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Thread: German war dead no one wants to remember

  1. #31
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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    I Remember (Cont'd)

    By Richard T. Manners




    Piggy was a bit taken aback by the turn out and I think he almost panicked, you could tell by the way that his head twitched back as he viewed the assembled crowd,
    Three ranks there ! Three ranks !’ he squeaked and we all shuffled into ranks,
    Urm, urm..Quite a lot, yes, well ! It’s like this, lads. The locals are a bit sniffy about old Walter, y’know. Don’t like to be reminded about the war and all that, so we don’t want to make this too.. urm.. public. Urm.. dress; best bib and tucker, jacket and tie, clean shoes, okay ?

    Yes, Drum Major !’ was the dutiful chorus and off we trooped, heading for the NAAFI bar and our Company clubs. No one had any idea what Piggy was planning but if he’d let us in on the secret we would have kept it as close as the Crown Jewels.

    It seems that the burgomeister got some faint wind of the fact that British soldiers were going to attend Walter’s funeral. I expect he thought that it would just be one or two but he felt moved to request an interview with the CO. Rumour has it that he expressed his surprise and distress that we should be bothered with someone who was so patently unhinged and worthless,
    He was an embarrassment to the community,’ he was heard to say.
    The CO’s reply was not overheard but, knowing him, it was undoubtedly acerbic and to the point.
    The burgomeister left hurriedly, looking very flustered, and the Old Man was in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

    Wednesday dawned and we all got our best jackets out, mostly sports jackets but quite a few blazers with regimental badges, old and post amalgamation, and we shined our civvy shoes. After lunch we mustered by the Guard Room and then, in small groups, we made our way on foot to the cemetery.
    Walter had no surviving relatives or, at least, none that were prepared to turn up.
    I suppose he was what you might call ‘indigent on the parish’, on benefits, the ‘buroo’, the dole or whatever you like to call it.
    It also meant that the parish was responsible for burying him. No service, as such, just a quick few words by the pastor for form’s sake, shovel the soil in on top of the box and forget about him and whatever it was he’d done in the war because this was the new Germany and no one wanted to be reminded about the war.

    I was in the first group to arrive at the cemetery, with Piggy leading us. The pastor was standing near the chapel, next to Walter’s coffin, which rested on a trolley; one shirt sleeved workman was apparently there to push it along, manhandle the coffin into the grave and fill it in afterwards.
    Piggy turned to us, fixed us with a beady eye and said quietly,
    Listen in, lads ! Tallest on the right, shortest on the left, in single rank, size !’ and we obediently shuffled into line.
    Quietly now; from the right, number !’ and we called off.
    Right hand man, stand fast ! Even numbers one pace step forward, odd numbers one pace step back, march !
    Front rank to the right, rear rank to the left; ranks right and left, turn !
    Form three ranks, quick march !

    The pastor and the workman watched in mute astonishment as we carried out these manoeuvres.
    Piggy stood back and considered the squad, now nicely sized off,
    You short-arses, in the middle,’ he pointed at the two centre files, which included me, ‘You’ll do ! You’re the bearer party; you at the front, you centre and you rear ! Okay ?’ his head jerked back as he pointed at each pair,
    Remainder of you is escort ! Right, that’s got that sorted out, now we waits for the rest of the mourners to arrive !’ and he arranged us around Walter’s coffin is such a way that there was absolutely no argument as to how things were going to proceed.

    Within fifteen minutes the cemetery was filled with soldiers in their smartest civvies, except for six who were wearing beige military mackintoshes over suspiciously dark blue trousers with red stripes and highly polished boots.
    Jesus Christ !’ muttered someone, ‘it’s the Old Man !’ and there, in his favourite tweed jacket and brown trilby hat, was the CO, closely followed by the RSM and any number of other tweedy, trilby hatted figures.
    When the CO decides to turn out for something unofficial, like Walter’s funeral, there is no official requirement for the rest of the Officers’ Mess to turn up as well and nobody tells them to attend; they just do !

