15
May

MEMORIES OF A WORLD WAR II VETERAN WHOSE FIRST NAME IS DAVID

Comments Off

A WORLD WAR II VETERAN WHO WAS A MEMBER OF MY DIVISION, THE 42D RAINBOW,WAS CAPTURED BY THE GERMANS DURING WORLD WAR II,AND RELATED

HIS MEMORIES TO ME.

I ARRIVED IN MARSEILLES, FRANCE IN DECEMBER 1944, AS A MEMBER OF ONE OF THE THREE RAINBOW INFANTRY REGIMENTS. WE WENT INTO COMBAT IN FRANCE

IN DEFENSE OF THE STRASBOURG AREA..

ON JANUARY 9,, 1945, I WAS WOUNDED TWICE AND THEN CAPTURED BY THE NAZIS.

I WAS TAKEN TO A NEARBY FARMHOUSE TO BE INTERROGATED. A GROUP OF FIVE OR SIX GERMAN OFFICERS SAT BEHIND A LONG TABLE. I REFUSED TO ANSWER

ANYTHING EXCEPT MY NAME, RANK, AND SERIAL NUMBER–”DAVID R. WILLETTS, SERGEANT, 33560297. THE INTEROGATING OFFICER BECAME VERYP IRRITATED

WITH ME. HE SPOKE GOOD ENGLISH.

HE CONTINUED IN A HIGH VOICE–”YOU ARE JEWISH! THIS WASN’T A QUESTION. IT WAS A STATEMENT, AND HE WAITED FOR A REACTION FROM ME. MY HAIR WAS

LONGER THAN USUAL:I HAD A SHORT BEARD¬† AS PROTECTION FROM THE COLD: I HAD A DARK COMPLEXION AND A NAME LIKE “DAVID” THESE FEATURES MUST

HAVE INFLUENCED HIS DIAGNOSIS.

“NO SIR, I AM NOT A JEW”, I REPLIED. “I AM AN AMERICAN”! I REALIZED THAT THE PURPOSE OF THIS INTERROGATION HAD SUDDENLY CHANGED. THE OTHER

MEMBERS OF HIS PANEL AT THIS TIME BEGAN TO TAKE NOTES AND SHOW INCREASED INTEREST. THEN BEGAN A BARRAGE OF QUESTIONS:WHAT IS YOUR MOTHER’S NAME? WHERE WERE YOU BORN? DO YOU HAVE A FAMILY. THESE QUESTIONS WERE ASKED IN RAPID SUCCESSION. I THOUGHT IT WAS NECESSARY TO REPLY.

APPARENTLY NOT SATISFIED YET, THE OFFICER CONTINUED HIS INTERROGATION. WHAT IS YOUR FATHER’S NAME? WHERE WAS HE BORN? THE INTERROGATION

CONTINUED FOR AT LEAST 15 MORE MINUTES, WITH THE SAME ALSO NEW QUESTIONS BEING ASKED OVER AND OVER. HAD I NOT BEEN TELLING THE TRUTH, I WOULD’HAVE BEEN IN VERY BIG TROUBLE. A WHISPERED CONVERSATION AMONG THE PANEL OFFICERS THEN TOOK PLACE. I HAD A TERRIBLE FEELING THAT

SOMETHING MORE OMINOUS WAS BREWING AND WAS ABOUT TO HAPPEN.

AT A NOD FROM THE SUPERIOR GERMAN OFFICER, THE GUARD OPENED A DOOR TO ADMIT A GERMAN PRIVATE, WHO LOOKED LIKE HE HAD JUST RETURNED

FROM THE BATTLEFIELD. HE WAS BANDAGED ACROSS THE BUTTOCKS.AS HE LOOKED AT ME, HE SUDDENLY POINTED HIS FINGER AND SHOUTED, “DAS

IST ER! HE’S THE ONE. APPARENTLY HE HAD BEEN TOLD TO IDENTIFY ME.IT APPEARED THAT I WAS TO BE BLACKMAILED OR COERCED INTO A CONFESSION.

THAT THEY WANTED. DIDN’T YOU BAYONET HIM IN THE BUTTOCKS? THIS WAS BAD, REALLY BAD. THEY WERE AFTER MY LIFE, I REALIZED,BUT THEY WANTED

IT TO APPEAR MILITARILY JUSTIFIED. I WAS AWARE OF WHAT HITLER WAS DOING TO ALL JEWS,AND THE APPROACH OF THE INTERROGATION REALLY SHOOK ME

UP. THE PRIVATE AGAIN POINTED AT ME AND REPEATED, “ER HAT ES GEMACHT! HE DID IT.!

AFTER A BRIEF CONSULTATION WITH THE OTHER MEMBERS OF HIS TEAM, THE INTERROGATING OFFICER THEN SAID TO ME-”IF THE AMERICAN ARMY ALLOWS

YOU TO COMMIT THIS ATROCITY, WE CAN RETALIATE.

HE SNARLED TOME, “YOU WILL BE CALLED OUT LATER TONIGHT AND SHOT!” TAKE HIM AWAY, HE TOLD THE GUARD AT THE DOOR.

I WAS THEN PRODDED AND PUSHED OUTSIDE IN THE DARKNESS, AND LOCKED ALONE IN WHAT APPEARD TO BE AN OLD, EMPTY,TOOL SHED NEXT

TO THE BARN WHEERE MY BUDDIES WERE. A GUARD WAS STATIONED AT THE DOOR TO PREVENT MY ESCAPE. WOULD MY FAMILY EVER KNOW WHAT HAD

HAD HAPPENED TO ME.?

A COMMOTION SUDDENLY BROKE OUT IN THE FARMYARD, AND THERE WAS A LOT OF YELLING AND CONFUSION.  GUARDS HERDED DTHE OTHER PRISONERS

TOGETHER FOR A QUICK VACATING OF THE PREMISES, AND THERE WAS LOUD SHOUTING.

I KICKED THE DOOR OPEN AND MIXED WITH THE DEPARTING GROUP. SOON I WAS MARCHING AWAY WITH THE REST OF THE PRISONERS, GETTING FARTHER AND

FARTHER AWAY FROM THAT FARMYARD.WE MARCHED SEVERAL HOURS,REACHED A RAILROAD STATION AND LOADED INTO BOXCARDS,AND FINALLY ARRIVED AT STALAG 4-B,ONE OF THE LARGEST GERMAN CAMPS IN WORLD WAR II.

FINALLY I WAS LIBERATED BY THE RUSSIAN ARMY ON APRIL 23, 1945.

I THANKED GOD, REALIZING HOW CLOSE I CAME TO BEING SHOT—

BECAUSE MY FIRST NAME WAS DAVID!.

 

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Comments RSS Feed