Very close and personal

kilofoxtrott

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My friends,
today is a very special day in Germany:
75 years ago Germany surrendered and the war in Europe was over.

How many young men were killed on each side. Young men who would be scientists, workers, who liked to start a family and had good hopes for their future.
You may know the cemetaries in France with all the white crosses. But do you realize there are 150,000 missing German soldiers at the last Soviet offensive at river Oder. It is not known how many Russian young men died. There are places, farmers are telling that every time they work on the fields now a days, they are finding remnants - bones, skulls or equipment.
What have we done to the civilian population in the conquered countries or even here in Germany. My grandfather served in a supply unit behind the lines. One day, I was 9 or 10 years old, we sat at the kitchen table and he told what he had seen. He left the table crying like a kid...
What have we done to the jews? Unbelievable, cruel and inhuman. I think we all can't imagine what was going on in those days. My grandparents realized, that the jews were deported, but it was out of their imagination, that all were killed.

75 years ago we were liberated - the horror was over. Liberated, at a very high price...

Later on our former enemies became our friends and helped us to develop a stable democracy.
Being part of the European Community helped a lot. And in my opinion the membership there is the reason we could live in peace for 75 years. I'm a member of the first generation in Germany who had not participated in any war. I'm proud of that.

All these victims are not forgotten and we still have to learn of these experiences every day.

Please, don't make a political discussion out of this thread. It is a reminder to all victims of all countries.

Thank you
Klaus
 
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I'm looking for a word-- it's not honor, salute, recognize, sympathize with—but I sit here in memory of all those who died, lost loved ones, suffered and those who still suffer.

My cousin in England sent us a copy of a letter my grandmother wrote to her kids on May 8, 1945, documenting her feelings of that day. Mixed in among the news of family is the relief and disbelief she felt. She showed no animosity, just simple relief that life was back.

Now is the time for all humankind to be human and kind

Peace, my friends.
 
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Very true, Klaus. I've always found it amazing to see a memorial ceremony that includes former bitter combatants greet each other, and often break down in an embrace. My father left home as an 18 year old farm boy in early 1944, and returned to America from Europe in 1946. As with many soldiers, he very seldom talked of his time there, for he witnessed very sad things.
 

kilofoxtrott

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Very true, Klaus. I've always found it amazing to see a memorial ceremony that includes former bitter combatants greet each other, and often break down in an embrace. My father left home as an 18 year old farm boy in early 1944, and returned to America from Europe in 1946. As with many soldiers, he very seldom talked of his time there, for he witnessed very sad things.
Don,
our fathers must be about the same age. My dad was soldier for exactly two days. OK, he was in the Hitler youth before but saw no action. I remember he was telling how he was lying on his back in a meadow. In 1943 he counted every little single bomber flying over him. Later in 1944 he counted the boxes. Then, 17 years old, he became soldier. It was the times, when American forces closed the Ruhr encirclement. It was raining, the ground was muddy, he was wearing his rain cape and had to dug trenches. Suddenly someone tipped on his shoulder and he turned around. An American soldier smiled at him and mentioned: "Come on boy, it's over". We don't know the name of that soldier - but, thank you a lot!

Kind regards
Klaus
 
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WOW, simply stopped me in my tracks.

Interestingly I once read a story that began in all the horror of the times.....

A young man in a concentration camp, met a young woman from the other side of the fence. At night she would bring him food. The war ended, as did their time together at the fence. He was swept away and seemingly disappeared.

Years later after the war ended and having migrated to the USA, this young man went on a blind date to pacify his best friends' new bride. She was just trying to hook a guy up with a friend she had acquaintance with.

They all double dated and somewhere in the middle of the date, after hearing the young man tell his polite version of his life, this young lady asked him very simply...........were you the man that I used to feed at the fence?

The rest is just another part of history.

To the best of my knowledge, this is a true story.

Heres to the brighter days!!!

Cheers,

David
 
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Wow, what an experience your father had, Klaus! Yes, our fathers would have been about the same age. Fate was kind to my father, too, for he never saw battle. His group would recover any damaged mechanical equipment that could be repaired.

I believe our fathers would have been pleased to know that we have traded these accounts of their experiences in friendship.
 

kilofoxtrott

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  • #8
WOW, simply stopped me in my tracks.