    The Old Man looked around and nodded, satisfied with what he saw. He doffed his trilby and murmured,
    Carry on, Drum Major !
    Sir!’ said Piggy and he turned to us,
    Bearer party, take your positions; lift !

    And, led by the pastor, we carried Walter towards the corner of the cemetery where his grave waited. There wasn’t a lot of room in the shaded corner, not with nearly a whole battalion crowded in, but at least it had the advantage of keeping things private from the growing crowd of townsfolk who had started to assemble to see what was going on. Perhaps they thought we were going to have a riot or something.
    We set the coffin down on the planks that bridged the grave and slid the strops under it. The pastor stepped forward to speak but Piggy held up his hand,

    Ein moment, bitte,’ he said and reached down to place something on the coffin.
    The pastors eyes bulged and he spluttered, stammering,
    N-Nein! Das ist n-n-nicht g-g-oooot !’ stretching the last word out in a strangled squeak as he pointed at the object…
    It was a small, black cross with a frayed and dirty piece of black, white and red ribbon, surmounted by a small, silver oak leaf brooch.
    Piggy glared at the pastor,
    SPRECHEN SIE !’ he snarled.
    The pastor swallowed and began to speak, gabbling his words and trying to get the committal over as quickly as possible.

    When he was finished, Piggy said,
    Bearer party, take up !’ and we took up the strain on the strops and the planks were removed,
    Bearer party, lower !’ and we carefully lowered Walter into his grave,
    Buglers, take post !’ and the mackintoshes came off to reveal six buglers in No.1 Dress blues.
    Hats and bugles were handed to them, by other members of the Corps of Drums, and the buglers stood at the end of the grave.

    Piggy looked around and said,
    Walter was one of us, even if he was once an enemy; he kept the faith with us every night for as long as anyone can remember. None of us should ever forget him, even if his own don’t want to know him,’ his head jerked back and he barked,
    Parade! Para-a-de, ‘shun ! Buglers, sound off !

    And the cemetery rang with the sound of six silver bugles, bugles which were never used on a daily basis but only on special occasions, as they played the beautiful, haunting notes of Sunset.
    We all stood for several moments after the last notes echoed off the surrounding buildings; I couldn’t see a lot because my eyes were unaccountably full of tears. The silence you could have cut with a knife.

    At last Piggy jerked his head up and said,
    Parade, stand at ease. Before we leave I want everyone to put one shovel of earth into Walter’s grave. I don’t want that Knight’s Cross gettin’ nicked !’ he glared at the pastor again and took up the workman’s shovel. He drove the shovel into the heap of spoil, as if it was the pastor’s head, and carefully dropped the earth over the cross.

    The CO stepped up and said,
    Thank you, Drum Major. That was very well done. My turn, I think,’ and he added his shovel full to the grave.
    Piggy stood there and waited until everyone had taken their turn.
    By the time it came to the bearer party’s turn, at the last, the grave was pretty well mounded and nearly everyone had left the cemetery.

    Piggy took the shovel from us and carefully patted the mound, rounding it off,
    This’ll need some grass and maybe a few flowers,’ he muttered to himself, then he straightened up, looked at us and his face crinkled up; I’d never seen Piggy smile before and it didn’t really improve his looks but it was something of an event,
    Thanks, lads. You did well. Off you go, now- Smartly, mind,’ he snapped, the smile gone.

    As we left the cemetery the locals had drifted away, all except for a small group of elderly men, who stood hesitantly, by the gate. One of them stepped up to Piggy and stretched out a frail hand, to touch his sleeve,
    Mein Herr, danke, danke !’ he said and they trooped off into the cemetery, towards Walter’s grave, looking remarkably upright, as if someone had called them to attention after all that time,

    Well,’ said Piggy, ‘it just goes to show, don’t it. It just goes to show !’ and he marched away, humming a brisk march, his head jerking back as always.






