody wanted to go. In the case of the Reinhardt’s, Christian Reinhardt was sent to Titel, a town opposite Knicanin, across the river Tisa, where he was a tractor mechanic even during his stay in the concentration camp. Willy, his mother and two sisters were given permission to join Christian in Titel, where they stayed for nine months. While they were there, the authorities reversed their policy of stripping the Germans of all rights and property made a declaration that they could get their Yugoslav citizenships back. After about nine months, the Reinhardts went to Kikinda with Christian and Mina (Willy's sister) Blat. There was not much work there. However, Willy's other brother Peter was in Ljubljana as a prisoner of war. He had committed himself to work there for about two years as a mechanic. There was more work in Ljubljana and so Peter invited his family to come there. So off to Ljubljana went Willy, Christian, his mother and two sisters. Very shortly after, in 1951, Willy's mother died.

Shortly after, the German government was accepting German refugees from Jugoslavia. Jugoslavia cashed in on this by charging the refugees 12,000 dinars each to give up their Jugoslav citizenship to be allowed to leave the country.

In Ljubljana Willy Reinhardt was an apprentice electric motor winder at Litostroj, a new factory built by Tito. From there Willy went to the Jugoslav army and served for 18 months from 1952 to 1954. He returned to Ljubljana and continued his apprenticeship. Willy was involved in helping his sister’s family flee to Austria by way of the Alps. Not many weeks later the police wanted to interrogate Willy. He learned that the authorities had discovered fresh tracks in the snow near the border and knew that someone had escaped. For some unknown reason, the guide decided to come back through the border checkpoint and to get his passport stamped. After interrogating him, they discovered that a certain Willy Reinhardt was an accomplice in this escape. This led to a four-month jail term for Willy. After serving his sentence, he returned to his home city Ljubljana once again and sought work at the same factory. The foreman would have gladly accepted him back, but the front office said that they were sorry, but they had no work for him. Willy was now a marked man. The authorities would not allow him to leave legally. Willy wrote to his sister Eva to send a guide to facilitate his escape.

The guide came to Ljubljana at first to get acquainted and then went elsewhere to pick up four other would-be escapees. They then headed for the mountainous region near the Austrian border. Willy knew this region quite well because he used to like hiking in the mountains. As a matter of fact, he later discovered that he was more familiar with it than his guide. Their first stop was a small mountain hut where they rested. The guide liked to joke a lot with the girls that were serving there and asked them if they would like to go with them, pointing to a direction away from the border. Initially one replied that she would because she wanted to visit somebody in that direction, but fortunately she changed her mind. Of the escapees, Willy was the only one who spoke Slovenian so the others had to keep quiet. It would seem suspicious for Serbians to be so far out of their own territory. They continued until they came to a lodge where they were to rest overnight. The soldiers that watched the border in that area were stationed right next to the lodge.

In the evening while Willy's party was having a drink and chatting, some soldiers were present also. The guide began chatting with them and extracting information from them, which would aid in their escape. The soldiers carelessly told him of the times of the guard change and even said that the guards don't even wait until the replacement comes, but while the replacement is ascending the hill, the other is descending, leaving the post temporarily unmanned. This was all that the guide needed to know. The next day at noon, Willy and company made the crossing. What a relief. The guide wanted to disappear before Willy and friends turned themselves into the Austrian police. After some questioning by the Austrian police, they remained in the area for a couple of weeks until a larger group of refugees was gathered. This group was sent to Linz. As they passed Salzburg, Willy managed to send a postcard to his sister Eva, informing her of his arrival and whereabouts. The next day Eva came to Linz and brought him to Salzburg where they lived in barracks built by the Swiss brethren of the Nazarene church. They also built a brick church building as well as these wooden barracks to house the Nazarenes.