Interestingly I once read a story that began in all the horror of the times.....

A young man in a concentration camp, met a young woman from the other side of the fence. At night she would bring him food. The war ended, as did their time together at the fence. He was swept away and seemingly disappeared.

Years later after the war ended and having migrated to the USA, this young man went on a blind date to pacify his best friends' new bride. She was just trying to hook a guy up with a friend she had acquaintance with.

They all double dated and somewhere in the middle of the date, after hearing the young man tell his polite version of his life, this young lady asked him very simply...........were you the man that I used to feed at the fence?

The rest is just another part of history.

To the best of my knowledge, this is a true story.

Heres to the brighter days!!!

Cheers,

David
David,
life can be cruel - life can be wonderful.

That story can be true, but not at the extermination camps like Auschwitz, Dachau or Birkenfeld. The girl will be shot immediately...

Kind regards
Klaus
 

kilofoxtrott

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Wow, what an experience your father had, Klaus! Yes, our fathers would have been about the same age. Fate was kind to my father, too, for he never saw battle. His group would recover any damaged mechanical equipment that could be repaired.

I believe our fathers would have been pleased to know that we have traded these accounts of their experiences in friendship.
Don,
your dad survived the war but with scars in his soul.
Imagine you have to collect several tanks after a battle - the crews still inside, killed by the shock of the detonation or burnt by the fuel...
War isn't that clean as shown in Hollywood movies. War is dirty - in every way.

As told before, I'm glad war never was a part of my life
Klaus
 
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Don,
your dad survived the war but with scars in his soul.
Imagine you have to collect several tanks after a battle - the crews still inside, killed by the shock of the detonation or burnt by the fuel...
War isn't that clean as shown in Hollywood movies. War is dirty - in every way.

As told before, I'm glad war never was a part of my life
Klaus
I agree, Klaus.....quite possibly the reason he did not talk about his experiences during that time.
 
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David,
life can be cruel - life can be wonderful.

That story can be true, but not at the extermination camps like Auschwitz, Dachau or Birkenfeld. The girl will be shot immediately...

Kind regards
Klaus
Klaus,

That is my understanding as well. I simply cannot imagine waking up in a time or place where humanity has stepped outside of itself in such desperate ways.
 
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When I lived in Germany as a member of the 1st Infantry Division, I had an elderly friend named Willie Enser. Willie was a veteran of the German army and had been taken prisoner by the U.S. Army - by members of the 1st Infantry Division. Willie claimed that he was treated quite well during his time in captivity. He had only one complaint; when he was initially searched upon being captured his wrist watch was taken and never returned.

I used to hunt with Willie, and he helped me train my bird dog (a drahthaar). He enjoyed telling the story of his missing wrist watch, and would often tell it in mixed company (Americans and Germans), always ending with words to the effect that you had to keep an eye on those Big Red One guys. The Germans would all laugh, and we would do our best to look sheepish.

Finally, we surprised Willie (He was in his late 70s/early 80s) at a social function. A few senior officers of the Big Red One brought Willie up front and we presented him with a handsome gold wrist watch - engraved with a big red one on the face. We announced that we had not in fact stolen Willie's watch, but were merely keeping it safe for him. I never heard him tell the story of his watch again, but he wore his new watch proudly.
 
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My friends,
today is a very special day in Germany:
75 years ago Germany surrendered and the war in Europe was over.

How many young men were killed on each side. Young men who would be scientists, workers, who liked to start a family and had good hopes for their future.
You may know the cemetaries in France with all the white crosses. But do you realize there are 150,000 missing German soldiers at the last Soviet offensive at river Oder. It is not known how many Russian young men died. There are places, farmers are telling that every time they work on the fields now a days, they are finding remnants - bones, skulls or equipment.
What have we done to the civilian population in the conquered countries or even here in Germany. My grandfather served in a supply unit behind the lines. One day, I was 9 or 10 years old, we sat at the kitchen table and he told what he had seen. He left the table crying like a kid...
What have we done to the jews? Unbelievable, cruel and inhuman. I think we all can't imagine what was going on in those days. My grandparents realized, that the jews were deported, but it was out of their imagination, that all were killed.

75 years ago we were liberated - the horror was over. Liberated, at a very high price...

