Amazing story indeed. I've heard many recollections from veterans of WW2 and all of them beyond belief. When I was a schoolboy (in England) my Math Teacher was in the real "Great Escape" in 1944 and told us boys stories to make your hair stand up ! But when he told us of the Germans making an "example" of repeat escapees his eyes were full of the horrors of war. Then we'd get back to the Math lesson. "Tomorrow we'll found out how we hid the guard dogs!"
Whitney. I was just emailing TravelRob. Maybe you could contact a TV station here in England. The Centenary of WW1 is big news across Europe this year 1914 - 1918 and we have many programmes looking back at all the wars since. Have you seen the "Great Escape" Movie. ( Steve McQueen - James Garner and all ) ? Some facts are true - some "based" on the true story. It's very late here in England. Contact you tomorrow.
As you've seen in the Great Escape, taking prisoners into the forest and killing them wasn't just a Russian idea. It was used against the Allied POWs by the SS. But there were many allied airmen shot down over Germany who returned home after the war with life saving surgery by the "enemy" Metal plates fitted to the skull where the bone had been shot away I remember. Shall I send an email to your website Whitney ?
Just to add a note: on our way to Mont-Saint-Michel this morning, we noticed signs pointing to a Deutschesoldatenfriedhof, or German Soldiers' Cemetery. Curiosity took us to it and we were surprised by its story. It was constructed in 1961 for reburial of soldiers who had been buried in small locations all over Normandy, the Channel Islands and other nearby areas. It is a solemn place, and quiet, and the spirit expressed in the signs and in the design was one of reconciliation and hope for...
Paul, Thanks for that note about the German cemetery in France. I may make a trip to several of these war cemeteries on my next trip overseas. I just heard from the German War Graves Commission this morning with more photos of Reiner's grave.
Thanks for the start of an extraordinary journey, which also reminds us that travel isn't only for pleasure, or even always voluntary. It is also important for us never to reduce history to acts of state and leaders and lose sight of all the Reiners of the world.
Another brilliant post, HistoryDigger! Thanks. I think you've described the situation many young German men were in, and it's a lesson for all of us to fight tyranny at every step and with all we have. It is also a reminder to me how a government that is "a friend of the people" can crush those same people if their power isn't checked. After the Nazis had seized power, there was no tolerance for dissent. You were either with them -- or you were in big big trouble (possibly even fatal...
Here we go! I am so eager to learn more about that old house which is pictured so beautifully in the mountain idyll of Poland. My fantasy is of undiscovered family treasures in the attic which the Polish police, who now occupy that building, would gladly be rid of. Whit, don't forget to search the attic when you get there. Ha! I am sure glad you are Finding Reiner.
Dr. Fumblefinger—yours is a fascinating response. How lucky your father was to have escaped and survived. I'm glad he told you his story, which I would like to hear. Where was he from? Reiner's family members were also born in now Poland. Episode 3 will detail more of the Nazi oppression in Cologne that trapped Reiner and his family.
This makes a fascinating read, well done! My father-in-law Hans Esser was from Cologne (had sung as part of the choir in Cologne cathedral) and served on submarines (unwillingly) during the 2nd W.W. war. Their sub was attacked several times and finally they were forced to surrender. He was taken prisoner and interned in England. The prisoners then helped on the local farms which was where he met his future wife Vera. They married just after the end of the war and had the difficult privilege...
Mac-TG Guru--Fascinating story, yours. Your parents' romance reminds me of such fictional stories in the British series Foyle's War . Have you seen that? The show highlights romance between German POWs and English farm girls. I would love to know more of your father's history. I also wish I could interview your father or find other elderly residents who remember life here during the war. So much better when it comes from a resident than from a historian who was not here then. How long were...
Thank you for the continuing story, and especially to the link for the Stolpersteine. It is so important (I keep saying this!) for us to remember the people more than the "leaders," and not allow them to become mere numbers.
Whitney your story about Reiner and retracing his steps gets people thinking about their own life and family too, so beyond being fascinating history, it's very relevant to us all.25 years ago this summer I went through an incredible ordeal in Europe. Your journey for Reiner has me thinking back to that time and has me thinking of retracing some steps too.Keep it up and thank you!
Hello F-car, people mainly use their cars to get around, which is a pity as the roads are not the best and there are far too many cars for the roads to cope with. There is an extensive bus network which I found more preferable to driving. Boats are used more for leisure but there are many fisherman who make their living from the sea. Although the Maltese have their own language, English is widely spoken and visitors get by without problems. Many locals also speak Italian (them being our...
The debate in Florida too is which city is actually the nations oldest. St Augustine claims it is because it's the oldest continuously occupied city by European settlers. Some in Pensacola, claim their city is because they were settled before St. Augustine.
And I thought that GarryF had snagged the first date with Miss Angela.... I am distraught!! I just love the nose-art on these planes. To have so many fly-able planes too what a collection!! Thanks Dr.F a great piece.
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