This is a true story in all it's details.
When in September 1939 Adolf Hitler's troops raided Poland my family did not mind - on the contrary : People were happy about the successful counterattack, because everybody only believed in what the Nazi PR said.
The Nazi PR was the propaganda ministry. It defined, which information Germans and Austrians were allowed to know and also which information the people must not know. For example people were not allowed to know that Göring, who was an important man in the national-socialistic regime, because he was the chief of the air force, was obsessed with crack and other hard drugs. So it was also a lie, that the Polish military had attacked Germany first and the Germans only were defending their country, because when the government lies to its people, whom could you believe then? The big majority of Germans only got to know the real and true "news" from World War II after ten or twenty years.
Now I will get back to my family. I have already said that my grandfather, who had just married, did not mind the "small problem" at the German-Polish border. At first after some weeks my grandparents asked themselves, if everything was alright and then they heard it: War had been started. But there were only successful messages to be heard about defending the German borderline and soon after, it almost seemed to be forgotten, but really only almost, because war cannot easily be forgotten, my grandmother said. The following two years nothing happened which would be worth mentioning apart from endless successful news from the Wehrmacht (the name of the national-socialistic army) via Volksempfänger. Volksempfänger is a kind of radio, which Germans had during that time.
So it was quiet until one day a letter arrived, which was addressed to my grandfather. The letter said that my grandfather had to go to Windau. Windau was a garrison for the navy in northern Germany. My grandfather had to stay there for two months. There he had to learn and practice shooting down flying enemy objects. After he had applied he was allowed to go home for one day to say "Good Bye" to his family.
On 4th August 1941 he had to go the ship, whose course was Trondheim and Narvik, two cities in Norway. There the Navy fought against bombing aeroplanes to hold the "won" places. Two years later he had to go to the northest point of Norway. It was Kirkenes and Nordkap, where he stayed till the end of the war. It was impossible to hold Norway, he told me. By the end the Wehrmacht had nothing to eat apart from some green apples and dead horses.
At first had he got holiday every third month, but after 1943 he did not get any holiday, because losses had been very high and it was difficult to transport the soldiers from the northest point of Norway to south Germany. Finally he was also not allowed to write letters for home. Many buddies of my grandfather died of hunger and very many were frozen by the deep temperatures at the north of Norway in winter of 1944. There was nothing to see of the glory and the success of the German army.
On 9th May, a day after the German capitulation, he was in British captivity. There he had to stay in prison. But he got something to eat. Later he said that he was glad to be captured by the British and not by the Russians. The Russian army treated their prisoners badly compared to the British army. When half of his captivity was over he came to Koblenz in Germany. In captivity he was not allowed to write letters.
My grandmother told me, that it had always been terrible not to know anything during all the time from 1943 until 1945. My grandfather was freed on 1st November 1945. My grandfather had two brothers, who died in WW II. One of them was a test pilot of the new Düsentrieb-aeroplanes. In 1944 he had an crash and fell to earth fastened in his plane, because the rescuing system did not work well. He died in Schleiîheim at the age of 30 years. Schleiîheim is a part of Munich. My grandfather's other brother died in a hospital in France. He was shot in his spine.
During that time my grandfather's village was bombed, but not hit directly. American bombs fell two kilometres away from the village, but mud and stones flew as far as the middle of the village and very many windows without protection were destroyed. The occupation of the US-Army started at the end of 1944. They wanted to see each comer of the house. They had to look for weapons and soldiers.
That was the Second World War in my family's eyes. By dying my grandfather's brothers did not achieve a so-called hero-death. One of them ended miserably far from help somewhere in France. He could not be helped anymore.
Andreas HubelAndreas is a student of Kurt Wittmann at Realschule Maria Stern, Nördlingen, Germany.