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|Views: 55 |Likes:
Published by Irma
some dreams come true in crooked ways
some dreams come true in crooked ways

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Published by: Irma on Jan 13, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Before WW2, Poppa had been a Nazi. There is no doubt about it.However, as he was short, dark-haired and limped from the polio hehad had at the age of ten, he wasn't the exact picture of an Aryan. Hedeeply regretted not being able to use the French he had learned atschool. In those days it wasn't possible,although he lived some20 km from the French border. He wouldn'teven admit that heknew the language of the enemy. Discretionis the better part of  valor.Same story forEnglish. Years of language classes had to be hidden away in thenooks and crannies of 
the brain where memory never goes.Poppa organised the local Hitler-Jugend and took many  youngsters on their one and only vacation they had in those days: onthe back of bicycles. They pushed across St. Gotthard once.In 1943 he was drafted into the army.“Things were going bad, or they wouldn't have called a crippledman like me,” he said. After a few months in an army photo lab, - Poppa was apharmacist - he got captured, was transported to Provence, Franceand “dumped into a patch of desert” by his American captors.“Luckily...” he'd say.Things were really bad for a while, days and weeks of mindlesshunger and men running their thumbnails along the seams of theirclothes to kill bugs. Finally, the Americans set up camp, flew inantiseptic sprayers to disinfect the men (“men on one side, clothes onthe other”) and organised their supply lines. Hunger pains and bugs were soon to be a thing of the past.Suddenly they were stumped by the language problem. Onethousand German POWs in tents, rocks and dust everywhere...language became a matter of life and death. Latrines had to be dug,kitchen tents had to be erected, meals had to be cooked, drinking water had to be distributed, men had to be exercised, clothed, washed
and fed.Mistrust ran deep. Most Germans did not know English. The ones who did – academics, professionals and skilled specialists –stubbornly held on to their pride and would not interact andcommunicate with the “enemy”. After all, the war wasn't over yet.The need was evident. So Poppa overcame his inhibitions andstepped forward to become a translator. The short, limpingpharmacist got to be in charge of a large team of men. He organiseddish washing lines, toilet duties and shower runs. That's when the Americans started trusting him. He distributed soap, chocolates andcigarettes. That's when the Germans started trusting him.The men would sharpen one side of their spoons on a stone to havea blade to shave with. A piece of a broken mirror, for example, was aprecious item that had to be shared around in an orderly fashion.Fights flared up for nothing. Communication was vital. When dysentry hit the camp, men started dying like flies. That'sthe time when Poppa stopped taking orders and requests. To thecontrary, he instructed the Americans to save used coffee and empty tin cans. He urged them to take the healthy men out to collect woodand organised others to turn the coffee grounds into charcoal, by roasting them over the fires in tin cans dangling from wooden sticks.The coffee-turned-charcoal was administered by the spoonfuls to any 

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1 hundred reads
Katherine Shields added this note
Loved it! What a Dad.
Helen Winslow Black added this note
A gem of a story, Irma.
Phantomimic added this note
It seems he was quite a character and had many adventures. It is so sad when our leaders turn us against others and their culture, branding them as the "enemy". Everything that the "others" are both good and bad has to be put in the same bag and vilified.
Paul Richardson added this note
This is great!
Shyam Adrift added this note
a read good write as always , I love the way you sneak in humour :)
Sarita Baker-Brown added this note
delightful. in every way
Irma liked this
Carl F Maulbeck liked this

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