    Copyright Richard T. Manners.
    "Don't call me stupid !" - Otto 'Galtieri' West.
    __________________
    Stupidity should be a crime. Ignorance should be punished.
    Refusal to accept corroborated facts should result in a chainsaw enema.

    a luta continua, em adiante a vitória
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  2. #32
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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    Wow...awesome story Cuts. Very emotional at the end. Thanks for posting the story for us to read.
    "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." - Ronald Reagan

  3. #33
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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    "At the rising of the sun and at it's going down we will remember them."
    From water does all life begin.

  4. #34
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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    Many Many Respectful Thanks to you Cuts, for sharing that record of a deeply personal event in your post.
    Personally, I found it very moving, and a great read.

    Respectful Regards, Uyraell.

    ..."At the going down of the sun,
    We Will Remember Them."

    "Honi-Soit Qui Mal'Y Pense." :
    "Ill unto he who ill of it thinks."
    Edward III, Rex Britania, AD1348.

    "Wenn Schon, denn schon."
    "Be It Done, Best be It Be Done Well."
    Known German adage.

    "Until you have looked into a veteran's eyes and actually seen it,
    you'll never fully understand."
    ^Uyraell^

    "Aligaes : Amore vel Ira." :
    "^Winged Ones^ : Love or Wrath."

  5. #35
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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    I have a collection of death cards of German ( wehrmacht ) soldiers from WW2.What strikes me always is how young they all were; 19,20 21,22,years old when they died.They believed in what they were fighting for,for their homeland.They were brought up to believe this.I doubt very much if they knew what their leaders were really up to.

  6. #36
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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    Acquaintence of mine, SF vet, toured Europe recently, visiting lots of military related sites.

    He described the Allied cemetaries in terms of lots of marble, light, and splendor.
    Lots of US families chose to let their lost ones to remain there post war.

    He characterised the German cemetaries as frightfull dark gothic affairs with lots of miserable abstract art.
    There were references like "We died for nothing-our cause was a swindle."

    Poor Jerry, indeed-no mention of his countless victims.

    The insensitive guys who like to display nazi insignia in avatars and signatures are so far separated from the real world and actual history would be laughable.
    Except it ain't a funny subject.
    Sieg friggen heil.

  7. #37
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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    Hello, I am new to this forum. My father was a foreign born American soldier who served in the US Army in North Africa, Italy and Austria. He told us that the Germans were very tough and proud. They were excellent soldiers. Like most soldiers from any country and any war, they likely fought less for political reasons and more for their fellow soldiers. When I was a boy, I remember a former German soldier who worked for the same company that my father worked for. He would have been about 45 years of age at the time. My father quietly told us not to ask about his wartime service in the Wehrmacht unless he mentioned it first. To our disappointment, he never did. When I was old enough to join and serve during the Cold War, I learned from the German spouses of American service men and women that World War II was a subject not to be spoken of and to be forgotten if possible. I always thought that that practice was wrong. I hope that the German people and their former enemies in Europe and Russia will choose to better understand each other. National cemeteries are for the fallen warriors who died fighting for the societies that later shun them, not the politics that sent them to war.

  8. #38
    kurt Guest

    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    Quote Originally Posted by forager View Post
    Acquaintence of mine, SF vet, toured Europe recently, visiting lots of military related sites.

    He described the Allied cemetaries in terms of lots of marble, light, and splendor.
    Lots of US families chose to let their lost ones to remain there post war.

    He characterised the German cemetaries as frightfull dark gothic affairs with lots of miserable abstract art.
    There were references like "We died for nothing-our cause was a swindle."

    Poor Jerry, indeed-no mention of his countless victims.

    The insensitive guys who like to display nazi insignia in avatars and signatures are so far separated from the real world and actual history would be laughable.
    Except it ain't a funny subject.
    Sieg friggen heil.
    I read that the great Wittmann remains were found in 1978, in a dirty road in France. Fancy cemeteries are just a showing of human vanity and silliness, what remains is the deeds of the men and we will keep them in our hearts as defenders of our fatherland, beyond political considerations.
    We are so proud of them.
    Last edited by kurt; 06-24-2010 at 05:25 PM.

