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View Diary: Veterans Day: How the Dutch underground saved my uncle (21 comments)

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  •  Thanks, mimi. (3+ / 0-)
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    RiveroftheWest, Senor Unoball, mimi

    Hope you enjoy it.

    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

    by Dragon5616 on Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 01:10:26 PM PST

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    •  oh yeah, I just did, amazing story, (1+ / 0-)
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      "Viva the Dutch Underground Resistance Movement". Life writes the best and most honorable (as well as the most horrorible) stories better than any writer's fiction could do.

      My father had also dictated to his first secretary right after he returned from Russian POW camp at the end of 1947 his "journey" as a soldier from the moment on he was in Rumania. He lost his right arm (hadn't learned to write with his left hand yet) and he almost lost his life during the US air attacks in 1944 there. He became a POW of Russia and consequently made the "journey" in a cattle train to Siberia and back to Frankfurt Oder twice, before he finally was released.

      He talked, if at all, always about the day he lost his arm. There were no doctors left and no anesthetics left and he didn't get an amputation. He went crazy in fear that would die through blood poisoning. The Russians digged already the graves for him and some others... There must have been scenes that caused him lifelong nightmares. I remember as a child that my mother had to calm him down when he awoke at night by his own shouting in that returning nightmarish dream. It was also a story my father couldn't tell us to the end without stopping at always the same point and starting to cry. I was seven years when I witnessed that for the first time.

      The amazing thing I realized only as an adult since I left Germany for the US, is that my father never ever was against the US, quite contrary he visited as a high school exchange student the US in 1936 and had written diaries about that visit. One of the things he regretted most was that during the bomb attacks on Berlin on his parent's house, where the diary was located, all that was lost to the fires.

      In his "journal" of his time as soldier in Rumania and Russia, he mostly talked about the food, he didn't get or got, the medical care in the POW camps, the train ride in the cattle wagons. It was all about eating or the lack thereof and hygiene or the lack thereof and then about the haphazardness of the decisions made by Russians about the fate of their POW that made no sense. His life was just a matter of having had a lot of bad luck, before he was lucky to get released. As simple as that, no real reason for the Russians to send him back to Germany once for release, just to be sent back to Siberia a second time. Asked why he was taken out and sent back again the Russian officer told him it was just "bad luck".

      On of my father's brothers was not active soldier during the war, but somehow worked for the Americans nears Landshut, where the Americans (including Wernher von Braun) were located. He managed to arrange for the Americans to provide a truck one night to "rescue" all females and their children of the family. They provided an inflatable tiny boat. My mother, my mother's sister, her maid (who became an aunt of the family for a while), my father's brother's wife and altogether both my siblings, my mother's sister's children and my father's brothers children, used that small boat for my siblings, who were still babies, to cross the river Elbe, while the adults swam through it in the middle of the night. The Americans then drove them all hidden inside the truck through the Russian / US front lines. Later on they lived near the US camp and I remember my elder cousins saying they always got chocolate from the US soldiers and the mothers got "used ground coffee" (they brew it a second time).

      Somehow this treatment of the "enemy" by US soldiers was real humane those days. Another generation and another war.

      I am glad you made it out alive. I am glad there was very little anti-American sentiment left in my parents generation. At least I don't remember any, just grateful relief. My father even told me, when I told him I would go the the US, that it might be a "good" decision (for reasons I didn't agreed with him about, but never told him). He is gone since 15 years now. I often wonder what he would have said to me and my son, if he knew how our development here in the US has turned out to be.

      Thanks for your great story. Loved to read it.

      •  That is quite a story about your father (0+ / 0-)

        and your family, mimi. It's amazing, sometimes, what the consequences of "luck" are, both good and bad. I cannot imagine living through what your father did. The story must have been hard for you to deal with as a child, too.

        My father's parents died in the Holocaust. He had been the city attorney of Vienna before the Anschluss. My dad was an Austrian soldier. He was able to get to the US in 1938 at age 19, but his parents refused to leave "their home." So they were eventually rounded up and exterminated.

        That war was truly a world war. It affected people everywhere. So many villains. So many heroes.

        "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

        by Dragon5616 on Tue Nov 12, 2013 at 01:07:14 PM PST

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        •  yes, it is an everlasting very sad history for all (1+ / 0-)
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          I am so sorry about your father's family history. I know the sins of our fathers will never be forgotten. No matter where, no matter who, no matter what about. The memories will get into the books and the museums and be replaced with the next generation's sins.  I don't believe that mankind really evolves in that regard.

          I didn't understand as a child or teenager what the impact of WWII on my father really was and also not on my mother. It's way more insignifant and less longlasting compared to what every Jewish family in Europe went through during the Nazi times and the holocaust.  I learned all of it only later through my son, who went through other forms of war. I listen to him. And I then realized what my father has gone through. It was an emotional understanding that was lacking before. My head thinks right, my heart and mind had to feel. That I learned through my son.

          Thank you for being so understanding.  

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