Later on our former enemies became our friends and helped us to develop a stable democracy.
Being part of the European Community helped a lot. And in my opinion the membership there is the reason we could live in peace for 75 years. I'm a member of the first generation in Germany who had not participated in any war. I'm proud of that.

All these victims are not forgotten and we still have to learn of these experiences every day.

Please, don't make a political discussion out of this thread. It is a reminder to all victims of all countries.

Thank you
Klaus
Thank you, my friend, for expressing our shared memories of the past, and for articulating our hopes for the future, so eloquently.
 

JLH

Joined
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Messages
84
After Vietnam I was stationed in Germany, down South next to the Austrian border. It was a small site, a former pilot training base. I did intelligence work so we were not with the "regular Army". I rented an apartment from a nice German couple. They spoke zero English so I learned to speak German. As I told them, its your country, I should speak your language. We became very close friends and I would come to family get-togethers, etc. They were both children when the US Army arrived in their area. They spoke fondly of their memories of how well the GI's had treated them. They remembered the candy bars and food they were given and how well they were treated by the Americans.
I traveled a lot in my two years there and made many German friends along the way. We mostly talked about common life concerns, work, family, cars,, etc. but also would at times discuss the war and how terrible it was for everyone. I could write a book about my experiences but the simple truth of it was my German friends and I understood each other. We respected each other and knew that a terrible set of circumstances had lead to WW2. History is very complex. There are "good" and "bad" people in every society. There are situations where people feel desperate and just look for answers. I learned a lot about the situation in Europe from my close German friends. The Great Depression was world wide and it impacted millions of people everywhere, not just in the US. It didn't have easy answers. But, enough on that.

My father (as well as all of my uncles) served in WW2 in the Army Air Corps. At one point when my father was at a temporary duty station in Texas he was assigned to guard the German prisoners. He told me they were all the nicest people they could be. They were super easy to work with and did whatever job they were assigned. They became friends. They would talk about how happy they were to be out of the war and safe in America but of course they missed their families. Many would end up living in the US and even having American wives after the war. Perhaps the best thing from their POW life was the chance for Germans and Americans to live and work together and see, as I did later living in Germany, that we have far more in common than we might have known.

For the past ten years I volunteer on a WW2 Tank Landing ship that first went to North Africa and then back to England to do the D-Day invasion. It was in the second wave and after dropping off its load it brought a group of German POW's back to England. It made 35 trips back and forth between England and the continent. We have a lot of material from the war about the LST's and in one there is a film of another LST bringing German prisoners back when it got stuck in a massive storm. It was blown up against a rocky shore and was being beat to pieces and coming apart. The America crew and the German prisoners worked together helping each other rescue the others left on the ship as it beat upon the rocks.

I hope that ALL peoples, German and non-German, Japanese and non-Japanese, will never forget the lessons of WW2 and the mistakes made by so many on all sides. I hope they look a the time after the war when former enemies were able to work together and rebuild a more peaceful and fair world. We will always have issues, its human nature, but hopefully we have learned to work together and resolve problems peacefully. The past is past, learn from it and don't repeat its mistakes.

BTW, Southern Germany is just one very beautiful place. Take your best camera and lenses and enjoy!
 
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I'll just add my sincere hope that some lessons were learned from all that misery, pain and loss by all the peoples of the world.
And the individual people for that matter. The lines of WWII were not just drawn between countries but also within countries, even within families. And the scars of those lines cut deeper and were / are even harder to heal.

But looking around me, I fear humans memory is just still too short.
And this pains me. Especially on days like these.
 

McQ

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Klaus, great post and very thoughtful.

My dad was a WWII veteran, who flew many missions in the Pacific Theater of Operations as a Navy fighter pilot. His war lasted just a few months longer, but he said those months were absolute hell on Earth.

Thanks for posting.
 
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Klaus, thank you for the gentle reminder. It was a horrible time and one I hope we never have to repeat. There seems to be so much hate and division in the world today, that it often scares me that something like this could happen again. I love being part of this group, where people from all political, social, economic, and religious affiliations can come together and enjoy encouraging each other in our love for photography. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all look for common ground instead of focusing on differences!! I'm so grateful for all those in the past who gave so much.....
 

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