Friday, January 10, 2014

A German Stirring

By Kev Richardson
Historical, 351 pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald

Deprivation in occupied Germany immediately after WW2 seems greater than that in most occupied countries under the Nazis. Are the Allied victors guilty as charged, of major malpractices?

For a long period, the peace proved more deadly than the fiercest battle. German deaths from malnutrition and starvation exceeded the sum of its soldiers, sailors and airmen killed in action.

After the war, the victorious Allies are rightfully accused of as much graft, corruption and duplicity as they accused Germany of, before and during the war.

“Beresford Branson here, is Philip Hawkins there?”

“He is in the field for a couple of days, sir. Can I have him call you?”

“No. Can you please recommend an inn with accommodation for one?”

“For you, sir? The Government has a booking in Duisburg. There is so much damage, most buildings with roofs are occupied by the homeless, sir. Hotel Duisburg has been restored enough to house British officials, sir. I can give you a room there. Mr. Hawkins has a room with a German family nearby, sir, but has no telephone there.”

Philip had told me that devastation in the entire Ruhr Valley is ninety percent of all its cities. I had assumed it exaggeration. Seems like I am to see more than could be seen from the train when Trevor and I made our trip.

I took the booking from Wednesday to maybe Friday. That gave me a clear day at the Chalet to get all as organised as possible.

And wow! Had I thought I had seen absolute devastation in Hamburg, the Ruhr Valley was just indescribable. I took with me an entire trunk-load of canned food, knowing that Philip would know how to best distribute it. Jean-Claude’s words from the seminar, kept ringing in my ears—that Britain ensured its people serving in Germany had first priority on available food. I was able to garner so much food because the quartermaster at Bad Oeynhausen knew I wasn’t part of the black market, that I was visiting my own agents in the field.

I arranged at the Bahnhof that my trunk be left under secure guard until called for during the next couple of days.

German police there, insisted they accompany me to the British Hotel as it was being called.

“Any man so well-dressed, sir, is in danger of being mugged.”

I hadn’t known überfallen or ausrauben meant mugged or robbed, but could now add them to my vocabulary.

“Any man being starved to death can be quite irrational,” the older of the two then bravely told me.

Now is that to be translated as a jibe? It seems so in my estimation, yet I am too green, so far, with my German, to be sure. If it is, however, he has earned my sympathy, for maybe another might right now, be planning to bring British soldiers with arms, to arrest him.

I gave him a guarded smile which I think he understood, but who hurriedly turned to his partner and began talking in a dialect I couldn’t understand.

They both smiled and saw me to the British Hotel desk, one carrying my Gladstone bag.

At the ‘hotel’, they despatched a young lad, for a three pfennig tip, to take the message to Philip’s lodging, that I had arrived.

“Oh, it’s a wicked world has been created here, Berry.”

Philip looked as downhearted as he sounded.

“I’ve only to look at the devastation around me to realise that, Philip.”

“This land, with something like six of Germany’s biggest cities within twenty miles in any direction, is all such a nightmare. No wonder the country had to give up. The civilian slaughter might not have been important to Hitler, but the fact of not being able to stop the allied Air-Forces destroying so much of his country’s industry, was certainly his downfall. You can see what our boys did. Back home, we clapped and cheered this sort of news. Right now, Berry, that makes me feel quite ashamed.”

Sheesh! I nearly freaked!

“Philip, I reckon that just like the Americans realised they had to drop that bomb on Japan, we had to realise we had to drop all those tons of incendiaries on cities like these. War is a rotten thing. Only now are we finding the results of what had to be done. Yes, Hitler’s Germany started it, but we had the job of finishing it before they could. But it’s no longer Hitler’s Germany, mate, it’s OUR Germany! You and I have to help sift the shit out of war, show these people there is a better way of life than stripping it at the expense of others.”

I poured him a glass of the wine I had brought.

Shit, mate, Ego called, just look at this bloke, compared with the no-hoper of an agent you just left in Hamburg?

I couldn’t but admit to the bloody Ego being right on the ball again!

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