"Nazis are good only for killing."
I had an uncle who died about 30 years ago. He grew up in a small town in Texas in the 1920’s and 30’s. Like many of his generation, he enlisted in the Army in World War II.
When I knew him, he was a kind of eccentric, pipe-smoking old dude who had a very pessimistic outlook on life. But I liked him. He lived in Austin, and when I went to college there, I spent some time with him for totally selfish college-boy reasons.
My uncle, you see, was an engineer. His proudest accomplishment was helping to design I-70 through Colorado during the Eisenhower Administration, and he did help design a very beautiful highway, as those things go. He was also a good auto mechanic, and loved working on cars. He helped me keep my old Pontiac tuned to a tee. Changed the oil and stuff for free, too, just because he enjoyed the work. I got to know him some, but he always refused to tell me about his experiences during the war.
Except for one day. I brought over a bottle of his favorite whiskey in exchange for him giving my mechanical beastie a tune up. We drank it together. And he told me some stories. They blew my ass away, and I understood why he didn’t like to talk about them.
He was an infantryman in Patton’s Third Army. He went through Operation Cobra, which was the breakout from Normandy. He marched through Paris in July, 1944 and was kissed by Frenchwomen. He helped liberate I don’t know how many French towns and villages from the Nazis. He saw what they had left behind. He was in the Winter March to relieve Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. He was in the breaching of the Siegfried Line.
He was in the first platoon to reach Dachau.
I had known that before taking the whiskey over to his house on that pleasant Texas autumn day. He’d never talked about it; to anybody, except for my aunt, as far as I knew. Even his older kids, my cousins, said he’d never talked about it. He did to me. That day.
I had asked him maybe a year earlier why there were no SS guards from Dachau to make it to the Nuremberg trials. He hadn’t answered. He’d just puffed on his pipe. That day, he told me. There were SS guards there that day when his platoon arrived. Some of them fought the Americans, and died. Others surrendered.
It didn’t take long for my uncle or anyone else in his platoon to figure out what had been going on there. He had never imagined anything like that was even possible. He said the horror, and the anger, was overwhelming.
And his lieutenant’s last name was Goldstein.
They executed the officers by firing squad. The enlisted men they, well, rounded them up, gave the surviving prisoners the spades or entrenching tools they carried in their kits, and threw the SS men to the mercy of their former captives and victims.
My uncle looked me straight in my slack-jawed face and said, “Remember this, nephew. Nazis are good only for killing. Never forget.” He said it passionately. Fervently. He never spoke of it again.
20 years later, a recently declassified Army film showed a firing squad. I’m not sure, because their backs were turned, but one of the soldiers doing the shooting looked an awful lot like my uncle.
When I saw what happened in Charlottesville today, I remembered that conversation. And the video. And how proud I still am of my uncle.Diclotican, N2Doc, madfloridian and 27 othersdisillusioned73, ZimInSeattle, Rocky, hifiguy, Scott Crowder, Flying Squirrel, Pacco Fransisco, Katashi, LiberalElite, Two way street, PADemD, Ferd Berfel, Mom Cat, Haikugal, Fasttense, joentokyo, 12-Bar Blues, incognito, Rozinante, jeff47, Half Century Man, Enthusiast, jwirr, Silver Witch, kliljedahl, GloriaMundi, Marym625 like this"Identity politics is the last refuge of the politically incompetent." --Me, with a hat tip to Isaac Asimov
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