This place was just a point of transit until visas were obtained to move to other countries. People would wait for years until they would move on. There Willy stayed with Eva and Velimir. Willy remained in Salzburg for about nine months. Willy decided to go to Canada. On the 25th of July 1957 Willy landed in Quebec City and from there journeyed to Windsor. The journey to Canada was by ship and was paid for by the Canadian government as a loan. In Windsor Willy lived with Christian Ritzmann and family. Willy's aunt was Brother Christian's wife. Willy had the greatest respect for his uncle Christian. There was an expectation that everyone living in the house would go to church. This is when Willy started going to church again, but that was okay because Willy loved to sing. Since Christian did not have a car, John Stammler went to the railway station to pick up Willy when he arrived. He then managed to find Willy a job winding motors again, but this job lasted only 3 months before he was laid off. Willy sojourned in Windsor for six more months. The Ritzmanns treated him as a member of their family. Willy was feeling pressure to repay his debt to from the Immigration Department.

The church in Windsor was quite large at the time. In 1960 there were approximately 115 members. Willy felt at home in Windsor having made a few friends. Many in Windsor were in similar circumstances as Willy. They were fresh off the boat, looking for a new start.

Immigration found Willy a job on the farm of a Scotsman who had a reputation as a difficult employer. He could only get workers from immigration who did not know him. Willy's first job was to clean out the chicken coop because that was where he was going to sleep. Willy lasted two whole weeks.

Thus, after a total stay of nine months in Windsor, Willy moved to Toronto. Willy would live with his sister and brother-in-law Velimir Janca and their two children (Willy and Lydia). For those familiar with Toronto, the house was at the junction of Black Creek Drive and Weston Road. They rented the upstairs flat which consisted of a kitchen and a bedroom. It was quite cramped in the apartment. Helene Janca was born there and the Reinhardts from Union City came to visit them with their children. Willy really didn't know how they managed. The Italian landlords were gracious enough to let Willy sleep downstairs at night, but during the day he had to be upstairs.
Willy soon got a job at Phillips Electronics Industries working shifts. One night he came home and almost tripped over a body that was lying on the kitchen floor. It was Steve Gruich, the latest newcomer to Toronto, sleeping on the kitchen floor. Steve had just arrived from Salzburg. His sleeping place was the kitchen until he found himself a job and apartment.

Sometime later the Jancas and Willy moved to another house at 318 Weston Road, just a few houses north of the Apostolic Christian Church as it is known today. Once again it was an upstairs apartment, but this time two bedrooms. Willy finally had a room of his own. Things began to look up for Willy. Velimir bought a house at 56 Delaney Crescent in the Brock and Dundas area of Parkdale. Willy, Ilija and Sara became Velimir's tenants. The Jancas lived on the main floor. Willy had a small bedroom on the top floor, and the Folias had a bedroom and kitchen. Willy had his meals with the Jancas on the main floor.

On October 3,1959, Willy and Sigrid were married. Their first home was on Brock Ave. Willy and Sigrid welcomed their first child Monika to this home. When Monika was two months old, Eva’s tenants moved out and Willy and Sigrid moved in to the flat on Delaney.

When asked if they had any sentimental feelings for Jugoslavia or any desire to return to Jugoslavia, the Reinhardts replied that there was no tug on their hearts to go back. The only thing that Sigrid misses was the delicious apricots that were grown there. They have no resentments against anyone, understanding that it was war and many things happen during war. There was no point in holding on to resentments or grudges that would not undo the damage and hurt done.

In 1963, Willy started working at General Motors in Oshawa. Willy and Sigrid bought their home at 47 Farmbrook Road where they settled. In 1965, their son Edmund was born. Willy had been attending the Toronto church since he came to the city. He had always enjoyed the music and friendships at church. He was blessed by brethren he met at Eastern Camp and learned from their experiences. He was especially touched by blind Phillip Bambach’s gratitude for everything and that made him reflect on blessings in his own life. In 1967, Willy and Sigrid were both baptized in the Toronto church. His meticulous attention to detail and head for facts made him an ideal church record keeper. Willy was voted into the ministry in 1973. Willy loved his church and was a faithful pillar of the church for over 54 years. He was a quiet example of humility, meekness and patience. He and Sigrid were a welcoming presence to many as they arrived in Toronto in a strange new land. Later on, his home was a warm welcoming haven to many who had no family in the church. The effectiveness of his ministry was not the dynamism of his preaching but the approachable fatherly presence that invited all to comfortably unburden themselves to him. His unconditional love and empathetic nature will be missed by all.


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