Gratitude 3/05/2005

In front of me is  the article W.W.II veteran’s extraordinary tale makes it onto canvas, video ( M. News-Herald  2/15/2002). Clarence M.,  a sergeant of the U.S. Air Corps stationed in Northern Egypt was shot down  on Sept. 14, l942 by German anti-aircraft fire  while attacking a German air base. His leg was so badly burned that the doctors could pick up his skin like tissue paper. However he does not tell us what doctors. Let me supply the answer. Since he was captured by the Germans they were German doctors. He spent several weeks in hospitals healing from his wounds. Again he avoids the adjective German. Now a direct quote from the article:  “After his recovery, he and about 4,500 other prisoners were held in Germany and Austria. Conditions at the POW camps were poor, Clarence said. Mattresses were filled with wood shreds and POWs were fed rutabagas, potatoes and ‘very coarse’ bread.”

I do not know how you feel about Clarence M ‘s. tale. But let me tell you how I felt, when I first read this article. It was as if I had tried with great cost to myself to help somebody up who was down and instead of  thanks, I have to wipe spittle off my face. Here is an American soldiers whom the Germans picked up severely wounded. They brought  him to Germany  thereby diverting valuable gasoline for  transport. In Germany he was put in a hospital  where his wounds were treated. He was subsequently released to a POW camp.  I assume the mattress filled with wood shreds was really a mattress filled with straw. Throughout my childhood  I slept on a straw mattress  only covered with a sheet. He complains about the “very coarse” bread. Let me assume again that it was the standard German army bread, the Kommissbrot, a healthy nourishing bread, unlike the American denatured pap, a la Wonder Bread. Not a word of thanks from Clarence M; only spittle in your face.

Eisenhower not only kept the German prisoners of war for months on end  in open fields, where  they were  exposed to cold and rain, without adequate water, and food. He even had wounded German soldiers pulled from their hospital  beds and dumped them in the mud of the Rheinwiesen.

Let me tell you another case of spittle in your face. Arthur Rudolph, space scientist, member of the crew headed by Wernher von Braun was requisitioned as human war booty by the Americans. Arthur Rudolph  was instrumental in  getting Americans to the moon. When this mission was successfully accomplished, he was accused by the OSI   of having committed war crimes in as far as the German rocket factories used “slave laborers.” He was given the a choice: Leave the United States,  or face being put in the dock for war crimes! Arthur Rudolph left. A few years later he wanted to visit his daughter and grandchildren in California. The visa was denied.

A goodly number of the German scientists fell into the hands of the Russians. Eventually they were dismissed with gratitude and  a medal. Does it surprise you that the Germans according to opinion polls prefer the Russians to the Americans?   

Let me leap from American ingratitude to the slobbering, dog tail wagging gratitude of the Germans. 
  One day an American “friend “ invited me out for  lunch. During the conversation  J. brought up the subject of W.W.II.

J.: “We Americans helped you rebuild Germany.”
Chris: “But you Americans destroyed Germany.”
J.: “It had to be done in order to defeat Germany.”
Chris: “No, it did not have to be done. Germany was destroyed during the last few months of the war, when American victory was already assured.”

This was the end of the conversation and the end of a friendship.

I did not play the game which is expected of us Germans and which most Germans  are willing to play, namely, “you Americans are so good.”

My father having been taken prisoner of war by the Russians owed his early release,  November l945  to a young, female, Russian Feldscher. In pulverized Pforzheim he found a usable cellar with enough space for an optician shop and a room for himself. I visited him in l946 during my summer vacation. On the hot summer days the city above began to stink  from the decaying bodies underneath the rubble. But how grateful my father and I were for the American packages containing  cast off clothing,  bacon fat,  a few cigarettes and some coffee, cigarettes and coffee to be  traded to a mason and  a carpenter for doors and floors for the cellar. 

Americans and Germans – two mentalities, the German servile, unreflective gratitude feeding the American destructive self righteousness. Look to Iraq!