  9. #39
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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    The German soldiers who died in WW2 should never be forgotten.Everyones remains deserve to be treated with respect.I recently uploaded photos of German Death Cards on this wed site,poignant reminders that these people did exist;they fought and died for what they believed in,whether one agrees with this or not.They are still fallen soldiers.Atrocities were committed on all sides during the war,the sinking of the Whilm Gustloff,the bombing of Dresden,etc,etc.For a long time all German forces during WW2 seem to have been tarred with the same "SS ATROCITIES BRUSH", how untrue this has now been proven to be.

  10. #40
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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    Last year I went to Normandy and visited several German War Cemitery.
    In Beauvais I found the grave of Egon Albrecht Lemke, a brazilian born Luftwaffe ace.

  11. #41
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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    Politics, ideology, and sociology become remarkably and instantly irrelevent once the lead starts flying. Certainly after death. Honor them.

  12. #42
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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    Some found closer to Germany where probably Volkssturm, 13 years to ?

  13. #43
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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    Quote Originally Posted by forager View Post
    Acquaintence of mine, SF vet, toured Europe recently, visiting lots of military related sites.

    He described the Allied cemetaries in terms of lots of marble, light, and splendor.
    Lots of US families chose to let their lost ones to remain there post war.

    He characterised the German cemetaries as frightfull dark gothic affairs with lots of miserable abstract art.
    There were references like "We died for nothing-our cause was a swindle."

    Poor Jerry, indeed-no mention of his countless victims.

    The insensitive guys who like to display nazi insignia in avatars and signatures are so far separated from the real world and actual history would be laughable.
    Except it ain't a funny subject.
    Sieg friggen heil.
    I'm not even sure what this means but in "the real world and actual history," both the Axis and Allied causes were a swindle. We crap on the memory of German soldiers, but if the Allies had lost then it would have been Stalin's death camps exposed for all to see. In that case, today the world would have sneering contempt for the memory of every Allied solider just as we do for the German, who were just as noble and decent as the American or British. The truth is that neither side was a noble cause, but noble people fought for them
    Last edited by Washout; 01-03-2013 at 07:58 AM.

  14. #44
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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    I would enjoy reading more about what parts of the Allied efforts were a swindle,and why. Will you please expand on that thought?

  15. #45
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    Default Re: German war dead no one wants to remember

    Quote Originally Posted by tankgeezer View Post
    I would enjoy reading more about what parts of the Allied efforts were a swindle,and why. Will you please expand on that thought?
    Well the main thrust of it is that the USSR was at least as great of an evil as the Nazis, and before Hitler had begun starving anyone in concentration camps, the USSR had already killed more than the Nazi regime ever would. In World War Two we destroyed one evil and propped up an even worse and more deviant one. Whenever I say something like this I am accused of being a Nazi, etc, but it's not that at all.

    Everyone loves to think of VE day as the end of the holocaust but it wasn't. In fact some of Hitler's death camps were immediately re-opened under new Soviet management, the most famous of these being Buchenwald (not famous for the fact that Russia continued exterminating people... that part is almost universally unknown) which was renamed "Soviet Special Camp #2" and continued to exterminate political undesirables while the world celebrated "the end of the holocaust."

    Not only that but the insane Yalta agreements included a provision for the forcible "repatriation" of Soviet citizens, which included citizens of territory that the Soviets had just seized in WW2. Poles, Czechs, Ukranians, etc. Many of them had fought against the Germans alongside Americans, but unfortunately they also knew too much about the Soviets and Stalin was very aware of the threat they presented to him. American troops under Eisenhower (awful general and corrupt)'s orders ended up having to brutally enforce this "repatriation," sometimes hunting down families trying to escape like the Gestapo, bludgeoning screaming innocent citizens and stuffing them onto boxcars, knowingly bound for Soviet death camps... while the Allies tried and hanged Germans for the same thing. These people begged for their lives in front of their American allies, and often became desperate to commit suicide when they realized there was no way out.

    That's just the tip of the iceberg. World War Two had no good guys. Only badguys and victims.

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