Anna Cisterino

04/24/2018 12:05 PM |

Anna Cisterino, 92 years of age, died peacefully at San Simeon by the Sound in Greenport on April 23, 2018.

“Annie” to her American family and friends, she was born Anna Haala on April 15, 1926, in what was then the village of Tuschkau in the “Sudetenland” region of Czechoslovakia, now Touškov in the Czech Republic, near Pilsen. Anni, as she was known in her German family, was the second of three children born to Simon and Maria Haala, who owned and operated a small family farm in Tuschkau. Like farm children everywhere, she and her brother and sister grew up learning their chores — churning butter, pounding sauerkraut and tending to the animals. When chores were done, they explored the fields and woods, and picked wild strawberries and mushrooms, living the life of children in a simpler time.

Sometime before Anni finished her eight years of obligatory schooling and was entering the workforce, the Nazis were setting up local control after having taken over Czechoslovakia in 1938, and village life changed dramatically. Among Anni’s youthful experiences was being jailed by the Nazis at the age of 14 for “sabotage” when, after being assigned to work on a farm in a neighboring village, she grew homesick and ran away to return to her parents. Her father and older brother were both drafted into the Wehrmacht, and farm life was very hard for the women and children left behind. In spring of 1946, the Haala family and all the residents of Tuschkau became part of the estimated 12 to 16 million ethnic Germans deported after World War II from Central and Eastern Europe to Germany proper, the most extensive forced migration in recorded history. With the clothes on their backs, 50 kilograms in a suitcase per person, and a loaf of bread and liter of water per day, they spent weeks in a transit camp, then three days crowded in a railroad freight car. They were eventually resettled in Oberammergau, the tiny alpine village in Bavaria famous for its Passion Play, performed by the villagers every 10 years since 1634.

In Oberammergau, Anni eventually found work as a waitress in the mess hall on the U.S. Army base. It was there that in 1948 she met a U.S. Army cook, Camillo Paul “Bud” Cisterino of Greenport. At first, she spoke no English and he spoke no German, but they found ways to communicate, and in due course they were married, and their first son, Paul, was born in 1950. In 1955, Anni and young Paul came to the U.S., her husband having been transferred to Camp Carson in Colorado. During the 30 days’ leave between postings, Anni got to know the Cisterino clan in Greenport — Bud’s mother, Bridget “Bessie” Cisterino, his brother, Eddie, and sisters, Virginia “Gigi” Iacono and Catherine “Babe” Krawchuck and their respective husbands, Charlie and Bill, all of whom combined to help her get her driver’s license and to become an American citizen. Colorado was followed by Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where sons Edward and Louis were born in 1957 and 1958. A re-posting to Germany came in 1958, and Anni saw her German family again, and had another son, Charles “Chuck,” born in Germany in 1960.

Following Bud’s retirement in 1964 after 22 years in the Army, he and Anni, with their four boys, settled in Greenport among Bud’s family, and Anni saw the boys all graduate from Greenport High School and make their way in the world. Anni eventually was able to travel to Germany again several times to reconnect with her own family there and to revisit Tuschkau. She lost Bud in 1994, and at her own death was the last surviving member of her generation in both Bud’s and her own German family, but to the end she enjoyed her four sons, her daughters-in-law, her five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews in Germany and America.

Anni did not have a career in the usual sense of the word, but she was a master of the domestic arts. She was known by her family and friends as a talented and intuitive cook and baker, and passed that legacy on to her family and friends. From early childhood onwards she sewed, knitted and crocheted, and all her family today is still using her handiwork. In her final years her memory faded, but during her life she told many stories of her childhood and youth in Czechoslovakia, and in these stories, she lives on in the memories of her family and friends.

A memorial service and interment of Anni’s cremated remains will be scheduled at a later time.

This is a paid notice. 

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