Thursday, March 27, 2014

Friends of Different Ages

Are your friends your age or different ages? I’m fortunate to have friends between  the ages of 10 and 95.

My 10-year-old friend, Fox, keeps me young. We take him to all the kid movies (most recent--The Muppets Most Wanted) go on expeditions, hike and attend his concerts and plays.

My 95-year-old friend, Ed, entertains me with his stories of World War 2 as an infantryman in Europe, prisoner of war and adventures behind the Russian lines when liberated in 1945. This has led to a project of writing his biography. I enjoy his sense of humor, vitality and sound mind. We take walks or sit and chat.

It's a gift to have friends with different perspectives and experiences. I’ve learned a great deal from both ends of the age spectrum.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

More on German Prisoners of War in the United States during World War Two

The veteran of World War Two whom I’m interviewing was a prisoner of war in Germany. Many years later he met a German who had been a prisoner of war in the United States. This man commented on how these were the best days of his life, an experience not shared by my veteran.

The German prisoners of war in the United States were treated well. In fact, there was some public outrage that they were being coddled and not being reeducated to embrace democracy. A great deal of debate took place within the  War Department on whether a reeducation program should take place. Finally, an experimental program was put together, but it was kept confidential because of concerns that there might be retaliation on American prisoners of war in German if this was publicized. An interesting story I read recently relates that a Congressman who was critical that this reeducation wasn’t taking place happened to visit a prisoner of war camp where the experimental program was taking place. He didn’t recognize what was going on and continued to lambast the War Department. The reeducation wasn’t made public until after V-E Day. Ironically, the public and the press immediately lost interest in the issue. Some things never change—members of Congress who spout off without recognizing what’s going on and too much attention to the issue of the day versus long term solutions.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Prisoners of War in World War Two

The World War Two veteran I’m writing about attempted to escape twice while held by the Germans.

German prisoners of war had their escape attempts in the United States as well. In the Tennessee mountains, an old woman shot at three escaping German prisoners killing one. As recounted in Nazi Prisoners of War in America by Arnold Krammer, when the woman was confronted by a deputy sheriff who told her she had killed a German, he said, “Well ma’am, what in thunder did you think you were doing?” She replied, “I thought they wuz Yankees.”

Thursday, March 6, 2014

World War 2 Sayings

This was a joke in the military publication Stars and Stripes that had circulated during World War 2: “The Russians are fighting for their lives, the British for their homes, the Americans for souvenirs.”

Another saying about American troops in England that made the rounds: “Over paid, over sexed and over here.” The American Army countered by calling Brits, “Underpaid, undersexed and under Eisenhower.”